International Programmes 2023/2024

Digital Studies of Ancient Texts (DISTANT) Digital Studies of Ancient Texts

Freie Universität Berlin • Berlin

Master of Arts in Digital Studies of Ancient Texts
Teaching language
  • English

Courses are held in English.

Full-time / part-time
  • full-time
Programme duration
4 semesters
Winter semester
Additional information on beginning, duration and mode of study
  • Winter semester dates:  1 October 2023 – 31 March 2024
    classes from 16 October 2023 – 17 February 2024
  • Summer semester dates: 15 April 2024 – 20 July 2024
Application deadline

15 August 2023 (for the winter semester)

We highly recommend applying as early as possible, particularly if you require a visa for studying in Germany. The visa application process can be time-consuming, and it is necessary to be accepted/enrolled in the programme before initiating the visa procedure.

Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Combined Master's degree / PhD programme
Joint degree / double degree programme

Digital Studies of Ancient Texts (DISTANT) is a two-year, full-time Master’s programme taught in English at the campus of Freie Universität in Berlin. It is an interdisciplinary programme that combines text- and language-related topics from Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology, and Coptology with computational modelling and analysis. While the DISTANT programme shares content with traditional Master's programmes in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Cuneiform Studies) and Egyptology, it sets itself apart by offering modules on digital methods. With a specific focus on computer-assisted processing and computational analysis of ancient texts, students will acquire subject-specific and interdisciplinary methodological competencies that will enable them to tackle complex questions using a variety of sources.

Course organisation

DISTANT is a two-year Master's programme. It is divided into three areas (Introductory, Specialisation, and Complementary Areas). Each of these areas is composed of several modules which, in turn, comprise several (usually two) courses. The fourth semester is reserved for your Master’s thesis and a module in which you present your ongoing research.

DISTANT provides students with versatile and up-to-date skills in the analysis and evaluation of languages and texts from the Ancient Near East and Egypt, along with their digital processing. The programme builds upon students' prior knowledge of Ancient Near Eastern or Egyptian written sources, languages, and writing systems. It offers domain-specific courses that apply methods from philology, cultural studies, history, linguistics, and literature to analyse textual sources.

In addition to these domain-specific courses, you'll take specialised modules that will teach you how to work with computational methods and how to use or develop innovative digital tools. These modules will help you explore new research possibilities and allow you to stay updated with the latest advancements in this exciting and rapidly evolving field of research.

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A Diploma supplement will be issued
International elements

It is possible to integrate a semester abroad. The third semester is recommended for a study abroad.

Description of other international elements

It is possible to integrate a semester abroad. The third semester is recommended for a study abroad.

Integrated internships

A self-organised internship can be incorporated as part of the Complementary Area of the programme.

Course-specific, integrated German language courses
Course-specific, integrated English language courses
Tuition fees per semester in EUR
Semester contribution

In total, the semester contribution amounts to 312.89 EUR. It includes a fee of 198.80 EUR for the transportation ticket contribution. This allows you to use public transportation in Berlin for free. Other costs covered by the semester contribution include a 50 EUR enrolment fee, a 54.09 EUR semester contribution to the student support service ("studierendenWERK Berlin"), and a 10 EUR contribution to the student union.

Costs of living

Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable. However, the cost of living has also risen somewhat in Germany in recent years. The prices for food, accommodation, clothing, cultural events, etc. are slightly above the EU average. You will need around 950 to 1,200 EUR each month to cover your living expenses. The biggest expense is monthly rent, which is between 400 and 700 EUR in Berlin.

Funding opportunities within the university
Academic admission requirements
  1. The admission requirement for the Master’s programme is a first university degree or an equivalent degree from an institution of higher education within or outside of Germany. The completed degree programme should cover the equivalent of 180 credit points, of which at least 60 credit points should include content related to ancient studies and/or digital humanities.
  2. In order to demonstrate relevant language proficiency, at least 25 of these credit points must have been obtained through courses focusing on one or more of the following languages: Ancient Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Coptic, Sumerian.
Language requirements

Applicants who did not complete a university degree at an institution where coursework was conducted in English must demonstrate English language skills at a C1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) or equivalent.

Application deadline

15 August 2023 (for the winter semester)

We highly recommend applying as early as possible, particularly if you require a visa for studying in Germany. The visa application process can be time-consuming, and it is necessary to be accepted/enrolled in the programme before initiating the visa procedure.

Submit application to

Please apply via uni-assist if you hold a non-German degree.

If you hold a German degree, please apply through the application portal of Freie Universität Berlin.

More information regarding the application procedure can be found on the respective website of Freie Universität Berlin.

Possibility of finding part-time employment

There are many ways of earning money while you study, for example as waiting staff, academic assistants, or private tutors. Knowledge of German will improve your chances of finding a part-time job, but it isn’t necessarily required. However, it is important to be aware of the legal regulations.

The student support service at the university, called studierendenWERK Berlin, and the local representative of the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) can provide information about jobs for students. When searching for a job, look at online job boards, ads in local newspapers, and notice boards on campus.


You have the option to stay in a public/private student dormitory or in a private (shared) apartment. Student dormitories are not administrated by the university itself, so Freie Universität Berlin does not have any on-campus housing. However, it works together with "studierendenWERK Berlin" regarding student accommodation.

If you do not wish to stay in a student dormitory, you can try to find a room or an apartment on the private housing market. Many students in Berlin live in shared apartments ("WGs"). You can find these offers online (e.g. WG-gesucht or Craigslist) or on notice boards on campus.

Available rooms/apartments near the university are rare. Therefore, students mostly commute from other parts of the city. The commute via public transportation usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour, which is considered a normal travel time in Berlin due to the city's size.

Support for international students and doctoral candidates
  • Specialist counselling
General services and support for international students and doctoral candidates

Please see the website of the DISTANT programme ("Support" and "Studying" tabs) for information about the services for international students.

Freie Universität Berlin

Content Bild
"Holzlaube", FU Berlin © Bernd Wannenmacher, FU Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin is a leading research institution. It is one of the 13 German universities being funded through the German government’s Excellence Strategy and is part of the only University Consortium of Excellence, the Berlin University Alliance, which consists of four partners in Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

You can choose from more than 180 subject areas. No matter which area you are interested in, be it archaeology, physics, Jewish studies, law, or psychology, you will find your subject at Freie Universität Berlin.

As an international university, Freie Universität Berlin has partnerships with numerous universities across the world and maintains offices in Beijing, Cairo, Eastern Europe (Tbilisi, Georgia), New Delhi, Moscow, and São Paulo. About 17 percent of the students come from abroad, as do 38 percent of the doctoral students. At Freie Universität Berlin, you will meet people from all over the world.

Various support services are available for students. In particular, students who are new to a German university and to Berlin will profit from these services, for example, the introduction week, the mentorship programme, or the Student Services Centre. UniSport offers programmes ranging from Aikido to Zumba, which are very popular among students. The many cafeterias and canteens on campus offer food and drinks; this also usually includes fair trade, organic, vegetarian, and vegan options. Environmental protection and sustainability are generally important topics at Freie Universität Berlin, and there are many opportunities to get involved in related activities offered by students and the university.

University location

Freie Universität Berlin is one of the major universities in the capital of Germany. It is located in the green district of Dahlem, in the south-western part of the city. There is no other campus in Berlin that is as green as the campus of Freie Universität Berlin. You can simply step out of the university buildings to enjoy outdoor activities: lunch on one of the many terraces and rooftops, swimming in the nearby lakes, or reading between cherry and apple trees. Dahlem is also home to one of the biggest botanical gardens in Europe. By using public transport, you can easily access the heart of Berlin and enjoy its cultural life and diversity. The U3 subway line connects Dahlem with the popular and central districts of Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain; however, all of the other districts can also be easily reached.

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