Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: German

Why choose German at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We're ranked in the world's top 20 universities and in Europe's top 5 universities for modern languages in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018.

  • The University offers 16 languages for study at degree level and more than 140 joint language programmes. This creates a diverse and uniquely exciting and stimulating environment for language study.

  • We have close links with the German Consulate in Edinburgh and the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow. You are encouraged to participate in Edinburgh's extensive German cultural life. Opportunities include performing German theatre, joining the German Society and participating in German film evenings.

  • Our teaching staff are also highly active researchers, passing on to you the same passion and world-class expertise that gained excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. In modern languages and linguistics, 70 per cent of our research was rated either world-leading or internationally excellent on the overall quality profile, following a joint submission with Celtic and Scottish Studies.

  • We welcome both beginners and students with previous knowledge of the language.

  • We are consistently rated highly by our students for the enthusiasm, friendliness and expertise of the staff, and for the supportiveness of our student community in German.

Study abroad

German provides the opportunity to take part in excellent translation classes and is my favourite language for all its quirks. The programme is really interesting, and the literature is never boring.

Julian Bellas 3rd year MA (Hons) German & Spanish
Julian Bellas 3rd year MA (Hons) German & Spanish

The study of German at Edinburgh covers not only the language, but also a broad range of literary and cultural topics. These include film, theatre, translation, politics and gender, Germany and Islam, East German studies, Brecht, the Third Reich and the Holocaust, German Romanticism, Goethe and Schiller, and medieval studies. The oral language practicals cover a wide range of stimulating up-to-date cultural and political topics.

You will be taught by world-leading specialists in all these areas. You will benefit from access to extensive and constantly updated study resources, including audio-visual and web-based resources and rich library holdings.

Year 1

If you haven't studied German before you will take German 1A, an intensive language course. If your entry qualification for German is a Scottish Higher, A level, or equivalent, you will be admitted to German 1B, which covers language as well as literature and culture from 1770 to the present day.

Year 2

You will take German 2, which has a German culture component that focuses on themes such as epic theatre, comedy and social criticism, textual scholarship, poetry after Auschwitz, and Psychoanalysis and Film. In the German-language course you will develop your oral language skills further, and practise creative writing, translation and grammar.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 working or studying abroad, spending time in a German-speaking country.

Year 4

You will take German language classes in essay and précis writing, spoken German and German-to-English translation of literary and journalistic texts. You will also choose from a wide range of specialist courses on German literature, film, theatre and society.

Are there additional costs?

The normal residence requirement for European languages is 30 weeks in the relevant country or countries. Some students of German may apply for posts as English language assistants in schools, for which a salary is paid.

Costs vary according to destinations: capital cities are more expensive than provincial towns. For EU countries, a number of Erasmus places are available, which include a small grant from European Union funds.

Students studying more than one language have to complete a minimum period of eight weeks in each country and a total of 30 weeks abroad. Some limited government funding may be available from the University to assist with the cost of study abroad during the summer vacation.

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in and around the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures in the University's Central Area. We are based in a state-of-the-art building, at 50 George Square, which houses computer microlabs, a language resource centre, and social facilities as well as tutors' offices, lecture theatres, and a film projection room.

Study abroad

Year 3 will be your year abroad. You will spend time studying, teaching or working in a German-speaking country. The University currently has Erasmus exchange programmes with universities in Berlin, Augsburg, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Freiburg, Leipzig, Mainz and Vienna.

If you are studying more than one language you will divide your time abroad between two countries.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and computer-assisted learning. You will often work in independent learning groups with the guidance of experienced staff, and will have the opportunity to discuss the latest research of world-leading scholars.

Language teaching involves developing professional speaking and writing skills, as well as an introduction to professional translation techniques.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a combination of exams, coursework and class participation.

German is the language with the highest number of native speakers in the European Union and is an official language in seven European countries and provinces. German plays an important role as a foreign language in many other countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe.

German speakers are highly sought after by British employers. 7 out of 10 businesses in the UK value foreign language skills in their employees and 49 per cent of them rate German as useful for their business, placing it ahead of Spanish and Mandarin.

As part of your project work, in Year 1 of studying German you will be allocated a German native speaker as an interview partner. You will have the opportunity to find out about the value of foreign languages in the workplace and gain some insights into possible career options. As a follow up, a Careers Service workshop helps you to analyse and develop the graduate skills you have acquired.