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Study information

Berlin - Culture, History and Politics

Module titleBerlin - Culture, History and Politics
Module codeMLG2018
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Ulrike Zitzlsperger (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Module description

In the course of the 20th century the city of Berlin has been many things: a beacon of modernity, the seat of two dictatorships, a ruin, the frontier city of the Cold War, and the city that signified the Cold War’s end. This module encourages you initially to explore Berlin’s history, and then to explore cultural responses to its unique fate in literature, film, journalism, architecture and advertising. In particular, you’ll focus on the situation after World War Two, the long-term impact of the Berlin Wall and the importance of the 1990s capital debate, and consider topics like reunification and immigration.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module's main aims are:

  • To focus on the specific fate of a German metropolis in the 20th century
  • To demonstrate the impact of historical events on the city
  • To illustrate key cultural aspects of Berlin, including literature, architecture, film and advertising
  • To foster an awareness of the links between history, literature and culture

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate a sound general understanding of the historical, cinematic and literary topics

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 2. With some guidance from the course tutor, evaluate and apply a range of critical approaches to the material covered
  • 3. Mount a detailed argument in the appropriate register of English, mustering a range of textual or other evidence in its support
  • 4. Access and use critically printed and, where appropriate, electronic learning resources identified as useful by the course tutor(s), and, to a limited extent, discover other useful materials independently
  • 5. Use recommended reference works to compile a bibliography, within given parameters (chronological, thematic, etc.) on a specified topic
  • 6. Demonstrate visual literacy skills appropriate to the level, e.g. an ability to relate images to meanings beyond the images themselves

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Undertake defined learning activities with a measure of autonomy, asking for guidance where necessary
  • 8. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument
  • 9. Present information and arguments on a defined topic to a group of listeners
  • 10. Present a cogent and sustained argument orally in English, on a topic provided, following broad guidelines but selecting and adapting them as required
  • 11. Using course material provided, research, plan and write an essay on a chosen aspect of the subject, to a specified length and deadline
  • 12. Contribute to a group presentation
  • 13. Demonstrate general competence in word-processing and in use of the Internet

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:


  • Introduction; Berlin up to 1933 
  • Berlin's history 1933-1945: the city's internal and external destruction 
  • Berlin 1945-1961: The Berlin Airlift, 17 June 1953, the Wall 
  • 1961-1989: Life in the Siamese City 
  • Reunification: Berlin's Transitional Years 
  • Reconstructing a city I: Potsdamer Platz (case study) 
  • Reconstructing a city II: Memorials and Landmarks 
  • The Role of Immigration
  • City Myths and Images
  • Berlin: Literary and Cinematic depictions
  • Discussion


  • Berlin in selected historic documents 
  • The Berlin Wall 
  • Advertising the City 
  • The Capital Debate: Bonn vs Berlin 
  • Berlin: Literary Depictions

Small group tutorial:

  • Anonyma, Eine Frau in Berlin

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Tutorial
Guided Independent Study134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay abstract500 words1-6Short written feedback and individual meetings to discuss the abstracts
Presentation5 minutes1, 3, 5-6Discussion with tutor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1002500 words 1-6Modern Language feedback sheet; discussion with tutor

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-5, 7-8, 11, 13Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Anonyma, Eine Frau in Berlin. Tagebuchaufzeichnungen vom 20. April bis 22. Juni 1945 (Berlin: BTB, 2008)
  • Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin. Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape (Chicago and London, UCP, 1998)
  • David Clay Large, Berlin. A Modern History (London, Harper Collins, 1998)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Comprehensive ELE is available for this module, including a list of further reading and films.

Key words search

Berlin, German History, German Culture

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date