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English Studies

Degree Bachelor of Arts
Application mandatory
Course commences winter semester / summer semester
Course duration 6 semesters
Format options full-time / part-time
Focus options 75%; 50% (with Teaching Degree option); 25%
Language requirements         for international applicants: German (DSH 2)
Language of instruction English (mostly)


Faculty of Modern Languages

Note for prospective students interested in coming to Heidelberg University to take the Teaching Degree course qualifying its graduates to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany:

In accordance with the statutory provisions laid down by the State of Baden-Württemberg, students wishing to embark as of winter semester 2015/2016 on a Teaching Degree qualifying them to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany can only do so by enrolling in two-tier courses with a Bachelor/Master structure (polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor programme with a Teaching Degree option; Master of Education course scheduled to start in winter semester 2018/2019).

As of winter semester 2015/2016, the subject described on this page can be studied in a polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor course with a Teaching Degree option. It has to be combined with another 50% subject of relevance for secondary-school education.

For more information, go to

Note for students already enrolled in a Teaching Degree course in the framework of the Examination Regulations for Teachers at Higher Secondary Schools (GymPO I):

In the winter semester 2015/2016 and later, students enrolled by 31 July 2015 in a Teaching Degree course regulated by the provisions of GymPO I (2009) are entitled to switch to a different main subject under the conditions set out in said GymPO provided that the change is in accordance with the statutory provisions.

In this case, the following transitional regulations apply:

For more information, go to

Course outline

The B.A. course in English Studies is a degree programme dedicated to the investigation of the English language, both in its various present-day forms and in its historical development,  and of the literature and culture of the English-speaking world. Traditionally, Britain and North America are of central significance, but there are also a number of classes on other varieties of the language, other literatures in English and other English-speaking cultures. The various courses constituting the degree programme differ in focus but cover the most important sectors of English Studies (see below). These are Linguistics, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies and Language Classes.

Linguistics focuses on the scholarly description of language and the way it functions in human societies. Modern linguistics is a highly sophisticated and specialist discipline with many different approaches to the subject matter in question. Topics investigated include the description of the language system (script, phonological structure, grammar, vocabulary, etc.), acquisition of the native tongue or foreign languages, and similarities and differences between languages established via typologies and contrastive studies. Other branches of linguistics investigate the differences between oral and written language, the changing relationship between standard language and dialects, and translation from one language to another. But linguistics is not solely concerned with the scholarly description of aspects of language such as these. Another major concern of academic research is to contribute to the optimisation of language acquisition, the design and compilation of dictionaries, and progress in machine translation. Given the status of English as a global language, these applied research concerns are especially significant. Alongside these more contemporary interests, the Linguistics course also devotes appropriate attention to the development of English in the course of its 1,500-year history.

The Literary Studies programme is concerned with literature in English from its beginnings to the present day. The prime objectives pursued in classes of this nature are to provide students with knowledge of its (main) works and epochs and to instil in them a methodologically reflective understanding of texts that are particularly important for aesthetic and/or culture-historical reasons. Here, literature is not regarded in isolation but as a practical product/activity variously linked to ongoing societal, political and cultural processes. The way literature comes into being and the reception accorded to it are just as much a part of Literary Studies as engagement with theories of literature.

The Cultural Studies programme investigates cultural phenomena of the English-speaking world from the Middle Ages to the present. One central concern is with theories, methods and models enabling us to distinguish and analyse the various material, mental and social dimensions of culture. Students are provided with an overview of the essential culture-theoretic approaches, enabling them to recognise and engage critically with cultural patterns of order and meaning and their medial representations. Another major focus is on central cultural topics in different epochs. Literary Studies of a cultural persuasion looks at works of (English) literature in the overall cultural context, i.e. their relation to cultural topics specific to the relevant epoch. Some of the topics focused on in such an approach include the commercialisation of literature, the relations between literature and other media, and issues connected with identity formation and culture-specific values.

Language Classes serve a dual purpose. First they are designed to enable students to systematically improve and extend their knowledge of the English language so that by the time of the final examination at the latest they will have a confident command of the language both orally and in writing. The other aim of these classes is to take a systematically contrastive approach, providing students with practical insights into the structures of English and hence with a “thinking” command of the language based on that awareness. The following Language Classes are (normally) part of the curriculum every term: pronunciation exercises (phonetics), grammar & style, translations into and from English, vocabulary and idioms, writing English, creative writing, etc.

Studying abroad

First-hand experience of British/American culture (“way of life”) can legitimately be regarded as an indispensable addition to any English Studies course. Accordingly, students of this subject should spend one or two semesters in an English-speaking country. The benefits in terms of language proficiency are obvious. These are various ways of organising a sojourn abroad quite cheaply. Students with BAföG grants can apply for “BAföG international” for the space of one year and use it to finance their studies in the United States, Great Britain or Ireland. In addition, the Department of English Studies runs an annual student exchange programme with various British universities for which students can apply for grants from the EU Erasmus system. They can also apply for (i) a (partial) grant from the Heidelberg Exchange Program (with opportunities to study at over 60 universities in the United States and Canada), (ii) a grant provided by the German Student Exchange Service or the Fulbright Commission (USA) for study at British, American and Canadian universities, and (iii) a post as assistant teacher in an English-speaking country. On the website of the Department of English Studies you can find various other information about studying abroad.

Now for a brief description of the courses available at the Department of English Studies.

Course structure

Degree Programmes available at the Department of English Studies at Heidelberg University

Teaching Degree Course as defined in GymPO (enrolment between winter semester 2010/2011  and summer semester 2015)

All students, who began a teaching degree programme in the period beginning with the winter semester 2010 and ending with summer semester 2015, study in accordance with the Examination Regulations for Teachers at Higher Secondary Schools (Grammar Schools) (GymPO I) from 2009. It concludes with the first  state examination in two equally weighted main subjects. For graduates of the respective degree programme at a college of arts or music, the second subject may be studied as a subsidiary subject.

You can find further information in the Department of English Studies’ Student Handbook and on the Teacher Training at Grammar Schools webpages.


The last standard state examinations according to the terms of the GymPO (2009) will take place in autumn 2021, or for subject combinations that include art and music, in autumn 2022. It is therefore strongly recommended that students seek advice before changing subjects or taking on an additional subject, and verify whether it is still possible to take the state examination in the new subject according to the terms of the GymPO I (2009) during the transition period. 

Important Information for Transfer Students and Students changing Subjects

It is possible to enrol in an advanced semester of the old GymPO programme if proof is provided that credits in two (relevant) subjects have been obtained, and these credits are recognised. If credits in only one relevant subject have been obtained, strict limitations are placed on enrolment in the GymPO/state examination programme. Please contact the responsible student advisor.

Bachelor's Degree Programme

The Department of English Studies at Heidelberg University began introducing the two-tier degree programmes (B.A. = Bachelor of Arts and M.A. = Master of Arts) in the winter semester 2007/2008. As of the winter semester 2015/2016, the B.A. (50%) in English studies, and the M.Ed. programme (Master of Education) replace the state examination programmes. The above-mentioned B.A. is a polyvalent degree programme (for both main subjects). It qualifies students for both the M.Ed. and the M.A. programmes. Students in the B.A. programme, who would like to continue on to the M.Ed. programme, should ensure that they choose the Teaching Degree option when selecting cross-disciplinary skills. This option is already aligned to the M.Ed. programme (elements relevant to didactics and education studies, includes internships in schools). 

In addition to the polyvalent B.A. programme (with two equally weighted, 50%, main subjects), alternative programmes with a 75% and 25% weighting are available. The latter programme is limited to one of the following areas of focus: Linguistics, Literary Studies or Cultural Studies. A total of 180 credits are required from compulsory and elective courses for successful completion of the Bachelor’s programme (standard period of study is 6 semesters, it is possible to study the programme part-time - see the chapter on part-time study in the Student Handbook). The Bachelor’s programme comprises either a main subject with a 75% weighting (113 credits) combined with a subsidiary subject with a 25% weighting (35 credits), or a combination of two equally weighted (50%) main subjects (74 credits). Cross-disciplinary skills (20 credits) and the Bachelor’s thesis (12 credits) provide further credits. The Department of English Studies at Heidelberg University offers all three alternatives: Main subject 75%, main subject 50% and subsidiary subject 25%.

Information on the modules to be completed, the required courses, allocation of credits and semester recommendations can be found in the module structure for each option, which is also included in the Examination Rules and Regulations. Further information on the content and requirements of the Bachelor’s programme, and on the examinations can be found in the Department of English Studies’ Student Handbook and in the Examination Regulations for the relevant Bachelor’s programme.

Main research and teaching interests

The central aim pursued by the staff members of the English Department at Heidelberg University is not only to provide as broad and diverse a perspective on the contemporary state of play in their subject as possible but also to emphasise the riches revealed by a historical view of linguistics, literature and cultural studies. Accordingly, the study of literature at the Department concentrates not only on the “great classics” of British and North American literature and on theory formation in literary and cultural studies but also homes in on new English-speaking literatures and cultures. Thus we find early modern literature rubbing shoulders with experimental texts and the very latest publications discussed in “Hot Off the Press”, a class that enjoys something approaching cult status.

In linguistics, things are very similar. Alongside the traditional emphasis on British and American English and their regional varieties, there is increasing engagement with more recent international varieties of English. In linguistics classes, the description of present-day English figures just as prominently as the study of the processes operative in language change. Equally important is the concern with earlier stages of the language, a good working knowledge of which is indispensable for the understanding of historical texts.

The consistently outstanding showing of the English Department in various academic rankings over the last few years is largely the result of its research prowess. Five chairs with the corresponding number of assistants, various extraordinary professorships and the substantial research done by the non-professorial staff guarantee an exceptional degree of exchange between teaching and research materialising in an unusually large number of doctorates.

In Literary Studies/Cultural Studies the staff of the English Department specialise in the following areas:

  • the novel, drama and poetry in Britain
  • Anglophone and Anglo-Irish literature
  • hypertexts and hybrid genres
  • issues in literary and cultural studies (gender studies, narratology, etc.)
  • American transcendentalism

Research interests in Linguistics are:

  • cognitive metaphors
  • stylistics
  • corpus linguistics
  • pragmatics


Formal requirements


Bachelor and Teaching Degree

Admission is subject to an Admissions Test (formerly Aptitude Assessment Procedure) the conduct and assessment criteria of which are laid down in the Regulations for Admissions Tests. Application takes place online.

Supplementary Examination (Teaching Degree)

After passing (at least) the Orientation Examination, students can embark on the study of the supplementary subject in both main subjects.

  • subsidiary subject requirements: aptitude assessment procedure
  • main subject requirements: aptitude assessment procedure  

International applicants

There are special regulations for international applicants. Please consult Heidelberg University’s International Relations Office (Akademisches Auslandsaamt, Seminarstraße 2) for more information.


Subject combinations

Possible subject combinations are listed in the Catalogue of Subjects.

Study and examination regulations

Teaching Degree

Regulations for students of the old Teaching Degree course (enrolled as of winter semester 20120/11) in accordance with GymPo I (2009)

Teaching Degree Examination Regulations for students of the older Teaching Degree course (enrolment up to and including summer semester 2010): in accordance with WPO of 2001



Examination Regulations B.A.: special part English Studies (26 March 2015, last change 14 March 2016)
Examination Regulations B.A.: special part English Studies (26 March 2015)
Examination Regulations B.A.: special part English Studies (14 June 2010) (do be discontinued, enrolment from winter semester 2010/11 up to and including summer semester 2015)
Examination Regulations B.A.: special part English Studies (old, enrolment from summer semester 2009 up to and including summer semester 2010)
B.A.: Examination Regulations (old; valid for students enrolling from winter semester 2007/08 up to and including winter semester 2008/09)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

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.

M.A. course

Heidelberg University offers a consecutive M.A. degree course in English Studies with a focus either on Linguistics or Literary Studies.


Academic advisors

Please check the English Department website for updates (“Aktuelles") or altered office hours during vacations (“Personen").

For subject-specific counselling on the application procedure and the English Studies programme in general:

Bachelor (start of course before WS2015/16)

Dr. Eva Hänßgen
Kettengasse 12, Office 328
Wednesdays 2:15-4:15 pm
phone: 06221/54-2848

Dr. Heiko Jakubzik
Kettengasse 12, Office 221
Thu 2 - 3 pm and after booking via "SignUp"
phone: 06221/54-2838

Bachelor (25%, 50% without TD option, 75%, start of course from WS2015/16)

Dr. Eva Hänßgen
Kettengasse 12, Office 328
Wednesdays 2:15 - 4:15 pm (concerning BA and misc.)
phone: 06221/54-2848

Kay Henn
Kettengasse 12, Office 329
Wednesdays 12 am -2 pm
phone: 06221/54-2849

Polyvalent Bachelor (50%) with Teaching Degree option

Dr. Eva Hänßgen
Kettengasse 12, Office 328
Wednesdays 2:15 - 4:15 pm, please book consultation via "SignUp"
phone 06221/54-2848

Kay Henn
Kettengasse 12, Office 329
Wed 2:30-4 pm, please book consultation via "SignUp"
phone 06221/54-2849


PD Dr. Margit Peterfy
Kettengasse 12, Office 318
Tuesdays 11 am – 12 am, Thursdays 11 am – 12 am (and by arrangement)
phone: +49 6221 542851

Dr. Michael Isermann
Kettengasse 12, Office 325
Fr. 9:00 - 11:00 am
phone 06221 54-2827

Teaching Degree (GymPO)

Dr. Michael Isermann (also WPO)
Kettengasse 12, Office 325
Fridays 9 – 11 am
phone: +49 6221 542827

Dr. Eva Hänßgen
Kettengasse 12, Office 328
Wednesdays 2:15 - 4:15 pm (only concerning GymPO)
phone: 06221/54-2848



Anglistisches Seminar
Kettengasse 12
D-69117 Heidelberg



phone: +49 6221 542836
fax: +49 6221 542877

Student representation

Internet: facebook

Latest Revision: 2018-04-09
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