Southampton has been in the top 5 UK universities for Modern Languages for the last 8 years in The Guardian’s University Guide and is currently in the top 5 for the subject in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide. Languages have been an important part of the University of Southampton since its beginnings in the nineteenth century, and especially since the University received its Royal Charter in 1952.
Our reputation attracts the very best academic talent, which means our students learn from staff who are highly experienced and engaged in the most innovative research in their field.
There are two main reasons for studying German. One is the fascination of the culture that has always been separate and distinct within Europe. The other attraction is the importance of Germany within the European Union today and the opportunities open to language graduates. The German language is the key to both these different but complementary aspects of the nation.
The German section has around 180 students and eight members of staff. Relations between students and staff in a section of this size are extremely close and friendly.
At Southampton, German is taught not just as one subject, but many, all adding up to an enjoyable challenge and as asset in any future career. You can also combine German with a wide range of other subjects including French, Spanish, Portuguese, film studies, philosophy, music, history, accounting, management sciences, economics, mathematics, marine sciences, politics or English.
If you take German in combination with another subject, you will be able to choose how much emphasis to give to German and build up an interesting combination of complementary courses (for example French and German students might take courses in Post-war Germany and the Fourth Republic). One area that Southampton is particularly noted for is film studies, and this can be studied as a combination course with German. If you decide to specialise in linguistics courses, you can follow the German linguistic studies degree programme.
Helping you get where you want to be
Students who come to Southampton want to develop into top-class linguists in German and any other language they study, and we have created the right conditions for this to happen. Irrespective of the point you are at when you arrive here, we will ensure that you develop rapidly from there, as we will provide you with the tools for making maximum progress. We aim to help you to become competent and creative users of your languages and to gain a strong sense of success and achievement from your learning.
A friendly atmosphere
You will be working in a friendly, congenial atmosphere of mutual respect, and you will find that your German tutors are not only excellent and knowledgeable users of language but also know how to make people want to learn: at university, even the most motivated of students continue to need further encouragement and support in this long-haul endeavour. German is not So hard to learn, but it is nice to have someone there to accompany you on your way. Anyway, this is serious study in a human framework. As it should be.
Structured interactive classes
Our classes are carefully structured and highly interactive and you can expect to spend a lot of time working in groups or in pairs on highly focused tasks. After every class you will be asked to prepare material for the following class; this could mean, amongst other things, reading and analysing texts, listening to audio clips or watching video extracts, getting to grips with some areas of grammar and doing grammatical exercises or preparing a piece of writing to hand in. With a text, for example, you could be asked to research the topic further, to find a related text to present to the class, to research the vocabulary used, and to produce a similar text yourself, or you could be asked to change a text from a written format to an audio clip. At the same time we will encourage you to read and listen widely to material linked to your own personal interests.
At Southampton we place equal emphasis on your learning about aspects of the cultures and societies of the countries associated with your chosen languages and on the language learning itself. Specialists in individual languages and in language learning are there to help you to become specialists too: knowledgeable, confident and creative users of all your languages.
Learning about language, culture and society
Curiosity and enthusiasm
We like to think that you have a curiosity about the cultures and societies associated with the languages you want to study – that you want to know what people growing up in Germany, Austria or Switzerland know. This curiosity is what drives us, as teachers and researchers, to investigate the many and diverse aspects of language, culture and society in which we have expertise. It also makes us want to share our enthusiasm with you: our aim from the outset is to stimulate and foster your desire to learn by passing on to you our own fascination with the subjects that inspire and motivate us.
Research and teaching
So there is an intimate relationship between our research and our teaching: we in German aim to be at the forefront of our academic fields through our research and to share our new knowledge and understanding with our students. The converse applies too: we are frequently prompted to explore new lines of research by our students’ difficult questions!
Your first year in German, on its own or with other languages, at Southampton is a year of transition and foundation. All our students arrive here with different kinds of exposure to, and varying degrees of familiarity with, the languages, cultures and societies that interest them – both at first hand, through travelling or living abroad, and in the course of studying at school or college. Our job in Year 1 is to help you discover and make the most of new ways of learning at university and to guide you towards a sound understanding of what possibilities your chosen degree programme holds for you.
In Year 2, we already encourage you to begin thinking about your year abroad in Year 3. For many students, this is the most exciting period of their course, and we work with you before you go to help you gain maximum benefit from this experience. All students take a module in Year 2 that is specially designed to prepare you for the personal, social, cultural and academic challenges that you will encounter abroad.
Whether you choose to spend the year abroad at a university, or as a language assistant in a school or on a work placement [cross-refer to section on Living abroad], you remain a Southampton student and Year 3 is an integral part of your degree programme. Building on the knowledge and skills you develop in Year 2, you will devise and carry out an individual investigation into a subject that particularly intrigues you and that you can explore in detail only by living for a period of months in a particular place. Our current ERASMUS links are Frankfurt, Potsdam, Siegen, Köln, Bayreuth, Freiburg, Hamburg, Marburg, Tübingen and Vienna.
In Year 4, you will all return to Southampton from different parts of the world, from Chile to China, with greatly enhanced linguistic fluency and confidence and with a rich range of cultural experiences. You will be able to choose modules that allow you to exploit these experiences and reflect on them in new ways and you will have the chance both to deepen your knowledge and understanding of subjects you have previously studied and to venture into new areas. If the YARP has given you a particular taste for individual research, you can explore a topic of your own choice and write a dissertation with a personal supervisor.
We hope the introduction has aroused your interest. Click here for further information.