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Online Courses Spring 2021

During the Spring Semester 2021, FU-BEST offers online courses for the first time! You can choose from five subject courses taught in English and four German language courses from the Beginner to the Advanced level. Our courses are open to students of all subject areas and offer an interdisciplinary approach to overarching issues and themes relevant to European Studies in Berlin and Germany today. Small class sizes make this a memorable and unique learning experience. 

Attend one or more of our courses and earn credits that can transfer to your degree back home. Almost all of our German language and subject courses can be combined with each other - browse our course catalog below and select the courses that fit you and your academic plans for Spring 2021 best!

Lean more about Berlin, Germany, and Europe and meet us online! 


Program Dates: February 8 - May 14, 2021
ECTS Credits: 4 per course
Fees: € 50 program fee per application plus € 800 tuition fee per course (includes € 300 online discount)
Registration Deadline: December 13, 2020

Please click the schedule above for a detailed PDF version.


Online Subject Courses

Instructor: Dr. Matthias Vollmer
Live Session: Thursdays, 6 - 7:30 pm CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 11 - May 13, 2021
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

This course surveys the visual arts in Central Europe from the rise of modernism around 1900 to the present after postmodernism, with a strong focus on German art. It aims to study the individual works closely and interpret them critically by analyzing their formal structure, style and technique, iconography etc.; consider the concerns of the artists who created them; and place the works within their wider historical, philosophical, political, social and cultural backgrounds as well as within the international development of the visual arts in Western Europe and – in the second half of the 20th century – the US.

A consideration of the theoretical context is of particular importance for the understanding of 20th-century art and its role in society. Thus, the course will also introduce students to major philosophical ideas of the period and will focus on various links to the visual art works including reflections on the methods which art historians have found appropriate in studying the objects and ideas which constitute their discipline.

Instructor: Dr. Martin Jander
Live Session: Mondays, 6 - 7:30 pm CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 8 - May 10, 2021
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

In order to understand European history of the 19th and 20th century, a focus on Germany is indispensable and unavoidable. It took a long time before the German society transformed into a modern, open and democratic society. The “Revolution of Modernity” (Ralf Dahrendorf) was pushed back before World War I and failed 1933 in the Weimar Republic. Freedom and rule of law were brought to Germany by the allied Armies. The main antimodernist ideologies that caused the Shoah and the German war against the “Jewish Enemy” (Jeffrey Herf) were: antisemitism, racism and nationalism. In the first part of the 20th century Germany attempted to destroy civilization under a blanket of propaganda and by violence, both brutal and coldly mechanistic. Today we experience a Germany that presents itself as one partner among equals in the European Union. This new identity follows 40 years of ideological, social, political, and cultural division between two German states – the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Germany now enjoys the political stability, peace and prosperity of a democratic system. The change in German identity and the meaning of identity within the German context offers a fascinating angle from which to approach German history. From this angle, one gains a new understanding of Germany's contradictions, catastrophes, abysses, and moral bankruptcies before and after the Shoah, and the miraculous reconstruction after enormous casualties and destruction that resulted from the total war between 1939 and 1945.

Within these parameters, the course addresses various topics in German and European 20th century history: different political ideas, systems and movements, as well as social and cultural developments. We will compare and contrast the German variety of these phenomena with other European varieties. Two major themes are the struggles between democracy and dictatorship, and capitalism and communism, which played out through the 20th century. The course will connect these essentially ideological struggles to the two World Wars and the ensuing "Cold War", to memories of trauma, to the history of everyday life, pop culture and gender, and to the experience of youth and immigrants in Germany. Through analyses of the interconnections and distinctions between all these aspects, the course will provide participants with a better understanding of German society today.

Instructor: Dr. Thomas Werneke
Live Session: Thursdays, 8 - 9:30 pm CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 11 - May 13, 2021
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

The course focuses on the classical concept of the totalitarian state developed by Hannah Arendt and others, which takes Hitler and Stalin as the primary models for this uniquely 20th century political system. We will be covering some of the subsequent modifications in the theory of totalitarianism, insights gained from the close examination of historical changes and developments, especially in the former Soviet Empire. Here are some of the questions we will be dealing with: what are the key elements of totalitarianism? What are the fundamental elements of totalitarian rule? What were the official positions and the popular attitudes toward the rulers and such totalitarian atrocities as the Holocaust and the mass imprisonment? What insights into the totalitarian system and mindset can be gained from psychology and psychoanalysis? Under what psychological/social conditions are individuals capable of offering opposition or resistance, as did the German resistance and the “rescuers” of Jews under Nazi domination or dissidents in the Soviet Union?

While the manifestations of totalitarianism may now appear to be bygones of merely historical interest, the social psychology of “totalitarian situations” remains acutely important, even in present-day democratic societies. The massacre at My Lai, the obedience experiments carried out by Stanley Milgram, similar events and similar studies, provide evidence of how easily average citizens – and by no means only the “authoritarian personalities” as described by Theodor W. Adorno and Erich Fromm – have the potential of behaving inhumanely in specific situations, when unthinking submission, even to the most questionable orders, seems to be the easiest way to deal with the stress and insecurity of the moment.

Instructor: Till Büser
Live Session: Wednesdays, 8 - 9:30 pm CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 10 - May 12, 2021
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

This course introduces its participants to mass media systems and structures in Germany and Europe and provides them with the analytical tools and background knowledge to assess the ways in which the mass media and politics interact and thus shape each other.

We will start with an overview of the different structures of mass media (public/ private) in Germany, including how they have historically developed and particularly which political ideas have shaped the frameworks in which media institutions and individuals operate. At the same time, we will take a critical look at how the media in turn have shaped and are still shaping the ways in which the political process works and presents itself to the public. Historical and current examples will help us to analyze the manifold points of interaction between media and politics. At the end of the course, students will also have the opportunity to compare European and American media politics and to ask whether there may be trends and influences across the Atlantic (one or both ways) that are shaping today’s politics and mass media on both sides.

Instructor: Dr. Karolina Golimowska
Live Session: Tuesdays, 6 - 7:30 pm CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 9 - May 11, 2021
Language of Instruction: English
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

With the divide between mass culture and high art disappearing, popular culture has become a prolific field of study. In this online course, we will consider the many facets and dimensions of pop culture, including its cultural history and the possibilities hidden within what is often assumed to be nothing more than entertainment.

Some of the topics we will address are popular culture’s reflection of discourse, its capability of criticizing or affirming the status quo, and the various modes of ideology within. We will cover many relevant pop culture representations: film, television, comic books, music, paintings etc. and will discuss their significance within the historical frame of reference as well as their international social impact.

Secondary texts will introduce a range of theoretical perspectives through which pop culture may be explored, analyzed, questioned, and understood. We will discuss the function of pop culture in the public sphere, its representations in texts, images, and music.

Online German Language Courses

Instructor: Maria Beßler
Live Session: Wednesdays, 6 - 7:30 pm CET (Berlin time)
Duration: Feb. 10 - May 12, 2021
Language of Instruction: German
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

This course is designed for the beginner student with no prior knowledge of German. It aims to develop your communicative competences in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The book Netzwerk A1 and additional material, which is primarily dealing with cultural and historical aspects of German(y), will help you develop your individual language skills. One of the foci of the course is placed on Berlin and its surroundings, so you will work with authentic material.

Instructor: Dr. Agata Czarkowska
Live Session: Tuesdays, 6 - 7:30 pm CET (Berlin time) 
Duration: Feb. 9 - May 11, 2021 
Language of Instruction: German
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

This course is designed to strengthen and expand your communicative competences in listening, speaking, reading and writing, and to deepen your understanding of German-speaking cultures in the context of Berlin. With the help of the book Netzwerk B1 and additional material, which is primarily dealing with cultural and historical aspects of German(y), you will develop your individual language skills. One of the foci of the course is placed on Berlin and its surroundings. Therefore, you will increasingly work with authentic material in class.

Instructor: Thomas Wiederhold
Live Session: Wednesday, 6 - 7:30 pm CET (Berlin time) 
Duration: Feb. 10 - May 12, 2021 
Language of Instruction: German
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

This course aims to systematically improve your writing and reading competences. It focuses on your acquisition of complex linguistic structures and your consistent self-correction. It will help you further develop effective reading and listening strategies by using texts and listening examples that extend beyond everyday communication. In-class discussions will be based on the weekly reading of literary and non-literary texts that will motivate you to exchange information, ideas, and opinions. In addition, these texts will provide important cultural and historical background information. Grammar revision is just one of the foci of this course; yet, you will expand and deepen your knowledge of German grammar through specific exercises.

Instructor: Katrin Mensing
Live Session: Tuesdays, 8 - 9:30 pm CET (Berlin time) 
Duration: Feb. 9 - May 11, 2021 
Language of Instruction: German
Contact Hours: 30
ECTS Credits: 4

This course aims to deepen your competence in speaking and writing and to expand your vocabulary on a higher language level, with a focus on improving your communicative skills for increasingly academic discussions. The course material will help you acquire relevant and contemporary knowledge about the culture, politics, and history of German-speaking countries and Berlin in particular. Furthermore, you will develop effective reading and listening strategies with regard to various literary genres and media. You will be able to coherently talk about a broad range of subjects and to argue for your point of view.

Admission Prerequisites

Applicants to the FU-BEST online program should:

  • be at least 18 years old,
  • have at least completed three semesters of higher education at the start of the course,
  • and provide documentation (a transcript copy) that their grade average equals at least the second-highest grade awarded by their home institution (e.g., a 2.0 if the highest grade is 1.0; or a 3.0 if the highest grade is 4.0; or a B if the highest grade is A; etc.).

For Subject Courses: In order to complete a rigorous academic course in English, students need to possess English language abilities in speaking and writing on the Upper Intermediate Level (at least B2, preferably above). Non-native speakers may be requested to submit English test scores along with their application. For TOEFL, the score should be minimally 100. In the case of IELTS, the overall score must be at least 6.5 and the scores on individual parts must be no lower than 6.0.

For German Language Courses: Participation in a specific German language course requires adequate language skills for the level in question. An online test that all students above the Absolute Beginner level need to complete after admission to the program will determine the participant’s German language abilities prior to program start. Should the test result be below the necessary threshold for the level in question, FU-BEST will suggest a switch to a lower language level (if available) or offer a withdrawal from the language course and a refund of the Tuition Fee for this course (if paid at that point, minus applicable banking fees). The Program Fee is non-refundable after it has been paid. Should the test result allow the participant to move to a higher-level German course (if available), FU-BEST may suggest to the participant a switch to the higher level.

Please read the complete Academic Regulations for Online Courses and Code of Online Conduct for further information.

Pay particular attention to the technical requirements in the syllabi. 


How to Apply

1. Browse our FU-BEST Online Course Catalog and our Weekly Schedule above and select the courses you are interested in. Almost all of our courses can be combined with one another. 

2. Apply online via our FU-BEST Application Form. Please read all instructions closely. Note the application and payment deadlines in the General Terms and Conditions of Business. You will also be asked to upload your most recent transcript or send it via email to fubest@fu-berlin.de.

3. Once you have completed the online application and provided your most recent transcript, we will pre-register you and you will receive an email with your Freie Universität Berlin admission letter and payment instructions. 

4. Please note that all fees must be paid in one installment by bank transfer. Registration becomes valid only after verification of payment. All payments must be made in Euros (€). The transfer charges must be paid by the applicant. 

If you have any questions regarding the application process, please contact us at fubest@fu-berlin.de.