Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
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MA German and Linguistics

UCAS code: RQ21

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA German and Linguistics

More people speak German as their native language than any other in Europe and, worldwide, it is the third most popular language to learn.

This flexible programme gives you the opportunity to study German while developing your social scientific understanding of language.

German and Linguistics make an excellent joint honours choice by combining the study of:

  • a modern language in its cultural context
  • the expression and creation of meaning

Linguistics courses of particular relevance to language students cover:

  • the speech sounds of the world's languages
  • variation in the languages of the world
  • the structure and history of world languages

German

Across all four years of our programme, including a year abroad, your studies will give you the chance to gain professional skills in all aspects of German, including:

  • reading and listening
  • writing and translating
  • speaking and presenting

As well as language learning, you will also explore German-language literature, film and theatre. You will study these in the context of historical and political developments, from the eighteenth century to contemporary times.

On joining us, beginners take our German 1A course; students with more experience of learning the language typically take German 1B.

By your final year, you will have developed linguistic, critical and analytical skills to the standard of completing a dissertation or long essay.

Linguistics

Linguistics examines how language works, describing how sounds, words, sentences and conversations combine to express and create meaning.

You will also study:

  • the use of language in everyday life
  • the ways in which language works across society and evolves over time
  • how language is mastered by children

As you progress through the programme, you will have the opportunity to plan and test scientific hypotheses about linguistic phenomena using specialist linguistics and phonetics equipment.

Why Edinburgh

As a world-leading festival and capital city, Edinburgh is a fantastic place to study a modern language in its cultural context and alongside Linguistics.

German has been taught here since 1894, making it one of the first modern European languages to be offered at Edinburgh.

Studying over four years enables you to choose courses, including from other disciplines, that match your own interests, expertise and employability needs.

We are unique in Scotland in offering students a full academic year abroad within the four-year honours programme, regardless of whether you spend the year studying or working.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of German and Linguistics.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

German

If you have not 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 take German 1B. This course covers language as well as literature and culture from 1770 to the present day.

As part of German 1B, you will interview a German native speaker working in Edinburgh or Glasgow. This will give you the opportunity to:

  • practise professional communication
  • discover the value of languages in the workplace
  • gain insights into possible career options

Read 'Conversation to career starter' - our feature on the German interview

Linguistics

You will take two semester-long introductory courses in Linguistics:

  • Linguistics and English Language 1A - This course offers a brief introduction to the study of language in general and of English in particular.

    • Linguistics and English Language 1B - This course helps you learn how to investigate the different subsystems of language.

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to study another language. We offer one of the widest ranges of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • linguistics and language sciences
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

German

You will further develop your oral language skills. You will also practise translation, grammar, and writing different types of texts in German.

You will continue to study German-language literature and culture, choosing at least two courses from a range of options. These are likely to include:

  • Researching Disability in German Literature and Society
  • Culture, Modernity and the City in the Weimar Republic
  • Reading Antisemitism in Modern German Literature
  • The Contemporary Short Story in German
  • Screening Sex
  • Migration in German-Language Discourse
  • German Colonialism: History, Memory, Controversy

Linguistics

You will take a course in Linguistic Theory. You will also choose one course from the topics of:

  • cross-linguistic variation
  • the structure and history of world languages

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will choose from a range of option courses offered by the University.

These option courses include a great selection in European languages and cultures that explore literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

Typical options include:

  • Cultural Responses to War
  • Migration, Exile, Diaspora
  • Crime and Detection in Literature
  • Gender and Culture
  • The Coming-of-Age Narrative
  • Introduction to European Cinema
  • Dynamics of Language and Power
  • Languages Beyond University

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 in a country where German is spoken, turning classroom learning into living engagement with German-speaking culture.

We currently have exchange places with universities in:

  • Berlin
  • Augsburg
  • Hamburg
  • Heidelberg
  • Tübingen
  • Freiburg
  • Leipzig
  • Mainz
  • Vienna

Alternatively, you may be eligible to work. Opportunities typically include a teaching assistant placement with, for example, the British Council.

Whether studying or working, our graduates have told us how much the year abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

You will complete prescribed work in both Linguistics and German. For example, for German you will take an e-learning language course which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your Year 4 language courses.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with your subjects, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.

Year 4

You will take advanced German language classes covering:

  • spoken German
  • essay and précis writing
  • German-to-English translation of literary and journalistic texts

In addition to these core skills courses, you will also choose from a range of specialist, honours-level courses in both German and Linguistics. For German, these include courses on German-language:

  • literature
  • film
  • theatre
  • society

Building on all the knowledge and skills you have developed over four years, including in independent research, you will complete a dissertation or long essay.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, in the lab, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries, collections and specialist equipment

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media. Resources include around 95,000 books and 5,425 journals in German.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

The Centre's treasures include the Karin McPherson Collection, a unique resource for students interested in the literature and culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Running to some 1,000 volumes, the Collection presents a complete overview of the GDR’s literary (and sometimes broader) culture from 1949 to 1989, including internationally renowned and lesser-known writers.

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

The University's specialist linguistics and phonetics equipment for language sciences ranks among the best in the world. It includes:

  • recording studios
  • a perception experiment laboratory
  • an eye tracking laboratory
Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the German Society and LingSoc - the Linguistics and English Language Society.

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially. EUSA also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in German and eight other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

Recent extra-curricular activities in German include:

  • a student-produced variety show
  • student-made film version of the fairytale 'Aschenputtel'
  • German bake-off
  • Christmas carol competition

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library of Scotland, which has outstanding German holdings.

We have excellent links with the German Consulate, which is based in Edinburgh, and with the Goethe-Institut.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. This will involve a minimum of 30 weeks in a country where German is spoken, usually Germany or Austria.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in German-speaking culture. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use after university.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

From Year 2 onwards, you will do some independent practical work for linguistics.

As well as your classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you will also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for German, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation or long essay.

Skills and experience

Combining the study of a language with linguistics demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

On this joint honours programme, you will develop language and linguistic skills. You will also gain a nuanced understanding of other cultures and societies.

Graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
  • research, development and venture acceleration
  • translating and interpreting

Home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that more people speak German as their native language than any other in Europe. An official language of seven European countries and provinces, German also plays an important role in communications in many other countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe.

German speakers are highly sought after by UK employers, particularly those with links to the German economy, the fourth largest in the world. German is the third most popular language taught worldwide and, in 2019, overtook French as the language most sought after by employers*.

Further study

The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level.

At the University of Edinburgh, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in both German and Linguistics. Either of these programmes is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Our taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Developmental Linguistics

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service, you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

*As reported by The Independent in April 2019, citing jobs website Indeed. Indeed also said vacancies specifying German language skills had increased by more than a tenth in the previous three years, and that there had been a slight increase in overall demand for linguists.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: a language other than English at B and English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: a language other than English at B or 6 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: a language other than English at 5 and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA German and Linguistics

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding