Comparative German Studies
|Degree:||Master of Arts|
|Course commences:||winter semester / summer semester|
|Standard course duration:||4 semesters|
|Format options:||full-time / part-time|
|Language requirements:||see Admission regulations|
|Language of instruction:||German|
|Other features:||postgraduate / consecutive|
The M.A. course Comparative German Studies offers German and international students the opportunity for in-depth engagement with German linguistics or literary studies. The two-year course builds on a corresponding B.A. course with compatible content. Prospective careers include teaching German as a foreign language in higher education, schools and adult education or posts in Germany or elsewhere in cultural, economic and political institutions with an intercultural bias. Graduates from the course can also go on to work for a doctorate.
In the M.A. programme Comparative German Studies, students focus either on linguistics or literary studies. Both these sectors offer a combination of three “profile areas”: a) in-depth engagement with the relevant focus, b) didactics, c) intercultural communication. For more information, go to the website of the Institute of German as a Foreign Language:
The focus on linguistics involves in-depth academic engagement with the German language. It is geared to the main research interests of the Institute and concentrates mainly on psycholinguistic, comparative and intercultural aspects. Essentially, the subject matter revolves around systematic, structural and functional language comparison as a basis for the analysis of language processing and communication processes in different contexts (education, the business world, the media, etc.). The high degree of linguistic diversity among the students at the Institute invites an intercultural perspective and acts as a sounding board for comparative and typological ideas and considerations. Within the linguistics focus, students can choose between three profiles providing them with theoretical and application-related qualifications for their prospective careers:
a) The Language and Cognition profile homes in on topical research issues connected with language production and language acquisition in individual languages and the links between language and thought processes. This profile prepares students primarily for an academic career.
b) The Didactics profile centres on the teaching of German language and culture in various learning and teachings contexts (foreign-language classes, teaching literature in language lessons, language instruction for migrant children, etc.). It aims to instil in the students a sound knowledge of language acquisition and an awareness of how it can be optimised. Students also receive guidance on how to draw upon their academic training when planning and monitoring classroom instruction situations. This profile prepares students for a career in teaching (secondary or higher education) at home or abroad.
c) The Intercultural Communication profile examines communication processes in the business world and the media on the basis of culture- and communication-theoretic concepts. Intercultural communication is viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective (combining linguistics, social psychology and cultural studies) and implemented in practical classes and projects. This profile is angled at students aiming at a career in public relations, international organisations or cultural and educational exchange.
The literary studies focus is primarily concerned with comparative and intercultural issues. Literature in German exists in a variety of contexts: medial, societal, supra-national. At the same time, emphasis is given to the function of literary texts in their cultural and economic environs. Instruction is closely geared to the research undertaken at the Institute, which dovetails literary history, cultural studies and text analysis and places the issues they pose in a cross-cultural perspective. Central concerns are the cultural and societal meaning of literary texts on the domestic plane, the relations between fictional texts and non-literary reality, and the literary interrelations between various literatures from the 18th century to the present.
The Comparative Studies profile extends the purview from the national to the global dimension. Given the supra-national connectivity of literary studies, the comparative “take” on other literatures opens up surprising perspectives on German literature as well. We are very much concerned to regard the issues addressed in class in terms of the cultural competence and the reading and knowledge horizons of our students (who hail from many different countries) and to help them develop an intercultural profile of their own. Central issues are the function of literature in different societies past and present, imagology (images of self and others), cultural concepts and their medial communication, and intercultural exchange, demarcation and assimilation processes all the way up to the emergence of “hybrid” intercultural literature(s). This profile area prepares students for an academic career.
The Didactics profile centres on the teaching of German language and culture in various learning and teaching contexts (foreign-language classes, teaching literature in language lessons, language instruction for migrant children, etc.). It aims to instil in the students a sound knowledge of language acquisition and its ramifications. Students also receive guidance on how to draw upon their academic training when planning and monitoring classroom instruction situations. This profile prepares students for a career in teaching (secondary or higher education) at home or abroad.
The Intercultural Communication profile examines communication processes in the business world and the media on the basis of culture- and communication-theoretic concepts. Intercultural communication is viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective (combining linguistics, social psychology and cultural studies) and implemented in practical classes and projects. This profile is angled at students aiming at a career in public relations, international organisations or cultural and educational exchange.
Comparative German Studies as a main (major) course
The two-year M.A. programme builds on a B.A. degree with compatible content. The standard duration of the course is 4 semesters and in this time students majoring in the subject need to acquire 120 CPs, 20 of them in a subsidiary (minor) subject.
As a main (major) course, both the linguistics and the literary studies focus break down into eight modules. Students must take
four compulsory specialist modules (36 CP)
two modules from the selected profile (24 CP)
two examination modules (40 CP)
modules from the subsidiary subject (20CP)
Comparative German Studies as a subsidiary (minor) subject
As a subsidiary subject accounting for 20 CP, the course at the Institute for German as a Second Language enriches the main (major) subject chosen by the student with knowledge in the field of comparative linguistics or literary studies. If they so desire, they can also acquire (or deepen) didactic-methodological proficiency in the field of German as a Foreign (second) Language. They are required to choose two of the elective-compulsory modules offered. When selecting modules, please remember that the subsidiary subject builds on a previous B.A. degree with an adequate degree of compatibility. A precondition for participation in the modules of the subsidiary subject is successful attendance of at least two preparatory seminars on relevant topics. Students majoring in Comparative German Studies/Linguistics can choose Comparative German Studies/Literature as their subsidiary subject and vice versa.
Studying a subsidiary subject in other departments of Heidelberg University
As a subsidiary (minor) subject (20 CP) supplementing Comparative Germanic Studies as a main (major) subject, students can choose from a variety of other subjects offered by Heidelberg University. Here you will find a list of all available subsidiary subjects that can be combined with Comparative German Studies.
Linguistic research at our Institute centres on cognitive language typology, comparative psycholinguistics, and early and later second-language acquisition. Research is interdisciplinary in approach, there are joint research initiatives in conjunction with computational linguisticians, psychologists, physicists, art historians and medical researchers. At present projects on the following topics are running at the Institute:
- language-typological research (a) on the expression of spatial and temporal concepts and (b) on information structure in Germanic, Romance and Slavic languages, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese
- language processing from a comparative perspective (with emphasis on the languages referred to above) using experimental methods like eye tracking, process chronometry, MEG, EEG
- second-language acquisition and language-learning support (Deutsch für den Schulstart project for improving language proficiency in nursery schools and elementary schools, Deutsch als Zweitsprache)
- intercultural business communication (with emphasis on language- and culture-specific information patterns in external corporate communication and audience media)
These projects offer interested students an opportunity for research-related learning.
In literary studies, research projects concentrate (a) on fields that are of relevance on the intercultural and comparative plane and (b) on topics related to social history, media history and cultural studies. They are sustained by a wide range of national and international collaborations, e.g. with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Federal Institute for the Culture and History of Germans in Eastern Europe (Oldenburg), the Max Hermann Neisse Institute at the University of Düsseldorf, the Department of German at Dalhousie University in Halifax (Canada), the Willy Brandt Centre and the Institute of Germanic Studies at the University of Wroclaw (Poland), the Central European Association of Germanists (MGV), and the Institutes of German Studies at the Universities of Gdansk (Poland), Olomouc (Czech Republic), Vészprem (Hungary), Kaunas (Lithuania), Tartu (Estonia) and Kutaissi (Georgia). Thematically, research focuses on the following areas:
- literature from the 18th to the 20th century in an intercultural and comparative perspective (esp. imagology, thematology, alterity, intertextuality, intermediality); editorial activities are another major interest (Johann Georg Hamann, Ludwig Tieck, Max and Elsa Bernstein, etc.)
- reality-related narration, with theoretical reflection on the functions of narration and the reality content of fiction; the development of this hybrid literature between reality and fiction is investigated for its historical relevance and its significance for literary life (e.g. writing under censorship, literary scandals, fact-fiction formats); the manual Fakten und Fiktionen. Werklexikon der deutschsprachigen Schlüsselliteratur published in 2012 is a product of this project
- regionalism as a post-national paradigm for describing the interaction between literatures in different languages and from different cultures existing side by side in the same geographical space (and not describable in terms of “national” literatures); research findings have been published in the form of monographs, essay collections and articles on northeast Europe (the Baltic and neighbouring countries), German-Polish loci of contact and conflict, Lusatia, central Europe in general, etc.
These projects offer students and doctoral candidates an opportunity to generate research topics of their own.
Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.
Prospective students from Germany
Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Institute of German as a Foreign Language for further information on how to proceed.
International prospective students
Prospective students from other countries must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadline for international applicants is 15 June for the winter semester and 15 November for the summer semester. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.
Students interested in this M.A. programme are invited to get in touch with the academic advisors before applying officially with a view to clearing up any questions they may have about their eligibility for the course.
As a subsidiary (minor) subject, students can choose any subject for which a suitable M.A. curriculum exists. Students majoring in Comparative Germanic Studies/Linguistics can choose Comparative German Studies/Literature as their subsidiary subject and vice versa.
Study and examination regulations
Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.
Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.
Dr. Michael Haase (literary studies)
Plöck 55, Office 126
Wednesdays 11 am – 1 pm in term time
phone: +49 (0)6221-54-7550
personal website announces short-notice changes to office hours.
Dr. Rolf Koeppel (linguistics)
Plöck 55, Office 024
Tuesdays 12:15 am – 1:15 pm in term time
phone: +49 (0)6221 547400
Personal website announces short-notice changes to office hours.
Institute of German as a Foreign Language