Faculty of Modern LanguagesComparative German Studies

The focus of Comparative German Studies is the comparative and intercultural examination of German language, literature, and culture.

The degree programme provides both German and international students with a comprehensive education in German linguistics and/or literature. Teaching and research are therefore particularly focussed on the comparative aspects of language and literature as well as intercultural and intermedial factors.
In the Bachelor’s degree programme, the specialised core subjects will be supplemented by practice-oriented application areas. The options available are didactics of German as a foreign and second language and intercultural communication. In the Master’s degree programme, the specialised content will be supplemented by research-oriented profiles: Intercultural communication or in the special field of linguistics, language and cognition, or the special field of literary studies, comparatistics. 

Special Features and Characteristics

The Institute for German as a Foreign Language Philology considers itself to be an institute with a special cultural-political mandate: it provides both German and international students who wish to prepare for careers at either the national or international level with an education in German language and culture. The study programme is therefore distinguished by a high degree of internationalism. 

Study abroad is possible at a variety of ERASMUS partner universities. Please find the current co-operations linked on the right-hand side.

In addition, the IDF (Institute of German as a Foreign Language Philology) offers its own teaching programme for Erasmus students at Heidelberg University in which advanced students of the IDF can gain first teaching experiences in the field of German as a foreign language.

The Comparative German Studies programme maintains close links to the various research projects housed at the Institute, providing students an opportunity to become acquainted with the research activities conducted at the Institute.


The core of linguistic research is in the areas of cognitive language typology, comparative psycholinguistics, and first- and second-language acquisition. Research has an interdisciplinary alignment. There is joint research, among other places with the pedagogic university. Beyond this, the department of linguistics of the IDF is a cooperation partner in the Cognitive Science Network of Heidelberg University, in the scope of which there are some collaborations with the Institute of Psychology, the centre for scientific computing (IWR), and the Heidelberg University Hospital (in particular the head clinic and general psychiatry). 

Current projects centre on the following topics:  

  • Experimental examination of language production and language comprehension processes in different examination groups 
  • Event cognition and linguistic expression under a language-comparison perspective 
  • Reading under conditions of linguistic heterogeneity 
  • Multilingualism in the context of school 
  • Acquisition on first and second languages in language comparison 
  • Language support concepts in second-language acquisition 

Literary research focusses on relevant intercultural and comparative aspects as well as socio-historical, media-historical, and cultural factors.  

Current research is focused on:  

  • Intercultural Literature
  • International children’s and youth literature 
  • (Entertainment) theatre around 1800 
  • German-French and German-Italian literary relationships  
  • Literary history and the history of mentalities 
  • German literature since 1945 in an international context 
  • Reality-based narrative
  • War Poetry
  • Heidelberg Modernity

Occupational Areas

Career options include (teaching) positions in the area of German as a Foreign/Second Language as well as opportunities for instructors of German culture in other countries and in Adult Education. Graduates are also qualified for positions in internationally-active corporations and organisations as well as – with a Master’s degree – for an academic career in the areas of German linguistics and literature.


Studierende Germanistik im Kulturvergleich Uni Heidelberg

I study Comparative German Studies because I am very interested by both language and culture. I first discovered my curiosity for and interest in Germany during my childhood - funnily enough thanks to my love of football.

Yuan Liu, 23, Comparative German studies, 2nd semester Master