Course reviews

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This page serves to exchange experience with courses we linguists might want to take for credit or out of interest. Especially welcome are hints about good courses at other faculties and departments, which do not show up in the SfS course catalogue and thus need our word of mouth.

Keep in mind that the information about the lecturer is, albeit important to the relevance of the review, also subject to change. If you want to point out differences between lecturers of the same course, please feel free to do so.

Preliminary Notes on Taking "Foreign" Courses

Finding cool courses

Ask Your Adviser

Pay attention to bureaucracy! It is a good idea to ask your current student's adviser whether a course can be counted towards your studies or not. Do this in advance, if possible. In some cases you will have to make a deal with the lecturer, e.g. taking an exam even though other people do not take exams in that course. Unless counted towards key qualification, all Scheins for ISCL need to be equipped with a grade! In any case, give it a try, most people involved are cooperative. (INFORMATION WANTED: What about AS? AS students please edit here!)


Hindi I-V

Hindi-Urdu is one of the most spoken languages of the world, being understood and used in northern India and Pakistan. The courses over at Indologie will not only teach you how to speak the standard Indian Hindi Dialect Khariboli, but also give you insight into contemporary Indian culture. Hindi I through IV are not overly time intensive, but be prepared to learn a whole new writing system and a lot of vocabulary. They are usually taught by native speakers that will introduce you to to the subtleties of the language of which Hindi-Urdu has many. The atmosphere is very nice and friendly and you will surely get to know interesting people! (and maybe help prevent Indologie from being closed down because of the lack of students...)

Course language: German, course book in English
Hours per week (per course): 4, mandatory (and fun!) conversational tutorial. The occasional movie in Hindi
Lecturer: Divyaraj Amyia, Neeti Singh (Tutorium)
Credit points: 3 for minor elective in General Linguistics
Web site: Indologie
Takes place: Hindi I starts during winter semesters only, then proceeds every semester.

Polnisch I-IV

The Polish courses at the Slavonic department are pretty much oriented towards oral communication, the grammar is introduced rather slowly. On the other hand, Renata Makarska is very keen on integrating each and every student into class talk, sometimes starting a conversation with an unsuspecting student out of the blue. Those surprises are great training if you want to achieve a certain proficiency in oral communication fast, but they can also be rather strenuous. This is not a course to just sit in and listen, it requires presence of mind and a lot of practice. However, you will be rewarded with a nice atmosphere, many interesting insights and a good grasp of this important European language.

Course language: German/Polish
Hours per week (per course): 4; sometimes an optional tutorial is offered in addition
Credit points: to be added
Web site:

Russisch I-IV

The Russian courses at the Slavonic department are geared towards beginning Slavicists, but are also open to others. You can use this as a language course for credit and, if you want to gain a fair proficiency in Russian, continue until you get a Sprachschein after four semesters.

Tested: winter term 2006/2007 - winter term 2007/08 (Russich I-III) With teacher: Katja Sonnenwald (I, III), Inna Kamenetskaya (II) Takes place: The beginners' course (Russisch I) starts only in winter terms. Course language: German/Russian
Hours per week (per course): 4; sometimes an optional tutorial is offered in addition
Credit points: 3 (General Linguistics Minor Elective)
Web site:


Currently taught by Frank Köhler, the Sanskrit courses over at Indologie are not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to iterate over page-long paradigms and hundreds of words of vocabulary per week. While the first semester starts off slowly, explaining how to pronounce and write Sanskrit, the pace quickly changes as the grammar and vocabulary size increase rapidly. If you are willing to spend quite some time on it, there is a lot to gain from this course. People with interests in comparative (in this case: Indo-European and Indo-Aryan) language studies will be as interested as those who like finding out more about Indian culture, history and religion.

Course Language: German, the book is in English
Hours per week (per course): 4 + mandatory tutorial
Lecturer: Frank Köhler
Credit points: 3 (General Linguistics Minor Elective)
Web site: Indologie
Takes place: Sanskrit I is only offered during winter semesters

Computer Science

Informatik III: Theoretische Informatik

For all those who don't get enough of automata and formal languages in the ISCL program, here is a good lecture to get some more background and training with those concepts. The lecture comes in three parts: Formal Languages, Computability Theory and Complexity Theory. If you ever wanted to design Turing machines for specific tasks, be shown why regular expressions and finite state automata describe the same class of languages, or understand what NP-completeness REALLY means, this is the lecture for you. A certain background in logic is highly recommended. With a compulsory tutorial and one three-hour exercise sheet per week plus written exam, these are no easy credits, but for those with an interest in the theoretical side of what we are doing every day, this is a very worthwile effort.

Course language: German
Hours per week (per course): 4 (+2 for the tutorial necessary for credit)
Credit points: 6 (B.A. Computational Linguistics Major Elective)
Web site:

Software-Architektur (Holger Gast)

This lecture will change your life. At least it said in the announcement that it would change your way of programming. And it did, in a positive way. Prerequisites are advanced skills in Java and the will to invest quite some time for obtaining even more advanced skills. Along with the lecture, there are a number of homework tasks that must be solved in teams. To get credit for ISCL, you must take an oral exam, which requires the points for the homework. Do not forget to contact the lecturer early (beginning of term) about oral exam. Contents of the course: the first part focuses on responsibility driven design, a strategy to divide tasks into (Java) classes in a way that enforces clear encapsulation of tasks, clear dependencies between modules (and programmers/programming teams) and good manners of object-oriented programming in general. The rest of the course has a strong focus on design patterns. Those are in a way template strategies to solve problems, e.g. separating a user interface from the actual treatment of the data (supporting sc. *ilities like exchangeability of code parts or whole implementations, scalability, reliability, understandability, whatever). Eventually the course puts the spotlight on architecture patterns, such as several types of frameworks (the Apache web server is taken as example, however other frameworks such as UIMA work with similar strategies). Participants are expected to use Eclipse. This is not a strict requirement, though. To sum up: this course is labor-intensive but it gives you loads of practice with Java and an entirely new and refreshing view on developing solutions for programming tasks – from a toy pocket calculator over technical means to program with trees up to your own spreadsheet application.

Tested: winter term 2006/2007
Takes place: during winter terms only
Course language: German
Hours per week (per course): 2 (+2 for the tutorial consisting out of loads of homework, required for the Schein)
Credit points: 6 (B.A. Computational Linguistics Major Elective), 10 (M.A., not counted as CL course.)
Web site:

Key qualifications

Rede- und Präsentationskompetenz (Katie Böhme)

This is an online seminar offered by the rhetorics department which provides valuable insights into the field of rhetorics as such as well as methods for preparing and giving good presentations. Presentations being an important part of our studies, this course is certainly worth the non-negligible effort: Every week, a half-hour video must be watched, a written task completed and other participants' exercises reviewed. There are also two practical sessions where one meets at a fixed time in real life and gives a speech prepared beforehand.

Tested: winter term 2006/2007
Course language: German (very good command required!)
Credit points: 4 (B.A. Computational Linguistics Major Elective)
Web site: