University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 Archive

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Germanic Studies

About the major

The language of artists, philosophers, and scientists, German is spoken by over 100 million people and has a major presence on the European and world stages. The Department of Germanic Studies teaches language from beginners to advanced levels and offers study options in German literature, film, history, thought, and society from the 18th century to the present. All students, whether they come to the department as beginners in the language, with an HSC in German, or as background speakers, can complete a major in Germanic Studies. We have exchange programs with universities in Bamberg, Berlin, Cologne, Konstanz, Freiburg, Munich, and Vienna that provide exciting opportunities to enhance language proficiency and deepen your understanding of German culture, opening the door to career opportunities both in Australia and overseas. Our graduates work in diverse fields, from teaching, the arts and international relations, to law and commerce, both in Australia and internationally.

You can begin German language studies at different entry levels from beginner to advanced level, and it is also possible to fast track to a higher level. Our language levels are aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR: A1 – C2), which guarantees the international comparability and transferability of your language skills.

A Germanic Studies major combines well with any major in Arts and Social Sciences as well as with Law, Business, and the Sciences. If you are not majoring in German, you can take German as a Minor or German units as electives. If you have already completed your BA, you can still study German by taking the Diploma of Language Studies.

Requirements for completion

The Germanic Studies major and minor are available via the pathways indicated below.

Students will follow the appropriate pathway specified in the unit of study tables, based on their individual language level*. Students completing any of the pathways below will be awarded a major or minor in Germanic Studies.

* Appropriate language units are determined either by language level and grade therein achieved in Higher School Certificate (as listed in the pathways linked above) or International Baccalaureate, and/or by one-on-one interviews prior to commencement. If you are unsure of your language level or which pathway is appropriate for you, please contact the Department for advice.

Please note: A ‘gap’ year after Year 12 does not normally affect placement.

Learning outcomes

No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in German to at least Common European Framework of Reference level B2+.
2 Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of German speaking societies and cultures.
3 Critically analyse different perspectives on German society and cultures, and formulate arguments and hypotheses to offer alternative perspectives.
4 Apply language skills, sociocultural knowledge and critical thinking skills gained from German studies to offer solutions to problems encountered in new contexts.
5 Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and openly in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary settings to achieve high quality results.
6 Develop communication and digital literacy skills that are transferable to other disciplines and professional settings.
7 Demonstrate the skills to access and evaluate primary and secondary sources to conduct research on Germanic society.
8 Apply appropriate professional and ethical standards to academic research and inquiry in German Studies.

Advanced Coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in SLC prepares students to actively engage in the complex and culturally diverse contemporary world. Students will utilise linguistic and methodological skills developed in their previous studies to develop their knowledge of institutions, practices and ideas that permeate different cultures in the local and global context. They will be offered opportunities to participate in projects on translation, acculturation and self-reflexivity and to examine textual and social real-world problems related to topics which include translation, migration studies, cultural diversity and social integration.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Germanic Studies advanced coursework units of study page.


All students may qualify for the honours year, regardless of the language level at which they commenced.

The department offers honours scholarships each year - the Emilie M. Schweitzer Honours Scholarships in German Studies. Details of the scholarship can also be obtained from the office of the School of Language and Cultures.

Honours admission requirements

Admission to Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Germanic Studies with an average of 70 percent or above.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Germanic Studies honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators can be found on the Department of Germanic Studies website.