Course of study

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Course of study

The MSc comprises four terms and 120 ECTS. It is divided into Compulsory, Depth and Specialization modules. Students have to choose Concentrations worth 24 ECTS and Electives worth 36 ECTS. In addition to that, they have to attend Key Competence Modules worth 3 ECTS. The Master’s thesis is worth 30 ECTS.

It is recommended to rather choose „lectures“ and overview / introductory courses in the beginning and „seminars“ on very specific topics only in the later course of studies (especially for students with Bachelor degrees different from Computational Linguistics / Natural Language Processing).


Course structure

Link to current study plan.

Methods in CL

The typical recommended course of study is as follows: in the first term, all students have to attend the module “Methods in Computational Linguistics” (9 credits) which is assessed by a written exam. The module introduces students to standard methodologies.


Each student chooses two Concentrations (12 credits each) on a core area of Computational Linguistics. The choice is from

  • Computational Syntax and Semantics,
  • Laboratory Phonology and Speech Processing,
  • Statistical Natural Language Processing.

Concentrations cover the theories, models and methods used in current research in the respective areas. This provides the basis for students' independent work. Over two terms, coursework a total of 8 hours (where an hour is 45 weekly minutes of taught lectures, extending over a full term) is done for each of the two Concentrations, typically choosing from various course options. The module ends in an oral exam on the Concentration.

CL Team Laboratory

Research and development in Computational Linguistics and in Speech and Language Technology, requires some key skills and competences for successfully working in project teams. The module Computational Linguistics Team Laboratory (in the second term) is aimed at developing these skills and competences through practical team work on a concrete project. Students are assessed on the basis of the system implemented in the course of the module and their project report. This module is worth 6 credits.


In addition to the fixed modules above, students may select Electives from module catalogues comprising a total of 36 credits. The range of Electives from which students can choose are laid down in the examination regulations. The number of credits awarded for each module is explained in the Module Guidelines (Modulhandbuch) for the degree programme in which the module is offered. Students may choose from modules on specialised topics offered by the Institute of Natural Language Processing which are usually worth 6 credits per module. In addition, students may choose modules from Master degree programmes offered by other university departments, in particular Computer Science and Electrical and (Theoretical) Linguistics. The Board of Admission may also allow other modules to be taken as Electives. Furthermore, there is the possibility for students to use courses taken at a foreign university during a stay abroad (usually in the third term) as Electives.

Additional Key Competence Modules offered by the university are worth 3 credits. They can be taken in any semester (early registration necessary!).

Research Module

In the third and fourth term, the student takes a so-called Research Module, worth 12 credits in total. The Research Module contains two parts:

(1) The Research Seminar is offered on a yearly basis in winter term. Its main goal is to introduce the Master students to scientific work and scientific writing. The course provides theoretical background combined with practical advice (including an introduction to LaTeX). In addition, the IMS research groups give an overview of their research topics and staff members. The Research Seminar thus aims (a) to support the students to find a research topic and a supervisor for their Master theses, and (b) to prepare the students for the Master thesis work and writing. The assignments are not graded but have to be passed as an OBLIGATORY prerequisite for completing the Research Module (i.e., for receiving the grade from the Research Colloquium as the grade for the entire module; in case of absence in the winter term, the assignments can be done by individual arrangement with the lecturer).

(2) The Research Colloquium is organised the whole year round. It is NOT restricted to a specific term. To fulfill the requirements of the Research Colloquium, a student has to give a talk about (ongoing) work on his or her Master's thesis with a subsequent discussion. The talk and discussion are graded and determine the overall grade for the module (subject to the prerequisite requirement that the student has passed the assignments from the Research Seminar).

Master Thesis

The last term is for the Master’s thesis, which is a module worth 30 credits.


Modules and Credits


The MSc programme is divided into modules. Students are awarded ECTS credits for each module that they have been completed successfully. The number of credits per module ranges from 3 (in exceptional cases) to 12. Modules consist of coursework that are thematically related and last for either one or two terms.

The official module specification is available in the LSF system or linked as PDF here.


Each of the four terms comprises 30 credits on average. 1 ECTS credit is equivalent to an estimated workload of 30 hours of study (combining the time spent in lectures or seminars and time spent on exercises and preparation). For the MSc degree, 120 credits are required in total. Students have to choose Concentrations worth 33 credits, Electives worth 54 credits as well as Key Competence Modules worth 3 credits. The Master’s thesis is written at the end of the MSc programme and is worth 30 credits.