Start of studies: checklist for students
The information of this checklist is intended for university entrants. You have already decided upon a specific (Bachelor’s) degree programme in Geography, and you have enrolled or you are about to do so? Here you can find some important information about getting started.
Student! And what’s next?
The time before the beginning of your studies might be associated with helplessness and uncertainty. You will possibly have to move to a (new) city for studying, find and arrange a (first own) flat, get used to your new environment – and the beginning of the course of study is imminent: Where do I have to go there? How do I get information? Who do I need to know? What to do to avoid missing anything of impact? Which steps must be taken first?
In the following, we will attempt to answer these questions.
JMU account and student email address
As a student at the University of Würzburg, you have a personal student e-mail address. Together with the corresponding password, it can be found in the documents that have been given to you after your matriculation. Furthermore, you have a matriculation number that you keep throughout the whole study programme and which, for example, serves for anonymisation in examinations, and an Information Technology Centre JMU account (sXXXXXX) that is required for all logins (sb@home, WueCampus, webmail of the university).
Please note that all emails from the university (as well as those from services like sb@home, WueCampus, etc.) will be sent principally to your student e-mail address (email@example.com).
Our advice: Keep an eye on your mailbox, forward incoming emails to a different existing email address or configure your email client appropriately as needed. Further information and assistance on this are provided by the Information Technology Centre.
There are basically no default timetables like those you know from school. Instead, there are courses or rather module components/modules, which vary depending on the degree programme, and that must be taken in your chosen degree programme in Geography, as well as an amount of ECTS credits – specified by the degree programme – that must be achieved during the studies. You cannot or rather should not take your module components at will as you have to keep certain conditions, which are specified in the list of modules (SFB).
Precisely that list of modules (SFB) is the most important document informing about structure and content of your degree programme (see information pages about Bachelor’s, Master’s, and teaching degree programmes as well as non-modularised degree programmes). The SFB informs about mandatory courses and electives and the assigned ECTS credits. Modules and their module components scheduled for the degree programme are listed in the SFB. Furthermore, the SFB provides information about the terms of module component assessments.
Another important document is the subject-specific provisions (FSB), from which additional important information about your degree programme can be obtained. The SFB is an annex to the FSB. The FSB concretise the provisions in the general academic and examination regulations (ASPO) for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (current version dated 05 August 2009).
Based on the SFB, we have created exemplary study plans (SVP), which can be downloaded and printed on the respective information pages of the individual degree programmes (Bachelor’s, Master’s, teaching degree programmes, non-modularised degree programmes). The SVP helps you to quickly get a general overview of your studies and an orientation about the order in which module components should be meaningfully taken. However, it is by no means mandatory to maintain this order; individual study plans are quite common for various reasons (such as a semester abroad, credit transfer after study in another programme etc.).
Additional information can be obtained in the orientation sessions of Geography at the beginning of each semester, at the student council and at the academic advisors of the institute. Contact addresses and opportunities can be found in the menu item ’Student Advisory Service’.
Where do my classes take place?
The courses of Geography are usually held at the Institute of Geography and Geology on the Hubland campus and in the Central Auditorium Building (ZHSG). Most chairs of the institute, i.e. staff offices, assistant rooms, important notice boards and chair secretariats are located in the Geography Building. An exception to this is Remote Sensing and Didactics, which are situated on the Hubland North campus (Oswald-Külpe-Weg 86). The courses of the first semester take place in the Philosophy Building, in the Central Auditorium Building or in the Geography Building itself. These buildings are all located relatively close to each other on the Hubland Campus.
All the above facilities can be reached both by the bus lines 14, 114 and 214 from the bus station and by bus line 10 from Sanderring. PDF schedules can be found on the web pages of the VVM (Verkehrsunternehmens-Verbund Mainfranken GmbH). Basically, with your JMU card (in combination with a photo ID) you are entitled to use all trams, bus and railroad lines within Würzburg.
Our tip: Experience shows that buses are highly frequented, especially in the winter semester, so delays and overcrowded buses are to be expected, particularly at peak times (7-8 o’clock, at noon, from 15 o’clock).
What does ‘modularised’ study programme mean?
The study programme is modularly structured. A module comprises one or more courses that are well coordinated in terms of content and time, preparation and follow-up work as well as (graded or ungraded) assessments to be taken along with the studies. A module is designed in such a way that it can usually be completed within one or two semesters. The modules ‘Allgemeine Physische Geographie’ und ‘Allgemeine Humangeographie’ even extend over three semesters in some degree programmes.
For each module, a course-related success assessment (module component assessment), which refers to a course or a group of courses of the module component, takes place in form of a graded assessment, an ungraded academic achievement or a combination of both. Assessments and academic achievements can be demanded in written, oral, practical or any other form. Details of the success assessment are regulated in the list of modules (SFB) of your degree programme.
Exercises, homework, interim assessment or other achievements may be required during the courses. These serve as preliminary study or admission prerequisite to assessment. Further details, especially number, type and extent of these records, their role in the admission to the assessment and the design of the assessment are determined by the person in charge of the module component and are to be announced and documented conveniently at the beginning of the course.
What are ECTS credits?
Pursuant to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), the modules and module components provide a certain number of ECTS credits in accordance with the time required for successful completion. After taking and passing the assessment of a course (module component), your examiner will assign the ECTS credits by booking the assessment (in most cases a grade, possibly also ‘passed’ / ’failed’) in the studies and assessment administration system (sb@home). ECTS credits for modules will be automatically assigned after all academic achievements and assessments necessary for the completion of the module have been completely passed in the module components. The ECTS credits describe the student workload required for the module or module component. The workload relates to the time it overall takes for students to achieve the learning outcomes that define the module or module component. One ECTS credit equals a workload of about 30 hours for an average student. 30 ECTS credits should usually be gained per semester, then the degree programme can be completed in six semesters.
How is the course of study structured?
For each degree subject, the so-called subject-specific provisions (FSB) regulate which modules are offered in the form of an obligatory list of modules (SFB). Their listing in the SFB is subdivided into mandatory courses, mandatory electives and thesis as well as the transferable skills area. In addition to the allocation of the modules to these areas, it is specified in the SFB:
- The name, short designation, total workload in ECTS credits, duration in semesters and the assigned module components with their degree of obligation of each module
- Number and type of the courses
- Method, scope and evaluation type (numerically graded or ungraded) of assessments in a module
10 ECTS credits will be awarded for the thesis in Bachelor’s degree programmes.
The modules in the transferable skills area are supposed to impart further competencies of overall 20 ECTS credits in the Bachelor’s degree programme. This area is subdivided into subject-specific (in most cases 15 ECTS) and general transferable skills (usually 5 ECTS). Courses for the general transferable skills can be chosen out of the so-called pool of general transferable skills. The modules or module components of this pool are listed in the class schedule under ‘Lehrveranstaltungen für Hörer aller Fakultäten’.
Length of programme
The standard length of consecutive Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes is ten semesters, in which a total of 300 ECTS credits will be acquired. The standard length of Bachelor’s degree programmes is generally six semesters with 180 ECTS credits.
To complete the studies within the standard length of programme, it is purposive to take the modules or module components in a certain order. Their contents build on one another in many ways. An orientation guide for a time-coordinated study is provided by the study plan, which can be created in relationship with the class schedule. Exemplary study plans can be downloaded on the web pages of the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. The specifically responsible course advisors provide assistance in individual study planning. Due to accreditation of credits from other universities, preceding degree programmes or a semester abroad etc., the study plan can quickly individualise with deviations from the published exemplary study plans. In general, this shall not be seen as a problem.
For the Bachelor’s degree programmes, it is regulated by the minimum ECTS score requirement (Grundlagen- und Orientierungsprüfung, GOP) that you have gathered 20 ECTS credits from modules or module components in the mandatory courses area of the study subject or the combination of study subjects at the end of the second semester and that you must prove this to the Examination Office. In general, this proof automatically takes place by the booking of passed assessments in the studies and assessment administration system (sb@home). In the case of not having reached this specification, the GOP would be first failed and could be repeated once by proving 30 ECTS credits from modules or module components of the mandatory courses area of the study subject or the combination of study subjects at the end of the third semester. Details regarding this issue are regulated by the subject-specific provisions (FSB) of the degree programmes.
Which types of courses are held?
A module (see ‘modularisation’ above) can comprise one or more module components with corresponding courses. In the form of abbreviations in the list of modules (SFB) and the study plans, you can see which course type is allocated to a module component.
The following list gives an overview of the most important types of courses:
- Lectures (V): usu. 2-3 weekly contact hours (‘Semesterwochenstunden’; hereafter referred to as SWS); mostly in the large lecture halls in the Philosophy Building or in the Central Auditorium Building. In the main, lectures comprise presentations held by the lecturer without or with only low active student cooperation.
- Seminars (S): usu. 2 SWS; mostly in practice rooms in the Central Auditorium Building or in the Geography Building. The workload as part of a seminar usually comprises the discussion of defined issues of the respective specialist science (for example presentation with written composition).
Some seminars of the Bachelor’s degree programmes extend over two semesters. These are the so-called project seminars, in which practical and project-related work (also in the field) is carried out and evaluated. In the study plans, they are reserved for the higher semesters.
- Tutorials (T): usu. 1-2 SWS: mostly in practice rooms in the Central Auditorium Building, Philosophy Building or Geography Building; usu. lecture contents of students in higher semesters will be prepared and revised; additionally, they serve as exam preparation.
- Exercises (Ü): usu. 1-2 SWS; mostly in practice rooms in the Central Auditorium Building, Philosophy Building or Geography Building. Exercises are similar to the tutorials and serve as preparation and follow-up as well as scientific deepening and exam preparation of corresponding modules/module components.
- Excursions (E): These sessions are not trips or study visits. A precise term is field trip or fieldwork. They are days on which the scientific education takes place ‘afield’. Excursions can take 1-3 days, in rare cases even up to 5 days. The Institute of Geography and Geology offers several of such excursions each semester. Especially for excursions that last several days, a financial contribution for accommodation, travel etc. has to be paid by the participants. Excursions are a mandatory part of the studies, in particular in teaching degree programmes. The so-called major excursions (> 7 days) are scheduled only for teaching degree programmes and in the 180 ECTS Bachelor’s degree programme in Geography.
As a rule, one SWS corresponds to 45 minutes. In the event of a course beginning at 2 o’clock c.t. (lat. cum tempore) according to the class schedule, then this means that the course starts a quarter past 2. If the course begins at two o’clock s.t. (lat. sine tempore), then the actual beginning is at 2 o’clock sharp. Many lecturers allow for a short break in their courses.
How to register for a course? sb@home and class schedule?
All courses can generally be found in the current class schedule of the University of Würzburg, which can be found in the sb@home system. Further details about the enrolment and registration periods are also listed there. You have to enrol online for all courses in Geography during the registration period in the sb@home system.
sb@home is a service-offer by the university that provides the opportunity to conveniently carry out various tasks from home via the internet. Re-enrolment, payment of due semester fees by direct-debit, prints of enrolment certificates, BaföG certificates or confirmations of periods of study, prints of receipts for paid semester fees as well as changes to address data can be made via the internet. Furthermore, the enrolment for courses and assessments is made here. In addition, in the area of examination administration, internet applications such as the enrolment for assessments or the print of the Transcript of Records can already be performed in some degree programmes.
sb@home can be accessed with the student account (https://www.rz.uni-wuerzburg.de/en/services/benvw/user-registration/).
You can find all courses (and assessments) offered by faculties, institutes and centres of the university in the class schedule. The online version of the class schedule is continuously revised. The respectively latest version will be immediately online – as the faculties, institutes and departments are able to register current changes and commentaries themselves. The class schedule for the semester following the ongoing one will be released already during the running semester so that you will be informed in time about the courses offered in the next semester.
The courses in the class schedule are structured in faculties at the first level. The Institute of Geography and Geology and its courses can be found in ‘Philosophische Fakultät I’. The courses of the general pool of transferable skills can be found under ‘Lehrveranstaltungen für Hörer aller Fakultäten’.
In the Bachelor’s degree programme in Geography with 180 ECTS, as of the third semester, you take courses out of one area of the so-called groups of supplementary subjects (see list of modules, SFB). Here, depending on the choice of the group of supplementary subjects, it can happen that courses offered by other faculties or institutes (such as by the Faculty of Business Management and Economics, Faculty of Biology, Indology or others; so-called import modules) are taken. These courses cannot be found at the Institute of Geography and Geology in the class schedule but at the faculties or institutes that offer those.
Our tip: Punctually before a semester starts, make a note of courses that are intended or proposed for you and/or those that are requested by you; inform yourself about the enrollment type and registration periods and make sure that there are no overlaps in your schedule.
When and how do I contact the lecturers?
You should go to see your lecturer during office hours in the case you would like to discuss something. Information on when they are can be found on the respective staff pages of the chairs.
Our tip: Experience has shown that direct and personal contact is most appropriate for getting information, discussing presentation topics and/or term paper topics and solving problems. Furthermore, you become more familiar with lecturers in a personal meeting and can better judge their expectations.
Where do I find literature for my studies?
You can find studies-related literature in the libraries of the university. A distinction should be made between the Central Library, from which you can borrow most books in stock for at least four weeks, and the departmental libraries. The latter are reference libraries, which means that books are not available for borrowing or only for a short time (usually from Friday noon to Monday noon). The catalogue of the university offers you a wide range of research options for the total stock of the libraries. The introductions to the library/libraries are highly recommended unless they are already stipulated in your study schedule. Just start by browsing the textbook collection for geography in the Central Library at the beginning!
Our tip: Allow some time for ‘private studies’ during both the lecture periods and the semester breaks: Create a plan for yourself which specialist literature you want to read and implement this plan consistently. You will certainly not have the time to handle all specified works on the reading lists of the individual courses in addition to your regular studies, but as a student of Geography, your aspiration should be to have read a certain repertoire and to be well versed in basic specialist literature.
What is WueCampus?
WueCampus is an e-learning platform, which means there you can find electronic course rooms for many of your courses, supervised by your respective lecturer and including material, information, further reading, message boards and much more for your courses. You can log in using your JMU account and an access key, which you will usually receive from your lecturer at the beginning of a course.
Can I also take foreign language courses?
The Language Centre (ZfS) is a central institution of the University of Würzburg. It offers the cross-faculty foreign language program as an additional qualification. Furthermore, it provides foreign language modules for the general area of transferable skills (pool of general transferable skills) in the Bachelor’s degree programmes. However, this also implies that such language courses can be accredited to you up to a maximum amount of 5 ECTS within your actual Geography degree programme.
Regardless of the above, language courses are a useful additional qualification that, for example, specifically prepare you for a study trip/research stay abroad or imply the necessary language skills for joining a foreign or internationally active company.
What does the Information Technology Centre of the university offer me?
The Information Technology Centre ("Rechenzentrum"; RZ) offers you, inter alia, free software, documentation for relevant programs (such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SPSS etc.), information and learning courses and much more.
Our tip: Take your time to surf the web pages of the Information Technology Centre. There you will find many helpful – and often free – offers!
Deal with the university procedure early on. Use the online functions provided to you, such as sb@home, your student email address and WueCampus. At least take note that the University of Würzburg makes further advisory services and service offerings available to you: Career Service, University Sports, Family Service (Studying with children etc.), Health and Disabilities Representatives, etc.
Also look beyond your own nose during your studies — there are various information offers, assistance services and leisure activities of the university waiting for you.
Last but not least: In case you are unsure and need help in the everyday life at the university, just ask! It is up to you to familiarise with the conditions and expectations of the studies!
General questions concerning your studies can be addressed to the student council of Philosophy I or to the Central Academic Advisory Service. General questions regarding your studies in Geography should be addressed to the associated course advisors or to the student council of Geography.