Master’s Program

In the MA in Germanic Studies program, students have the opportunity to develop a generalized knowledge of German cultural products in their aesthetic, social, political, cultural, and historical dimensions.

Students will learn how to apply a variety of critical methods and theories to the study of literary and cultural works and refine their analytical skills. The Master’s program can be a standalone credential, preparation for a career in teaching, or a possible foundation for advancement to a PhD program in Germanic Studies and related fields.

Program Overview

The MA in Germanic Studies integrates a large scope of thematic and theoretical research areas. Students will be guided by faculty whose teaching and research cover a wide range of German literature, film, and culture. Course offerings feature approaches grounded in varied theories and disciplinary perspectives, for example, literature, film, culture, and media.

Our program’s structure encourages students to develop their individual focus of study and research in consultation with faculty. Students have the opportunity to develop a comprehensive knowledge of German literary texts in their aesthetic, social, political, cultural, and historical dimensions.

According to UBC regulations, students can proceed directly into the PhD in Germanic Studies program after a year without completing the MA program. In order to do so, you must obtain first-class marks, demonstrate advanced research potential, and meet other requirements for PhD admission, as outlined in the Academic Calendar.

Program Requirements

The MA in Germanic Studies can be earned in two ways: the Courses-Only option or the Master’s Thesis option. Each path has a specific set of course requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to complete the program. Before you make a decision on which path is right for you, please contact the Graduate Advisor.

Courses-Only Program Requirements

Those pursuing the courses-only program option will need to fulfill 30 credits following these course requirements:

  • GERM 500: Introduction to German Studies Research Methods (3 credits)
  • GERM 501: Literary Theories (3 credits)
  • GERM 548: Major Essay (3 credits)
  • 21 elective credits

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 student's supervisor and other members of the MA Examination Committee. The list should include major literary and cultural 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 548 or the equivalent exam preparation course will be assigned by the examination committee.

All elective credits must come from literary and cultural studies courses at the 500 level. When they are offered, we recommend taking the following courses in addition to any other electives, as they concentrate on linguistic and cultural exchange:

  • GERM 505: The Acquisition of German as an Additional Language
  • GERM 506: Intercultural Competence

With the approval of the Graduate Advisor, students may enrol in courses offered by other programs on campus. 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:

  1. Send a request to the Graduate Advisor to ask for the desired course to be counted for elective credit. Include a brief rationale as to why the course is related to the course of study/research interests.
  2. If the request is approved, 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.

The examination committee consists of three to 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 MA thesis.

Additionally, the exam committee chair (usually the Graduate Advisor) will 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 MA thesis supervisor or a member of the candidate’s MA thesis committee, they may only serve on the committee as a member, and another Graduate Faculty member must 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 to the student.

Master’s Thesis Program Requirements

Those pursuing the Master’s Thesis program option will need to fulfill a total of 30 credits under the following course requirements:

  • GERM 500: Introduction to German Studies Research Methods (3 credits)
  • GERM 501: Literary Theories (3 credits)
  • GERM 510: German Literary History (3 credits)
  • GERM 549: Master’s Thesis (9 credits)
  • 12 elective credits

Topic and Prospectus

By no later than the beginning of the second year, you should formulate a topic and, in consultation with the Graduate Advisor, choose a supervisory committee consisting of a supervisor and two graduate faculty members. As soon as you have decided on a suitable topic, a prospectus should be submitted to the supervisory committee for approval. The prospectus (approximately 5-7 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 must be submitted by email to the Graduate Advisor and the Graduate Program Assistant.

Public Defence

Students normally defend their thesis within six months of completing their course requirements. All 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 MA 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 an arm's-length chair (usually the Graduate Advisor, unless already a part of the committee), 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 must be from the Department’s appointed examination committee.

The final grade for the thesis and GERM 549 will be determined by the defence committee and entered administratively by the Graduate Program Assistant. The final version of the thesis, including all changes required by the defence committee, must be submitted electronically to cIRcle.

The examination committee consists of three to 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 MA thesis.

Additionally, the exam committee chair (usually the Graduate Advisor) will 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 MA thesis supervisor or a member of the candidate’s MA thesis committee, they may only serve on the committee as a member, and another Graduate Faculty member must 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 to the student.

Digital Degree Project Presentation

Although this is optional, students completing their degree projects (MA theses) 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.

The goals of the online presentation are to

  • Show your knowledge of 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.

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