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Lectures and seminars

Courses and lectures

A regular course in higher education is normally held once a week, at the same time and location. Most courses last two hours and thus two weekly study hours. However, two hours of teaching only count as one and a half hour due to the deduction of the "academic quarter hour" (the quarter hour before the lecture begins).
Institutions offer a wide variety of courses. A distinction is made between compulsory and optional courses. The most important types of course include:

  • Seminar
  • Lecture
  • Tutorial
  • Workshop
  • Placement
  • Field trip
  • Colloquy



The seminar is the most common type of course. The number of participants in a seminar is limited (maximum 20-25 people), which means that early registration is advisable and often required. The topics dealt with in seminars are more clearly delineated than in tutorials.
A completion certificate is normally obtained at the end of the course by presenting a seminar paper and submitting a written assignment. The grade includes participation in teaching, regular attendance, presentation of the seminar paper and the assignment.


Lectures are definitely the best-known form of teaching in higher education. The number of participants is rarely limited and the lecture theatres are often very crowded. Lectures can only be used to obtain a certificate of attendance.
Once a week, a professor or lecturer presents on a particular aspect of the lecture topic. Students can make notes and may also receive accompanying handouts from the lecturer.


Tutorials are used to teach content and methods in the subject, usually with a practical focus. Depending on the subject studied, tutorials can have different content. In philological subjects they often involve practical language exercises, while on an engineering course, for example, technical knowledge is taught practically using machinery and instruments.
Assessment at the end of the semester either involves an oral examination, a test/written examination or practical work.


Workshops are often available to accompany a lecture or seminar. Tutorials provide students with an opportunity to deal with the material in more depth and to discuss issues with fellow students and those from higher semesters. Presentations are prepared in small groups and practical exercises on producing an assignment and general academic work are also available.

Field trip

Field trips are a part of courses that take place outside the institution. They are only required and offered in a few subjects, such as history of art, archaeology, history and geography. Field trips are normally held in the independent study time. Assessment normally involves either an oral presentation, a written assignment or production of a field trip report.


Colloquies are regular meetings of examination or doctoral candidates with their professor, in which the participants present their ongoing research or examination work, which is then critically discussed and evaluated by all.


Compulsory courses

While studying, a specific number of compulsory courses must be completed. The number is stipulated in the applicable course rules.

Optional courses

In addition to the compulsory courses, most subjects also have optional courses. These can be more or less freely chosen and taken from the student's own department or the entire range of courses offered by the institution. They can be attended in addition to the compulsory courses.


a lot of useful subject-specific information for students can be found at (in German only) is a free learning programme from FH M√ľnster and provides assistance for all situations that could occur while studying (What learning type am I? How do I get over a fear of public speaking? Tips for academic work etc./ in German only)

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