Ph.D. in Germanic Studies

The Ph.D. program focuses on the application of the major critical theories and the development of discipline-related expertise. The methods by which the students develop this expertise vary from one-on-one discussions and small tutorial groups to formal seminars and lectures.

Upon entering the Ph.D. program, students will determine their course of study in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and other Graduate Faculty.

According to UBC policy, students also have the option of proceeding directly to the Ph.D. after only one year of the M.A. program in Germanic Studies (without completion) if they obtain high, first-class marks and if all other entry requirements for the Ph.D. program, as outlined in the Academic Calendar, are satisfied. The admission to the Ph.D. program must also be approved by the Graduate Faculty.

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

A minimum of 18 credits of course work is required. Additional course work will be required for those deemed deficient. The course of study will be determined by the graduate student in consultation with the Graduate Advisor. The course of study should aim to meet the student's needs and engage with research interests within the framework of the Ph.D. program.

The Department strongly supports interdisciplinary research projects. It is possible for one or more of the electives to be taken from other departments or programs, with approval from the Graduate Advisor.

Understanding that the process of second language acquisition is a valuable asset for those who are interested in cultural studies. Students are strongly advised to take advantage of related course offerings by the department (e.g., GERM 505, 506), and training programs offered by the CTLT.

Students are expected to attend the departmental Ziegler Lecture Series and participate in the Graduate Student Colloquium or Graduate Conference each year.

Course Work

Total amount of credits of coursework: 18 credits

Mandatory Courses (6 credits)
  • GERM 501A – Literary Theories: Introduction to Literary Theories (3); or, in consultation with the Graduate Advisor if GERM 501A is not offered, GERM 500 - Research Methods (3)
  • GERM 501B – Literary Theories: Introduction to Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Studies (3), or GERM 505 The Acquisition of German as an Additional Language (3), or GERM 506 –Intercultural Competence.
Elective Courses (12 credits)

Electives are to be chosen from the graduate course list (literary and cultural studies courses at the 500-level). Chosen electives must cover at least one course in literary history (GERM 510-520) and one course with a methodological focus (GERM 500-506, 521-532).

Optional Coursework in Addition to Mandatory and Elective Courses

With approval from the Graduate Advisor, students may enrol in courses offered by other academic units on campus.

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

a) Send a request to the Graduate Advisor asking 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.

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.

GERM 547 – Guided Research (Directed Studies) Students who need help with developing a research focus or 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 a graduate faculty member who agrees to supervise them. Students may take a maximum of 6 credits of GERM 547.

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.

Additional Requirements

The student’s supervisor and/or the Graduate Advisor may recommend that competence in another area of expertise (e.g., a third language) is necessary for the student's program of research.

Mandatory Workshops

All TAs must successfully complete one of the Instructional Skills Workshops (ISW).

Presentations and Conference Organization

All Ph.D. students are required to give a colloquium presentation at least once in each academic year. This non-credit requirement is meant to enhance the students' presentation and discussion skills in relation to their dissertation topics. This helps to maintain an ongoing academic discourse in the field of Germanic Studies.

Graduate students are also encouraged to conceptualize and organize a CENES Graduate Conference at UBC every other year in consultation with the Graduate Advisor.

Ziegler Lecture Series – The Department invites guest speakers throughout the academic year. Graduate students are expected to attend these presentations.

Doctoral Candidacy Examinations will test the student's ability to deal with acquired information critically. Examinations are taken after the course requirements have been met, i.e., normally at the end of the second year. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within 36 months from date of initial registration must withdraw from the program. The exams must be scheduled in consultation with the student’s committee members and the Graduate Advisor.

There are three components of the exam:
  • Students will write two essays on negotiated areas of research, covered synchronically and diachronically,
  • An oral examination of approximately two hours based on questions raised in the written part of the examination.

Questions in both the oral and written examinations will be based on a reading list drawn up by the candidate in consultation with the examination committee. The list should contain no fewer than 100 titles of primary and secondary sources and theoretical texts (formatted in MLA style). The list should be finalized by the candidate and approved by the committee at least three months prior to the date of the oral examination. The approved final list must be sent to the Graduate Program Assistant and the Graduate Advisor.

Students are offered two possible formats of the written examination, from which they can choose:

  • two take-home papers of at least 15 double-spaced pages which must be written within one month of each other. At the designated start of the exam period (i.e., the agreed timing of the candidacy exams), the student is given two weeks to propose at least three possible exam topics/questions to the committee. The committee selects an exam topic/question, and the candidate will be given three days to write a paper on the assigned topic. The process repeats for the second exam.
  • two in-camera examinations of three hours each, written within a week of each other. In each of the two examinations, the student will write an essay on one of three topics from the list submitted to the committee.

The topics may be revised by the exam committee as is necessary.

In exceptional cases, one of the two papers may be replaced by an appropriate article, published or accepted for publication in a refereed scholarly journal. Students who wish to propose a publication to be accepted in lieu of one of the written exams should consult the Graduate Advisor.

The oral exam takes approximately two hours to complete and is based on the student's essays, the questions raised by the essays, and the overall reading list.

If not already serving on the committee, the Graduate Advisor will chair the exam. The student will select three other exam committee members from the CENES Graduate Faculty who are close to the negotiated areas of research, including the student’s supervisor. Exceptions to the committee structure (e.g., inclusion of Graduate Faculty from other programs) may be approved by the Graduate Advisor on a case-by-case basis. If the Graduate Advisor or exam committee chair has been involved with the candidate in mentoring, thesis or research supervision, another Graduate Faculty member at arm’s length must replace them. The exam committee chair will only oversee the exam procedures (without a vote).

Following the discussion, the student is asked to leave the room. The exam chair (either the Graduate Advisor or an arm’s-length Graduate Faculty member) will moderate the in-camera discussion about the student’s performance in the exam. The committee must evaluate the student’s performance in both the written and oral portions of the exam, assigning an outcome of Unconditional Pass, Conditional Pass, or Fail. For a Conditional Pass, the committee may require the student, e.g., to write a paper or address some aspect of their preparation before advancing fully to candidacy. If the committee finds that the student has failed the oral exam, a re-examination must be scheduled. Upon passing the oral exam, the student’s exam committee is dissolved. (Committee members may join the eventual thesis supervisory committee, but there is no obligation to do so.) There is no grade assigned for the exams. The exam chair will communicate the exam results to the student and will inform the graduate program office about the outcome of the oral exam in writing.

The basic requirements for a doctoral student to be admitted to candidacy are:

• All required course work (18 credits) has been successfully completed
• The candidacy examination has been passed
• The research supervisor has certified that the thesis proposal has been approved by the supervisory committee.

Additional criteria for students to be admitted to candidacy, such as a language proficiency, or proof of additional knowledge may apply. Students are normally expected to complete their candidacy examination within 24 months from the date of initial registration.

The student will write a detailed thesis proposal, which consists of a detailed statement of intent (about 20-25 pages including bibliography). The proposal must be submitted within three months of the successful completion of the candidacy examination. The supervisory committee's approval of the proposal is required before the student may advance to candidacy.

The thesis proposal should state a working title and provide an account of the scope and objectives of the thesis. The proposal should include a preliminary structure and a general outline of the theoretical basis. The methodological approach, the research plan and sources of research material, as well as an assessment of the relationship to existing literature and research should also be discussed. Based on this, the supervisor and the members of the committee will make an informed judgment on whether to accept the proposal.

As soon as the thesis proposal has been approved by the supervisor and the committee, the Graduate Advisor shall recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies that the student be admitted to candidacy. This process includes the official appointment of the supervisory committee. This status is then entered in the University's Student Information System and will be visible on the student’s transcript.

Please note: A student who is not admitted to candidacy within 36 months from date of initial registration must withdraw from the program and award payments will be suspended.

Based on the detailed proposal, the doctoral dissertation is written after the student has been admitted to candidacy. The dissertation is understood to be a research project representing an original contribution to the field.

Because the university offers only four years of major scholarship support, students should aim to complete their thesis in a period of two years. The writing of a doctoral dissertation requires close and continuous cooperation between candidate and supervisor. Regular consultation with members of the supervising committee, including at least one committee meeting annually, is also necessary. Students are expected to organize these meetings and to document the progress of their research projects annually. Progress reports are due by March 1.

After a complete version of the thesis has been approved by the examiners and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (see Dissertation & Thesis Preparation), the supervisor will schedule a date for the final oral examination (public defence) at the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, in accordance with the regulations for final doctoral examinations.

The final version of the thesis, including all changes required by the defense committee, must be submitted electronically to cIRcle.

Contact the Graduate Program