Oxford’s relationship with Germany is one of its strongest and most treasured. These links are broad, encompassing educating international students, research collaboration and academic exchange.
Oxford is home to a vibrant community of German students, researchers and academics. Germany provides one of the University’s strongest sources of talent; it is the third largest source of international students and the largest source of international academics. Oxford’s German department is the top rated in the UK, both in terms of teaching and research. In addition, Oxford-German academic partnerships are very fruitful – Oxford’s researchers collaborate with German colleagues more than with any other nationality besides the US.
Oxford excels in its provisions for the study of Germany and the German language. It is a world leader in German-focused research and has one of the oldest, largest and most active departments of German in the country based in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages.
The German Department has an excellent record in teaching and research, an intake of approximately 120 undergraduates each year, and a strong and flourishing graduate presence. With 17 full-time members of staff and a wide range of expertise between them, the department is able to offer an unusually challenging and diverse series of courses to its students. The course combines a thorough grounding in the four key language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing with an extensive choice of options ranging from medieval studies and linguistics to contemporary German literature and society. German is studied at Oxford either on its own, or in combination with other subjects, whether another modern European language, or Classics, English, History, a Middle Eastern language or Philosophy. Oxford has the UK’s largest body of graduate students in German and is one of the leading centres for research in German in both country and the world. Academics in the department specialise in a wide range of fields, ranging from literature, linguistics, and theory to history, film and philosophy, and cover all historical periods.
Established in 1976, the European Studies Centre at St Antony's College is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Europe. It has particular strengths in politics, history and international relations, but also brings together economists, sociologists, social anthropologists and students of culture. Besides its permanent fellows, the Centre welcomes Visiting Fellows from several European countries, as well as graduate students from around the world working on European affairs. Academics at the Centre also participate in several collaborative international research projects and the Centre holds seminars and workshops on a wide range of topics.
The Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages is also home to the European Humanities Research Centre (EHRC). The EHRC has a full and varied programme, including academic publishing, conferences, visits by leading international scholars, symposia, seminars and lectures. Past Germany-centred activities within EHRC include the 'Flaschenpost' project, organised by Dr Karen Leeder, an umbrella for scholars, critics, and poets from a number of different countries to come together and discuss German poetry of the twentieth century and beyond. The journal Oxford German Studies, founded and edited by members of the German Sub-Faculty and now published by Taylor & Francis, originated at the EHRC.
The study of Germany also takes place in the Social Sciences division. Established in 1995, Oxford’s Institute of European and Comparative Law (IECL) aims to enhance the European dimension of the Law Faculty’s teaching and research. The institute works both to ensure that the links established with other major European institutions are strengthened and to expose Oxford students to other legal jurisdictions in Europe.
Study Abroad in Germany
Undergraduates in Modern Languages, Biochemistry and Law with Law Studies in Europe all have opportunities for study abroad in Germany. In addition, a number of departments have exchange programmes between Oxford and German students organised under the Erasmus and DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) programmes.
The Michael Foster Memorial Scholarship , the Hanseatic Scholarships and the Theodor Heuss Research Fellowship were established to promote closer Anglo-German links within a European context. They may be held at any German university or other institution of higher learning and are for students whose proposed programmes of research would benefit from being carried out at a German institution.
In addition, for those students who do not have the opportunity to gain experience in Germany on their course, the Oxford University Internship Programme arranges internships during the summer vacation, a number of which are with German employers.
A number of Colleges also provide study and work experience opportunities to their students in Germany; for instance St Anne’s and the Deutsche Börse Group offer a scholarship and internship at the head office in Frankfurt.
Libraries and Museums
The University holds some exceptional resources and collections on Germany. For example, the Ashmolean Museum holds a collection of German graphic art which began in 1834 when the antiquary Francis Douce bequeathed his collection to the University. It includes important prints and drawings by Dürer, Holbein, Altdorfer, Grünewald, Burgkmair and other artists of the German Renaissance.
The Bodleian Library contains about 400 Latin manuscripts from the medieval German-speaking lands. It also holds the majority of the manuscripts of Franz Kafka, and the Mendelssohn papers, comprising the correspondence, music, manuscripts and collections of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and others.
Oxford has a wide variety of research collaborations with Germany across all departments and disciplines; this is a small selection of the many projects currently in progress.
Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences
ALIGNED: Quality-Centric Software and Data Engineering is a research project funded by Horizon 2020. ALIGNED is developing new ways to build and maintain IT systems that use big data on the web. ALIGNED brings together world class computer science researchers (Trinity College Dublin, University of Oxford, University of Leipzig), software companies specialised in data-intensive systems (Semantic Web Company), information companies (Wolters Kluwer) and academic curators of the Seshat: Global History Databank, large datasets describing world history and archaeology (University of Oxford, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań). Together they will create more efficient methods of building IT systems that extract, process, publish and share web data.
Oxford, in partnership with several German universities is working towards the development of accident-tolerant fuels for improved nuclear energy safety as part of the IL TROVATORE project. Oxford is also working with several German industry partners on 1D-NEON, whose aim is to develop fibre-based smart materials for the manufacturing in Europe of new products with applications in consumer electronics, energy, healthcare and fitness, smart buildings, sensors and e-skin for soft robotics.
Researchers in the Medical Sciences Division are engaged in cutting edge medical research with German colleagues, which is leading to a number of highly significant results.
The University of Oxford and LMU Munich are part of an international collaboration, BrainCom, developing a new generation of very large-scale neuroprosthetic cortical devices that can provide a unique leap forward towards a new level of basic understanding of cortical speech networks and the advancement of rehabilitation solutions to restore speech and communication capabilities in disabled patients using innovative brain-computer paradigms. Scientists from both universities are also partners in CLICKGENE, working on development of next-generation gene silencing therapeutics and epigenetic DNA probes.
Neuropathic pain arises as a consequence of a disease or lesion in the somatosensory nervous system. Neuropathic pain is common, affecting 8% of the population, and will present a rising health burden in the future. In DOLORisk: Understanding risk factors and determinants for neuropathic pain a consortium of European universities and SMEs led by the University of Oxford and including the University of Kiel are studying the exact nature of risk factors for neuropathic pain and their interaction.
The GREEN-WIN project is a major international transdisciplinary research collaboration applying a solution-oriented approach targeted at increasing the understanding of links between climate action and sustainability and overcoming implementation barriers through win-win strategies. Its partners include the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and Germany's Global Climate Forum and Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.
The research project Governing ‘new social risks’: The case of recent child policies in European welfare states (PolChi) is an international collaboration between researchers ifrom Oxford's Department of Social Policy and Intervention, the University of Rennes, the University of Göttingen and Utrecht University. It looks at the new focus of both science and politics on parental practices, and in particular the welfare state’s role in these developments.
The INCAS (Understanding institutional change in Asia: a comparative perspective with Europe) project aims at creating a top-level research advanced training network on institutional change in Asia, in comparative perspective with Europe. The coordinator, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, promotes this network together with Oxford University, Freie Universität Berlin, in collaboration with Waseda University in Japan. Their major aim is to propose a new theory of institutional change that better takes into account diverse dimensions that have been overlooked by previous attempts such as: the historical experience of institutional change in Asia that went hand in hand with growth and development; the relations between (especially financial) liberalisation and corporate diversity; and the interaction between political economy, socio-economic and legal variables.
Oxford academics are participating in Writing 1900, a collaborative project led by Humboldt University. Writing 1900 is an international and cross-disciplinary network of scholars who are interested in studying the literary culture of this period in ways that overcome traditional national, linguistic, and generic borders. The aim of the group is to share expertise and, through dialogue, to keep searching for innovative and challenging approaches to literary and cultural history and critical practice.
The Bodleian holds the majority of the manuscripts of Franz Kafka, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. The author’s letters to his favourite sister Ottla were acquired jointly with the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach. The partnership extends to collaborative initiatives, including a project that aims to bring to the public domain digital images of the manuscripts and other related items.
Researchers from Oxford and Leipzig universities are collaborating in Socialism Goes Global: Cold War Connections Between the 'Second' and 'Third Worlds', looking at the relationship between eastern European countries of the Soviet-bloc and Africa, Latin America and south-east Asia.
The Faculty of Theology collaborates regularly with German universities, particularly the University of Bonn with which it holds regular seminars. The relationship between the Theology Faculty in Oxford and the Protestant Faculty of Theology in Bonn goes back as far as 1977. Every other year the universities host a joint seminar for graduate students, alternately in Bonn and Oxford. Members of the two faculties have held visiting positions at each other's institutions.
The Oxford German Network was founded by Oxford's German department in 2012 with the support of partners Jesus College, Bodleian Libraries, Magdalen College School and BMW Group Plant Oxford. Its mission is to provide cultural leadership for all those constituencies in Oxford and beyond who have an interest in the German-speaking countries. It builds on local strengths by facilitating events with local partner schools of all types and participating in the City of Oxford’s twinning arrangement with Bonn. As a beacon for the study of languages, the Oxford German Network conducts research into the status and uptake of German to promote language provision at national level. By connecting academic institutions, cultural organisations, businesses and policy-makers locally, nationally and internationally, it encourages mutually beneficial cross-cultural cooperation.
The University of Oxford and the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg are part of the consortium of twelve European academic institutions that make up COURAGE, a three-year international research project financed by the EU through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. The project proposes both to create an electronic registry of representative online and offline, private and public collections of cultural opposition in all former socialist countries in Europe and to study the origins, uses and changing roles of these collections in their social, political and cultural contexts.
CLAROS is an international interdisciplinary research federation using the latest developments in Information and Communication Technologies to bring the art of the world to everyone. It is led by the University of Oxford and based in its e-research centre, OeRC, and counts the German Archaeological Institute, Berlin among its collaborators.
The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) represents the efforts of an international group of Assyriologists, museum curators and historians of science from Oxford, University of California at Los Angeles and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science to make available through the internet the form and content of cuneiform tablets dating from the beginning of writing, ca. 3350 BC, until the end of the pre-Christian era.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation. It offers academic exchange opportunities to students, faculty and researchers and has a strong relationship with Oxford. With the support of the German government, DAAD supports four lecturers at Oxford in Politics, History, Law and German Language and Literature and three German Language College Lecturers in the Department of Modern Languages.
Germany is the third largest source of international students at Oxford, and the largest in Europe outside of the UK. There are 900 German students studying at Oxford, the majority of whom – almost 80% – are postgraduates and nearly a fifth of whom are undergraduates. This makes Germany the fourth largest source of international undergraduate students after China, Singapore and the USA.
German students have access to a wide range of scholarships, particularly for graduate study. Germany is the only European country whose students are eligible to apply for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study. In addition to being able to apply for the full range of scholarships open to all international students including the Clarendon Scholarships, German students at Oxford are also funded by the Scatcherd European Scholarships, Marie Curie Research Grants, Die Studienstiftung Deutschen Volkes, Eheleute Carl-Russ-Stiftung, Haniel Stiftung, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Heinrich Boell Foundation, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
The German-speaking student community at Oxford is very vibrant and active. The Oxford German Society is one of the University’s oldest student societies. Originally founded as the “Hanover Club” in the early 20th century, the society recently celebrated its centenary. The society organises social and cultural activities, hosts speaker events (for instance Professor Dr Norbert Lammert MdB, former President of the Bundestag in 2017) and co-organises conferences.
With around 380 German citizens on faculty, Germany is the 2nd largest source of academics at Oxford, after the UK.
Oxford has been home to an impressive number of Nobel Prize winners who were members of the faculty either shortly before or at the time of their award, two of whom were from Germany. Sir Ernst Boris Chain (1906 –1979) was a German-born biochemist and co-recipient of the 1945 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine alongside Howard Florey for their work on penicillin. In the 1930s he had been a lecturer in chemical pathology at Oxford, working on a broad range of research topics including snake venoms, tumour metabolism, lysozymes, and biochemistry techniques. His work on penicillin built on and greatly expanded the work of Alexander Fleming, discovering its therapeutic action, its chemical composition and theorising its structure.
Klaus von Klitzing, a German physicist, was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics. He worked from 1979 to 1980 conducting research in Oxford’s Clarendon Laboratory where he had access to the necessary equipment to produce the very strong magnetic fields that he needed to carry out the work that would eventually lead to the discovery of the Quantized Hall Effect, the work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Professor Sina Ober-Blöbaum
Sina Ober-Blöbaum is an Associate Professor of Control Engineering at the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow in Engineering at Harris Manchester College.
Her research is situated in the fields of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems, Numerical Integration and Optimal Control. Her research focus lies in the development and analysis of structure-preserving simulation and optimal control methods for mechanical, electrical and hybrid systems, with a wide range of application areas including astrodynamics, drive technology and robotics.
She is a member of the International Association of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics (GAMM) and an associated member of `Junges Kolleg’ of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts in Germany. She is a frequent speaker at academic conferences on applied mathematics, computational mechanics and control engineering.
Dr Christiane Timmel
Christiane Timmel is Professor of Chemistry, and tutor and fellow of Physical Chemistry at New College.
Her research interests include the study of magnetic field effects on radical recombination reactions as well as the applications of electron paramagnetic resonance to the study of chemical and biological systems. She is director of the Centre for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance (CAESR) based in the Chemistry Department.
With over 5,400 alumni, Germany is home to the third largest concentration of Oxford alumni outside the UK.
Among Oxford’s notable alumni are:
- Elisabeth Blochmann, eminent scholar of education and philosophy, and a pioneer in and researcher of women's education in Germany
- Hans-Paul Bürkner, former Director and CEO and current Chairman of the Boston Consulting Group
- Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter
- Norbert Lammert, former Bundestag president and Rhodes Scholar
- Adam von Trott zu Solz, a German diplomat who opposed the Nazis and was involved in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler
- Ernst Schumacher, internationally influential economic thinker
- Richard von Weizsäcker, president of the Federal Republic of Germany 1984–1994, first president of the reunified Germany