German University System

The German university system may vary in multiple aspects from exchange students' former experiences, i.e. in the fields listed below. If understood correctly, exchange students may be able to use those peculiarities to their advantage:


Freedom & Self-responsibility
Grading System
The Chairs
Academic Calendar
Course Types Explained




edited MS            ©SBE, Editing: Martin Schmidt






High degrees of Freedom & Self-Responsibility: Non-mandatory Attendance & One Final Examination

With certain exceptions, but in most cases, attendance for students is non-mandatory and the overall passing is based on one single final examination at the end of the course. Thus, students are able to allocate their leisure and studying time at their own disposal which leaves much space for freedom and autonomy. On the other hand, no credit points are granted for mere personal attendance or oral participation, so the risk of failing may not be evenly distributed throughout the semester but is rather dependent on the final performance in the final examination at the end of the semester. Similarly, in seminar courses, students need to hand in a self-written seminar paper on an academic topic within a pre-set deadline, which, in the same way, gives students the freedom to follow their own time schedule (until the deadline).

Likewise, all students, and especially exchange students, will have a high degree of freedom regarding individual options within the degree programs.

How to take this to your advantage: 
Students will experience having much time at their own disposal during the semester. With this high degree of freedom and autonomy comes a high level of necessary self-responsibility:
  • This competence of self-responsibility is considered a universal asset, one that has ultimately proved to be a highly appreciated skill for future employers!
  • Therefore, successful performance can send a strong signal to future employers when it comes to acquiring competences/ skills related to independence and personal responsibility.

General Grading & Assessment Criteria

  • In Germany, we use the ECTS system for European-wide similar credit point allocations.
  • Grades at the University of Münster range from 1,0 (best grade) to 4,0 (worst grade).
    5,0 indicates"failed".
  • "Good" grades (1,7 - 2,3), and especially "very good" grades (1,0 - 1,3) are considered rare.
  • One set of rules applies to all students: This means that there are no individual agreements between students and professors with regard to evaluation methods (written test, oral exam, seminar paper), the grading itself, or re-sit options.

  • The majority of courses end with a final examination. In this exam, lecturers want students to prove their competence in knowledge application, and show specific accumulated knowledge, all under time pressure.


  • Exam preparation should not begin only two weeks prior to the exam. Pay special attention to the Tutorials as those are specifically aimed at the preparation for the final exam.
  • Students are advised to:
    • study steadily throughout the semester,
    • attend courses regularly,
    • prepare classes beforehand, and take some time to follow up afterward.

Examinations: time pressure & precise answering

In examinations, it is usually expected from students to give answers quickly under time pressure, show accumulated knowledge from the course, and be competent in analyzing assignments.

  • Students are advised to rehearse these situations beforehand: participate regularly in all tutorials, try to prepare those beforehand, and try setting time limits. You can also contact the faculty's student body ("Fachschaft") to ask for examinations from the previous semesters and organize your own mock exams.
  • Examinations can be mastered successfully by following these steps:
  • Make sure to read all assignments carefully.
  • Be precise in your answering.
  • Leave out knowledge that is unnecessary to answer the assignment, so do not get enticed to "show off" everything you have learned (surely, that's a challenge).
  • If you struggle with an assignment, move on to the next, and possibly deal with the former one later.
  • Try to answer all assignments.

         If students follow these steps, all examinations can be mastered successfully.


The Chairs (= Professors), the School, and the University

In general, a professor is responsible for managing their own Chair or Institute, overseeing both research and lecturing efforts. As the Chair usually employs several staff members, students may get in touch with the respective employee who is in charge of the specific course. The School of Business and Economics (SBE) consists of the departments of Business, Economics, Information Systems, and Interdisciplinary Economics. The University of Münster , in turn, is made up of 15 Schools, or as we say in German: Fakultäten/ Faculties. see here for more information.



Two Semesters: Academic Calendar

The German academic calendar differs from most international academic calendars. At SBE, the academic year is divided into the Summer/Spring Semester and Winter/Fall Semester, each sub-divided into a Term I and a Term II. Some courses take place in only Term I or Term II, but the majority of courses are held regularly and span over Term I and Term II (=regular courses).

 schematic overview of the semester structure at SBE



c.t.: cum tempore

If not noted otherwise, courses always start cum tempore (c.t.), which is Latin and indicates that a course will not start on the hour but 15 minutes later.

  • For instance, if a lecture is scheduled from 08-10 o'clock, the course will actually start at 08:15 o'clock and end at 09:45 o'clock (so 15 minutes earlier than actually stated).
    Consequently, students will always have 30 minutes in-between two courses.


  • The counterpart is called sin tempore (s.t.), which, again, is Latin and indicates that a course will start on the hour, so without further delay.

    For example, if a course is scheduled to begin at 08:00 s.t., the course will start at 08:00 sharp (and end at 09:30).
    Please note: If a course is scheduled as s.t., the lecturer will specifically state this.
    In turn, if not noted otherwise, courses will always start c.t. (so 15 minutes later).


Course types

  • Course Types Explained

    • Bachelor- and Master-level courses

      The University of Münster School of Business & Economics (SBE) offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses. The Bachelor’s degree courses are concerned with imparting fundamental knowledge in the first two years of study; the third year of study provides options to specialize in the various fields of business, economics, and informatics, e.g. in accounting, finance, management, marketing, business cooperations, energy management and many more. Graduate students complete a Master’s degree in one of those areas of specialization. International exchange students can basically choose from all of the offered courses. Master students may choose from courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Bachelor students can take all Bachelor courses and also have the possibility to choose from a limited amount of Master courses - depending on their current level of study.

    • Lectures and Tutorials
      Lectures are commonly held by a professor and are aimed at laying a profound theoretical foundation. Lectures are accompanied by Exercises / Practices / Tutorials / "Übungen". There is NO registration for either Lectures or Tutorials and attendance is NOT compulsory. However, during the semester, a registration for the exam will be necessary in order for you to participate in the exam itself. Schedules containing times and places are kept up-to-date in our digital course catalogue - in German called "Vorlesungsverzeichnis" ("VVZ"). Courses are usually held throughout the whole semester (= regular courses). Some courses, however, are only held in either Term I or Term II of the respective semester. Exams for Term I courses will be written in the middle of the semester, whereas Term II exams will take place during the regular exam period. Please note that all seminars only have a limited capacity and that prior application/ registration is always required. Due to the limited number of places available, some seminars cannot admit exchange students as the places available need to be given to students who will graduate from WWU. Therefore those courses are often booked out even before the semester start. Exchange students will get all important information on offerings and deadlines before the semester begins.
    • Term I and Term II courses
      Each semester consists of two periods, Term I and Term II, so we differentiate between courses taking place during the whole semester (=regular courses), and courses in either Term I or Term II.
    • Seminars and Business Skills
      In a seminar course, students are expected to conduct research on an academically relevant topic and hand in the results in form of a self-written paper that holds up to scientific standards. The aim is to get acquainted with academic writing and prepare for the bachelor/ master thesis. The seminar course consists of a limited number of participants to allow interactive group work and discussions. Students are graded on the written paper (often plus presentation) and/ or the contributions made during the seminar.




+++ Please note: These descriptions and guidelines solely aim at providing a general overview and do not necessarily apply to each case at SBE. In every case, students shall follow the instructions given by the respective lecturer. +++