Faculty of Modern LanguagesSlavic and Eastern European Studies

The degree programme in Slavic and Eastern European Studies focusses on the languages, literature, and history of the Slavic countries from a cultural studies and interdisciplinary perspective.

Slavic and Eastern European Studies combines solid language training with advanced knowledge and research skills in the areas of both Slavic philology (linguistics, literature, and cultural studies) and Eastern European history. The interdisciplinary nature of the degree programme permits a multi-faceted examination of Eastern Europe and East-Central Europe, enabling a differentiated understanding of both historical and current cultural and political developments. Students will obtain essential key competencies as well as sought-after expert knowledge of our increasingly globalised and interconnected world, particularly as regards the expanding relationship between Europe and the countries of Eastern, East-Central and Southern Europe.

Special Features and Characteristics

The Master’s degree programme in Slavic and Eastern European Studies is a collaboration between the Institute of Slavic Studies and the Chair for Eastern European History at the Heidelberg University Department of History. Its interdisciplinary nature enables students to engage in an examination of the culture of the Slavic countries from a wide variety of perspectives. While philological questions are at the focus of language and literature studies, historical studies will investigate the historical development of the individual Slavic countries in both a pan-European and an international context.  

The range of possible combinations of content and languages within the Slavic and East European Studies degree programme enables students to tailor their studies to their specific interests. A focus on integral collaboration with the Department of Eastern European History, the Institute of Slavic Studies’ principle of examining the entirety of Slavia, a strong comparative approach, and the opportunity for learning lesser-spoken languages – particularly Bulgarian, which is rarely offered at German Universities, all contribute to the special profile of the Slavic and Eastern European Studies degree programme at Heidelberg University. 

The open and friendly atmosphere in the department, enhanced by small-group activities in language courses and seminars, allows instructors to engage with students on an individual basis, as well as to provide personalised support and to engage in intensive exchange. Students with appropriate qualifications will be invited at an early stage of their studies to participate in Institute projects (e.g. conferences, translation projects, etc.).

Research

The expertise possessed by the Chairs as well as the instructors at the Institute of Slavic Studies ensures that students are receiving the broadest and most comprehensive picture possible of the diversity of Slavia. This includes a literary focus on authors of nineteenth-century classics, such as Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy, as well as on avantgarde poetry and modern literature. Particular emphasis is placed on comparative approaches. Another important area of studies is the theory and practice of literary translation. 

Linguistic research topics include the study of language transformation in both the recent and ancient history of the Slavic languages. This historical research does not begin with the emergence of the individual Slavic languages during the early Middle Ages, but goes further back to study what is referred to as “proto-Slavic”, which predates the written word.  

In the study of modern Slavic languages, socio-linguistic issues (such as bilingualism and multilingualism, language varieties research, the language of the media prior to and following the political transformations of 1989), language contact research, and typology play especially important roles. 

  • Research at the Eastern European History Department at Heidelberg University is particularly concerned with the history of Russia, the Ukraine, and Poland in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. This includes aspects of social, economic and cultural history, a comparison of dictators, the history of violence, transitional justice research, environmental history, and the history of knowledge and science. Areas of research emphasis are currently divided into four areas:  
  • World War II and Holocaust history as well as the examination of crimes committed by the Third Reich in prosecuting criminals in Eastern Europe 
  • Stalinism, both from a cultural-historical perspective as well as in the context of the Soviet Union’s minority politics 
  • The history of Russian terrorism and its transnational ties 
  • The history of atomic incidents in the Soviet Union including the associated knowledge acquired.  

The professorship is also affiliated with research sites for the study of the history of Russian Germans as well as the ERC project, “Entangled Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and Mongolia 1905 – 2005”.

Occupational Areas

The broad range of skills that graduates of Humanities programmes acquire makes them attractive candidates for a wide variety of professional opportunities. The knowledge of the language, history, and culture of the Slavic countries that students will have acquired during their studies makes graduates of the Master’s degree programme in Slavic and East European Studies particularly well-qualified for positions in an intercultural professional environment, particularly for careers in the areas of:  

  • Intercultural exchange (e.g. cultural institutions, foundations)  
  • The education sector (e.g. publishing houses, adult education) 
  • Research (especially if further academic credentials are obtained)  

In particular, the inclusion of Eastern European countries in European institutions provides graduates of Slavic studies with an opportunity to serve as a societal bridge between Germany and its eastern neighbours in the areas of communications and collaboration.

Insights

I am enrolled in the Master's programme in Slavic and Eastern European studies to consolidate the knowledge I gained in the Bachelor’s programme in Eastern European and East-Central European studies. The Master’s programme is amazing as it allows students to choose their own specialisations and I can therefore pursue my own research interests.

Matthias Puchta, 29, Slavic and Eastern European Studies, 4th semester Master