Organising your studies
Hüttermann / DAAD
Students have many freedoms, but also many duties, such as course selection and the structuring of your course schedule. Initiative is required.
How well you manage to get through your studies primarily depends on how well you can organise as well as how well you can motivate yourself, get involved and learn.
Where can I get my timetable?
Students need to put their individual timetable together themselves. Normally, the module handbook for every course provides information on the classes that you need to attend and what you need to pass in order to graduate. These include compulsory courses as well as electives, where you can choose from different offers. The "kommentierte Vorlesungsverzeichnis (KVV)", or Annotated Course Catalogue, the course schedule as well as the course and examination regulations may also help you put together your timetable. The university or course websites frequently provide information on the best approach to take. Online portals are sometimes also available, which let you compile and print your timetable with just a few clicks.
Help with your timetable
Your timetable is a key topic during the orientation weeks and at the introductory events. If you have any questions, or need help, you can also get in touch with the Academic Counselling Service or fellow students in the student body. These can often provide timetable templates that you can use as a guide.
What kinds of classes are there?
The term "class" describes a teaching unit as part of a university course. There are different types of classes. Some are theoretical, others practical or discursive.
The key class types are:
- Lectures: class in a lecture room where a lecturer holds a presentation on a certain topic for one and a half hours. Generally has a large audience, but little discussion.
- Seminars: class in which students discuss academic topics and issues amongst each other and together with the lecturer, often with student presentations.
- Practical classes: these supplement lectures or seminars with a practical section. Students complete supervised exercises or apply the previously taught scientific methods.
- Tutorials: in these classes, students review the learning material with students from higher semesters, so-called tutors. They answer questions as well as provide tips on the exam content.
- E-learning: some professors or lecturers make their classes or learning materials available on online platforms. If you miss anything or want to find more information, this is the place to look.
- Practical laboratory classes: practical laboratory classes are included in scientific courses. These let you learn the basics of scientific experimentation by experimenting
- Service learning: an entirely new method of teaching in Germany, which originated in the USA, where students apply the knowledge gained at their university in charitable projects.
Classes don't just require your presence, they also require preparation and follow-up. Courses also include time-consuming methods of examination, such as presentations, term papers and tests. Exam preparation cannot be underestimated. Several weeks of preparation time should be scheduled.
What about my performance?
A course is divided into several modules that consist of coordinated classes. Their content and organisation encapsulate the subject as a whole. A distinction is made between compulsory modules, which you must attend and pass, as well as electives, where you can choose from various offers. Optional modules are also available, which provide a wide freedom of choice and often also allow you to attend classes from other subjects.
What are credit points?
Anyone who successfully completes a module receives a specific number of credit points. Typical methods of examination include presentations, term papers and tests. The specific requirements, content and structure are regulated in the examination regulations. The credit points do not provide information on your grade, they only confirm that you have completed a module. They let you know how far advanced you are in your course.
For example, a student will acquire 180 credit points as part of a six-semester Bachelor's degree. The courses are generally structured so that you have to achieve 30 credit points per semester in order to complete your degree within the standard course duration. This provides for a student workload of 30 hours for each credit point.