Types of Courses
The degree programs are comprised of modules. A module is a teaching unit whose content and themes are covered over the course of one or two semesters. Each module receives credits (ECTS points) that reflect the average work load of a student for the given module. A module concludes with an examination, and that final grade is calculated into the cumulative final grade for the bachelor’s degree. These examinations are part of the curriculum and are normally completed at the end of the respective module. The examinations can be administered in oral or written form, or also in the form of a presentation, a written composition or project work.
Types of courses a student will come across in the course of the degree program are lectures, recitation classes (also called exercise classes or tutorials), internships and seminars:
The lecture (Vorlesung) is normally a frontal lecture, where the professor explains the contents of certain subject matter in its current state. There are basic lectures (initial phase), intermediate lectures (lectures in the foundational portion of the curriculum) and advanced lectures (lectures toward the end of the bachelor program and in the master program). The number of students in a lecture can vary between very few (approx. 5-10) students in the advanced lectures and very many (more than 70) in the basic lectures.
A recitation class (Übung or Tutorium in German, sometimes called exercise class) takes place parallel to most lectures. The recitation class normally lasts two hours a week and is comprised of a group roughly the size of a high school class, students are led by an older student (the Tutor) to discuss questions stemming from the lecture, with cooperative learning and working forms. There are also weekly assignments (exercises, Übungsaufgaben) that are completed at home, and the solutions are discussed in the recitation class. The primary purpose of these is to independently work with the material covered during the lecture. Only by working intensely through the exercises and thereby also working through the contents of a lecture is it possible to truly understand the lecture material. Also, the recitation class is designed to help students learn written and oral presentation of content.
An internship (Praktikum) in the field of applied mathematics or in computer science enables students to practice independent work on real projects and provides a sound theoretical background. Under close guidance a problem is molded and implemented in a program. The result is recorded in a report and presented in a presentation.
In a(n) (entry level) seminar the students work independently on an individually chosen topic under the guidance of a professor using assigned literature. The result is presented in a presentation that is followed by discussion. In addition to learning more advanced material on a certain topic, the students should also learn to process and present a complex topic in a comprehensible manner.