Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

A Unique Academic Institution

The Centre for British Studies is an interdisciplinary area studies institute of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In its research, its international master programme and the lectures it regularly offers to the general public, the Centre has established itself as a major voice for all things British in the heart of Berlin during the last 25 years.

Charles 1995
The Prince of Wales 1995 at the Humboldt-University, talking to the former British ambassador in Germany Sir Nigel Broomfield, Prof Dr Jürgen Schlaeger and Prof Dr Günter Walch.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and German re-unification, the Centre was established in recognition of the UK's role as one of the Western powers which protected West Berlin during the Cold War. Based on the decision made by the Berlin Senate on 17 January 1995, the Centre was officially opened in June 1995 in the presence of the British Ambassador, Sir Nigel Broomfield and the governing Mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen.

From the beginning, the Centre was designed as a teaching and research institute covering all aspects of British culture both past and present. Organising public lectures to encourage cultural exchange is also a part of the Centre’s responsibilities. In this role, the Centre functions not only as a reminder of Britain's past role as one of the four allied powers in Berlin, but also a symbol of the continuing close ties between Germany and Britain.

The Centre’s interdisciplinary research programmes cover British history and politics, society, economy and law, literature, culture and the media. Over the last centuries, Britain, through imperial conquest and colonialism as well as industrial and commercial innovation has made an impact on Europe and the world and still today, having one of the largest economies, an influential cultural sector, universities and research facilities, and political ties around the globe, it continues to exert its influence on transnational and global culture. The complexity of exchange, interactions, and cultural formations cannot be examined from only one point of view or through any one discipline. Rather, a broad range of methods and approaches must be applied.

This interdisciplinary approach is also characteristic of the M.A. British Studies – taught entirely in English – in order to introduce an international student body to pivotal questions and equip them with the competence to respond to these questions. Students are from the first encouraged to develop their own research interests, and, at the same time, they acquire a general cultural competence in contextual thinking. Highly-qualified staff and guest lecturers from the UK, academics as well as practitioners, prepare the Centre’s graduates, who come from various disciplines, for duties with German, British, and international institutions and businesses.

The Berlin Graduate School for British Studies was founded in 2014. It welcomes graduates with a research focus on a British topic and supports such students, who, after completion of their M.A. in British Studies, wish to write a PhD thesis. So far it has seen several successful defences of theses and expects more to come this year. Individualised workshops and a tailor-made course programme help PhD students with the challenge of writing an interdisciplinary doctoral thesis. For that purpose, the Centre for British Studies cooperates with other faculties at Humboldt-Universität. The Berlin Graduate School for British Studies is a full member of Humboldt Graduate School.