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Unit information: Language and Power: Introductions to German History in 2018/19

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Unit name Language and Power: Introductions to German History
Unit code GERM10039
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Havinga
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces students to key aspects in the history and development of the German peoples and the German language, and to the study of the German past through the disciplines of history and linguistics. It aims to help students develop their skills of critical analysis and synthesis, informed discussion and the written presentation of ideas

The unit thus aims:

  • to develop critical understanding of key developments in the history of Germany speaking world, and in the history of the German language
  • to impart a broad knowledge of selected key concepts and turning points in the political and linguistic histories of the German peoples
  • to develop students’ sensitivity to key principles and tools for the analysis and understanding of the German past
  • to inculcate good practices and attitudes in study at university level, including: precision, curiosity, creativity, independence and imagination
  • to enhance students’ capacity to engage closely and critically, in oral discussion and in writing, with primary material and with scholarship

to develop key technical skills for university study, notably in research, close reading, independent analysis and reasoned debate.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, successful students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. outline knowledge of the political and linguistic history of the German-speaking world, and of key critical concepts in understanding that world
  2. skills of textual close reading and sophisticated analytical skills and methods appropriate to Level C
  3. experience in obtaining, and critically researching, relevant scholarship (via library and IT resources) and an ability to synthesise the results of this research in precise, independent arguments, in writing and in oral discussions.

Teaching details

One 2hr lecture per week

One 1hr seminar per week

The seminar hours will include informal student presentations and will provide students with opportunities to prepare for the summative assessment.

Assessment Details

One 500-word commentary and one 1000-word essay on topics related to the linguistic history of the German-speaking world (assess ILO 1-3).

One 500-word commentary and one 1000-word essay on topics related to the political and social history of the German-speaking world (assess ILO 1-3).

Each commentary counts for 20% of the unit mark; each essay counts for 30% of the unit mark.

Reading and References

Allinson, Mark. 2014. Germany and Austria since 1814. London: Routledge.

Fulbrook, Mary. 2004. A Concise History of Germany. Cambridge: CUP.

Horan, Geraldine, Nils Langer, and Sheila Watts (eds). 2009. Landmarks in the History of the German Language. Bern: Peter Lang.

MacGregor, Neil. 2016. Germany: Memories of a Nation. London: Penguin.

Salmons, Joseph. 2012. A History of German. What the past reveals about today’s language. Oxford: OUP.