Back to: German major German major

German has more than 100 million native speakers and is the third most popular foreign language worldwide. A knowledge of German opens up the rich culture of German-speaking Europe as well as its history, philosophy, literature, music and scientific traditions.

The German program has a proud history of more than half a century at the University and provides the opportunity to complete part of your studies overseas through scholarships and exchange programs.

German language subjects are organised in a progressive sequence of units from German 1 through to German 10.

German language study at the University of Melbourne is also available in the Diploma in Languages.

Careers

  • Communications
  • Community development
  • Diplomacy
  • Government
  • International relations
  • Multinational business
  • Teaching
  • Translation and interpretation

Subjects you could take in this major

  • This is an introductory subject for students with little or no knowledge of German. Its goal is to generate a firm grounding in the basics of German grammar and language structure in conjunction with the development of cultural literacy (including a sensitivity to the social contexts of communication). Students acquire a basic vocabulary, learn to discern and employ the structures, patterns and grammatical features of a foreign language, and develop the ability to engage with simple texts. Students reach a level of simple text production (eg. letters, emails, personal résumés or family backgrounds). Students will learn how to converse in a number of different informal communicative situations and begin to use language in limited formal settings. The study of culture is integrated into language acquisition and is designed to develop basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. This engagement with a range of different authentic texts and media will be embedded in the learning about key aspects of German, Austrian and Swiss culture.

  • This subject consolidates and builds upon the basic skills and knowledge acquired in German 1. It continues to provide a firm grounding in the fundamentals of German grammar, the tense system and language structure in conjunction with the development of cultural literacy, focussing on regional cultural and linguistic diversity in the German-speaking world. Through cultural components, which include architecture, music and literature, students enhance their vocabulary and engage with more complex grammatical and syntactic structures to enable them to understand more sophisticated texts drawn from a variety of sources – such as biographical, journalistic, popular media and literary texts – and expand their appreciation of texts in context. Emphasis is placed on increased oral proficiency, enhanced communicative skills and the ability to initiate and sustain conversation in a greater range of informal and formal settings. Students also improve their written proficiency in German through writing short narratives, i.e. news reports and biographies, and engage in guided creative writing.

  • This subject is for students who have learned German for several years (but not to VCE level) or who have spent more than six months in a German-speaking country. Students who have completed German 2 should enrol in GERM20004. In this subject students extend their competencies in writing, reading, speaking and listening by engaging with authentic texts and situations, rather than those generated with the language learner in mind. Students will learn the skills to deal with the complexity of authentic texts such as feature films, poetry, song lyrics and opinion articles, and to source information in German on the internet. Students also learn to communicate at a more sophisticated level, going beyond utterances focused exclusively on the self, and developing structures and vocabulary that enable them to express themselves in the context of broader social and cultural themes such as music and popular culture and notions of ethnicity, nationalism and belonging. Students begin to produce texts and utterances of a more critical nature such as film reviews and formal debates. On completion of the subject students should have attained a moderate level of complexity in speaking, aural comprehension, reading and writing of German.

  • In this subject, students further extend their competencies in writing, reading, speaking and listening by engaging with authentic texts and situations.

    Students will engage with authentic texts that deal with past and present themes of increasing complexity and that are of significance in German-speaking Europe. Feature and documentary film, opinion writing, pop songs and interviews are some of the genres students will encounter and that will provide the inspiration for personal expression of a moderate level of sophistication. The acquisition of advanced linguistic structures such as the subjunctive and passive will enable students to begin to express with more complexity their own experiences, wishes and views. They will begin to understand written German at a more formal level (such as newspaper reports). Students will make first attempts to deploy these structures in written form and verbal utterances that engage with personal and political themes such as coming of age, the GDR past and racism and immigration. On completion of the subject students should have attained a moderate level of complexity in speaking, aural comprehension, reading and writing of German.

  • Students will consolidate their ability to communicate in German in oral and written discourse and develop cultural literacy in German by engaging with key themes in modern German-speaking societies such as the German concept of "Heimat." Students will develop more advanced language skills through reading short newspaper and magazine articles and watching film and television clips. They will produce shorter texts of different types (eg. informal and formal letters, summaries and advertisements) and learn how to discuss contemporary issues. Students will also gain an understanding of the principles of organizing language as well as developing proficiency in the use of the appropriate linguistic tools for the formation of situation-appropriate vocabulary, sentence and text structures. Through the lecture and accompanying tutorial students will be introduced to central aspects of the literature, culture and linguistics of German-speaking countries. Students will become familiar with specialized terminology and will develop analytical skills relevant to the topic area.

  • Students will further consolidate their ability to communicate in German in oral and written discourse and develop cultural literacy in German by engaging with key themes in modern German-speaking societies such as: e.g. relationships and individualism vs. community. Students will develop more advanced language skills through reading short newspaper and magazine articles and watching film and television clips. They will produce shorter texts of different types (eg. news reports, argumentative essays, reviews) and learn how to debate contemporary issues. Students will also gain an understanding of the principles of organizing language as well as developing proficiency in the use of the appropriate linguistic tools for the formation of situation-appropriate vocabulary, sentence and text structures. The Special Studies seminars give students the opportunity to develop topics of interest within the general areas of German literature, linguistics and culture. Students will be introduced to a variety of specialized terminology and should develop analytical skills relevant to the topic area.

  • This subject aims to consolidate and expand students' proficiency in both written and spoken language and to develop cultural literacy in German by engaging with broad themes relevant to modern German-speaking societies such as: communications media and consumer culture. It builds on the development of communicative skills in informal settings and expands students’ competence in using more formal registers of contemporary German, demonstrating the differences between colloquial, formal and specialised registers where appropriate, and furthering skills in a greater variety of formal and informal contexts. Students will develop more advanced reading and listening skills through working with newspaper and magazine articles, listening to interviews and watching film and television clips. They will produce more complex texts of different types (eg. expository and argumentative essays, evaluative reviews and summaries) and consolidate their discussing and debating skills in relation to contemporary and historical issues. Students will also gain a more advanced understanding of grammar and the use of idiomatic expressions and sentence structures. Students will begin to gain proficiency in using specialized terminology and developing analytical skills in relation to specialist texts that will begin to prepare them to undertake studies at a German-speaking university.

  • This subject aims to extend students' proficiency in both written and spoken language and to further develop cultural literacy in German by engaging with broad themes relevant to modern German-speaking societies such as: affluence and education in the developed world. It builds on the development of communicative skills in more formal settings and expands students’ competence in using more formal registers of contemporary German, demonstrating the differences between colloquial, formal and specialised registers where appropriate, and furthering skills in a greater variety of formal and informal contexts. Students will develop more advanced reading and listening skills through working with newspaper and magazine articles, listening to lectures and watching film and television clips. They will produce more complex texts of different types (eg. expository and argumentative essays, evaluative reviews and summaries) and advance their discussing and debating skills in relation to contemporary and historical issues. Students will also gain a more advanced understanding of grammar and the use of idiomatic expressions and sentence structures. Students will begin to gain proficiency in using specialized terminology and developing analytical skills in relation to specialist texts that will begin to prepare them to undertake studies at a German-speaking university.

  • This subject is a comprehensive study of both the formal structures and the functional varieties of contemporary German in a wide range of text and discourse forms. Students should develop a refined use of idiomatic and conversational forms and the capacity to use them freely. a level of proficiency in complex written structures and the capacity to command their use freely and confidently. Students should also cultivate the ability to interpret messages independently at all levels of language use, including those occurring in a variety of audio-visual media and individual and group spoken forms.

  • This subject is a comprehensive study of both the formal structures and the functional varieties of contemporary German in a wide range of text and discourse forms. Students should develop a refined use of idiomatic and conversational forms and the capacity to use them freely. a level of proficiency in complex written structures and the capacity to command their use freely and confidently. Students should also cultivate the ability to interpret messages independently at all levels of language use, including those occurring in a variety of audio-visual media and individual and group spoken forms.

  • This subject consists of a 1-hour research skills tutorial and a 2-hour cultural studies seminar. Students will acquire fundamental research skills needed to complete a German major including the use of the library, online research resources and relevant bibliographical software. Students will learn to synthesise information from a range of scholarly sources. In the seminar, students will begin to engage with important cultural, literary and linguistic aspects of the German language countries via personal and public narratives and acquire a broader genre literacy. They will become aware of some of the formal properties of public discourse in German on cultural and historical issues. In their written and spoken German they will begin the transition to higher-level output such as the presentation of different points of view, and will be introduced to academic genres such as the German “Referat” (or class paper) and the literature review (in English). This subject will equip German major students from the German 1 entry point with the language and research skills needed for admittance into German Cultural Studies B with its greater emphasis on cultural, historical and social themes and their related linguistic forms.

  • This subject consists of area studies relating to aspects of modern German literature, linguistics, and cultural studies. Students choose two area studies options, including a range of representative texts, authors or approaches in key areas of German literature, linguistics and cultural studies from the Enlightenment to the present. Students should gain an introduction to two specialised fields in at least one of these areas. The subject aims to provide a broad understanding of the wider social literary or linguistic issues, concepts or methods involved in each field. On completion of the subject students should demonstrate a critical appreciation of the material covered as well as an appreciation of specialist language through the use of sophisticated oral and written German.

  • In this course students learn about some of Europe’s most important cuisines and how they have been plated up for consumption in Melbourne. As an expression of identity, food is often used to support national and regional identity. In the first part of this course, students will consider the relationship between gastronomy and identity. Students will be introduced to a range of key culinary concepts and practices and the way we talk about them. Through analysis of some of the key features of French, German, Italian and Spanish cuisines, students will consider how these countries’ culinary profiles speak to wider socio-political issues such as authenticity, food and space, cultural practices and the history of food.

    In the second part of this course, students will consider issues of “authenticity” in the way cuisines are plated up for consumption in Melbourne. This will require students to interrogate their assumptions and expectations about European foods and to reflect on their personal experience of the “taste” of Europe.

  • This subject explores national identity in Europe in the modern era through studying the ‘making’ and ‘breaking’ of nations at key moments in Europe’s history such as the 19 th century, post-World War I and II, the break up of the Soviet Union and the expansion of the European Union. It introduces students to the national myths and legends of Western European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as select countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Students will read stories of national beginnings and endings, tales of heroism and rebirth, nostalgia and hope, liberation and unity, taken from popular culture, songs, poems, drama and art. An enduring theme will be the ways in which a sense of national self emerges from direct comparison to perceptions of “others”, including Jews, women, the poor and peoples of other nations. Students will gain an appreciation of nation and national identity in Europe as a discursive process, and an understanding of the distinct national stories of a number of European countries.

  • European modernism refers to a wide range of experimental and avant-garde trends in literature and arts at the end of the 19th and early 20th century and has proven a major influence on current (Western) literature, film and the arts. This course introduces students to key themes of modernist literature, theatre, and film in Europe. The course familiarizes students with key writers and thinkers of this period and will address the ways in which they provoked their readers/viewers through new and complex forms and styles. Major themes comprise the crisis of representation, the representation of cosmopolitanism and urban cultural dislocation, consciousness and memory, and sexuality. (Students undertaking this subject will be expected to regularly access an internet-enabled computer.)

  • This subject is offered in the form of a seminar which introduces research methods and materials in different specialised fields within the three core areas of Germanic studies: literature, linguistics, and cultural studies. The topics of the seminars include a range of representative texts, authors and approaches in the key areas of German literature, linguistics and cultural studies. By choosing one of the seminars, students will gain both an introduction to research methods and materials in Germanic studies and familiarity with a specialist field. Students should develop the ability to approach specific problems in a chosen area of interest through the critical use of sophisticated oral and written German.

  • This subject examines the relationship between language and society in Europe. It focuses on issues of relevance in an increasingly integrated Europe in which European and other languages are in contact through migration, travel, business, and mass media, and in which English is taking on an important role as a lingua franca. The topics to be covered include: the relationship between majority and minority languages, dialects and the standard language; bilingualism and multilingualism; semi-communication; language planning at state and European levels; politeness and forms of address; and the status and influence of English.

  • The eye-witness account and the personal memoir offer powerful ways of exploring the human legacy of overwhelming historical events on individual lives. But how do literary genres like the memoir and autobiography manage to speak about unspeakable topics, how do they represent the unrepresentable and write about trauma? What is the function, and what the effect, of writing memory for the victim, for the reader, and for the perpetrator? How do the offspring of the victims and perpetrators "remember" their parents" traumas and shape memories of events they have only experienced second-hand? What is the relationship between fiction and memory in memoir writing and how do we read a testimonial of a Holocaust survivor that has been faked? This subject will introduce students to a selection of testimonial writing and films that tell individual stories of a shameful national past. It explores the effect of generic convention on the relation of history and memory, and the need for generic invention to speak trauma and tell the un-tellable. Its focus will be on the Holocaust, the Algerian War, and life under Eastern bloc communist regimes. This subject will focus on writing from France, Germany, and Italy in the first instance, but may from time to time include writing from other parts of Europe.

  • A team-taught study of postwar European cinema during a period of intense political and social change. Students who complete this subject should be familiar with some of the major developments in cinematic representation in Europe from the early 20th century to the present. They should be able to relate the films studied to their national and European cultural and historical context.

    Note: This subject is taught in English.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Arts Extended pages.