Study Abroad in Berlin, Germany

Study Abroad in Berlin: Courses

View and print all course descriptions

Courses may change at the discretion of Humboldt University. A minimum enrollment of 10 students is required for each course offered.

German Language Courses

A placement exam after arrival determines appropriate levels. Students taking German are advised to gain pre-approval from their home institution for several levels of German in order to ensure that they receive credit for the level that they test into. German language classes are taught for 45 contact hours for a recommended 3 semester credits and appear on a Humboldt University transcript. Courses meet Monday through Friday. Each course is divided into grammar, conversation, vocabulary and culture.

Session 1 and Session 2

German 101 (3) | Elementary German

Students with no previous German or with only one semester in college usually place into this level. Functional uses of the language as well as grammar, cultural themes, introductions, exchanging information, writing letters, the present tense, the noun and the cases, personal pronouns and possessive pronouns, sentence structure, questions, prepositions, list of irregular verbs, basic communication and listening comprehension.

German 102 (3) | Advanced Elementary German

For students with more than one semester of German at elementary level. Further development of functional uses of German language as outlined in German 101.

German 201 (3) | Lower Intermediate German

Students who have studied German throughout high school and continued with one semester in college, or students who have 2 to 4 semesters in college, usually place into this level. Practice of speaking, listening and reading comprehension, synonyms and paraphrases in context, verb, noun, adjective, flexion, prepositions, personal and possessive pronouns, main and subordinate clauses, auxiliary verbs, special focus on sentence construction and use of past tenses.

German 203 (3) | Upper Intermediate German

Students with at least 6 semesters of college German, experience living in a German-speaking country or German study on a regular basis since elementary school usually place into this level. Practice of speaking techniques in everyday situations, listening and reading comprehension, short reports, arguing in discussions, analysis and production of texts, enlarging vocabulary, synonyms and paraphrasing.

German 301 (3) | Advanced German (Only available in session 2)

Students who are nearly fluent usually place into this level. Concentration on refining and further developing communicative skills, review of indicative and subjunctive, expressions of doubt, probability, feelings and opinions. Reading of newspapers and modern literature texts.

Subject Courses (Taught in English)

Session 1: Stream A

History/Political Science/Sociology 311 (3) | Nazi Germany - Rise and Fall

In two world wars Germany tried to dominate the globe and all major decisions were made in the capital Berlin.

Berlin: Why was Germany such an aggressive power until 1945? How did Hitler manage to gain and keep power? Why were many Germans Nazis and deeply racist? How was the life of ordinary people during the war? Why did the Nazis kill millions of Jews and other innocent people in concentration camps? What were the long term effects of World War II? What happened to the Nazis after the war?

The course will provide answers to such questions via readings of texts from political science, sociology and history, while also taking the opportunity to explore the locations in which the events between 1933 and 1945 took place.

After a brief introduction to the historical and ideological backgrounds which led to the rise of the Nazi Regime we will turn to a detailed analysis of the event history which led to World War II. The course will answer the question why Germany was such an aggressive power and how the Nazi movement managed to gather broad public support within the majority of the German population until the end while causing war and the death of millions of Jews, opponents etc. Finally, we will discuss the effects of World War II, on world history; e.g. the Cold War, European Integration, etc.

Undergraduate students (especially students of Political Science, Social Science, and History) can cover two eras of German history if they combine this course with the Summer Session 2 course on either "The Berlin Wall" or "The European Union".

Law 315 (3) | Introduction to International Economic Law

Multinational companies like Google or Apple self-evidently act on a global stage. But even small businesses participate in international trade today. The integration of national economies and the elimination of barriers of trade no longer allow a solely national view on this development. With the growing importance of international commerce, the need for an “International Economic Law” arises. Numerous regulations and agreements concern international trade and investment, but the legal framework of international economy remains indefinite.

In this course common principles of International Economic Law will be examined by analyzing leading decisions by international courts. Therefore a substantial part of the course will be dedicated to class room discussion of cases and reading materials.

(Only open to undergraduate law students and/or students with previous knowledge on the subject)

Session 1: Stream B

History/Culture 310 (3) | Berlin's Graveyard Culture as Mirror of Society - An Interdisciplinary Perspective

This course wants to approach the subject of life, death and dying from the spatial defined area of cemeteries. This means looking at historical and cultural changes, as well as their implications on law, society, landscape art or upcoming industries. Beginning of the 20th century our relation to death and dying has again changed as new models of funeral customs and cemetery culture show. The course wants to approach this subject by reading texts in cultural and social history as well as in literature. Further it wants to view artistic changes in memorial architecture and landscape art, and bringing into focus alternative modes of green funerals and coffins. The course wants to undertake excursions to different cemeteries in Berlin. Here we want to explore and complement our knowledge by inspecting the cemeteries with three main questions in mind: Who is buried and how is he/she buried? Where is the cemetery located within Berlin, and what does this imply? What dominant funeral customs do we find here? The course aims to combine reading and excursion and join the impressions together. Doing so, makes clear that not only past and present / death and life meet on cemeteries but different disciplines and perspectives such as law, architecture, literature, industry, social studies, ethnological perspectives as well as cultural techniques come together here.

Religion/Culture 320 (3) | Jewish Narratives in Germany – Exploring Memory Past and Present

In this course the students will explore Jewish history in Germany – and its memorialization – from 1933 to the present. This will be accomplished through lectures, workshops, and site visits to museums in and around Berlin. In addition to the tragic history that has defined the 20th century experience, students will have an opportunity to explore contemporary Jewish life and topics that continue to shape Berlin and Germany more widely. This course is anthropologically inflected and treats the museums and other urban spaces as field sites to be explored and analyzed critically. It is well-suited to students who are interested in religious studies, history, the social sciences, and/or more specific fields such as urban studies, ethics or museum studies.

Session 2: Stream A

Conservation/Ecology 306 (3) | Land in the City–Green in the City

Urban agriculture provides multiple benefits to urban dwellers and cities. It arises not only out of crisis situations, but also through proximity to urban markets and the availability of productive resources, especially where the producers often live in marginal or illegal settlements. Students examine several functions of agriculture and horticulture in big cities, especially in Berlin, including: ecological and institutional conditions; social functions of urban agriculture and gardening, and conservation of resources through recycling of waste (water) and use of non-organic wastes in farming constructions. Students meet participants of projects and visit examples of urban agriculture in Berlin, such as allotments, community and school gardens and market-oriented urban farms.

German Literature 321 (3) | Stadt und Land: Literaten in und um Berlin (Taught in German)

Berlin is a vibrant city – and has always been. The City and its surrounding have always attracted and influenced artists. The “Golden Twenties and Thirties” of the 20th Century are legendary – not only the city provided inspiration and material for novels, music, theatre and fine arts, but also all the places of refuge that brought from the external hectic pace to inner reflection.

The course is concerned with several writers, whose lives and work are closely connected to Berlin and the escape to the idylls of small towns. How did this contrast impact their writing process? What can we learn by that for our own creative processes? In this course we read and write, discuss, look around, walk and go out: various field trips in and around Berlin, a visit of a theatre and some movies will show the relation of texts, style and atmosphere.

The course is designed for everybody who is interested in literature, creative writing (German language) and exploring Berlin and the near countryside. Participants in this course should share an inherent interest in the topic and life in Berlin, as well as a willingness to explore their own expressiveness and joy in playing with the German language. Mistakes made in written works will be corrected but will not be discussed as part of the course syllabus nor be included in the overall assessment of the participant's performance. Texts for preparation or for background knowledge can also be read in English or in any other language. Texts dealt with during class are discussed on the basis of the original –in German.

Students must place into Advanced German (level of C1).

History/Politics/Social Science 312 (3) | The Berlin Wall: Tales of Division and Unity

The course covers topics such as: implications of the Berlin Wall on architecture, contemporary history and museums; history of post-war Germany; European integration on both sides of the Berlin Wall (before and after the reunification); structures of the European Central Bank and the Bundestag.

Session 2: Stream B

Geography/Commercial Geography 307 (3) | European City and Regional Development Planning

The course discusses topics on general issues of European planning such as the changing economic map of Europe and the European Union and its regional policy. Regional development and planning methods are introduced including examples of current planning projects.

Politics/Social Science 309 (3) | The European Union between Supranational Integration and National Sovereignty

The European Union is the most advanced form of economic, political and arguably societal integration outside the national state. But how does it work? What are the opportunities and limits of supranational integration? And what is the state of the Union today? In this course, participants will gain an overview on the functioning of the political institutions of the Union and on the influence of the EU on the daily lives of its citizens by reading a variety of texts from political science, sociology and history. Taking place in Berlin, the course will not miss out on the chance to take excursions to places where German and European history and politics meet.

Religion/Culture 308 (3) | Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Germany - Interrogating Memory and Migration

This course follows the complex trajectories linking interreligious and intercultural narratives in Germany today. How does the culture of memory in Germany, with its Christian frame and Jewish focus converge and diverge with more recent narratives of migration that have made Islam a visible presence in Germany? This is the main question this course seeks to address. Students will interrogate this topic through dedicated lectures, workshops, and site visits to museums and other venues. This course is anthropologically inflected and treats the sites as field sites to be explored empirically and analyzed critically. It is well-suited to students who are interested in religious studies, history, the social sciences, and/or more specific fields such as urban studies, ethics or museum studies.