Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module LXG-3016:
East Germany and its Legacy

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Helga Mullneritsch

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To introduce students to one of the key periods of contemporary German history.
  2. To familiarise students with the socio-historical, ideological and cultural fabric of GDR society.
  3. To foster the students' understanding of the impact of the GDR's legacy on the united Germany and Europe since 1989.
  4. To foster analytical skills introduced during level two.

Course content

During this course you will be introduced to life in the German Democratic Republic (1949-89). You will study an outline history of the country, in order to analyse the rise and fall of Germany's first, and only, socialist experiment. You will explore the nature of everyday life and, in particular, the way in which the State sought to control every aspect of its citizens' existence. Finally, you will analyse the so-called Wende and the different ways in which the GDR has been categorised since 1989. Four literary texts will also be studied. These reflect individual experience within the GDR.

Required reading Stephan Hermlin, 'Die Kommandeuse' (1954). Short story circulated in class. Volker Braun, Unvollendete Geschichte (FaM: Suhrkamp, 1979) Christoph Hein, Der Tangospieler (Berlin: Aufbau, 1999) Christa Wolf, Der geteilte Himmel (Munich: DTV, 2010)

Assessment Criteria


D- - D+: Basic grasp of key issues pertaining to the relevant aspect of GDR society. At least partly-sucessful attempts to frame an argument utilising secondary materials.


C- - B+: Good grasp of key issues pertaining to the relevant aspect of GDR society. Solid analysis of topic area, making good use of relevant secondary sources to support argument.


A- - A*: Excellent grasp of key issues pertaining to the relevant aspect of GDR society. Clear appreciation of topic making good use of relevant secondary materials and an impressive depth of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Display an understanding of the nature of East German society and the ramifications of the GDR's collapse for the united Germany and Europe.

  2. Present arguments in essays and examinations, supported with appropriate literary and historical evidence.

  3. Demonstrate a mastery of basic study skills, such as the ability to follow a course of reading, make effective use of notes and secondary sources, and benefit from class discussions.

  4. Show awareness of the GDR's significance in the broader context of contemporary German history.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

10-15 minutes on a topic chosen by the student (from a list of possible topics).

COURSEWORK Coursework essay

Write a 1,500 word commentary on one of a selection of historical documents relating to the GDR.


A two-hour exam, involving two essay questions (one historical, one literary).


Teaching and Learning Strategy


1 hour per week for 11 weeks per semester

Private study 178

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
  • The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas and arguments in presentations, classroom discussions and debates. (Benchmark statement 5.14, 5.16)
  • Develop reading and audio-visual comprehension skills in the target language through the study of primary sources in the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.3, 5.4)
  • Skills in the critical reading and analysis of literary and/or musical and/or filmic texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to comprehend and apply cultural idioms by studying primary and secondary materials in the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.3, 5.4)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply information from a variety of theoreticians to German case studies. (Benchmark statement 5.11)
  • The ability to analyse German-language texts (incl. films, visual materials and ideas) and place them in a wider historical-political and socio-cultural context. (Benchmark statement 5.4, 5.7, and 5.11)
  • The ability to critically understand the history, political situation and culture of East and/or West Germany. (Benchmark statement 5.10)


Resource implications for students

Purchase of 3-4 paperback novels.

Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: