Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA German and English Literature

UCAS code: RQ23

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA German and English Literature

More people speak German as their native language than any other in Europe, and it is the third most popular foreign language taught worldwide. For centuries, both English and German-speaking cultures have had a profound international influence on literature.

This joint honours programme aims to develop your critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills by engaging with a broad range of texts in both English and German, and a variety of approaches to reading.

German

Intensive language training, including a year abroad, will give you the chance to gain professional skills in all aspects of German, including writing, speaking, presenting and translating.

You will also explore German-language literature, film and theatre, all within the context of historical and political developments from the eighteenth century to contemporary times.

English Literature

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, you will study in the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, one of the longest established in the world.

You will gain the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of poetry, drama and prose and explore the cultural contexts of writing in English from the late Middle Ages to the present.

At honours level, you will select courses on the basis of your own interests in specific topics, periods or literary genres.

Combining literature with a language shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own, an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Why Edinburgh

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.

Our language programmes are also extremely flexible. In Years 1 and 2, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects, giving you the breadth of education valued by graduate employers worldwide.

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 broad list of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of German and English Literature.

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

English Literature

You will take two Literary Studies courses. These will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of the core literary genres of:

  • poetry
  • drama
  • prose

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and encounter a range of ideas about the nature and purpose of literary study.

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 range of languages of any UK university - the majority are suitable for complete beginners.

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

  • linguistics and language sciences

  • business, economics and informatics

  • politics, social policy and social anthropology

  • art and architectural history

  • history, classics and archaeology

  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology

  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

German

In Year 2 you will develop your oral language skills further. 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
  • Sexualities on the German Screen (title to be confirmed)
  • Migration in German-Language Discourse
  • German Colonialism: History, Memory, Controversy

English Literature

You will be introduced to the study of English literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods.

These courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Option courses

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

These include a great selection in European languages and cultures, allowing you to study literature, film and theatre in themed and comparative contexts.

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

  • 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 German-speaking country, usually Germany or Austria. This will help you to turn classroom learning into living engagement with German-language culture.

You will either study or do a work placement, such as working as a teaching assistant in a school.

We currently have exchange places with universities in:

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

Whether studying or working, our graduates have told us how much the year abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of German-language culture.

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, cultural awareness and skills development.

You will complete prescribed work in both English Literature 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 develop advanced language skills in spoken and written German.

You will also choose from a wide range of specialist courses in both German and English Literature. For German, these include courses in German-language:

  • literature
  • film
  • theatre
  • society

Dissertation

You will complete your dissertation or long essay.

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, or in one of the University’s many social spaces.

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

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

The University of Edinburgh contains exceptional resources for study and research in German, including the expansive Karin McPherson collection of GDR writing.

The Main University Library holds over 121,500 titles in German, including around 95,000 books (printed and e-books) and 5,425 journals.

The Library's Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK, bringing together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books, and six kilometres of archives and manuscripts. It also houses the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

The Centre's literary treasures include a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays, and the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott.

Modern literature and poetry are particularly well represented, with the W.H. Auden collection and the libraries of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the German Society, and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to engage.

EUSA also supports LitPALS - the Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme for English Literature where students across year groups help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

Across the University, there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in:

  • reading and writers' groups
  • poetry slams
  • creative writing and publishing
  • student theatre

Staff and student editors publish creative writing in nine European languages – including German – in the online magazine, Babble. Launch nights typically include readings and performances.

We also have a fantastic Writer-in-Residence who organises talks and workshops by visiting writers and runs our annual writing prizes. Their drop-in sessions give you the chance to:

  • share your work

  • get feedback

  • meet other student writers

  • get inspiration and prompts for new work

Recent extra-curricular activities in German have included a student-produced film version of the fairytale 'Aschenputtel', a German bake-off, and a Christmas carol competition.

In the city

A UNESCO World City of Literature, Edinburgh is a remarkable place to study, write, publish, discuss and perform prose, poetry and drama.

In addition to a fantastic range of publishing houses, bookshops, theatres, and cinemas, you will study near the:

  • National Library of Scotland - which has outstanding German holdings

  • National Museum of Scotland

  • Edinburgh Central Library

  • Scottish Poetry Library

  • Scottish Storytelling Centre

  • Writers’ Museum

We contribute actively to the local cultural scene. You will be able to attend film screenings, performances and talks organised by members of staff for the wider public. Edinburgh's European cinema scene, for example, is particularly strong.

We have excellent links with the German Consulate, the Goethe-Institut, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which annually welcomes around 1,000 authors to our literary city.

Study abroad

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

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

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Experienced lecturers and language instructors will teach through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • e-learning

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

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.

You will also be expected to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for classes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of:

  • exams
  • coursework
  • reading exercises
  • class participation

Skills and experience

Combining a language with literature to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as intercultural competence.

Beyond the linguistic, literary and critical skills you will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.

Opportunities at home and away

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, and is the third most popular foreign language taught worldwide.

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

Graduates who have studied a combination of language and literature can be found in every kind of career, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative. Wherever you are based in the world, your skills will make you stand out.

Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to career pathways 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

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, for example, we typically offer:

  • MSc by Research degrees in German and in English Literature

  • Taught MScs in Playwriting, Creative Writing and different periods of English Literature

  • MSc programmes in Comparative Literature, Intermediality and Translation Studies

Beyond literature, cultural study and associated fields, your degree will prepare you for further study in almost any humanities and social science discipline.

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Be inspired by our alumni

*As reported by The Independent in April 2019, which cited jobs website Indeed. Indeed also said vacancies specifying German language skills have increased by more than a tenth over the past three years, and that has been a slight increase in overall demand for linguists.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAB - ABB.
  • IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 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: English at B. National 5s: a language other than English at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B. GCSEs: a language other than English at B or 6.
  • IB: HL: English at 5. SL: a language other than 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

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

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
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • 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.

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

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

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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 English Literature

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs incurred 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 reimburse 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