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German Studies

View of the Department of German Studies and the Old Bridge from Heidelberg Castle.
(Foto: Ingeborg L. Klinger)


Degree: Master of Arts
Application required: access-restricted
Course commences: winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration: 4 semesters
Format options: full-time / part-time
Language requirements: two modern foreign languages apart from German (on application)
Languages of instruction: German
Other features: postgraduate / consecutive


Neuphilologische Fakultät

Course outline

Students choose one of three areas to focus on: 1. German linguistics, 2. post-Renaissance German literature, 3. language and literature in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age.

  1. Here the practical research emphasis lies on “language knowledge” as the core topic. Students are provided with an overview of historical and modern linguistics with opportunities to select areas of their own choice to focus on. The research emphasis is characteristic of the M.A. programme as a whole. In linguistics it takes specific account of the linguistic implications associated with problems besetting specific areas of society. The so-called “research workshop” introduces students to the practicalities of academic research with a combination of methodological instruction, self-study, programmatic research and joint evaluation.
  2. “Post-Renaissance German literature” focuses on the continuum extending from Humanism, the Enlightenment, the Classical and Romantic eras to 19th century realism, early 20th century modernism and contemporary writing. Paradigms of the history of post-Renaissance German literature are situated in their historical and social contexts. Intensifier modules dig deeper and discuss intertextual referentialities, interdisciplinary and comparative aspects, links to the history of knowledge and poetological traditions. The research bias is strongly marked, with the so-called “research workshop” introducing students to the practicalities of academic research via a combination of methodological instruction, self-study, programmatic research and joint evaluation.
  3. “Language and literature in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age” concentrates on the history of German and German literature from the 8th to the 18th century. The aim of the course is to examine representative excerpts with a view to enabling students to engage with German language and literature in the period indicated. At a later stage students are invited to specialise either in the Middle Ages or the early modern age. In both cases, the approach is intercultural and interdisciplinary, supplementing the chosen focus by discussing the entire European dimension of linguistic and literary production in the pre-modern age.

Course structure

The course consists of :
1. German Studies as a main subject with classes in one of the three focal areas divided up into (a) a basic module (1st-2nd semester), (b) an in-depth module (2nd-3rd semester), an examination and research module (3rd semester), an examination module (4th semester), and the M.A. thesis (4th semester) and
2. a subsidiary (minor) subject consisting of one compact module (1st – 3rd semester).
Eligible as subsidiary (minor) subjects are all subjects offering teaching at M.A. level (see catalogue of subjects). Students focusing on “German Linguistics” can choose “Post-Renaissance German Literature” or “Language and Literature in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age” as their subsidiary subject. Those focusing on “Post-Renaissance German Literature” can choose “German Linguistics” or “Language and Literature in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age” as a subsidiary subject. Those focusing on “Language and Literature in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age” can choose “German Linguistics” or “Post-Renaissance German Literature” as their subsidiary subject.
The three options in the subsidiary subject (“German Linguistics”, “Post-Renaissance German Literature” and “Language and Literature in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age”) also build on a previously acquired degree in a modern language subject. They focus on advanced issues and methods in their respective sector and thus provide a contrastive and/or interdisciplinary perspective on the discipline studied as a main subject.

Subsidiary subject

In the M.A. course German Studies, 20 credit points need to be acquired in a subsidiary subject. You will find a list of all available subsidiary subjects here..

The M.A. course in German Studies can also be selected as a subsidiary subject accounting for 20 CP.

More information on the subject

Pamphlet on the M.A. in German Studies

Main research interests

1. German Linguistics

  • Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Felder and his co-workers engage in linguistic analysis of media discourse, the linguistics of language variants and sociolinguistics (notably expert communication in law, bioethics and the bio-/genetic engineering debate and the analysis of political diction). In this context the historical dimension is also taken account of (historical discourse analysis as history of mentalities) with a focus on text linguistics, rhetoric and argumentation analysis. In systems linguistics the emphasis is on the grammar of form-function correlations (modality, genus verbi), semantics and pragmatics. Of central importance are the problems posed by linguistic norms and language critique.
  • Prof. Dr. Jörg Riecke and his co-workers teach and research the history of German from the beginnings (Old High German) to the recent past (language in the Nazi era). Other emphases are German in contact with other languages, the history of German in eastern Europe, lexicology and lexicography, language and medicine, onomasiology, and the history of science. The approach centres on a combination of philological, structural, pragmatic and language-reflexive methods and concerns.
  • The main research interests of Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Konerding revolve around the connections between language and the constitution of knowledge and consciousness, semantics (including the interface between semantics and pragmatics), functional grammar (including grammaticalisation processes), cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, anthropological linguistics, linguistic communication studies / discourse analysis and communication in organisations.

2. Post-Renaissance German Literature

  • The chair held by Prof. Dr. Barbara Beßlich investigates literary and cultural history from the 18th to the 20th century. Focal concerns are the literature of classical modernity (Thomas Mann, Viennese modernism, Stefan George), narrative theory, cultural critique of modernity, intermediality, and memorialisation concepts in literary studies.
  • - The chair held by Prof. Dr. Helmuth Kiesel investigates the history of literary modernity, notably the history of literature in German between 1918 and 1945.
  • The chair held by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Kühlmann devotes its research to literary and cultural history from the 16th to the 20th century. Central interests are the combination of basic philological research with hermeneutic and above all socio-historical methods and the analysis of periods of upheaval (e.g. the Vormärz).
  • Prof. Dr. Roland Reuß and his co-workers focus on theories of literature and scholarly editing and the methodological foundations of textual criticism. Other major concerns are the history of book printing and book design (typography) and manuscriptology. In the framework of ongoing editing projects (historical-critical editions of the works of Kleist and Kafka) much attention is devoted to the use of digital media. There is also a research focus on the works of Hölderlin and Celan, the age of Goethe, and German Romanticism.

3. Language and Literature in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period

  • The main research interests in this sector (Prof. Dr. Ludger Lieb, Prof. Dr. Tobias Bulang) focus on the specifics of medieval narratology, scholarly editing of medieval texts, investigation of instructional/educational German texts from the Middle Ages (natural history, historiography, medicine, sermons, encyclopaedias, etc.), and the interrelations between texts of this kind and literature. The early stages of German and German literature are discussed in terms of their anthropological and media-historical dimensions. Other major interests are German and European love poetry and initiatives for the dissemination of academic knowledge on the Middle Ages in schools and the public domain.
  • The research interests of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Kühlmann and his co-workers focus on literature and culture in the early modern age (16th to 18th century). Alongside literature in German they also take account of writing in Latin in the same period, the history of science and education, and research on cultural spaces in the regions. Central concerns are the combination of basic philological research with hermeneutic and above all socio-historical methods and the analysis of periods of upheaval.

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 Department of German Studies 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. (27 July 2012)
Examination regulations for Master courses – General Section (21 April 2010, last amendment 21 July 2011)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook (see„Prüfungsordnungen und andere Materialien zum Download“).

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

Dr. Marcel Krings
Department of German Studies
Haupstraße 207-209, Office 026
phone: +49 (0)6221 543228

office hours: Mondays 3 – 5 pm


Department of German Studies
Hauptstraße 207–209
D-69117 Heidelberg

Secretaries' office: Office 035
phone: +49 (0)6221 543201
fax: +49 (0)6221 543255


Student representation:

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Latest Revision: 2017-11-27
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