Berlin: Its History and Art

A European center of cultural dynamism and political power, Berlin is much more than the commonly held image of Third Reich bombast and Cold War tensions. Established on the banks of the Spree River, Berlin has seen splendor in architecture, theater, and art, along with philosophical, literary, and scientific dynamism. These elements have evolved side-by-side with the erratic legacy of the ambitious Hohenzollern royal dynasty, the cataclysmic Nazi Third Reich, and the wintery years of East and West Cold War divisions. Berlin is a city that enthralls the observer today with its cultural contributions while simultaneously producing a sense of bafflement at the raw ambitions and ideals of the city's driven political leaders during the last 300 years.

Topics include:

  • Berlin and the rise of Prussia: A center of Hohenzollern dynastic power and glory
  • The years of Napoleon and the aftermath: Invasion, preservation, and cultural growth
  • Bismarck and the unification of Germany: A Hohenzollern triumph
  • Berlin and the disaster of World War I
  • The Weimar Republic: Cultural splendor and political catastrophe
  • The Nazis come to Berlin: A city at the heart of the Third Reich
  • Cold War divisions and the final reunification: Berlin rises from the ashes

Faculty member: Susan May, e-mail:

"Berlin ist mehr ein Weltteil als eine Stadt" ("Berlin is rather a part of the world than a city")

-Jean Paul, writer, 1800

Tentative Course Itinerary

Pre-Course and Week 1

You will gain access to the online LEO classroom on 27 September. The official course start date is 5 October.
Once you gain access to the classroom, take a virtual walk-through of the course and begin reading assignments.

Day 1 (Saturday)

1600Arrive to hotel
EveningCourse introduction and visit to Alexanderplatz

Day 2 (Sunday)

0900     Meet at hotel
 Lecture on Frederick the Great
 Take S-bahn to Potsdam
 Tour of Frederick the Great's beautiful summer residence and gardens at Sanssouci
 Visit to Neuer Palais at Sanssouci

Day 3 (Monday)

0900     Lecture on German Unification and World War I
 Visit to German History Museum
 Brandenburger Gate

Day 4 (Tuesday)

0900     Museum Island Tour Highlights
 National Gallery
 Pergamon Museum
 Boat trip on the Spree River

Day 5 (Wednesday)

0900Lecture on World War II
 German History Museum
 Visit to Holocaust Memorial
 Hitler's bunker site
 Soviet War Memorial
 Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Day 6 (Thursday)

0900    Lecture on divided Germany
 Walking tour of the Berlin Wall
 Spy Museum: The history of Cold War espionage between East and West Germany
 East Side Gallery
EveningFood market

Day 7 (Friday)

0900    DDR Museum
 KaDeWe (2nd largest department store in Europe)
 Berlin TV Tower

Day 8 (Saturday)

0900    Part 1 of final exam; Check out by noon
 Lunch at Alexanderplatz

Accommodation and Transportation

For your convenience, UMUC coordinates the hotel and excursion arrangements for a flat fee of $650 per student per field study course. This fee will be charged to your student account and covers seven nights of lodging (double occupancy room), as well as local transportation costs and entry to all excursions.

The $650 fee does not include travel to and from the city where the course is held. Students must make their own travel arrangements to the course.

Textbooks and Course Materials

Please refer to the current course syllabus found on the schedule for details about course materials.

Registration Details

You may register for the 3 credit field study course with your local program coordinator or online at MyUMGC. Tuition assistance or financial aid can be applied toward tuition costs. For more information, contact the UMGC Field Study Office at CIV +49-(0)631-534-800, or e-mail

Before completing your travel plans, please verify with your local program coordinator or the Field Study Office at UMGC Europe Headquarters that the course will be held as scheduled. If you drop/withdraw from a field study course after the registration deadline, you will be charged a fee of $100.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How is a field study course different from a regular course?
A field study course packs all of the 48 contact-hours of other courses into seven adventure-filled days on location, so you can earn three credits in 5 weeks. In addition, rather than taking place in an education center, a field study course takes place in a historical European city where the subject being studied has its roots. You will visit historical sites and museums as well as participate in lectures that bring it all together for a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

The on-site portion of field study courses are also scheduled during registration weeks, so they shouldn't interfere with your other courses.

For more information, please visit the Field Study Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

Helpful Hints

Before you leave:

  • Contact your travel agency concerning insurance coverage for cancellations.
  • Contact your health insurance company for information concerning coverage at your destination.
  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of your destination country.
  • Check the weather forecast for your destination.
  • Obtain city maps for your destination.
  • Leave contact information with people at home who may need to reach you during the course.
  • Make sure your legal affairs are in order and leave a short-term power of attorney with someone you trust.
  • Make two photocopies of your passport and the contents of your wallet--leave one copy at home, and bring the other with you.

For more information, please visit the Field Study Resources page.