The Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Kiel University

The history of the faculty

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities, together with Theology, Law and Medicine, is one of the four founding faculties of Kiel University. When Duke Christian Albrecht von Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf established the university as a state institution in 1665, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities – in the tradition of the medieval arts faculties – initially served as a precursor to the other three faculties: it provided the relevant knowledge required for admission to scientific studies in Theology, Law or Medicine.

Over time, the faculty grew beyond this preparatory function and increasingly gained independent status. The emergence of new scientific disciplines in the second half of the 18th century, in particular, accelerated this process of becoming independent, so that by the beginning of the 19th century, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities was completely on a par with the other three faculties. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it is the faculty with the highest number of members.

In 1913, political science and business science were split from the faculty and combined with law to form the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences. In 1953, a separate Department of Humanities and Department of Natural Sciences were formed within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Ten years later, on 1 October 1963, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences was formed from the Department of Natural Sciences. In the winter semester of 1969/1970, the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences was split into a Faculty of Law and a Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences. As Master's degree subjects, political science and sociology (so-called “bridge subjects”), which were reallocated at the time to the new Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, remained closely associated with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Since 2006, political science and sociology form part of the Institute of Social Sciences, which was established as a joint institute of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.

In the winter semester of 2002/2003, the transfer of the humanities specialised didactics from the disbanded Faculty of Educational Science to the Faculty of Arts and Humanities was completed.

The faculty today

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities unites the classical humanities subjects of philosophy, history, ancient and modern philology, classical archaeology, folklore studies, art history and musicology, as well as psychology and educational science, together with the so-called bridge subjects of sports science, social sciences and prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology. As such, it is one of the particularly large faculties in Germany. Around one third of all students at Kiel University are spread among nearly 70 degree programmes of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and benefit from the large variety of possible subject combinations, leading to the degrees Magister (to be discontinued); Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Diplom; Lehrämter Gymnasium (teaching degrees for secondary education, also to be discontinued), and Master of Education.

The students set their own priorities when designing their studies, and have the opportunity to get a broad education. Areas of specialisation such as media science or the supplementary subject cultural management offer educational opportunities that prepare humanities scholars to enter research or the job market. The Faculty of Arts and Humanities also has strong ties with other fields: prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology and sports science are closely linked to the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, and political science, sociology and gender research to the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.

This illustrates the characteristic feature of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities within Kiel University – the extraordinarily strong network with nearly all the other faculties.

The geographic location of Kiel as the gateway to north and eastern Europe is reflected in the orientation and focus of the professors and subjects of study. With a view towards north and east, lively exchange-relationships and areas of research have evolved. Since its founding, Kiel University has not only been linked with neighbouring Denmark, but also with all the Scandinavian countries, and since the fall of the Berlin wall, it has functioned even more as a bridgehead to Poland and the young Baltic states. The doctoral degree students of the interdisciplinary Centre for Postgraduate Studies "Imaginatio borealis" (2000 – 2009), which dealt with the self-image and perception of the north, also benefited from this. Consequently, the Nordic Institute, which was expanded into the Institute of Scandinavian Studies, Frisian Studies and General Linguistics (ISFAS) at the start of 2012, has the most students in a Germany-wide comparison. Students benefit from the good supplementary subject options: a focus on Scandinavian topics is possible for history (with own professors for Nordic and Schleswig-Holstein history), church history, German studies, prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology as well as art history and musicology. Viewing the Baltic Sea area as a whole, Nordic and eastern-European history encompasses countries from the whole Baltic region.

Increasingly, digital communication technologies are also conquering humanities teaching and research. Founded in 2001, the Centre for Foreign Language Training, IT and Media Resources (ZFIM) provides support for the entire faculty, and is also available to help students from other fields. It offers multimedia PC workstations, a multimedia language laboratory and the German as a foreign language courses. In groups and in the form of self-study, the young scientists can deepen their knowledge here with additional multimedia learning aids, and select from a comprehensive collection of current learning material, including texts, audio and films. The online projects “Literature Online” and “Linguistics Online” offer web-based learning modules for students and lecturers. In addition, a widely-used range of courses provide the skills necessary to use current hardware and software as well as the relevant scientific databases for research. With the introduction of the Bachelor's degree and Master's degree programmes in 2007, the ZFIM expanded its range of supplementary courses offered, so that interdisciplinary qualifications and key skills can be acquired here. To appropriately reflect the expanded range on offer, the ZFIM was renamed “Key Skills Centre” (ZfS).

It's not only students of philology who benefit from dedication and competence in foreign language education: the Faculty of Arts and Humanities offers courses to students from all faculties in 24 different languages. In certain courses, an additional language certificate can be obtained. Popular languages such as English are even offered with a subject-specific orientation, e.g. business English, legal English, English for natural scientists and medical English.

With around 2,500 students, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities has by far the highest proportion of students training to be teachers. In addition to a solid foundation in the academic degree programmes, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities sees providing modern teacher training with subject scientific, didactic and pedagogic goals as its primary mission.

The sports sciences are closely linked with the University Sports Centre, a central institution of Kiel University. Active people of all age groups, from the university and the city, meet here to make use of the wide range of activities offered. The University Sports Centre has gained an international reputation as the host of sporting competitions. Water sports play a prominent role in the centre for rowing and sailing (Segel- und Ruderzentrum), but track and field athletics and competitive sports are equally important.

Degree programmes on offer

A complete overview of the degree programmes offered  at Kiel University can be found on the Student Services pages