How are the study programmes structured?

Computational Linguistics (ISCL)

BA

The BA study programme usually takes 6 or more semesters (3 years or more), and is roughly structured as follows:

  1. year: Introductory courses on programming, linguistics, and computational linguistics. Your schedule is almost entirely fixed.
  2. year: Courses that build on the foundations you’ve acquired. You have a little more agency in the course selection.
  3. year: Now it’s mostly about applying what you’ve learned and picking classes that focus on more narrow topics you’re interested in – the last year of the BA can be quite similar to the MA studies. This is also when many students do their software internships. At the end, you write your BA thesis.

Check out the programme description on the SfS website for up-to-date information on:

  • the module handbook (read this!)
  • the exam regulations
  • contacting the BA advisor (don’t be afraid to send them an email or ask them for a meeting!)

MA

The MA study programme builds on the BA, especially on the obligatory classes from the first two years. This programme offers you a lot of freedom when it comes to picking courses (and often topics within courses), which means that you can focus on subfields of computational linguistics that you’re especially interested in. The course catalogue changes every semester and is somewhat unpredictable, so if you’re interested in a class currently offered, take it!

Half of the courses you take need to be advanced ISCL courses (“core area”, and the other half can also be from adjacent fields like general linguistics, computer science, machine learning or cognitive science (“supplementary area”). If you want to take a class for the supplementary area and don’t have explicit confirmation that it will be recognized for the ISCL MA, make sure to ask the MA advisor ASAP.

Check out the programme description on the SfS website for up-to-date information on:

  • the module handbook (read this!)
  • the exam regulations
  • contacting the MA advisor (don’t be afraid to send them an email or ask them for a meeting!)

MA without a background in computational linguistics

If you are admitted to the MA programme but don’t have a background in computational linguistics, you will likely have to take a few additional classes. If you are a general linguist, this usually means you have to catch up on programming during your first winter semester and the following summer semester and on basic computational linguistics also during your first winter semester by taking specific classes from the BA.

Although you might not necessarily be able to receive credit points for Statistical Language Processing and Data Structures & Algorithms III, investing the time needed to also take these courses might prove very useful to you. A lot of MA-level ISCL courses build on concepts and/or programming knowledge taught in these classes!

Many ISCL MA students with a general linguistics background begin their MA studies by catching up on the computational side while taking courses for the supplementary area, and then focus on the core ISCL courses later. This can be easier if you plan to complete your MA studies in 5-6 semesters instead of the standard 4 semesters.


General Linguistics / Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (AS)

If you study General Linguistics and can write up some information about the structure of the study programme, please contact us!


Last updated: 31 Jan 2020