M.A. in Germanic Studies

Students have the opportunity to develop a generalized knowledge of German cultural products in their aesthetic, social, political, cultural, and historical dimensions.

They will learn how to apply a variety of critical methods and theories to the study of literary texts, refine literary sensibilities, analytical skills and conceptual abilities. The master’s program can be a standalone credential, preparation for a career in teaching, or a possible foundation for advancement to a Ph.D. program in Germanic Studies.

Students also have the option of proceeding directly to the Ph.D. program after only one year of our M.A. program in Germanic Studies (without completion) if they obtain first-class marks, demonstrate advanced research potential, and if the other requirements for Ph.D. admission, as outlined in the Academic Calendar, are met.

Prospective students: please see Admissions Requirements for a full list of application procedures, required documents and requirements for admission to our program.

30 credits must be completed for the M.A. degree.

Mandatory Courses
All M.A. students must take:

• GERM 500 – Introduction to German Studies Research Methods (3 credits)
• GERM 501 – Literary Theories (3 credits)

Mandatory Workshops
All TAs must successfully complete one of the CTLT Instructional Skills Workshops (ISW). It is recommended that German language TAs complete the workshop which is specifically designed for Teaching Assistants of language classes.

Annual Progress Report
Each student's annual progress report must be submitted by June 1.

Elective Courses
Electives are to be chosen from the graduate course list (literary and cultural studies).

If offered, GERM 505 (The Acquisition of German as an Additional Language) or GERM 506 (Intercultural Competence) is strongly recommended for all Teaching Assistants.

[1] With the approval of the Graduate Advisor, students may enroll in courses offered by other academic units on campus.

[2] As per Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies regulations, a maximum of 6 credits from undergraduate-level courses numbered between 300 to 499 may be counted toward the requirements of a master's degree.

Procedure: Students wishing to be granted credit toward their degree for undergraduate courses, or courses outside of the program must do the following:

a) Send a request to the Graduate Advisor to ask for the desired course to be counted as an elective credit. Include a brief rationale as to why the course is related to your course of study/research interests. Note: This excludes language courses from our department.

b) If accepted, the Graduate Advisor will send the student an email indicating official approval of the substitute course. A copy of the approval will also be sent to the Graduate Program Assistant for the student’s file.

[3] GERM 547 – Guided Research (Directed Studies) Students who need help with developing a research focus or a M.A. thesis topic are advised to take German 547 (3/6) in the second year, with approval from the Graduate Advisor. Students have the opportunity to take this course with any Graduate Faculty member of their choice.

Procedure: Students should approach a Graduate Faculty member with either a research proposal or syllabus (including a reading list) and seek approval for a feasible project. A timetable for completion should also be agreed upon. Guided Research can be worth (3) or (6) credits. If approved, the Graduate Advisor will ask the Graduate Program Assistant to proceed with the student’s registration.

Three Tracks for the M.A.:

Courses-Only, Major Essay, or Master's Thesis

The M.A. in Germanic Studies, can be earned in one of three ways: the Courses-Only option, the Major Essay option or the Master's Thesis option. The number of elective credits depends on whether the Major Essay or Master’s Thesis option is chosen. The Graduate Advisor should be consulted prior to making a decision.

M.A. TracksCoursesTotal Credits
Course-OnlyGERM 500 and 501 (6 credits)

GERM 547E, with a focus on exam preparation (3 credits)

21 elective credits
30 credits
Major EssayGERM 500 and 501 (6 credits)

GERM 548 (3 credits)

21 elective credits
30 credits
Master's ThesisGERM 500 and 501 (6 credits)

GERM 549 (9 credits)

15-21 elective credits
30 credits

The research results of the Major Essay and the M.A. Thesis must be publicized.

*If taken by more than one student, GERM 547E can be replaced by any other regular course number with added letter code E.

Students who choose the Major Essay stream must submit an extended research paper written under the direction of a Graduate Faculty supervisor. This excludes essays previously written as part of other course requirements. Students should approach a faculty member with a research proposal and seek agreement on a feasible project and a timetable for completion. This paper appears on the transcript as GERM 548 (3 credits).

The length of the research paper must be approximately 25-30 pages, excluding endnotes and bibliography. Documentation and formatting should follow the most recent MLA style guide.

The research paper is due by March 15 (for a presentation no later than April 12, and spring graduation); March 26 (for a presentation no later than April 23 and fall graduation); August 31 for a presentation no later than September 27 and fall graduation) and November 15 (for a presentation no later than December 13 and spring graduation).

Once all course requirements have been successfully completed and the graduating essay has been marked by the supervisor, the examination committee will oversee its required publication. Once approved, the Examination Committee Chair will inform the Graduate Advisor that all program requirements have been satisfied.


The graduating essay has to be made publicly available within six month of its completion. Possible formats include:

  • A presentation in form of a public talk, including an officially accepted conference presentation (e.g., as part of the CENES Graduate Colloquium or a CENES Under/Graduate Conference)
  • An officially accepted poster presentation (e.g., at a CENES Under/Graduate Conference; at MURC, UBC’s Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference
  • A teaching demonstration (e.g., as part of a CENES undergraduate course),
  • Online or Digital Presentation at a UBC website (e.g., at cenes.ubc.ca, http://blogs.ubc.ca; see below for further guidelines),
  • Other forms can be presented for approval by the Graduate Advisor.

Students who write an M.A. thesis will have to introduce and answer questions about it in a public oral defence.

TOPIC AND PROSPECTUS. By no later than the beginning of the second year, the student should formulate a topic and, in consultation with the Graduate Advisor, choose a supervisory committee consisting of a supervisor and two faculty members. As soon as the student has decided on a suitable topic, a prospectus should be submitted to the supervisory committee for approval. The prospectus (approximately 5 pages) introduces the main arguments of the thesis, and includes a bibliography and a comprehensive list of relevant secondary sources.

THE THESIS. The completed thesis, approximately 60-70 pages long (excluding bibliography and notes), should be submitted to the supervisory committee for evaluation. The student is expected to revise the thesis in accordance with the supervisory committee's feedback. The final thesis must be formatted in accordance with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies guidelines for Thesis Preparation. References should follow the latest edition of the MLA style guide. Additionally, one copy should be submitted to the Graduate Advisor (and the Graduate Program Assistant) by email.

PUBLIC DEFENCE. Students normally defend their thesis within six months of completing their course requirements. Other arrangements must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

There are three suggested examination periods each year: at the end of the Spring term immediately after classes, during the first week of classes in the Fall term and at the end of the Fall term immediately after classes. Defence arrangements must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

Once the thesis is approved and marked by the supervisory committee, and all other requirements for the M.A. degree have been fulfilled, a final one-hour oral examination on the thesis and its background will be conducted in the form of a public defence. The student will answer questions about the thesis and explain the research focus.  The defence committee consists of three members plus a chair, selected from the examination committee or among the Graduate Faculty. The examination committee will include at least one member from the supervisory committee. At least one of the voting members of the defence committee has to be from the appointed examination committee.

The final grade for the thesis will be assigned by the defence committee. The final version of the thesis, including all changes required by the defence committee, must be submitted electronically to cIRcle.

Students who choose the Courses-Only stream normally take their comprehensive examination within six months of completing their course requirements. Other arrangements must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

The student will present a reading list to the examinations committee at least four weeks prior to the scheduled exam. The reading list will include full bibliographic references of no fewer than 10 major texts, following the latest format in the MLA style guide. Reading lists are to be drawn up in consultation with the M.A. Examination Committee and the Graduate Faculty member who the student chooses as instructor for their exam preparation course (the supervisor). The list should include major literary works from different periods and critical works of important literary and cultural studies theories.

The oral exam lasts about one hour. The student will answer questions about the texts and theories chosen and explain their choice and focus of studies. The final grade for GERM 547E or the equivalent exam preparation course will be assigned by the examination committee.

The examination committee consists of four members from the CENES Graduate Faculty appointed by the Head. Its mandate is to evaluate the comprehensive exam, the thesis defence, and to approve of the publication of the M.A. essay/thesis. It ensures that the M.A. essay will be made publicly available in an appropriate format.

The exam committee chair will only oversee the exam procedures without a vote. If the nominated exam committee chair is the candidate’s mentor, the instructor of the examination preparation course, the M.A. essay/thesis supervisor or a member of the candidate’s M.A. thesis committee, they can only serve on the committee as a member, and one of the other committee members has to act as exam or defence committee chair at arm’s length. The chair will submit a report to the graduate program office and communicate the results with the student in writing.

Students completing their degree projects (M.A. theses, research essays) are strongly encouraged to create an online presentation of their research to make it more publicly accessible. (This is in addition to archiving the work in UBC cIRcle.)

UBC students have access to a wide variety of electronic tools, including UBC Blogs and Online Presentation Tools.

The goals of the online presentation are to

  • show your knowledge on your area of specialty
  • allow you to practice public presentation of your work in an increasingly common medium
  • showcase the work of CENES students in a way that is publicly accessible
  • serve as an asynchronous archive of past research

Your online presentation should be a standalone, self-contained summary of your work. Think of it as a kind of independent website, rather than visual aids that accompany an oral presentation.
Prior to any public posting of material, the capstone presentation must be approved by the Graduate Advisor or their designate (e.g., Chair of the Graduate Examination Committee).

Best practices to consider

  • The thesis or argument of the research is original and clearly presented.
  • The research project describes its methodology in a way that is comprehensible by a variety of audiences.
    (Example of a publicly presented project is available here)

Contact the graduate program