Seminar für Englische Philologie


Bachelor Program

The teaching program of the linguistics section is designed to provide students with a sound understanding of the structure and use of the English language. English linguistics as a discipline is concerned with the description and representation of the structural units of modern English: sounds, words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and their structure and meaning. Our program thus covers all the subfields of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) as well as their interfaces with logic and cognition. There is, however, a lot more to understanding language than merely looking at theoretical areas: in psycholinguistics, students will learn about language processing (e.g. speech errors, and ambiguities), and about first and second language acquisition; and in sociolinguistics, the study of language in its regional context and social variation (e.g. dialect, and jargon or slang) is in focus. At the heart of linguistics is the search for the unconscious knowledge that competent speakers have about their language, and how it is that children acquire it so easily. This, of course, is also relevant for future teachers of English because teaching a language requires a substantial knowledge of how that language works and how it is acquired.

Level 1

The introductory module offers a survey of linguistics as a scientific discipline and its various subfields. It also allows students to familiarize themselves with the basic terms and tools to analyze and describe the fundamental patterns of modern English (synchronic perspective), which are, at the same time, considered as the result of developments from earlier stages of English (diachronic perspective). Having completed the introductory module, students will have the chance to specialize in either linguistics or medieval studies.

Level 2

These intermediate modules aim at deepening the students’ knowledge of syntax (structure of language) and semantics (meaning of language) – the central parts of human linguistic competence, which other parts of language competence depend on. In a general lecture, students are introduced to syntactic and semantic theory, which they then apply in lab classes and tutorials to enhance their analytical skills.

Level 3

In this advanced module, students can both deepen their understanding of one of the areas they have covered so far and broaden their horizon by looking at other subfields of linguistics (e.g. pragmatics, language change, or language acquisition). Very often, it is in these courses that students encounter a topic which they will later flesh out in their Bachelor thesis – the final part of the program.

Master Program

Linguistics is the scientific study of language; as such, it is data-oriented and centers around the testing of hypotheses. Linguistic research aims at uncovering the rules and representations underlying the structures of particular languages and is concerned with what they reveal about the general principles that determine the form and development of language, both in the individual and the species. While continuing and extending the topic areas covered in the Bachelor program, the contents and methods of the Master program are pre-eminently research-related. The Master program consists of four parts:

Part 1

This module offers three different levels of introductory courses in order to account for the varying degrees of background knowledge that students may have of linguistics. A lecture series provides an overview of the central subfields as well as the core research areas. The flexibility of the module ensures that the participants of the program are well-equipped for the more advanced Master courses.

Part 2

Advanced modules are specifically geared towards expanding the students’ analytical and academic skills. The focus is usually on diverse analyses of a particular grammatical construction, or on various theoretical approaches, which are discussed in depth. The objective is to enable our students to autonomously evaluate linguistic hypotheses and theories. In lecture series with invited speakers (the so-called LinG colloquium), students start participating in the scientific discourse and thus become young members of the research community. The modules on this level usually require students to write a term paper of about 7500 words, which is taken as a useful and effective preparation for their Master theses.

Part 3

On this level we offer a focus module which allows students to select courses from fields related to linguistics (psychology, logic, corpus linguistics etc.) as well as from medieval studies. This module aims at presenting linguistics as an interdisciplinary scientific area and at introducing various areas of work for graduates of linguistics.

Part 4

The completion module accompanies the writing of the Master thesis, and usually contains a course in which students have the chance to present, discuss, and receive feedback on their work.