German in Combined Honours

Key benefits

  • Ranked 3rd in the UK  for job prospects and 9th overall for languages (Guardian University Guide 2010)

  • Contemporary and applied focus, with a high level of teaching delivered in German

  • Fully integrated Year Abroad with extensive preparation and support offered

  • Excellent student support: Languages at Aston had the 6th highest rating of all UK University European Languages programmes for overall satisfaction in the 2007 National Student Survey. 

After a common and broadly based first and second year you will choose topics for specialisation in your final year.

Subject guide & modules

First Year: Foundations

Introduction to the study of the German Language
In the first year of study, intensive language skills courses serve to revise, reinforce and expand on the student's existing skills and knowledge, and provide the foundation for more complex applications of language. Further content-based modules provide a background to the social, cultural, historical, political and economic origins and context of the German language, and in s doing, enhance students' appreciation of Germany. A specialist elective module allows students to explore topics of particular interest.

  • Introduction to Text Processing: To develop an awareness of the importance of text processing skills and provide an opportunity to acquire and practice these skills.

  • German Written Communication Skills: To develop receptive and productive command of written German as applied to the description and analysis of advanced industrial societies.

  • German Spoken Language: To help students to develop their active and passive command of spoken German, to respond fluently and accurately and join in discussions on contempary topics of the German media and on German social, cultural and political affairs.

  • German Grammar: To introduce students to basic grammatical categories and methods, to help them develop a framework of grammatical knowledge, and to give them confidence in solving grammatical problems and using grammatical reference works.

  • An introduction to German History & Society: An introduction to the development of Nationhood and Nationalism in German between 1800 and 1945.

Your core modules for first year are (subject to change):

  • German Language: Students will gain an understanding of German grammar, contemporary political and cultural affairs in German-speaking countries and a selection of short literary texts

  • German History and Society:Students will gain an understanding of Landeskunde: contemporary affairs of German speaking-countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), including politics, geography, education, and the economy,the major events and themes in German history from the 19th century to the end of National Socialism in 1945

  • German Current Affairs:Students will gain a deep understanding of current affairs in German politics, society, economy and culture,problems and challenges facing the German nation today and the German media landscape 

  • German Language Past & Present:The course deals with the following topics: spoken and written language; standard language; the development of a German standard language; the difference between language and dialect; language policy and language planning; German minority languages and linguistic minorities in Germany; language contact: the example of English borrowings into German.

Second Year: Applications

The second year course builds upon the solid foundations laid in year 1, and enables students to apply their skills and knowledge in preparation for the Year Abroad. Language skills courses enable the students to further improve their linguistic proficiency, and further content-based modules follow on from the history module studied in the first year, and provide in-depth knowledge about contempary Germany. Again, a free-choice elective allows for specialisation in a particular field of interest.

Written Language: To introduce students to techniques of critical analysis and commentary on texts. To familiarise students with problems and techniques of translating German into English.
Contemporary Germany and Spoken Language: To provide an introduction to the post-1945 development of West and East Germany and to their characteristics political, social and economic institutions and processes. To analyse the key issues of unification. `To develop students' analytical and presentational skills.
German Audio-Visual Comprehension 2: To extend students' listening comprehension skills practised in the first year course. Two option subjects: Choices on offer change constantly and include topics such as:-
Translation Oriented Intercultural Text Comparison; Discourse Analysis: History of the Jews in Germany in 20th Century; The Operette; Society and Culture in Fin de Siecle Vienna; Germany in Europe - Cultural Perspectives; History of the Political Left in Germany; Introduction to the Study of National Socialism; Politics and Society of the Weimar Republic; Case Studies in German Business.

Your core modules for second year are (subject to change):

  • German Language Skills I & II: Students will gain an understanding of contemporary political and cultural affairs in German-speaking countries, linguistic and cultural features of German written texts, understanding of the political and historical background to German written texts and the complex factors informing written intercultural communication 

  • Contemporary Germany: The course concentrates on topical content areas to convey knowledge and understanding of German politics, society, economy and culture. Topic areas include, e. g., nationhood, division and reunification, political system, Germany’s place in Europe and the world, social market economy.

Optional modules are:

  • Austrian Cultural History I (Teaching period one): This module opens up a perspective on the second German-speaking country, with special reference to the similarities and dissimilarities with Germany. It thus extends the knowledge acquired in German History and Society (level 1), and complements Contemporary Germany (level 2). Topics covered will mainly include historical and political strands.

  • *Current Trends in German Cinema (Teaching period one):Three two-hour seminars will define and introduce the students to significant trends in contemporary German cinema and will give them the opportunity to discuss with the module tutor the films they have watched independently. Students will watch films on a regular basis and complete written assignments.

  • Austrian Cultural History II (Teaching period two): This module opens up a perspective on the second German-speaking country, with special reference to the similarities and dissimilarities with Germany. It thus extends the knowledge acquired in German History and Society (level 1), and complements Contemporary Germany (level 2) and Austrian Cultural History I, although the latter is not a pre-requisite.

  • **Current Trends in German Cinema (Teaching period two):Three two-hour seminars will define and introduce the students to significant trends in contemporary German cinema and will give them the opportunity to discuss with the module tutor the films they have watched independently. Students will watch films on a regular basis and complete written assignments.

* Part I of a double module- if you take any of these modules, you must take them in teaching period two aswell

** Pre-requisite: Completion of part I in teaching period one

Year Abroad (Compulsory): Participation

This period is spent abroad in Germany (or Austria) and enables you to gain first-hand experience of Germany, to raise your level of fluency, accuracy and confidence and increase your knowledge, awareness and understanding of the society and its language. You can select from three options:-

  • A work placement Companies currently employing our students include mannesmann VDO, Siemens, AEG, Daimler Chrysler, Volkswagen, Adidas, Psion, The British Bookshop(Vienna)
  • University study The Department currently has exchanges with a number of universities including Bochum, Leipzig, Regensburg, Siegen and Viadrina(Frankfurt/Oder).
  • Teaching assistantshipfor students who are interested in working with young people and are considering a career in teaching.

Final Year

Your core modules for final year are (subject to change):

  • German Written Language I: To develop the skill of re-expressing in English, both by translation and by abstracting German texts displaying a high level of linguistic and conceptual difficulty.
  • German Written Language II: To develop students' written German by improving the ability to translate from English to German; enhancing further the ability to write texts for specific purposes.
  • German Diplomarbeit: Students will gain a deep understanding of a topic of their choice in the field of German studies. This is chosen in consultation with the supervisor and may be a political, cultural, social, economic or linguistic theme.

Optional modules are:

  • German Popular Culture (Teaching period one): This module will introduce key concepts of the study and analysis of popular culture and proceed to discuss topics including the history of popular culture, critical theory on pop, the concept of postmodernism and such like using examples from post-war forms of popular culture in Germany West and East.
  • History & Society Reflected in German Film (Teaching period one): Building on the level one and two modules on German film and film studies as a discipline, this module develops students’ experience of analysing film in a socio-historical context and their understanding and appreciation of film as an art form and as a medium to express and reflect discourses on German history as well as current social developments in Germany.
  • German Contemporary Culture (Teaching period two): This module will continue the discussion of popular cultures as initiated in LG3201. Topics covered will include culture of the GDR, the fine arts in the Federal Republic, the relationship of art and morals, art and politics, literature and poetry of the FRG.
  • Introduction to Yiddish Language and Culture (Teaching period two): Weekly two-hour seminars will introduce students to the history of the Yiddish language and to the emergence of Yiddish culture in Europe since the Middle Ages. Students will also learn to read basic texts in the original language.

Learning, teaching & assessment

The majority of teaching is conducted in German. Teaching takes the form of:

  • Lectures and seminars
  • Small Tutorials(in groups)
  • Language laboratory work(a combination of independent, guided and taught sessions)
  • Project work (in tems where appropriate)
  • Independent Study via Aston's Library and Information Services
  • Open access language learning area comprising computers, televisions(with facilities for live satellite link-up), cassette decks, an extensive video and audio-tape collection;
  • A well-stocked print-based resources room in the School containing dictionaries, encyclopaedia periodicals and newspapers

Lectures, seminars and tutorials are designed to guide you towards your understanding of relevant areas and topics to broaden and deepen your knowledge and to stimulate intellectual debate. A strong emphasis of the course is on acquiring and applying proficient linguistic skills in a state of the art laboratory.

Placement year

The year abroad at Aston University has an enviable reputation. This year provides the opportunity to develop professional skills by spending a year in paid employment while developing fluency in German. The year abroad is compulsory, but students have a choice of three options. They can undertake an industrial or professional placement in an established and leading German company. Alternatively students could choose to study at one of our prestigious partner ERASMUS institutions in Germany or Austria. The third option available is to work as an English Teaching Assistant at a German or Austrian school. The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a full-time placement officer to assist students in finding suitable placements.

Career prospects

Aston’s Modern Language courses are ranked 3rd in the UK (out of over 90 universities) for job prospects (Guardian University Guide 2009) and joint 1st for % of graduates employed (www.unistats.co.uk).  Our graduates enter careers in UK and international business/marketing, the languages and communications professions, education, European institutions and research.   
Recent Aston graduate first destinations included:

  • Graduate Trainee Managers for British Airways, Aldi Stores, John Lewis Partnership and Selfridges
  • Journalist for Tatler Magazine
  • Michelin – Senior Administrator 
  • Public Relations Officers for a number of companies
  • European Union/European Parliament Officers/Assistants
  • PGCE Secondary Teaching Qualification – French and German Teachers 
  • Marketing Assistant at Beiersdorf (makers of NIVEA amongst other products) 
  • German/English/French Translators at companies such as Volkswagen and freelance work
  • Bilingual Marketing Assistant at 3Com (an international internet and telecomms company) 
  • Trainee Accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers 
  • Further study and PhD Research in the areas of International Politics, European Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Translation/Interpreting

Personal development

As well as gaining near-native fluency in German, this course helps you to develop team working skills, presentation and communication skills.  Your IT skills will also benefit from use of our newly refurbished e-learning language centre.The Year Abroad will develop your initiative, confidence and independence, as well as improving your language skills.  In your final year you complete an individual research dissertation which improves your independent research skills and report writing skills. All students are encouraged to undertake Personal Development Planning (PDP.)

Facilities & equipment

The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a dedicated e-learning centre for the exclusive use of its students.  The e-learning centre is supported by a dedicated team and has all of the standard software that you will need (e.g. Microsoft Office etc). Extensive use is also made of our Virtual Learning Environment to help support your studies. Our newly refurbished “Cadbury Room” contains social seating areas, study stations and meeting tables as well as networked printing facilities and wireless internet access.

Further information

Tel: 0121 204 4283; Email: ids@aston.ac.uk

Excellent Different Distinctive