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German studies 3: language and culture of the German-speaking world

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This module follows on from an OU Level 2 German module. It further develops your knowledge and understanding of German-speaking societies and extends your language competence. The interactive online study materials are based around text, audio and video resources including interviews and documentaries. You engage in critical analysis, develop academic writing, research and presentation skills and are introduced to the concept of linguistic and cultural mediation. The six module themes provide both broad and focused coverage of historical and contemporary aspects of German-speaking societies which you are encouraged to discuss with your fellow students in tutorials and forums.

What you will study

All of the materials for this module are delivered online via the module website.

Each of the six units covers different aspects of language and culture of the German-speaking world. The unit topics in detail are:

Unit 1: Nationale und regionale Identität

  • regional identity
  • landscapes and political structures in German-speaking countries
  • the region of East Friesland, its geography, culture and economy
  • issues around language and identity
  • the role of dialects in German-speaking countries
  • the contested notion of ‘Heimat’.

Unit 2: Forschung, Technologie und Innovation

  • from scientific discovery to innovation
  • science and scientists during the Third Reich 
  • keeping a competitive edge through innovation
  • international research 
  • the United Nations’ development goals
  • social robots
  • vaccines as saviours in a pandemic
  • green technologies 
  • science and ethics
  • discussions around genetic engineering
  • the limits of science.

Unit 3: Geschichte und Politik 

  • overview of German history
  • Kaiserreich, Weimar Republic and Hitler’s rise to power
  • Germany, Austria and Switzerland during the Hitler era
  • local history and contemporary witnesses
  • reappraisal and reflection 
  • the post-war era in Germany and Austria
  • critical voices and opposition 
  • reunification 
  • the current political system
  • political parties and elections in a changing society
  • migrant communities and right-wing groups
  • Germany in Europe.

Unit 4: Migration und Identität

  • reasons for emigration from German-speaking countries
  • recent history of migration into Germany, Austria and Switzerland
  • the right to asylum
  • policies, key issues and controversies in integration 
  • migration as a lived experience.

Unit 5: Kunst im Kontext

  • what is art?
  • the origins and functions of art
  • different forms of art 
  • why we read and why writers write
  • overview of German-language literature
  • reading a short story
  • functions of architecture
  • controversial monuments
  • dance, music, theatre and film 
  • changing trends in German film 
  • reappraising history through film: analysing “Nirgendwo in Afrika”.

Unit 6: Wirtschaft im Fokus

  • jobs and motivation
  • economic development in Germany from 1945 to the Covid pandemic 
  • industrial strife
  • regional and national economies
  • globalisation
  • a ‘green’ car industry?
  • economy vs. ecology
  • the concept of sustainability
  • our future.

You will be working on text and audio-visual material through completing a wide range of online activities, which are designed to deepen your understanding of the module topics and develop your confidence in communicating in German. Throughout the module you will progressively develop your academic skills, leading up to a small-scale project at the end. All materials are interactive and encourage your participation; they also allow you to evaluate your progress regularly and provide you with strategies to further develop your skills as an independent language learner. With your fellow students, you can engage jointly in forums and, in Unit 4, you will take part in an interactive cross-languages discussion task.

This module is designed to enable you to achieve a level of language proficiency equivalent to level C1 of the Council of Europe Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module for students who have successfully completed an OU level 2 German module or who already have an equivalent knowledge of German.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

If you have time before the module begins, we suggest that you continue to use your German in any way you can. You could do this by: redoing some of the activities in your OU level 2 module; watching and listening to the audio and video materials from your OU level 2 German module; reading a German newspaper; accessing resources such as online editions of newspapers and magazines, internet radio and television; or borrowing German books and films from the local library. Anything you can do to keep practising your German will help you to prepare yourself for the start of the module.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which is the focal point of your study, and includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to forums where you can communicate with your tutor and fellow students.

You will need

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials and to take part in your interactive assignment, you’ll need a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

You will also need to have access to a suitable German dictionary, either in print or online, for example

  • Collins German Dictionary Complete and Unabridged: For advanced learners and professionals (2019).

You will be working with the following grammar book, which you can access electronically through the library, or you may have a printed copy if you have previously studied L223.

  • Durrell et. al. (2015) Essential German Grammar. 2nd ed. Routledge.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to you. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you're strongly encouraged to take part.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

One TMA is an interactive speaking assignment which will be carried out by your tutor online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying L333 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

German studies 3: language and culture of the German-speaking world (L333) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2031.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment