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Degree Master of Arts
Application required  access-restricted
Course commences winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration 4 semesters
Format options full-time only
Language requirements certified proficiency in Latin, Greek, Hebrew or Classical Arabic (see examination regulations);
English and French (on application)
Language of instruction German
Other features postgraduate / consecutive  

Faculty of Philosophy


Course outline

Egyptology is one of a number of disciplines that investigate early high cultures. Its core concern is with the civilisation of ancient Egypt in all its aspects, from its earliest history to the Muslim conquest that marked its end. In spatial terms, the focal area is the lower Nile valley and adjacent regions. Egyptology is an historical discipline dividing its attention more or less equally between archaeology, philology and cultural history. One of the distinguishing features of the culture of ancient Egypt is the fact that written sources and material culture are so closely intertwined. Script figures in almost all the object genres of architecture and art. Accordingly, the interpretation of these objects is crucially dependent on the philological analysis of the texts on, in or pertaining to them. Vice versa, the relevance of many texts is best understood by taking due account of their material contexts. While many neighbouring subjects can be readily divided up into their philological components (Ancient Oriental Studies, Near Eastern Archaeology, etc.), this is quite simply impracticable in the case of Egyptology. Equally impossible is a specialisation in terms of epochs, as the almost seamless progression of ancient Egyptian culture and its marked conservatism mean that texts and objects from the earliest and latest stages of this civilisation can shed crucial light on each other.

Equally essential to the concerns of Egyptology are those apparently marginal sectors of its overall purview that appear at first glance to be the province of other subjects: the prehistoric cultures of Egypt are the territory of Pre- and Protohistory, Hellenist-Roman Egypt is very much on the agenda of Classical Studies, Coptology is a subdivision of Christian Archaeology and Christian Oriental Studies (the latter case is the one where synergies with Egyptology are most apparent). In Heidelberg many of these departments are housed in one and the same building, thus enhancing the likelihood of appropriate attention for these borderline phenomena. Another advantage is that Heidelberg is one of the few study locations in Germany notable for its concern with Demotic studies. By contrast, Meroitic studies (investigation of the culture and language of ancient Sudan) are not a part of the Heidelberg curriculum at present.

In recent years, countless exhibitions, easily understandable publications on ancient Egyptian topics, and broadcasts and reports in the mass media have kindled and encouraged a broad public interest in this ancient civilisation. The blessings of modern tourism have made it very easy to satisfy this interest. This phenomenon challenges academic Egyptologists to collate and publicise their findings in readily comprehensible lectures, descriptions, guided tours, etc. This in itself is symptomatic of one of the distinguishing features of our own culture: the desire to engage in an ongoing dialogue with the past. Initially focusing on classical antiquity and Biblical traditions, this desire expanded to other sectors with (and after) the advent of Romanticism. Figuring prominently in both the Graeco-Roman and the Biblical heritage, ancient Egypt was part and parcel of this development from its outset in the Renaissance. And when Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs, it naturally loomed larger still.


Course structure

As a main (major) subject, the M.A. course in Egyptology enhances the students’ knowledge and linguistic skills by means of a variety of structural modules and a specialisation module.  The structural modules Language 1 and Language 2 provide instruction in the Coptic language and enable the students to read and translate challenging original texts from different genres and a variety of stages in the development of language and script.

The structural modules Culture 1 and Culture 2 extend the students’ knowledge of the culture, history, archaeology and art of ancient Egypt, supplementing these endeavours with the analysis of the structures of this ancient civilisation and the issues it was faced with.

For their specialisation module, students can choose between enhancement of their linguistic skills by learning Demotic (language and script) and extension of their cultural knowledge by attending two advanced seminars on specific issues taken from the entire range of the subject.

The two final modules are taken in the fourth semester. One is the completion of the M.A. thesis, the other the oral examination.

As a subsidiary (minor) subject, the M.A. course in Egyptology uses structural modules to enhance the students’ linguistic skills and subject-related knowledge.

The structural module Language is made up of two classes, one of them centring on reading comprehension (more middle-Egyptian texts), the other on challenging texts from various stages in the development of language and script.

The structural module Culture provides two seminars in which students can extend their knowledge of the culture, history, archaeology and art of ancient Egypt.

In principle, Egyptology as a main or subsidiary subject can be combined with any subject for which corresponding M.A. exam regulations exist.

Recommended combinations are

  1. subjects dealing with topics in which Egyptian finds figure prominently, e,g. Prehistory and Protohistory, Byzantine Archaeology and Art,  Classical Archaeology, Papyrology, Classical Studies;
  2. “neighbouring” subjects like Assyriology, Near Eastern Archaeology, Semitic Studies, Islamic Studies, etc.;
  3. disciplines with similar methodological and theoretical approaches/concerns (some of which have been referred to above) , e.g. Religious Studies, History of Art, Anthropology.

Subsidiary subject

The M.A. course in Egyptology requires study of a subsidiary (minor) subject accounting for 20 CP. Here you will find a list of all the subsidiary subjects you can take.

The M.A. course in Egyptology can also be studied as a subsidiary subject accounting for 20 CP.


Formal requirements


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 Egyptology 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.

Further information

Current information on procedure

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.A. (14 June 2007)

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.

Academic advisor

Carina Kühne-Wespi, M.A.
Ägyptologisches Institut
Voßstr. 2, Gebäude 4410
69115 Heidelberg
office hours: thurdays 2 - 4 p.m. and  by appointment
phone: +49 (0)6221-54-2534


Institute of Egyptology
Voßstr. 2, Gebäude 4410
69115 Heidelberg

Secretary’s office:
phone: +49 (0)6221 542533
fax: +49 (0)6221 542551


Editor: Email
Latest Revision: 2019-02-26
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