BA (Hons) German/Philosophy (Equal)

UCAS code Typical offer Length
RV25 AAB (See full entry requirements) 4 years full-time
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German and Philosophy combines the study of practical language skills with philosophical investigation into, among other things, what language is. You'll develop the language skills and cultural insight required to be a high-level German communicator, cemented with a year abroad in a German-speaking country. Your understanding of philosophy will be enhanced by your ability to read the work of thinkers such as Kant, Hegel and Wittgenstein in their original tongue.

Course overview

Why study German and Philosophy?

Philosophers are interested in the relations between language, the world, and our mind. Practical study of the German language alongside the study of philosophy will offer you a richer perspective on these relations, by providing an opening into the life and world of German-speaking societies.


Our focus is on developing effective communication skills. You will be taught 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.


Philosophy is not a body of knowledge but an activity: the activity of seeking a reflective understanding of ourselves and of the natural and social worlds we inhabit. It involves critically examining the assumptions made and the conclusions drawn by natural and social scientists, writers, historians and thinkers of all kinds.

Since philosophy is an activity, studying philosophy is not like studying other subjects. The focus is on identifying assumptions, constructing arguments and assessing their validity, which is often done by engaging in so-called 'thought experiments'. Pursuing philosophy thus requires, and develops, skills in reasoning, analysis, imagination and writing.

The Philosophy Department has specialists in a wide range of areas, including the study of philosophy written in German.

  • 95% of our research was judged of 'international' quality, more than half of it 'internationally excellent' or 'world-leading' in the last Research Assessment exercise
  • We have an active and lively student-run Philosophy Society and a busy programme of extra lectures by both York staff and eminent visitors

Course content

What you'll study

You will study German and Philosophy side by side throughout the course, with increasing opportunities to customise your course from the second year onwards—once you've covered the foundational areas. Your knowledge of German will inform your study of Philosophy, and vice versa.

Stage one (first year)

The German modules are designed to develop fluency, accuracy and communication expertise, and to equip you with the tools for advanced language study.

In Philosophy, we will introduce you to the way philosophers think, offering you some acquaintance with important debates in the subject and with the work of major philosophers, above all, familiarising you with the disciplines of reading, discussing and writing philosophy at university level.

You will take core modules in both subjects. If you already have A-level German, then you have one choice to make on the German side of your first year.

Year 1 German, post-A-level route:

Year 1 German, ab initio German route:

  • Three German modules: Ab Initio Language Skills, Ab Initio Language and Society 

Year 1 Philosophy:

  • Beginning Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Reason and Argument

Stage two (second year)

In German, 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.

On the Philosophy side, the aim of teaching in the second year of the Philosophy side is to build on the foundations in the first year, deepen theoretical knowledge in the core areas, and introduce some choice into the programme as you gain an interest in more specialist aspects of both disciplines. 

You will take core modules in both subjects and you will also have a choice of options:

  • German Language and Society II (core)
  • A German option (e.g., The Berlin Republic or European Cinema) or a linguistics option, or an elective in another department (subject to approval)*
  • Philosophy of Language (core)
  • Key Ideas optional modules
  • Tutorial optional modules

Year abroad (third year)

Your third year is a year abroad spent in a German-speaking country, for the purpose of perfecting your language skills. You will spend the year at a university or on an English teaching assistantship. We assist you in setting up overseas university study, a teaching placement or an industry placement, and offer guidance on all aspects of the year. See our current year abroad pages for more information.

Stage three (final year)

In the final year, you have considerable flexibility of choice in what you study, including flexibility in the proportions of German and Philosophy. The modules available will vary from year to year depending on what individual members of the staff choose to present (usually reflecting their current research interests). You will need to accumulate 120 credits from a range of 20 and 10 credits modules on offer. 

In German, you will continue to engage with issues that shape German-speaking societies. You take one compulsory module, German Language and Society III, and you can choose additional modules from a range of advanced German modules designed to consolidate your critical skills through in-depth research and analysis. You could also choose a linguistics option, if you took linguistics in the first and second year. See the current final-year offerings in language and linguistics for a typical range of choices.

In Philosophy, you can specialise further, choosing from a wide range of modules based on our latest research. You will also take the compulsory German Philosophy text bridge module. For a sample of recent third year option modules, see the list in the description of our BA in Philosophy (course content tab).

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 Philosophy, we aim to equip you to be an effective independent learner. The course 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 French.

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.


Learning philosophy is not about passively absorbing information; it is about doing philosophy. The teaching process involves active participation from you. So our teaching aims to get you reading, thinking, questioning, discussing and writing philosophy yourself.

Before you can do philosophy yourself, you need to have some starting points. Our philosophy modules use various teaching methods to give you these starting points, for example, through lectures, online content, and reading lists.

Once you have the starting points, we aim to facilitate your doing philosophy. Again, we have various ways of doing this, chief among them being seminar discussions and the setting of written assignments. You will also participate in online discussion forums, and some teaching is done through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).


All along the way we give you feedback to help you develop your language and your philosophical skills. This can be written or oral feedback.

How much study time is expected?

Exact numbers of class hours per week will vary over the course, but a typical week will have 11-12 hours (including both German and philosophy). 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. You will need to use your private study time carefully and systematically; read and think hard about the topics studied but also record your ideas in writing, building up structured notes on these topics. This will help your understanding (you may think you understand a topic, but the real test comes in writing about it) and of course it is good preparation for essays and examinations.

Overall workload

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

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Lectures and seminars216 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 write assessments for language modules in the target language, and you will also take oral examinations in that language. 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 teaching duties if you're on a teaching assistantship).

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 (German). 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 exams42%55%0%34%
Practical exams14%0%0%8%

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


Careers and employability

Studying a language together with philosophy equips you with skills highly sought after by employers: fluent language skills, as well as analytical and critical thinking, the ability to construct a coherent argument and defend it, the power to grasp complex ideas, and the creative use of the imagination in coming up with alternative possibilities and scenarios.

Our graduates

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

Apart from their language skills, our alumni have the confidence and skills that come 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 philosophy degree, after additional postgraduate training, including:

  • translation and interpreting
  • teaching (primary and secondary)
  • academic research and higher/further education

In addition, graduates of this course are equipped to move on in a variety of directions, pursuing rewarding careers across a broad range of professional fields, including:

  • marketing and communications
  • publishing
  • private sector management
  • 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 German courses are designed to develop fluency in the language. For this reason we do not normally offer places to native or near-native speakers of German who wish to study their own language.

Applying for the ab initio route in German


GCSE or AS-level German may be appropriate qualifications for entry onto the ab initio 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 or

ABB or equivalent and pass in EPQ (extended project qualification). There is no restriction on the topic for your EPQ.

To study French, or German or Spanish on the A-level route, we normally require you to have at least a B in that language at A-level or equivalent.

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:

For other courses with Philosophy, see the list of other courses available.

Any questions?

Feel free to contact our admissions tutors:

Dr Tamar Keren-Portnoy, 
Dr Ann Taylor

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