German Language and Literature (BA)

What is the degree programme about?

»German was always one of my favourite subjects! I practically devour books and I like writing the odd article for our school newspaper.« Anyone who can identify with this already meets some of the most important criteria for a degree in German language and literature. However, you should not shy away from abstract thinking and should also be interested in methodological questions. In German language and literature, writing academic texts is just as important as working with them. You will present your thorough analyses and interpretations of texts in essays, independent presentations and group discussions.

In modern German literature you will study German-language works from the time of Martin Luther up to the present day, investigating poetry and prose, as well as non-fiction texts such as travel writing, reports and diaries. You will use historical and systematic perspectives to gain an understanding of texts, whereby cultural contexts are equally as important as issues of classification, aspects of media distribution and the relationships between German literature and the literature of other countries.

In the history of medieval German literature (medieval studies) you will learn how to approach texts from the Middle Ages (around 800 to 1500). The reality of this period differs considerably from the ideas presented by fantasy literature and medieval festivals, and the aim here is to reflect on literature in its historical context as part of an academic discussion. Epic poems such as the Nibelungenlied are discussed in relation to topics such as the historical development of gender roles, the form in which narrative text is presented, or the practice of passing on information. You will gain knowledge of Middle High German in the degree programme.

Linguistics is concerned with the structure and use of language. In this context, language is treated as something material, fixed in speech or writing, that can be analysed with regard to its components, units and functions. Language is also a means of communication used by human beings and in this respect linguistics looks at topics such as the differences between oral and written communication, language varieties, dialects, and colloquial language, as well as language change throughout history.

What can I do with this degree?

As German language and literature students usually go on to a diverse range of careers, during the degree programme great importance is placed on developing transferable skills and communications skills.

After receiving your Bachelor's degree you may go on to study a Master's degree programme. Alternatively you may pursue a career in areas such as:

  • publishing and libraries
  • journalism and media
  • the cultural sector
  • advisory services and education
What qualities and skills do I need?
  • an interest in reading and reflecting academically on what you have read
  • a passion for literature and language
  • an interest in historical changes in language, literature and culture
  • an interest in comparing, interpreting and discussing texts
  • a flair for abstract thinking and the ability to think in a structured way
  • the ability to read and write academic texts
  • excellent proficiency in written and spoken German and strong comprehension skills
  • an interest in presenting and discussing your own ideas about texts and linguistic phenomena
  • the ability to work independently
Good reasons for choosing to study at FAU
  • The breadth of the course offerings and a variety of methodological approaches allow for study according to one's own interests and abilities, a sound education in the basics and very good exam grades.
  • Literature in its liveliest form can be experienced within the framework of a regular "Poetics College". This is because important authors of contemporary literature make guest appearances here, giving insights into their work and willingly answering the questions of students and lecturers. In the process, experience can be gained in the field of public cultural education, also in cooperation with municipal institutions.
  • From the medieval manuscript to the text edition: In special courses, participants can accompany current edition projects and participate in them themselves.
  • Two interdisciplinary linguistic centres offer lectures by linguists from Germany and abroad every semester, which provide insights into current research beyond the normal course offerings.
  • Intensive student support is very important to the committed faculty.
Potential challenges
  • You must complete modules in all three of the core areas (see above) to ensure you have suitably broad knowledge of key disciplines. However, you may choose to specialise through the elective modules you take.
  • You must be able to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in Latin by the fifth semester.
  • The German Language and Literature degree programme requires you to be prepared to carefully read and study a large number of sometimes difficult texts independently.
  • The modular structure can make co-ordinating the degree programme structure somewhat complicated. This makes choosing your own specialisations all the more important.
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Degree program start date and application deadlines

The FAU website provides an overview of the current application deadlines as well as information on the selection process and how to apply.

Start date of degree program: Winter Term

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Degree type: Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Type of study: Two subject Bachelor's degree programme
Location: Erlangen
Standard duration of study: 6 Semester
Start date of degree program: Winter Term
Size: (currently 50-150 Students)
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology
Admission: No Admissions Restrictions