BA (Hons) German and Linguistics (with a year abroad)

UCAS code Typical offer Length
RQ21 AAB (See full entry requirements) 4 years full-time
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Play with the building blocks of language while gaining practical German language skills. Through linguistics you'll gain an understanding of what language is, how it works and how it shapes our lives. Our immersive approach to German language teaching uses authentic materials to give you the skills and cultural knowledge to function as a high-level communicator. Cement your learning by spending a year in a German-speaking country, whether you're developing your A level German or learning from scratch on our ab initio route.

Course overview

Practical language study and linguistic exploration

Language is a window to the human mind. On our BA in German and Linguistics, you will learn to understand what you see through it, by combining practical study of German language with the scientific study of what makes language work. 


Our focus is on developing effective communication skills. You will be taught mainly in German, in groups of no more than 15 students, and we aim to encourage not only fluency but also the ability to discuss complex ideas in a coherent manner. Modules explore the society and culture of the German-speaking world, in order to equip you with the background knowledge to function as a high-level German communicator. The third year of this four-year programme is a year abroad in a German-speaking country, during which you will gain valuable experience and considerably enhance your language skills.

Beginners welcome!

We offer intensive German ab initio (i.e., from scratch, or with a qualification below A-level) on this programme, as well as study designed for those who have A-level German.


At the same time as acquiring practical German skills, you will study language from a scientific standpoint. The programme offers unparalleled coverage of the field of linguistics, with modules taught by world-leading academics in the core areas of syntax, phonetics and phonology, semantics, and sociolinguistics. and in sub-fields including forensic phonetics, historical linguistics, child language, second language acquisition, and morphology. Our challenging combination of theory and practice is designed to stimulate your critical thinking skills, foster your originality, and enable you to become a uniquely skilled analytical thinker and problem-solver.

A top teaching and research community

We are a leading centre for research in linguistics, and the strength and diversity of our research is reflected in our teaching. We have been rated 2nd in the UK for ‘world-leading’ research (Times Higher Education's ranking of the most recent Research Excellence Framework 2014).

Course content

What you'll study

You will study German and Linguistics side by side throughout the degree, with opportunities to customise your course from the second year onwards—once you've learnt the basics. Your knowledge of German will inform your study of linguistics, and vice versa.


  • In the first year, ab initio students follow an intensive fast-track German programme, while post-A-level students dive straight in to modules designed to develop fluency, accuracy and communication expertise.
  • From the second year, you will engage with issues of culture and society in the German-speaking world, addressing questions such as Why are students in Germany going on strike?, and How are current threats to the German welfare state impacting on society? You will develop skills in critical analysis of sources and communicate your findings using German in different registers. 
  • Your third year is a year abroad spent in a German-speaking country. We assist you in setting up overseas university study or teaching or industry placements, and offer guidance on all aspects of the year. See our current year abroad pages for more information. 
  • In the final year, you will continue to engage—in German—with issues that shape German-speaking societies. You can choose from a range of advanced German modules designed to consolidate your critical skills through in-depth research and analysis.


  • In the first year, you study three or four core linguistics modules (depending on whether you are taking German ab initio or from A-level).
  • In the second year, you'll apply your core linguistic knowledge to new types of linguistic data, such as child language or non-native language. At the same time, you will gain deeper theoretical knowledge in the core areas that you choose to pursue.
  • In the final year, you can choose freely from a wide range of modules that allow you to become proficient in all aspects of managing small-scale linguistic analysis projects, from identifying the research questions, to communicating the findings. Many final-year linguistics modules offer the opportunity to focus on German language as the topic of research, if you wish.

What modules are offered

Stage one (first year), 6 modules

Note that there are two routes for the first-year: the A-level route and the Ab initio route.

A-Level route

Ab initio route

Stage two (second year), 6 modules

  • At least two German modules, including Language and Society II 
  • Introduction to language acquisition
  • Your choice of three further modules, including at least one of:
    • Intermediate Phonetics and Phonology
    • Intermediate Syntax
  • Other choices include: Linguistics options (e.g., Intermediate Semantics, Intermediate Language Variation and Change), a German option, an LFA module, or an elective*

Year abroad (third year)

Your year abroad is spent in a German-speaking country, at a university, on an English teaching assistantship, or on a work placement in industry.

Stage three (final year), 6 modules

  • At least two German modules, including Language and Society III
  • Up to four linguistics modules
  • Up to two electives*

A wide range of final-year German and linguistics modules is offered, including Translation Methodology and Practice, Phonetics of German, Modern German Language, Psycholinguistics, Language as Action, Formal Syntactic Theory, Bilingualism and Neurolinguistics. See our current final-year offerings for a typical full range. (Note that module offerings vary from year to year. Not every module is offered every year.)

*An elective is a module from another department. All electives are offered subject to departmental approval and timetable availability.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

In both German and Linguistics, we aim to equip you to be an effective independent learner. The programme of study includes a variety of modes of teaching and dissemination, designed to allow you to develop the skills and autonomy to direct your own learning.


Our focus at York is on effective communication in German. That is why:

  • we teach mainly in small seminars (not more than 12);
  • the medium of classroom interaction is German;
  • we use authentic German materials (e.g., German television, magazines, etc.);
  • we emphasise issues of culture and society, allowing you to develop a high level cultural awareness to underpin your language skills.

Our communicative and culture-oriented approach to teaching, combined with your application and study, will allow you to develop integrity as a skilled user of advanced German.


Linguistics is a new subject for everyone, so the focus in the first year is on learning the tools of linguistic study. We facilitate this through large lectures (some with over 100 students), accompanied by regular back-up sessions in smaller groups (15–20 students), in which you put your new skills into practice.

Second year linguistics modules typically have more interactive classroom activities, such as group presentations or practical sessions, in addition to lectures. Regular seminars provide a forum for discussion of core knowledge and its application beyond the specific classroom topic. Advance preparation for seminar discussion is essential.

In final-year modules, most teaching takes place in smaller groups. Depending on the module, your work may focus on library-based study using primary research papers, lab-based analysis of linguistic corpora, or lectures and seminars in one the advanced areas of specialism of our staff. Students who opt to write a dissertation will receive individual supervision on their dissertation project.

Computer-assisted learning opportunities

All of our modules have associated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) sites where all crucial materials—reading lists, handouts, discussion boards—are always accessible via the internet. Most first-year modules provide additional self-study practice exercises on the VLE.

We have our own departmental e-Lab, accessible 24-hours a day, for the teaching and study time of our students.

How much study time is expected?

Throughout the degree, you will typically spend 12 hours per teaching week in the classroom (including both German and linguistics). You should expect to devote at least 30 additional hours a week to independent study, which will include completing exercises, reading and digesting assigned papers, researching projects, writing and revising coursework, and preparing for assessments. Twice a year, in the middle of the autumn and spring terms, we have a reading week, which is devoted to independent study. You will receive guidance on your goals for each reading week.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Lectures and seminars228 hours192 hours0 hours168 hours
Placement0 hours0 hours1200 hours0 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1200 hours a year learning.


How you'll be assessed

The main assessment types are exams and coursework. Within these two broad types you will encounter many variations customised to the content of each module. Types of coursework range from short sets of exercises, to 5,000-word essays, to oral presentations, to group projects in which you work in a team to research and present a topic. You will present work for language modules in the target language (French, German or Spanish). In most modules, the final mark is made up of the marks from more than one type of assessment.

What about practice or 'mock' assessments?

At York, assessments that count towards your final mark are called 'summative' assessments, but all modules also include 'formative' work — work that will help you to practice or develop skills for the summative assessment. Some modules (particularly in the first year) include a formative exam midway through the year. Other modules include formative exercises, a formative essay, or some opportunity to get feedback on the development and progress of a piece of summative work.

What kind of feedback will I get?

Instructors provide feedback in a variety of forms, according to the needs of the specific module. It may consist of written feedback on work that you have handed in, in-class discussion of common problems on a particular assignment, model answers, one-on-one discussion of research projects, or online responses to questions posted on the module discussion board.

Is the year abroad assessed?

Yes, in the sense that you must satisfactorily complete the following in order to graduate with a degree that has 'with a year abroad' in the title:

  • two essays in the target language submitted to York during the year;
  • fulfillment of year abroad obligations (attending courses and completing all the local assessments if you're at university; or carrying out your workplace duties if you're on a teaching assistantship or an industry placement).

However, your marks on the year abroad assessments do not contribute towards your overall degree mark.

Adjustments for students with disabilities

We can make reasonable adjustments to assessment procedures for students with disabilities. However, please note that, for students with dyslexia, it is not possible to make adjustments in the marking of work written in a closed language exam (French, German, Italian or Spanish). This is because accurate spelling is one of the assessment objectives in language exams. Note, though, that closed exams make up only a proportion of the assessment types used for languages; other assessment types such as coursework and oral presentations are also used. Students with dyslexia could apply for extra time in closed exams, if this would be of assistance. See the University's disability support pages for further details relating to all disabilities.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Written exams50%65%0%49%
Practical exams8%8%0%8%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.


Careers and employability

Effective communication, critical thinking and project management skills are central to most careers. The study of language and linguistics at York equips you with these skills and others, which translate readily into any work context.

Our graduates

Our graduates have an excellent record of pursuing fulfilling paths after graduation.

Apart from their language skills and their knowledge of linguistics, our alumni have the confidence that comes from successfully completing a demanding course and participating fully in university life.

Career paths

There are specialist careers that lead directly from a language and linguistics degree, after additional postgraduate training, including:

  • translation and interpreting
  • teaching (primary and secondary)
  • academic research and higher/further education
  • clinical linguistics (Speech and Language Therapy)
  • forensic linguistics (Forensic Speech Science)

Our graduates are not limited to these specialist paths, however. Ongoing contact with our alumni well after graduation shows that they are equipped to pursue rewarding careers across a broad range of professional fields, including:

  • marketing and communications
  • publishing
  • broadcasting and journalism
  • local government and public service
  • finance and accountancy
  • and many more ... 

Find out more about how we can help make you more employable


How to apply

All applications must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Prospective applicants should also read through the university's Undergraduate Prospectus. You can choose to view the prospectus online, download a PDF copy, or request a printed version.

Visit our department

We run a series of Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year, which will provide you with an opportunity to visit the University and the Department and talk to staff about the courses and your interests. We also have an undergraduate admissions tutor who is happy to answer any questions you may have.


Our French, German, Italian and Spanish programmes are designed to develop fluency in the languages. For this reason we do not normally offer places to native or near-native speakers of French, German, Italian or Spanish who wish to study their own language.

Applying for the ab initio route in Spanish or German


GCSE or AS-level Spanish or German may be appropriate qualifications for entry onto the ab initio Spanish or German programmes. However, even if you do not have one of these qualifications, but you can demonstrate an aptitude for languages through other experience (e.g., successful study of a different foreign language), you may be eligible for this programme.

Language placement interviews

Some students who do not have an A-level in one of the languages they wish to study may nonetheless already have A-level-standard knowledge of the language (e.g., a student who took GCSE and then spent time in a country where the target language is spoken, before university). At the time of application, we will conduct a placement interview and task, to determine which route would be most appropriate for students who do not have an A-level in a language they wish to study.

International students

We welcome applications from international applicants, who wish to join the growing body of international students in our Department.

Entry requirements

A levels

Our typical offer is AAB, but some ABB offers will be made (see our typical offers page). We do not require any specific subject choices at A Level, and include all subjects in our standard offer.

International Baccalaureate

35/34 points

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers


Irish Leaving Certificate



BTEC National Diploma or QCF BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD.

European Baccalaureate

80% overall average

Other qualifications

Pre-U: D3,D3,M2

Access to HE: Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 36 credits at Distinction and 9 credits at Merit or higher

Other qualifications are accepted by the University, please contact Undergraduate Admissions.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all units
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 61 overall with 51 in all parts
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): grade A
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade C
  • GCSE/O level English Language (as a first language): grade C

See also the University's information page for English language requirements.

Other options for this subject

We also offer German on a variety of other courses:

And we offer linguistics on the following:

The BA in Linguistics course allows you to try a completely new language in your first year, from scratch, from the range of languages offered by Languages for All.

Any questions?

Feel free to contact our admissions tutors:

Dr Tamar Keren-Portnoy,
Dr Dominic Watt

More about York


The staff in the Language and Linguistics department are incredible (and I’m not even biased)... It’s obvious how much they prioritise their students in their busy schedules.

Beccy, second year Linguistics student. Read more on Beccy's blog.