MA in Germanic Studies

Students have the opportunity to develop a comprehensive knowledge of German literary texts in their aesthetic, social, political, (inter-)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 is intended as preparation for a career in teaching and provides a possible foundation for advancement to a PhD program in Germanic Studies.

Students also have the option of proceeding directly to the PhD 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 PhD 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 have to take the following 6 credits of:

• GERM 500 – Introduction to German Studies Research Methods (3 credits)
• GERM 501A or 501B – 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.

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] In consultation with 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 normally 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 and finding an M.A. thesis topic are advised upon consultation with the Graduate Advisor to take German 547 (3/6) in the second year. 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 Options:

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.

Prior to taking the final oral examination or public defence, students complete their studies by either taking a total of ten courses (30 credits) including GERM 547E (with a focus on exam preparation),or if writing an M.A. Graduating Essay (GERM 548), a total of nine courses (27 credits), or, if writing a Master's Thesis (GERM 549), a total of seven courses (21 credits). The Graduate Advisor should be consulted prior to making a decision.

The research results of the Major Essay and the M.A. Thesis have to be disseminated in public.

Courses-Only (Total: 30 credits)Major Essay (Total: 30 credits)Master’s Thesis (Total: 30 credits)
• 6 credits: mandatory courses• 6 credits: mandatory courses• 6 credits: mandatory courses
• 21 credits: elective courses• 21 credits: elective courses• 15 credits: elective courses
• 3 credits: Exam Preparation (GERM 547E)*• 3 credits: Major Essay (GERM 548)

• 9 credits: Master’s Thesis (GERM 549)
• Comprehensive Examination• Public Dissemination of the Major Essay• Public Oral Defence and Submission to cIRcle

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

Up to twelve credits total can be taken in German Cultural Studies, including Applied Linguistics and Language Acquisition: GERM 505, 506, 521, 522, 531.
All other elective courses will normally be chosen from Literary Studies; GERM 510-520, 531-532.

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 German 548 (3 credits).

The length of the research paper must be approximately twenty-five pages (6000 words), including endnotes and bibliography. Documentation should follow the most recent Style Guide of the Modern Language Association.

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

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


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

  • 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; for presentation guidelines see here.
  • An officially accepted poster presentation (e.g., at a CENES Under/Graduate Conference; at MURC, UBC’s Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference; for poster guidelines see here.
  • A teaching demonstration (e.g., as part of a CENES undergraduate course),
  • Online or Digital Presentation at a UBC website (e.g., at,; see below for further guidelines),
  • An officially accepted publication by a refereed research venue (e.g., a scholarly journal).

Students who write an M.A. thesis will have to present it in the form of 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), should be submitted to the supervisory committee for evaluation. The student is expected to revise the thesis in accordance with the supervisory committee's critical suggestions. The final form of the thesis must be formulated as outlined in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies guidelines for Thesis Preparation, available on the  G+PS website. Documentation normally follows the latest Style Guide of the Modern Language Association. The student should provide all members of the supervisory committee with a final hard copy of the thesis. Additionally, one copy should be submitted to the Graduate Advisor (cc: Graduate Assistant) electronically 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.

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 her or his research focus.  The defence committee consists of three members and a committee chair, selected from the examination committee. The examination committee will include at least one member from the supervisory committee. At least one of the voting members of the defense committee has to be from the appointed examination committee and cannot be a member of the supervisory committee.

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

Students who chose 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. There are three examination periods each year: at the end of the Spring term immediately after classes (no later than April 12th for spring graduation), during the first week of classes in the Fall term (no later than September 27th for fall graduation) and at the end of the Fall term immediately after classes (no later than December 13th for spring graduation in the following year).

The student will present a reading list to the examinations committee 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 Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 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 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 her or his 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 and without grading/passing capabilities. 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 her/his 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 available here)

Contact the graduate program