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Homework time!

30/05/2016 - 09:15-0 Comments by | poland flag

Studying in Germany does not mean that you would get a grade or get tested from every class you’re taking. In my university I have to specifically tell the Professors that I need grades for Art History seminars. It is possible to take those seminars without getting an actual grade—if I did not do any homework I would only receive an “attendance certificate”.

Here are some useful terms connected with homework, grades and studying in Germany! They sound very long and complicated (it’s just the aesthetic of German language 🙂 )but if you begin studying in Germany, you’ll find yourself getting familiar with them really quickly.

Vorlesungverzeichnis – The course catalogue

Vorlesungverzeichnis is the list of all courses offered by the university during the particular semester. It contains the description of each course and information whether you could get a grade (LN) or an attendance certificate (TN) for it. This catalogue is typically posted online on the university website and available as a hard copy in the Studienbüro (Office of Student Affairs).

Teilnahmeschein (abbreviation: TN) – The attendance certificate

If you don’t need a specific grade for your course, the confirmation of attendance might be sufficient for you. It’s a signed form that certifies that you took part in the course. Even though the Anwesenheitspflicht (mandatory attendance) is rare in Germany (you are expected to come to classes, but you don’t have to be present at every class or demonstrate excuse-documents if you missed a meeting. It’s very different than the system in the USA, where you need a note from the doctor every time you’re sick), you are expected to attend most of the classes to get your certificate. Some professors consider a good attendance sufficient to sign your certificate. Others would require some activity on your part, such as participation in discussions or preparing a short presentation.

Leistungsschein (LN) – The grade certificate

This document confirms that you passed the course with a specific grade (Benotung). Unless the course ends with the exam, you will have to do some homework (typically an scholarly essay and/or a presentation) to deserve your grade. Requirements vary among Professors. Sometimes you’re free to invent the topic of the homework, sometimes you choose the topic from the list, and sometimes you’re assigned a specific theme.

Referat – Presentation

Referat is a type of homework that could fulfill your attendance/grade requirement. Depending on its length, you might spend a short time preparing it or put a lot of work into it. Basically, you have to prepare a presentation (PowerPoint, etc.) for your class. You will speak for a designated amount of time, and then might have to answer some questions from your Professor. Sometimes the Professor might interrupt your flow of words in order to add something important, or clarify something for the class—don’t worry about it! As it is difficult to grade oral work, you will typically be expected to write a Zusammenfassung (a few pages of the summary) of your presentation.

Hausarbeit scholarly essay

Hausarbeit will certainly get you a grade, because you’ll need a lot of time and effort to write it. Professors understand that you might need a few weeks to write a good scholarly essay, so sometimes they are even willing to give you an “until the end of the semester” deadline. It’s important to know, that officially the semester ends when the new semester starts! That means that the summer and winter holidays are included in the semester and your Hausarbeit deadline can be anytime during your holidays. Of course, you don’t want to spend your break on studying, so it’s smarter to be done with your homework beforehand. Hausarbeit is typically 12-15 pages long (can be more, depending on the assignment) and requires some research, which you would demonstrate in the Literaturverzeichnis (bibliography) and Fußnoten (footnotes).

Good luck in navigating the German scholarly world! Once you get familiar with it, everything will become simpler than it seemed!

Tags: English Blog Post, Student Life, Useful Links & Tips

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