The Faculty of Humanities is one of the largest, most diverse teaching and research institutions of its kind in Europe. It has a total of 7 departments: Protestant Theology; Languages, Literature and Media (SLM I and II); History; Philosophy; Studies in Culture and Arts; Asia-Africa Studies; and the Institute of Catholic Theology. Roughly 6,800 students are currently enrolled in 74 bachelor’s and master’s programs, which are taught by over 130 professors and about 300 further instructors.
Our programs and subjects
The unifying aspect of all of our disciplines is the principle of critical reflection upon the ways human beings past and present express and think about themselves. In the Faculty of Humanities, research and teaching go hand in hand. The acquisition of knowledge through research and study is thus an important feature of our entire curriculum.
In our bachelor’s programs, students can combine electives from 34 majors and well over 50 minors offered by the Faculty. They can also choose numerous minors in the natural sciences, economics, and social sciences. There is a mandatory Studium generale designed to introduce students to areas outside their chosen major and minor and to encourage them to think critically about the possibilities and limits of their own knowledge.
Our master’s programs allow students to build upon and refine the knowledge and cultivate the skills they acquired during their bachelor's program. The curriculum is based primarily on the Faculty’s major research topics. Students enjoy intensive supervision and are taught to think and write independently as well as to delve critically into academic topics. Our graduate school’s structured doctoral programs offer funding and qualification positions for students who wish to continue their studies after their master’s degree.
Blended learning concepts are integral to all of the Faculty’s degree programs. You can study part-time in almost all of our degree programs. Due to the increasing interest in pursuing a degree while working, the Master of Arts in Sign Language Interpretation is now the Faculty’s first fully recognized part-time degree program.
The Faculty has 2 main locations. The first is the University’s historical Main Building, built in 1911, with its modern West and East Wings added on at the end of the 20th century. The Main Building is a stone’s throw away from Dammtor Train Station and home to the Institute of Catholic Theology and the Departments of Studies in Culture and Arts and Asia-Africa Studies. Then there is the Philosophenturm on the neighboring Von-Melle-Park campus. It houses Languages, Literature and Media I and II; History; and Philosophy. From October 2017 to 2020, these departments are temporarily located at Überseering 35 in the City Nord district.
Other Faculty departments and institutes are housed in various buildings in the University neighborhood, the Grindelviertel district. Protestant Theology is on Sedanstraße; the Institute for Jewish Philosophy and Religion is on Rothenbaumchaussee and in the former central telecommunications building on Schlüterstraße. The Institute for German Sign Language is on Binderstraße.
The humanities have a long, venerable tradition in Hamburg, reaching back to the Renaissance. Among the Faculty’s most important institutional forebears are the city library, founded in 1479; the Akademisches Gymnasium, founded in 1613 during the Reformation, and which was home to many significant philologists, theologians, and philosophers; and the General Lecture Series initiated by the Enlightenment educator Johann Georg Büsch in 1764. The humanities in Hamburg have further family ties to the city’s richly endowed museums, collections, theaters, and concert halls—all patronized by Hamburg’s culturally inclined burghers.
A number of professorships in the humanities were established at the beginning of the last century with the founding of the Colonial Institute. These professorships were set up mainly to research non-European languages and cultures. Finally, in 1919, Hamburg’s first democratically elected parliament founded Universität Hamburg. Ernst Cassirer, Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky, Agathe Lasch, Emil Wolff, and Bruno Snell are among the most important figures in the founding period. They played a formative role in the humanities at the University and contributed to its international recognition.
The Faculty, which was organized into its present form of 7 departments in 2005, also recognizes and intensively addresses its own shameful past: During the Nazi Era, some of its most outstanding members were forced into exile, deported, and murdered. The Faculty is deeply committed to honoring their memory, especially in the programs and courses offered.
Read more about the history of the humanities at Universität Hamburg.