Introduction to the Study of Culture of German Speaking Countries

Academic year
Subject Area
German Culture
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Not applicable.

Teaching Methods

Varied teaching methods with contemporary materials according to the subjects at stak, oral presentations by students and debate. Theoretical exposition will be requires when handling a more historical grounding of present day phenomena.

Learning Outcomes

This curricular unit, with a propaedeutical character, aims at familiarizing students with the historical and cultural specificity of the German-speaking countries through the centuries, always taking into account the wider context of the European culture. The starting point will be the knowledge of the present and the reflection about contemporary times, pointing to historical knowledge as fundamental for this reflection.

By the end of the semester, students should be able to:

1. identify and comment on texts and other documents related to the unit’s main topics;

2. relate the various cultural contexts with one another, analyzing them critically and in a historical perspectivation;

3. analyze and present the discussed themes, showing intellectual autonomy, synthesizing capacity, argumentation skills and high proficiency in oral and written expression.

Work Placement(s)



1. German speaking countries and their diversity: Germany, Austria and Switzerland

2. Fundamental notions of geography, economic and political organization and their historical grounding.

2.1. Federalism and the building of the German, Austrian and Swiss states.

2.2. Constitucionalism and the ideas of Nation and Empire.

2.3. The birth of the contemporary political system and the main parties.

2.4. National-Socialism and the difficult memory of World War II until present day.

2.5. From the creation of two German states to Reunification.

3. Religious and ethnic diversity.

3.1. The Reformation. The Thirty Years War.

3.2. German colonialism.

3.3. Multiculturality - migrations and ethnic-ratial minorities

4. Culture and the Media

4.1. Press, radio and television

4.2. Plastic and visual arts

4.3. Music

4.4. Cinema

4.5. Other artistic and cultural expressions

5. Germany, Austria, Switzerland and/in Europe

The syllabus may vary slightly from year to year according to the teacher.

Head Lecturer(s)

Maria de Fátima Gil Rodrigues da Silva

Assessment Methods

Participation in the classes’ debates, short presentations of texts and other documents: 25.0%
Frequency: 25.0%
Exam: 50.0%


Beller, S. (2007). A Concise History of Austria. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beutin, W. et al. (1993-94). História da Literatura Alemã das Origens à Actualidade. Lisboa: Apáginastantas, Cosmos.

Burns, R. (ed.) (1995). German Cultural Studies. An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Church, C. H., Head, R. C. (2013). A Concise History of Switzerland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Demandt, A. (2008). Über die Deutschen. Bonn: bpb.

Kitchen, M. (2006). A History of Modern Germany. 1800-2000. Malden (MA): Blackwell.

Müller, H. (2002). Schlaglichter der deutschen Geschichte. Bonn: bpb.

Opitz, A. et al. (1998). Sociedade e Cultura Alemãs. Lisboa: Univ. Aberta.

Scheidl, L., Melo, I. A., Ribeiro, A. S. (1996). Dois Séculos de História Alemã. Política, Sociedade e Cultura (3.ª ed.). Coimbra: Minerva.