The University of Bamberg and its Surroundings
Bamberg - City, Region and People
Being a student in Bamberg means living and studying in a city with a population of approximately 70,000 and experiencing the Upper Franconian way of life up close. Currently, there are around 13,000 students enrolled at the University of Bamberg.
You will live and study among the people of Upper Franconia, whose dialect and quirks you will get to know sooner or later. Of the countless historic buildings lining the narrow streets of the old city, more than a few of them house University of Bamberg facilities. Among the city’s most well-known sights are the four towers of the Bamberg Cathedral and the old town hall which stands in the Regnitz river like a ship. Other highlights include the Bamberg Symphony and the entire historic city centre, which is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Information on Bamberg’s landmarks and sights is available at the Bamberg Tourist Information Office and website.
Distances in Bamberg tend to be very short, making a bicycle the ideal mode of transportation for the city’s narrow streets.
Bamberg is also surrounded by the Steigerwald forest, the Haßberge nature park, the Franconian Switzerland region and the Fränkische Seenplatte lake district, all of which are popular destinations for shorter trips and outdoor activities.
The University of Bamberg
In its current form, the University of Bamberg is still quite young (1979), but the university’s chequered history began over 350 years ago and was only interrupted by the Second World War. The “Otto-Friedrich” portion of the university’s German name, which it has borne since the 1988 revision of the Bavarian Higher Education Act, aims to demonstrate this long tradition: The name evokes both the university’s founder and its first great patron.
The university’s roots go back to the year 1647, when Prince Bishop Melchior Otto Voit von Salzburg added the faculties of Philosophy and Theology to a Jesuit seminary to create the “Academia Bambergensis”. This early academy already enjoyed the academic privileges granted by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III and by Pope Innocent X in 1648.
In 1735, Prince Bishop Friedrich Karl von Schönborn again expanded the institution that by then had become known as the “Academia Ottoniana” by establishing a faculty of law and thereby turning it into a fully-fledged university. It became a classic four-faculty university in 1770 with the establishment of an additional faculty of medicine. In the course of secularisation, the university was dissolved in 1803, but theological and philosophical studies would soon be resumed with the establishment of a Lyceum. This Lyceum was raised to the status of a higher education institution for philosophy and theology in 1923, but it was forcibly closed for the duration of the Second World War. Teaching began again in October of 1945. Soon the theological and philosophical disciplines were expanded to include law, political science, natural sciences and additional humanities fields, but these were discontinued in 1954.
A college of teaching and education which was originally part of the University of Würzburg was moved to Bamberg in 1958. In 1972, the merging of the institute for theological and philosophical studies with the college of teaching and education, together with an addition of a department for social sciences, created the “Gesamthochschule Bamberg”, which was given the official title of “University” in 1979.
Today, the main fields of study include the humanities, the social sciences and economics and business administration, and these are represented by four academic faculties:
- Humanities (Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften)
- Social Sciences, Economics, and Business Administration (Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften)
- Human Sciences and Education (Humanwissenschaften)
- Information Systems and Applied Computer Sciences (Wirtschaftsinformatik und Angewandte Informatik)
The university has three main locations. University buildings in the historic city centre are mainly home to department offices and courses in the humanities. The economic and social sciences are located in the buildings of the Feldkirchenstraße. The youngest of the faculties, Information Systems and Applied Computer Science, as well as the university’s Language Centre are located on the ERBA campus at the northern end of the Regnitz island. The distances between the various sites are relatively short and travel by bike or bus makes navigating them quite easy. Detailed information on the university’s various sites and facilities can be found here.
Studying at the University of Bamberg
International students wishing to attend the University of Bamberg for only one or two semesters and who do not intend to complete a full degree in Germany are not bound to any particular study and examination regulations. This applies primarily to students from one of the University of Bamberg’s many partner universities. These students have the full academic freedom to attend any courses that are important to studies at their home universities, or simply courses that they find particularly interesting.
Those students who come to Bamberg with the intention of earning their degree here are of course held to the same examination and study regulations (website in German only) as German students in the same programme.
The Academic Year
The academic year is divided into the summer and winter semesters. With the start of each semester, the university comes to life: lectures and seminars begin and students repopulate the lecture halls, libraries and dining halls – not to mention the local pubs.
During the semester break – often misleadingly referred to as holiday – the diligent student prepares for the coming semester, writes term papers, completes an internship or, like so many others, takes a job to earn money for school.
The German University System
A bachelor’s degree programme is a compressed, 6 to 7-semester foundational education in a particular subject. These programmes afford students the opportunity to choose from a range of course modules. Students who successfully complete a bachelor’s degree programme receive either the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree.
Applicants who have completed a degree abroad that is deemed to be equivalent to a German bachelor’s degree may apply for studies in one of our master’s degree programmes. Completion of a master’s degree generally takes 3 to 4 semesters.
Bachelor’s, master’s and teaching degrees offered at the University of Bamberg are formed of specific sets of required course modules. A module is generally regarded as a single curricular unit comprising multiple courses. Completion of a module may extend over one or more semesters. The structure of a degree programme is often determined by the required modules. It is therefore common that, as e.g. in the bachelor’s degree in German literature and culture, new students begin with foundational modules that serve as an introduction into the subject’s component disciplines. They then build on this knowledge with advanced and more specialised modules as they progress through the degree programme. The selection of modules allows students to pursue an individual focus within their chosen field of study. Modules are commonly arranged in a thematically successive manner, meaning that students can often only take advanced or specialised modules if they have first completed the respective foundational module. Most degree programmes at the University of Bamberg include foundational and introductory modules for students just beginning their studies. Students may focus on more specialised aspects of their chosen subject after completing these initial courses.
The German Marking System
At the University of Bamberg, marks for achievement are awarded based on a number system from one to four, with "one" being the best mark:
Proof of Course Credit
The University of Bamberg has adopted the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). For successful course work, all students receive both an official mark and the ECTS credit points for the respective course or module. The vast majority of departments and fields of study manage these credits in an electronic system designed for exam management and course registration (“FlexNow!”). Written confirmation of course credit and exams, generically called a “Schein”, is occasionally also possible. All course credit and examination results are incorporated into a final mark and are listed in the transcript of records.
The Academic Quarter
In Germany, it is customary that courses start fifteen minutes later than times listed in the course catalogue. If, for example, the catalogue indicates that a course will begin at 8:00 c.t., this means that class will actually begin at 8:15 am (c.t. cum tempore, Latin for “with time”). Should the abbreviation “s.t.” (meaning sine tempore, “without time”) be used, that means that the course will start at 8:00 am sharp and that you should be seated by that time.
Types of Courses
Lectures are held in an auditorium or large lecture hall. Students listen to the professor talk about a particular topic in the form of a presentation. There is seldom any discussion between the students and the lecturer, as this type of exchange is usually reserved for seminars. Professors normally do not take attendance in these lectures and the content presented is usually the basis for an exam that takes place at the end of the semester. Students must successfully complete the exam in order to earn ECTS points.
Seminars are academic discussions dealing with a particular subject area, and they require regular and active participation. Students must register for seminars, as the number of participants is often limited. Information on registration can be found in the electronic course catalogue UnivIS. Requirements for obtaining ECTS points vary, but they are detailed in each degree programme’s module handbook. You can direct any further questions concerning seminar requirements to the respective instructor. Depending on one´s own progress in a particular degree programme, seminars are divided into introductory, basic and advanced levels.
Introductory Seminars (Einführungsseminar)
Introductory seminars are offered in foundational modules, though not all degree programmes include them. They provide basic introductory knowledge of a particular topic and often conclude with an examination. Introductory seminars are mandatory prerequisites for subsequent advanced seminars and specialisation modules.
Basic Seminars (Proseminar)
The basic-level seminar is a course taken as part of either a foundational or advanced module. The title of a given seminar (listed in the UnivIS course catalogue) indicates the particular topic field to be addressed. Credit is awarded based on the completion of an in-class presentation and a seminar paper (also known as a term paper). In some cases, a final written exam is also required.
Advanced Seminar (Hauptseminar)
This type of seminar is not offered in every degree programme. It is a part of the so called specialisation module. Organisationally, it is essentially the same as a basic seminar. However, these seminars are available only to advanced students who have already completed basic and advanced modules and who are moving into more specialised studies in their chosen subject. Expectations and work load are also generally higher in advanced seminars than in lower level courses.
Advanced Seminars for Degree Candidates (Oberseminar)
This type of seminar is not offered in every degree programme. An advanced seminar for degree candidates is also sometimes referred to as an exam colloquium. Students in their final semesters, and in some cases even graduates, discuss the advanced topics of their bachelor’s or master’s theses with each other and with the instructor. These degree candidate seminars are taken towards the end of one´s studies and are meant to prepare students for the final phases of their respective degrees.
Practical Training Courses (Übung)
The purpose of practical training courses is the practical application of acquired theoretical knowledge, to the extent that this is possible in a university setting. Depending on the course and topic, ECTS points may be awarded for things like presentations or group work. Sometimes it is necessary to register for practical courses and these are often applicable to all modules in a particular degree programme.
A tutorial is held by a student in the advanced stages of their studies. Here students have the opportunity to review and practice the materials covered in class, and to ask supposedly “dumb” questions. Tutorials are a good way for students to prepare for upcoming exams.
The aforementioned courses are offered with varying frequency across the different subject and degree programmes. Scheduling depends on the academic faculty, the particular subject and on the number of students.
Study in Bavaria
The website www.study-in-bavaria.de provides international students with information on all aspects of studying in Bavaria. The site is operated by the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts.