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Confusing: Study Humanities at German Universities? (History and Ancient Near East) watch

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    Hello everyone at TSR!

    I hope to study European History and Ancient Near East, and I'm now considering German universities.

    I’ve done lots of searching work and find some universities are renowned for Humanities in Germany, e.g. FU Berlin, HU Berlin, Freiburg U, Heidelberg U, LMU Munich, Tuebingen U etc. But I have no idea about their international academic reputations in the Western World.

    My question is that, in academic fields of European History and Ancient Near East, how do these universities compare to top-notch universities in the UK and USA?
    (I know that, on the whole, these German Universities fall behind Oxbridge and Ivys quite a bit.)

    And is academic study and research of European History and Ancient Near East in German Universities much different from their British-American counterparts? (I mean in terms of research methods, research focuses, etc.)

    I apologise if these questions seem ignorant, as we high school students are quite unacquainted with the Academia, especially in the fields of Humanities.

    I will be very appreciated for each reply. Thank you!
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    I am a German national from Heidelberg, currently studying Law at Bielefeld U and about to start an undergrad English course at QMUL by Sept. 2011.

    As my parents both are professors at the Karl Ruprechts University Heidelberg (in the fields of Ancient Greek, Latin, Judaism and German), I do know quite a lot about the quality in both teaching and research of the Humanities Department.
    Concerning the common view, as you mentioned, German Higher Education does fall behind UK/US Russel Group/Ivy League institutions, but only reputation-wise, due to the lack of international knowledge of particular German universities.

    This is most likely the case because in Germany something like an official 'elite group' (comparable to the mentioned above) of outstanding universities doesn't exist, which does not mean however that there are no universities in Germany which provide their students with an excellent education. In fact, many employers from all over the world are aware of the decent education at German universities (especially in the fields of Law, Humanities, Medicine and Science), as it is internationally acknowledged for its outstanding theoretical research and reams of awarded publications.

    As I want to live in the UK because of personal reasons, I am about to leave Germany to study in the UK, but shed many tears for letting behind the benefits of the German educational system, that is extraordinary in innumerable ways.
    Compared to UK/US education, I can only assume that there are major differences, predominantly regarding the style of tuition. In UK/US courses, as far as I'm concerned, it is traditional to keep classes/tutorials small, as of a group of students of lets say 15-30 people.
    In Germany, you will sit in an auditorium with 400 other students and will be taught in the way of frontal instruction, most likely without being asked to actively contribute to the course. You rather sit, hear, watch a presentation and take your personal notes. This may sound very theoretical, boring and unpersonal, but it bears many advantages, especially when it comes to the actual quality of the course content, since lectures won't get interrupted by the permanent intercourse between teacher and students, which results in the effect of a very high tempo that allows to get really deep into the very subject (in ways of intensive overall research).
    Therefore, German Higher Education is known for its unique focus on the very academic substance of each subject, especially speaking of the research in theoretical literature, which provides the students with an internationally unrivalled thorough knowledge of the latest academical accomplishments on this planet.
    As you can see, at German universities you will be usually required to work mostly autonomous and develop your skills independently instead of being 'taught' on an individual level, which involves a both personal and educational enhancement that is much appreciated by international employers, because they are looking for graduates with the ability to work/learn independently.
    This would probably be the biggest difference to UK/US courses, where the teachers almost take their students by the hand and push them through their courses all the way to the final exams, most likely one of the main reasons why universities in these countries are so popular with students from all over the world.
    Of course, this educational style of tuition is much more comfortable and kind of secure, but is certainly lacking the procurement of substantial professional abilities that are highly important in working life, whereas a graduate from a German university is generally tipped by prospective employers as being very 'mature', compared to graduates from other countries.

    I can only encourage you to apply for a University course in Germany (your list of unis contains the very best!), as you will definitely benefit from the liberal yet classic educational approach to academic disciplines. Further, regarding the costs of your studies, probably the biggest bonus of studying in Germany would be the cheap living (especially in the North/East/West, namingly Berlin ) including wonderful and comfortable living conditions (beautiful spacious flats for little money, not joking!, perfectly organised public transport, major students discounts etc) - plus the fact that, thanks to persistant demonstrations of the population within the past few years, most Universities won't charge ANY tuition fees any longer from October 2011(!!!).

    I wish you all the best and hope I could be of any help for you, feel free to ask whatever question you might have.
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    Thank you very much!

    Perhaps you also know that German universities perform relative poorly in various world university rankings, and this may indicate some serious problems of German universities as these rankings are made in various countries like the UK, Russia, etc.

    Since I want to study Humanities, the Arts & Humanities sector of QS University Ranking may be a useful reference, as academic peer review plays an important role in its criteria. But I find that German universities lag behind British and American universities a bit in this ranking, and none of the top 20 universities is located in Germany.

    Maybe I’m obsessed by these rankings... but many students in my country think ranking is an important factor to consider as we are quite unacquainted with universities in non-English-speaking countries.

    Thanks again for your helpful reply!



    (Original post by Ms. Bukowski)
    I am a German national from Heidelberg, currently studying Law at Bielefeld U and about to start an undergrad English course at QMUL by Sept. 2011.

    As my parents both are professors at the Karl Ruprechts University Heidelberg (in the fields of Ancient Greek, Latin, Judaism and German), I do know quite a lot about the quality in both teaching and research of the Humanities Department.
    Concerning the common view, as you mentioned, German Higher Education does fall behind UK/US Russel Group/Ivy League institutions, but only reputation-wise, due to the lack of international knowledge of particular German universities.

    This is most likely the case because in Germany something like an official 'elite group' (comparable to the mentioned above) of outstanding universities doesn't exist, which does not mean however that there are no universities in Germany which provide their students with an excellent education. In fact, many employers from all over the world are aware of the decent education at German universities (especially in the fields of Law, Humanities, Medicine and Science), as it is internationally acknowledged for its outstanding theoretical research and reams of awarded publications.

    As I want to live in the UK because of personal reasons, I am about to leave Germany to study in the UK, but shed many tears for letting behind the benefits of the German educational system, that is extraordinary in innumerable ways.
    Compared to UK/US education, I can only assume that there are major differences, predominantly regarding the style of tuition. In UK/US courses, as far as I'm concerned, it is traditional to keep classes/tutorials small, as of a group of students of lets say 15-30 people.
    In Germany, you will sit in an auditorium with 400 other students and will be taught in the way of frontal instruction, most likely without being asked to actively contribute to the course. You rather sit, hear, watch a presentation and take your personal notes. This may sound very theoretical, boring and unpersonal, but it bears many advantages, especially when it comes to the actual quality of the course content, since lectures won't get interrupted by the permanent intercourse between teacher and students, which results in the effect of a very high tempo that allows to get really deep into the very subject (in ways of intensive overall research).
    Therefore, German Higher Education is known for its unique focus on the very academic substance of each subject, especially speaking of the research in theoretical literature, which provides the students with an internationally unrivalled thorough knowledge of the latest academical accomplishments on this planet.
    As you can see, at German universities you will be usually required to work mostly autonomous and develop your skills independently instead of being 'taught' on an individual level, which involves a both personal and educational enhancement that is much appreciated by international employers, because they are looking for graduates with the ability to work/learn independently.
    This would probably be the biggest difference to UK/US courses, where the teachers almost take their students by the hand and push them through their courses all the way to the final exams, most likely one of the main reasons why universities in these countries are so popular with students from all over the world.
    Of course, this educational style of tuition is much more comfortable and kind of secure, but is certainly lacking the procurement of substantial professional abilities that are highly important in working life, whereas a graduate from a German university is generally tipped by prospective employers as being very 'mature', compared to graduates from other countries.

    I can only encourage you to apply for a University course in Germany (your list of unis contains the very best!), as you will definitely benefit from the liberal yet classic educational approach to academic disciplines. Further, regarding the costs of your studies, probably the biggest bonus of studying in Germany would be the cheap living (especially in the North/East/West, namingly Berlin ) including wonderful and comfortable living conditions (beautiful spacious flats for little money, not joking!, perfectly organised public transport, major students discounts etc) - plus the fact that, thanks to persistant demonstrations of the population within the past few years, most Universities won't charge ANY tuition fees any longer from October 2011(!!!).

    I wish you all the best and hope I could be of any help for you, feel free to ask whatever question you might have.
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    (Original post by Theopolis)
    Thank you very much!

    Perhaps you also know that German universities perform relative poorly in various world university rankings, and this may indicate some serious problems of German universities as these rankings are made in various countries like the UK, Russia, etc.

    Since I want to study Humanities, the Arts & Humanities sector of QS University Ranking may be a useful reference, as academic peer review plays an important role in its criteria. But I find that German universities lag behind British and American universities a bit in this ranking, and none of the top 20 universities is located in Germany.

    Maybe I’m obsessed by these rankings... but many students in my country think ranking is an important factor to consider as we are quite unacquainted with universities in non-English-speaking countries.

    Thanks again for your helpful reply!
    Well, research in Germany is done (of course not exclusively) in German, as there are living Germans in Germany who speak German. So if you look at the criteria of these rankings you see, that non-Anglo Saxon universities have a problem to rank high, as they have less English publications than their Anglo Saxon counterparts. In addition, rankings were (and are still) relatively uncommon so Universities just begin to do research and other things in a way which is beneficial to get high in rankings, on the other hand it is luckily uncommon to publish every peace of non-important research.

    On the other hand, the Professors at top-notch UK/US Universities will know their German collegeus and won't rely on rankings.
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    (Original post by Nathanielle)
    Well, research in Germany is done (of course not exclusively) in German, as there are living Germans in Germany who speak German. So if you look at the criteria of these rankings you see, that non-Anglo Saxon universities have a problem to rank high, as they have less English publications than their Anglo Saxon counterparts. In addition, rankings were (and are still) relatively uncommon so Universities just begin to do research and other things in a way which is beneficial to get high in rankings, on the other hand it is luckily uncommon to publish every peace of non-important research.

    On the other hand, the Professors at top-notch UK/US Universities will know their German collegeus and won't rely on rankings.

    Thank you very much for your helpful reply~

    And any insights on this topic would be appreciated!
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    (Original post by Theopolis)
    Thank you very much for your helpful reply~

    And any insights on this topic would be appreciated!
    So, have you made your decision yet?
 
 
 
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