History of the Contemporary World / Zeitgeschichte (90 ECTS Credits)

Research-Oriented and Interdisciplinary

The specialized Master's program History of the Contemporary World (HCW/ZG) offers students the opportunity to deal with the historicity of conflicts and social upheavals of the present. It enables students to develop historical analyses of the modern world and the present and to learn about the challenges of writing of history in a digitized, globalized world.

The courses offered are characterized by seminars focused on research, cooperations with archives and museums, and the teaching of digital methods in historical studies. The Master's program is research-oriented and interdisciplinary. It combines exclusive modules reserved for the students of the program with general modules offered to students of the modern period in the History Department.

The main language of the specialized Master’s program is German. It is expected that seminars and exercises will also be offered in English. Knowledge of Latin is not required. Computer skills are welcome, but not a prerequisite.

Start of Studies and Application

Course Curriculum

A. Exclusive Courses

Seminar: Introduction to Zeitgeschichte

Compulsory module; begin in fall semester; two-semester; 12 ECTS Credits

The reading-based seminar will introduce important works of reference, theoretical positions, and methodical tools central to the study of contemporary history / Zeitgeschichte. The seminar’s objectives are for students to analyse and understand the historicity of contemporary social change and conflict, and to enable students to participate in controversies and debates about the present. The main focus of the seminar will be to discuss challenging texts, and thereby to practice the skills of giving short, sharp oral interventions as well as writing concise essays. Students are expected to write an independent analysis of debates concerning Zeitgeschichte as part of their seminar paper. The seminar paper should be written during the second (spring) semester, when seminar classes have already been completed.

Exercise: Archives, Technologies, Media

Core elective module; begin in fall semester; two-semester; 9 ECTS Credits

This practice-based module explores the methods and materiality of research into Zeitgeschichte in cooperation with archives, museums, and other memory institutions. The module is research-oriented and aims to analyse new research perspectives based on the use of different archives. It also considers questions such as how archival theory and praxis may be considered against the backdrop of postcolonial perspectives and media theory approaches. Students will receive support in establishing independent research interests that engage institutions of memory and oral traditions.

Exercise: History in a digitized world

Core elective module; begin in spring semester; two-semester; 9 ECTS Credits

The practice-based module gives a methodological and theoretical introduction to the challenges of historiography in a digitalized world. The module considers questions such as how digital practices alter the production and archiving of knowledge, and what geopolitical and epistemic implications arise from such practices. In combination with tutorials, the module’s objective is to introduce students to basic skills in programming, to a general knowledge of digital infrastructures (concerning text, image, sound, statistics), and eventually to provide a discursive space for students test methods of research into the history of digitalization. The module is research-led and encourages students to experiment both with their acquired skills in their writing praxis and with digital forms of presenting their findings.

B. Elective Courses

Beside exclusive courses, students can choose from the two following non-exclusive core elective courses of the general MA-programme “History”: “Perspectives in Global History” and “Modern Cultural and Media History”. Additional modules offered by the Department of History—such as colloquia, seminars, and lectures with a focus on modern history and East European history—will allow students to position themselves within different fields of research.

C. Master’s Thesis and Exam

To receive a Master of Arts degree, students are required to attend two research colloquia organized by the MA thesis supervisor, write a Master’s thesis, and pass an oral exam.

Aufbau Zeitgeschichte

Professional Prospects

The specialized Master’s Degree qualifies students for academic research and teaching in the area of History of the Contemporary World. Furthermore, this program opens a wide range of activity in archives, memory institutions, media and cultural directions, in international organizations, NGOs, public administration, as well as private companies which require an understanding of contemporary social upheavals and conflicts.