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Computer Science

Studying Computer Science in Germany

An article by Madlen Ottenschläger. Cooperation from: Christian Heinrich

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That is what it's about

Computer science is the systematic processing of information. It is everywhere in our daily lives. Sometimes quite obviously, for example when we participate in video calls from home, sometimes more hidden, when cars brake to save energy or the racing bike shifts down a gear by itself. Increasing digitisation as a result of the Corona pandemic has given the subject a further boost. "The cloud, videoconferencing, telemedicine - almost everything that has been promoted in response to the pandemic is related to computer science," says Klaus Lang, a professor at TH Bingen and chairman of the Department of Computer Science.

The development also raises ethical questions: What consequences does it have on us as a society that machines are getting smarter? IT security is also gaining in importance. Another topic is Big Data. By analysing enormous amounts of data, one tries to discover patterns, for example in medicine. In addition, computer scientists are working together with engineers to turn everyday objects into "smart objects". Traffic lights, for example, adapt to the flow of traffic.

The hotly debated topic of artificial intelligence is often an integral part of university studies. This involves computer programs that make complex decisions independently and, ideally, learn new things with each decision.

This is how the course runs

Important topics include software development, but also the organisation of data, programming languages and logic. Students learn, for example, how to manage large amounts of data, how to turn an idea into an algorithm, and how to build information systems that communicate securely with each other. Often they do this together in a group. At the same time they practice for the future how project management works and how to present results.

In the higher semesters, students focus on areas such as data security, communication systems, internet engineering or data science. Some universities support start-ups by providing advice or space.

Some of the Bachelor's degrees are specialised from the beginning, for example on bio-computer science or medical computer science. The Business Informatics degree course is especially popular. If you want to become a teacher and therefore study computer science for a teaching degree, you usually must take a second subject and didactics.

Typical questions raised within the subject

  • How does an idea for a solution to a problem become an algorithm?
  • How can the quality of software systems be assured?
  • How can a computer automatically produce a weather report?
  • What privacy laws must be observed in a project?
  • How do computer programs learn to improve themselves?
  • In what ways is the use of algorithms ethical as far as lending credits are concernend?

The subject suits you,...

... you have a talent for abstract thinking, work well in a team and can put yourself in the perspective of people who are not so familiar with IT. "As a computer scientist today, I must think about many things from the user's perspective right from the start and plan for the most intuitive operation possible," says Barbara Paech, professor of computer science at the University of Heidelberg and chair of the study commission of the Fakultätentag Informatik. You can't do it without communication skills and social competence. It is very important for computer science students to also be interested in and have an understanding of mathematics. In school, mathematics should have been one of your top subjects.

Is there a numerus clausus?

There are admission restrictions for only about one third of the degree courses. It is usually between two and three.