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Glossary - Modules, Credit Points, ECTS and much more...

You will be confronted with many new terms and abbreviations during your studies. But don’t worry! With time you will learn to get on with them. We’ve put the following glossary together to help you with the most important terms.


In short: a module is a learning unit which is generally one part of a collective of learning units.
A module is a kind of building block. The entire degree program is the sum of all the necessary modules combined. 

A module can be understood as a subject-oriented study unit held within a finite period of time. It is characterized by the classes associated with it, the necessary independent study hours and an exam. The total size of a module is determined by the workload in hours and is expressed in credit points (see below). Looking at this you can tell how many hours - including class time, self-study hours and exam time - the average student needs to complete the module. In accordance with the average time needed to complete the course, the appropriate credit points will be awarded upon successful completion of the module.
Most of the modules at the Department for Mathematics and Computer Science award 6 or 9 credit points.

Module description

You will find the following information for each module in the module description: content and qualification goals of the modules teaching and learning methods/types of classes, requirements for attending, applicability of the module, credit point requirements (e.g., passing exam), workload and duration of the module.
The module descriptions can be found together with the complete module catalogue with all modules of a study program in the module handbook on the website of your study programs. By reading through these pages you can find out what your studies will bring and what will be expected of you even before the program begins.

Credit Points (European Credit Transfer System)

In short: for every successfully completed module, students receive a predetermined number of credit points (CP).

Credit points (Leistungspunkte, LP) indicate the quantitative workload of a course measured in hours. Credit points are awarded according to the expected study time which students must, on average, invest in order to complete the module, as determined by the lecturer. One credit point is equal to approximately 30 hours of workload. As such, credit points are a quantitative, but not a qualitative, measurement. Credit points are not an indicator for quality of performance. For this there are marks.


In short:  Grades are given in university, just as they are in school.

Everyone who has successfully completed a module receives the same number of credit points (quantitative measurement). There are, of course, different marks given according to individual student performance on exams (qualitative measurement). The following scale of grading is used for bachelor and master programs:

Grade Traditional German grading system grade in words



very good













Bachelor program

In short:  In today’s day and age, bachelor programs and degrees are the rule in practically all subjects (important exception: teaching degree).

Bachelor programs are undergraduate study courses providing the first level of a degree for entering into the world of employment. Most bachelor programs at the Philipps-Universität Marburg and all bachelor programs at the Department for Mathematics and Computer Science generally take three years (=six semesters) to complete. The successful completion of a bachelor’s degree is necessary in order to move on to a master’s program.
During a six semester bachelor program, a student must acquire 180 credit points. In order to complete the program within the standard 3-year period, a student should strive to acquire 30 credits per semester.
In Marburg there are only a few exceptions which do not finish with a bachelor’s degree, and instead finish with the German State Examination (teaching, law, medicine, dentistry, pharmaceutics) or with the German Ecclesiastical Exam (Protestant religion).


Standard Period of Study

In short: the time period in which students can complete their studies

The standard period of study describes the estimated number of semesters which are needed to complete a degree when studying full-time – and the number of semesters which usually can be financed through German student finance (BAföG-Amt).
Experience shows that only a part of students complete their degree in the standard study time. The actual study duration can be shorter or exceed the standard period of study, as long as it is within the regulations of the Examination Regulations (Careful: some regulations specify that a minimum amount of credits must be reached by a certain semester!). The standard period of study is directed by the Academic and Examination Regulations of the respective university.


Handbook of Academic and Examination Regulations

In short: totally important!

For every study program at every German college or university there is a valid Handbook of Academic and Examination Regulations ("Prüfungsordnung"). This is the legally binding document which regulates the course of the study program. The handbook defines not only the legal regulations concerning exams, but also the goals, content and structure of the study program, and also contains a complete module list. The Handbook of Academic and Examination Regulations for every bachelor program at the department can be found here (German webpage).
Reading the Handbook of Academic and Examination Regulations thoroughly several times before and during your study time is highly recommended.


What else should you know?

ECTS – European Credit Transfer System

The ECTS is a European wide credit points system which allows for the quantification of academic assessment and, therefore, should allow easier transition when changing universities or completing a semester abroad. Thus, the ECTS is a study-oriented system to accumulate and transfer academic credits.

ECTS is especially important when studying one or two semesters abroad – an option available to all students and highly recommended.

Welcome week for freshmen

Welcome week, which takes place before the start of lectures, is comprised of an extensive welcome program explaining all important questions, terms and ambiguities. We introduce you to the city Marburg, the university and other important facilities. Additionally, during welcome week we help freshmen design and put together their timetable.

If there are things you are unclear about before starting your studies, do not worry – welcome week is designed to help you and answer all your questions.