The following terms which describe the form of the classes appear frequently in the list of courses and in the lecture timetable:
During a lecture ("Vorlesung"), a professor presents a different topic every week. Taken together, the lectures presented over the course of a semester deal with a comprehensive subject area, a new aspect of which is discussed in more detail each week. Usually, only the professor speaks during a lecture, though questions are welcome. Students are encouraged to take notes, as the content and structure of the lectures are often relevant for exams.
Guided tutorials ("Übung") accompany certain lectures within the basic course or Bachelor’s program. Under the guidance of a Tutor (student assistant), students work on exercise sheets dealing with certain topics of the lecture. The advantages of this format are small group sizes and direct contact with the instructor. At the beginning of the semester, you will usually have to sign up for these classes, either on the faculty notice board (schwarzes Brett) or online: Make sure not to miss the deadline!
Seminars are led by a lecturer, but they are based on the students’ collective work. In the course of a semester or during a shorter period (block seminar), students work together to study special subject areas. Students attending a seminar must write and present a seminar paper as well as pass an exam in order to receive a "Schein" (Certificate) and a passing mark.
Independent Group Project
In a independent group project ("Tutorium" or "Lern- und Arbeitsgruppe"), students work independently on particular subjects in small groups (under the guidance of a tutor or a lecturer). The project can be in conjunction with a seminar, or it can specifically serve to prepare for an exam.
During a semester, every department offers excursions ("Exkursion") to research facilities, project sites or domestic or international companies. For example, sometimes these are even required constituents of your course of studies. Participation is limited and is usually based on certain prerequisites (participation in a special seminar or a particular semester level). The department manages the organisation of the excursion; students only have to pay a contribution to help cover costs.