BA Art History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Weimar Culture? Art, Film and Politics in Germany, 1918-33

Course unit fact file
Unit code GERM20261
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


In his classic study of Weimar Culture (1969), Peter Gay makes a startling assertion: ‘The Republic created little; it liberated what was already there’. This course unit assesses if this was the case by examining the major currents in German art, film, music, architecture and photography between the November Revolutions and the Nazi ‘seizure of power’, when political and social instability was accompanied by great artistic and intellectual creativity. It reveals a complex and fascinating picture of an era in which Germany was briefly the laboratory of the modern world. 



  • To develop knowledge and understanding of German history, particularly of the Weimar Republic  

  • To develop critical thinking and higher order conceptual reasoning and analytical skills 

  • To develop advanced skills of written and verbal communication 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students will have developed: 

  • knowledge and understanding of German history (see below) 

  • a range of intellectual skills (see below) 

  • a range of practical skills (see below) 

  • a range of transferable skills (see below) 

  • a range of employability skills (see below) 

Knowledge and understanding

On successful completion of this course unit, students will have a knowledge and understanding of:  

  • the principal movements and figures in German art, film, music, architecture and photography between 1918 and 1933 

  • the key themes and forces that shaped German society in the Weimar era 

  • basic historical methods 

Intellectual skills

  • Critical thinking – capacity to abstract, analyse and make critical judgements  

  • Synthesis and analysis of data and information  

  • Critical reflection and evaluation  

  • Expression – able to make a reasoned argument for a particular point of view  

  • Decision-Making – able to draw reasoned conclusions  

Practical skills

  • Using library, electronic and online resources  

  • Essay writing and exam technique 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Information Retrieval – ability independently to gather, sift, synthesise and organise material from various sources (including library, electronic and online resources), and to critically evaluate its significance 

  • Presentation – present information, ideas and arguments, orally and in writing, with due regard to the target audience 

  • Literacy – the capacity both to make written presentations using appropriate language for a target population and to collect and integrate evidence to formulate and test a hypothesis  

  • Time Management – ability to schedule tasks in order of importance and work to deadlines 

  • Improving own Learning – ability to improve one's own learning through planning, monitoring, critical reflection, evaluate and adapt strategies for one's learning 

Employability skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to: manage time and work to deadlines participate constructively in group activities assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others present information, ideas and arguments, orally and in writing, with due regard to the target audience demonstrate powers of analysis

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Weighting within unit

48 hour open-book examination


Group presentation as part of a student-led seminar



Resit Assessment

48 hour open-book examination

Feedback methods

  • Comments made during class discussion regarding the relevance and coherence of student responses/participation in discussion 

  • Comments on seminar presentation 

  • Advice on revision and exam preparation given in Week 12 

  • Post-exam feedback if required 


Recommended reading

Set text: 

Weitz, Eric, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton U.P., 2007) 

Recommended texts: 

Bessel, Richard, Weimar Germany (London: Arnold, 2003);

Bingham, John, Weimar Cities: The Challenge of Urban Modernity in Germany, 1919-1933 (London: Routledge, 2007); 

Bookbinder, Paul, Weimar Germany: The Republic of the Reasonable (Manchester: M.U.P., 1997); 

Burns, Rob (ed.), German Cultural Studies. An Introduction (Oxford: O.U.P, 1995); 

Bullivant, Keith (ed.), Culture and Society in the Weimar Republic (Manchester: M.U.P, 1977); 

Durst, David, Weimar Modernism: Philosophy, Politics and Culture in Germany 1918-1933 (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2004);

Gay, Peter, Weimar Culture. The Outsider as Insider (London: Penguin, 1969); 

Kolinsky, Eva & van der Will, Wilfried (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Modern German Culture (Cambridge: C.U.P, 1998); 

Lacqueur, Walter, Weimar: A Cultural History 1918-33 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974); 

McElligott, Anthony (ed.), Rethinking the Weimar Republic: Authority and Authoritarianism, 1916-1936 (London: Arnold, 2005); 

Peukert, Detlev, The Weimar Republic (London: Penguin, 1991);

Willett, John, The New Sobriety. Art and Politics in the Weimar Period (London: Thames & Hudson, 1978);

Williams, John Alexander (ed.), Weimar Culture Revisited (New York: Palgrave, 2011). 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Matthew Jefferies Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Please check your ‘My Manchester’ timetables for days/times.  

Return to course details