Course of study

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Course of study

The MSc CL comprises four terms and 120 ECTS credit points (CP). It is divided into Compulsory, Depth and Specialization / Elective modules.

Study regulations / Prüfungsordnung (PO) 2011 Study regulations / Prüfungsordnung (PO) 2017

Students have to choose Concentrations worth 24 ECTS and Electives worth 36 ECTS.

Students have to choose Electives worth 60 ECTS.
One of the CL catalogues ("Core Computational Linguistics", "Applied Natural Language Processing" or
"Speech Processing") has to be covered with at least
18 CP, the other two with at least 6 CP.

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 / Time plan

Link to current study plan. This plan is only a recommendation; it can be adapted flexibly by moving modules. The usual start is in winter semester, but an admission is also possible in summer. For linguistics and computer science graduates who start in summer, we recommend an individual student advice in order to plan the first semester (since the basic lecture takes place in winter).

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 CP PO 2011 / 12 CP PO 2017) ) which is assessed by a written exam. The module introduces students to / repeats standard methodologies.

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 (usually 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 CP.
For linguistics and computer science graduates who start in summer, we recommend taking the CL Team Lab in their 3rd semester.

Concentrations / Electives

PO 2011 PO 2017

Each student chooses two Concentrations (12 CP 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.

In addition to the fixed modules above, students may select Electives from module catalogues comprising a total of 36 CP. The range of Electives from which students can choose are
laid down in the examination regulations. The number of CP awarded for each module is explained in the Module Handbook (Modulhandbuch) for the degree programme in which the module is offered.

According to the current study regulations, students can choose their focus in a different way. '
From the Electives worth 60 ECTS, one of the CL catalogues ("Core Computational Linguistics",
"Applied Natural Language Processing" or "Speech Processing") has to be covered with at least 18 CP, the other two with at least 6 CP.

Students may choose from modules on specialised topics offered by the Institute of Natural Language Processing. 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.

An additional Key Competence Module offered by the university (worth 3 CP) has to be taken. This is possible in any semester (early registration necessary!).

Research Module

In the third and fourth term, the student takes a so-called Research Module, worth 12 CP (PO 2011) / 9 CP (PO 2017) 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. 
In case of absence in the winter term, the assignments can be done by individual arrangement with the lecturer. Students starting in the summer semester could take the Research Seminar already in their 2nd semester.

PO 2011 PO 2017

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).

(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).

In the framework of the Research Seminar, a graded
research proposal (1/3 of the final grade) for the
thesis has to be submitted.

(2) Towards the end of the Master Thesis, a presentation
of the topic has to be given, followed by an oral exam.
Both are graded and build the overall grade for the
Research Module together with the proposal grade.

Master's Thesis

The last term is to be planned for the Master’s thesis, which is a module worth 30 CP.


Modules and Credits


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

The official module specifications are available in C@MPUS and in the module handbook.

Credit points

Each of the four terms comprises 30 CP 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 CP are required in total. Students have to take obligatory modules worth 27 CP, Concentrations and Electives worth 60 CP and a Key Competence Module worth 3 CP. The Master’s thesis is written at the end of the MSc programme and is worth 30 CP.