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Unit information: Structures and Varieties of German in 2018/19

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Unit name Structures and Varieties of German
Unit code GERM20035
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Debbie Pinfold
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will be taught by Dr Anna Havinga

This unit focuses on techniques and challenges in the description of German language use. The first half of the unit will deal with the description of spoken and written varieties of German. The introduction to linguistic terminology and techniques for the description of pronunciation, grammar, and lexis will be accompanied by practical group-based tasks, which will ensure the students’ understanding of key frameworks in the analysis of language use. The second half of the unit will focus on sociolinguistic aspects of German, discussing reasons for stylistic, social and regional variation as well as language change in German.


  • To introduce students to techniques and key linguistic terminology for the analysis of language use, with specific reference to German;
  • To develop skills of linguistic analysis and research as well as the students’ existing knowledge of varieties of German;
  • To enable students to develop an understanding of reasons for the regional and social variation as well as language change in German.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit successful students will have:

  1. Demonstrated, to a standard appropriate to level I, a knowledge of the internal linguistic structures of varieties of German;
  2. Acquired and deployed an appropriate range of skills to describe and study language in a systematic way;
  3. Developed the ability to articulate a critical understanding of stylistic, social, and regional variation as well as language change in German;
  4. Demonstrated skill in the selection, synthesis and evaluation of relevant material;
  5. Demonstrated the ability to respond to problems by presenting independent judgements in an appropriate style and at a high level of complexity.

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

One 2000-word essay (50 %) and one two-hour written examination (50 %), each testing ILOs 1 to 5.

Reading and References

Clyne, Michael. 1995. The German language in a changing Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fagan, Sarah M.B. 2009. German. A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fox, Anthony. 2005. The Structure of German. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

König, Werner, Stephan Elspaß und Robert Möller. 2015. dtv-Atlas Deutsche Sprache. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag.