"The main thing - passed": what and how to learn future IT people in Berlin
For the past two years I have been studying the bachelor's degree program in Informatics at the Berlin Technical University (TU Berlin). Today I want to tell you how my studies are organized.
The cover of last year's Studienführer - a detailed brochure on how everything is arranged
Until this year (winter semester 2018-2019), when entering the computer science there was no competition. However, in connection with the fact that each year freshmen recruited slightly more than 800 people (of which less than a hundred get to bachelor's work, but this is a completely different story), and the number of university lectures is limited, the competition is still introduced, and now we are with interest we expect what average scores will be.
Foreigners enter German universities through the organization of uni-assist, acting as an intermediary between universities and applicants. After fulfilling the necessary prerequisites (for example, the level of C1 language), a new student has only to pay a semester fee of 306 euros, which includes unlimited travel for all types of Berlin transport for a semester, library services, reduced prices in the dining room and other fees, and get your student . It is supposed to be worn with pride (and almost always, as it is simultaneously a travel card).
German Berlin education
The training takes place in German, with the exception of some modules. In English, there are sometimes presentations by teachers, other additional materials, lectures themselves, tutorials can be provided (see below), it is possible to write an exam on it, or at least get a translation of tasks for additional understanding. In general, it is strongly recommended that the German still know and practice tirelessly. In my experience, for training in technical specialties there is quite a shaky on the arrival of knowledge.
Training time is measured in terms of semesters (and not in courses) and is not fixed at all. The average number of semesters for which students of my specialty finish their studies - 1? that is five years. For comparison: the sample curriculum proposed on the university's website (see below) asserts that this is really done for 6 semesters (no). There are two semesters in the academic year: winter, which starts in October and ends around March, and summer, beginning in April and ending in August. The concept of vacations at the university is blurry - strictly speaking, they simply do not exist. There is a "time in which lessons are not conducted." At this time, students take exams.
The actual progress in mastering the curriculum is measured in LP - L eistungs p unkte, scores, they are also called loans. 1 LP corresponds to approximately 30 academic hours. Now I'm finishing the fourth semester and have already scored 75 LP (and after the examinations in October there will be 96). To successfully complete the bachelor's degree, you need to recruit 180 LP (and more) together with a bachelor's degree. The Bachelor's course costs 12 LP. It can begin to write when in total it is typed from 120 LP.
Items are called modules. The standard module costs 6 LP. This module usually includes one lecture per week and one practical lesson per week. Small (only lectures and exam at the end) the module costs 3 LP, average (for example, with two lectures a week) - 9 LP. There are also more terrible options.
With rare exceptions (for example, if only a limited number of students can register for a module), attendance is not mandatory and not controlled in any way. Students are obliged to come only for exams, which they have signed up for, otherwise they will go to a retake or frost (about this below). As a rule, the first two weeks all go for everything, and at the beginning of the lecture you have to sit on the windowsills and stairs, but then the seats in the classrooms are gradually released.
Lectures usually lead the professor, accompanied by a prepared presentation. The examinations are also made by the professor and his research staff. Sometimes, the material is served so that to use something to help in preparing for the exam in addition to these presentations is pointless.
Lectures are usually accompanied by weekly practical classes (tutoriums), which are usually conducted by students who have already passed this module (tutors). If you are lucky with a tutor, then this is the most useful element of training, worth visiting, if you want to pass the exam and /or understand something. On tutoriums solve problems, which, it happens, are relatively similar to those that will meet in the homework.
At the end of the second semester, I myself tried to become a tutor on theoretical computer science, but perenervnichala during a trial lesson. Yes, and yellow-rookie freshmen are reluctant to take lessons, if it's quite honest.
To help foreign students (and for all comers) there is also a program of Fachmentorium: they are weekly classes, usually within the modules of the first two semesters, on which the material is further processed. They are also led by students of the senior semesters.
Also every week, the tutors have special watches, when they sit at the university and are ready to discuss with students all that bothers them. Attendance of these watches almost always tends to zero.
Examinations (Klausur) are usually written and sometimes oral, but always cover all the material passed during the semester. There is not something like tickets, but even a list of topics. At the same time, the underdeveloped and the unworked will always come out sideways. As a rule, two written attempts and one oral one are given for the exam, after the failure of which, as one of my teachers said, "You will understand your place in life", because to study in this specialty (as well as for others, the program of which has a similar module ) in Germany will be impossible. Usually the exam can be passed (or retaken) at the end of the current semester, at the beginning of the next one after the holidays or when the module is offered again (for example, in a year). Maximum for (re) passing the exam is given a year after the first attempt.
Within each module, you can score up to 100 points (depending on the specific dilution, from 86 or 95 points it will be "excellent", less than 50 points - the module fails, exactly 50 - the module is submitted for a minimum assessment). The modules themselves differ in the types of examinations: simply written, so-called "portfolio" and just oral. The first and the last mean that the points for the module are equated to points for the exam, which, accordingly, will cost a maximum of 100. At the same time, during the semester, it sometimes happens that you have to take compulsory homework assignments, the results of which become an admission to the exam. "Portfolio" means that the results of homework and /or intermediate examinations during the semester (this also happens) are counted in the final one hundred. The final exam in this case usually costs a maximum of 50 points.
What is characteristic, for the LP scores, the score for the module does not matter. The student will gain their LPs, approaching the coveted diploma, having received at least 5? at least 100. Thanks to this, as well as the high complexity of the examinations at the faculty, the popular expression "Hauptsache bestanden", that is, "The main thing - has passed" is popular. However, the scores for the module are still converted into an assessment on a five-point scale (1.0 - "excellent", 4.0 - passed to a minimum score), from which the average score is calculated, which can play a role in the admission to the first job or to a magistracy. Do not want to spoil anybody.
Modules and their filling
Example of the curriculum from the university's website is unrealistic 180 LP in just 6 semesters (my translation)
First of all, the modules are divided into mandatory,
You can take modules, when and how many, if they are taught in this semester. Very rarely, sometimes, for admission to the exam, you have to pass something else (for example, "Mathematical Analysis II" can not be taken if "Mathematical Analysis I" is not submitted), but no one bans visiting couples.
The first semesters are traditionally assigned to mandatory modules. With the increasing complexity of the third-fourth semester, less than half of those enrolled remain.
In the very first semester, most students, of course, focus on programming. Within the "Introduction to Programming" module, various simple algorithms (for example, sorting), in fact, the language itself and other problems, are studied using the example of C language. Homework - at the Faculty of Informatics is the cornerstone of training - are surrendered weekly to a special online platform for testing through automated tests. Module "Computer Structure" from the group of technical informatics in parallel introduces the language of the assembler, so that freshmen do not relax.
By the way, about homework: they are almost always group. It is very important in the first weeks to make friends or at least acquaintances, on whom you can rely and with whom it will be pleasant to work (or not, too, experience).
In the next semester, Java is exploring with the algorithms and data structures and not only databases in the company with SQL, Haskell, in the context of getting acquainted with the new programming paradigms and Python on the computational "Computational methods".
In the higher semesters it is prescribed to take at least one module from the section "Practical work on programming". These modules without evaluation consist of group work on a project on a given topic and its presentation at the end of the semester. As far as I know, the programming language is chosen at will. From this group I personally plan to take the module "Intelligent Software Systems".
Sometimes teachers of practical modules are merciful and include in the exams only the theoretical part of the material. Nevertheless, often we have to "program" on a piece of paper.
Mandatory modules in technical computer science, as a rule, include programming in C and a large amount of information on how the computers, processes, memory, distributed systems and other relatively tangible things are arranged.
Theoretical informatics in TU Berlin, in comparison with the programs of other German universities, receives a lot of attention. Unfortunately, with the exception of "Formal languages and automata" in the first semester, their teachers, very original structuring and submitting material, conduct their studies. For example, as we were told with aplomb, "Logic" is not taught anywhere like we do. This led to the fact that relatively trivial things and tasks were almost impossible to compare with the textbooks and the issuance of Google.
Modules in mathematics are considered to be the most complex. They regularly fail more than half of those who pass, although they do not represent anything special. Unless, students studying computer science, for some reason are obliged to take matan and linear algebra on the same day with a small break between the two parts. And, failing one, fail everything, although these are different modules with different teachers, which can even be taken at different semesters.
In general, almost on all subjects, the material is structured so that every week we study and work out a new topic. Quantitatively, this is very, very much, it is not necessary to count on empty bolthology on pairs. It is necessary to get involved in the educational process from the first week, unclear moments to find out on the spot - otherwise the problems grow like a snowball.
A brief repetition of the new semester (subject) passed at the beginning is practically non-existent: for example, the module "Computability and complexity" from the group of modules in theoretical computer science begins exactly from the moment when the "Formal languages and automata" ends, namely on the Turing machine.
Another example: the foundations of the C language are studied only within the framework of the "Introduction to Programming" course. If a person comes without initial knowledge on, for example, "Programming operating systems", where in the first homework, among other things, it is necessary to implement priority queue (not forgetting the correct allocation of memory), he will be advised to look at the tutorials on the Internet and get to work (real happening).
Complexity of tasks for programming (and not only) as a whole always grows in a geometric progression. If my acquaintances with the specialty of Engineering management by the end of the module "Introduction to Java" find it difficult to define the constructor of the class (yes, this runs through the end of the semester), then for us the local hell begins from the second week. And that's fine: learning by doing in all its glory.
It may be interesting