Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2020/2021

MA Honours in German and Philosophy

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by: n/a
Final award: MA (Hons)
Programme title: German and Philosophy
UCAS code: RV25
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): ‘Languages’, ‘Area Studies’ and ‘Philosophy’
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Head of School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
Date of production/revision: May 2012

External summary

German is the most widely spoken language in Western Europe and is becoming increasingly important as a business language in Eastern Europe.German history, science and culture have had a huge impact across the entire world, and graduate employers recognise the need for a broad cultural education alongside language skills.At the University of Edinburgh, you will explore this history and culture alongside the study of the German language.

German at Edinburgh has an excellent reputation for its research. It covers a broad range of topics, including German-Jewish writing, Medieval studies, East German studies, the Third Reich and the Holocaust, gender and politics, disability, travel writing, theatre and translation.

Philosophy has been at the core of Western intellectual life for at least 2,500 years and it is central to our understanding of the world and of our place in and interaction with it.  Philosophy provides the tools whereby the presuppositions of all areas of intellectual and practical activity may be systematically and critically examined.  While there are different approaches that philosophers have taken, characteristic of Philosophy is the emphasis on the use of argument, critical enquiry, rigour in reasoning, and clarity of expression, including the making of pertinent distinctions. 

The University has a strong historic connection to the subject, counting Adam Ferguson and Sir William Hamilton among its former students.  Edinburgh has one of the UK’s largest Philosophy departments and the Philosophy Society attracts high-profile speakers.  The course at Edinburgh is structured in such a way that students cover the basics of Western Philosophy and have the opportunity to specialize in the areas of most interest.

Educational aims of programme

The MA Honours German and Philosophy degree programme at Edinburgh is designed to develop the student’s interest in, and complex knowledge and understanding of the target country or countries, including their language, history, culture and social issues.  Students will gain knowledge of the ideas and arguments employed by the main philosophers of past and present, studied through their texts, and an understanding of the main areas of Philosophy and an appreciation of the significance of these in world culture.

Furthermore, they will develop key generic skills in critical thinking, conceptual analysis, research, and written and oral articulation of information and argument.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

Graduates from the German and Philosophy degree will acquire knowledge and understanding of:

  1. The target language (spoken and written);
  2. The target literature past and present;
  3. The history and culture of the target country or countries;
  4. Political, social and economic issues related to the target country or countries.
  5. The problems, theories and arguments of the main areas of philosophy, specifically: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and moral philosophy.
  6. The views and arguments of some of the most important philosophers of the past, including: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant and Mill.
  7. The works of historical philosophers not simply as self-contained bodies of doctrine but as attempts to solve the real philosophical problems. 

Acquisition of 1 and 2 is through classes, tutorials and regular coursework.  Additional support is provided through access to the facilities for language learning in the Language and Humanities Centre and to recommended materials on the Web.  The period abroad in the 3rd year provides total immersion in the target language and culture.

Acquisition of 3-7 is through a combination of lectures/classes and tutorials in Years 1 and 2, and subsequently developed through small-group teaching in Year 4.

Throughout, students are encouraged to undertake independent readings to supplement and consolidate what is being taught/learnt and to broaden their individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Testing and consolidation of the knowledge base is through a combination of unseen written examinations, essays, seminar presentations, seminar performance, document commentaries, projects, seminar diaries and a dissertation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

German and Social Philosophy graduates will be able to:

  1. retrieve, sift, select and analyse and interpret information from texts and other media in German and English;
  2. analyse a text and reconstruct its arguments, to find its premises, and the inferences drawn from them;
  3. distinguish relevant from irrelevant considerations in argument;
  4. select and apply a variety of critical approaches to problems informed by uneven evidence;
  5. be sensitive to ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings;
  6. extract key elements from complex information;
  7. ask key questions and exercise rational enquiry, and will be ready to do so;
  8. critically to assess existing understanding and the limitations of knowledge and recognition of the need regularly to challenge/test knowledge;
  9. search for, evaluate and use information to develop knowledge and understanding;
  10. analyse a text and reconstruct its arguments, to find its premises, and the inferences drawn from them;
  11. recognise the importance of reflecting on one’s learning experiences and being aware of one’s own particular learning style;
  12. work independently to plan, undertake and (in a scholarly and literate fashion) compose an extended piece of bibliographically-based research on aspects of German literature and culture and/or Philosophy.

These intellectual skills are developed through the teaching and learning programme.  Each course, whatever the format of the teaching, involves discussion of key issues, practice in applying concepts both orally and in writing, analysis and interpretation of material, and feedback sessions on work produced.

Great emphasis is placed, in the various methods of assessment used, on the student’s ability to demonstrate the above skills (1-12) through the production of cogent and coherent written and oral responses to problems and tasks set. Students also submit a dissertation in their final year, which is an ideal vehicle for demonstrating these skills, although they are constantly demonstrated also throughout their other work.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Graduates in German and Philosophy will be:

  1. able work independently and be self-reliant, with readiness to take responsibility for one’s own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement;
  2. open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking;
  3. intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest;
  4. able to identify processes and strategies for learning;
  5. able to demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and creativity in thought;
  6. development of teamwork skills in small-group practical teaching
  7. able to test, modify and strengthen their own views through collaboration and debate
  8. ability to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought.

1-8 are all fostered throughout the curriculum. Formative and summative assessment is used to develop, consolidate and evaluate these skills. 1-5 and 8 are particularly developed by the final-year Dissertation.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Graduates in German and Philosophy will be able to:

  1. process, structure and communicate ideas effectively and at an advanced level of proficiency, both orally and in written form in both German and English;
  2. communicate clearly and accurately, constructing cogent arguments;
  3. participate constructively in group discussions, assessing and responding effectively to the ideas of others;
  4. communicate effectively in English to inform others about aspects of German language and culture;
  5. seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness;
  6. articulate their skills as identified through self-reflection.

All courses require regular written work, on which feedback is provided, so that students develop not only their understanding but also their powers of written expression, while tutorials and tutorial presentations allow development of oral expression, participation in groups and communication with others.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Graduates in German and Philosophy will be able to:

  1. work autonomously, setting their own goals, self-motivating and organising their own learning;
  2. manage their time and priorities and work to self-imposed and external deadlines;
  3. collaborate effectively and productively with others in the process of learning and presenting conclusions;
  4. develop skills in making critical and constructive judgements;
  5. respond flexibly, adaptably and proactively to changing surroundings;
  6. make decisions with confidence, based on their understanding and personal/intellectual autonomy;
  7. transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities flexibly from one context to another;
  8. work effectively with others, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills;
  9. work with, manage, and leading others in ways that value their diversity and equality and that encourage their contribution;
  10. exercise sensitivity to ambiguity and multiplicity of meanings;
  11. confidently interact with, and think about, cultural difference.

All skills (1-11) are acquired throughout the degree programme. Skills 3-10 are particularly acquired through interactions with fellow students, tutors and lecturers. The time spent studying abroad also contributes very significantly to 1, 2, 5, 6 and 11.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

Graduates in German and Philosophy will be able to:

  1. read, write and speak German at a high level of proficiency;
  2. translate from and into German;
  3. deploy good bibliographical and library research skills, as well as a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
  4. produce coherent and well presented text, sometimes of considerable length;
  5. an ability to produce text to meet standard presentational specifications as laid out in a style sheet;
  6. an ability to make effective presentations, perhaps using audio visual support;
  7. comprehend and use data effectively

Throughout their studies, students take classes and receive instruction in German.  The period abroad further promotes active engagement with the language and native speakers of it. Both skills are assessed by class and home exercises, tests and degree examinations (including oral and aural examination). Likewise, the core research and presentational skills (3-6) are fostered throughout the degree programme and are tested in coursework and examinations, especially the final year dissertation. Skill 7 is acquired where the precise programme of study necessitates it.


Skills are assessed by class and home exercises, tests and degree examinations

Programme structure and features

Full details of the degree programme, structure and courses can be found at: http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials. 

Progression Requirements: Students are normally expected to have gained 120 credits from each year of study. 

Students who do not progress into Honours may graduate after three years of full-time study, or a longer prescribed period of part-time study, with a B.A. in Humanities and Social Science.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims.  The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In Year 1

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Self-Access to the Languages Microlab

In Year 2

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Self-Access to the Languages Microlab

In Year 3 (Study Abroad)

  • Lectures
  • Work Experience
  • Independent Study
  • Dissertation
  • Year Abroad Work

In Year 4

  • Seminars
  • Self-Access to the Languages Microlab

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 127730
Year 223770
Year 334453
Year 414860

Assessment methods and strategies

Courses can be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provided the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for assessment.

In Year 1

  • Language Exercises
  • Classwork Presentation
  • Written Examination
  • Coursework Essays

In Year 2

  • Language Exercises
  • Classwork Presentation
  • Written Examination
  • Coursework Essays

In Year 3

  • Extended Essays
  • Coursework
  • Dissertation

In Year 4

  • Language Exercises
  • Classwork Presentation
  • Written Examination
  • Coursework Essays
  • Extended Essays
  • Oral Examination
  • Dissertation

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 158339
Year 232068
Year 325075
Year 432068

Career opportunities

German and Philosophy graduates from the University of Edinburgh enjoy excellent career prospects. The Philosophy courses you study throughout your degree provide you with analytical skills and the ability to think clearly, which are vital transferable skills for the workplace.   The communication skills you develop will equip you for a career in business, public relations, banking, journalism, the Civil Service or the legal profession.  Language and analytical skills developed in analysing cultural and political documents can open careers in teaching and translating in the UK or abroad. Your skills will also be valued in worldwide business and administration.

Other items

all students are assigned a Personal Tutor on admission to the degree programme, who oversees the course of the student’s degree programme, offers advice on academic matters (including degree-progression) and should be the student’s first port of call for course-related worries or concerns

student opinion is actively sought through participation in Staff-Student Liaison Committees, through the election of class- and tutorial-representatives, and by the wide circulation and review of detailed student questionnaires each semester. 

LLC have a student support office, where students can go for advice on degree transfers, course changes, authorised interruption of studies, confirmation letters and general support. Information can be found at: - http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/literatures-languages-cultures/current-students/undergraduate-support

further information about Division of European Languages and Cultures can be found at http://www.delc.ed.ac.uk/

further information about Philosophy can be found at: - http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/