FAQs about studying history

FAQs about studying history

1. History study programmes and students

1.1 What study programmes does the history department offer?
For students of history, Konstanz offers courses leading to a bachelor's (B.A.), master's (M.A.) or teaching degree (B.Ed., M.Ed.).

All programmes except the master's can be studied as a major or minor subject. In addition, modern/contemporary history can be chosen as an elective or double elective within the framework of a study programme in Economics and Business Education (= B.A. Economics and M.A. Economics and Business Education).

Due to numerous changes in the examination regulations, students in the same programme may be subject to quite different regulations depending on which regulations apply. This is especially true for the teacher education programme: Some students still complete their studies according to the examination regulations from 2001 ("WPO 2001"), while others study according to the regulations from 2009 ("GymPO 2009"), and still other students (those enrolling in or after the winter semester 2015/16) study according to the B.Ed. examination regulations.

1.2 Students of other subjects - general
History courses can also be attended by students of the following programmes: Classics and the Ancient Near East (KdA), Gender Studies (GS), Global European Studies (until WS 20/21: Studies in European Culture - KGE), Politics, German Literature, Slavic Literatures, Public Administration, Eastern European Studies.

In all these cases, however, the course requirements are set by the Department of History or by the individual lecturers and apply to all course participants. This includes, for example, that participants in an introductory seminar are also required to attend the respective course tutorial and that students of other subjects who wish to attend an advanced seminar in history must first have successfully completed an introductory seminar with a tutorial focusing on the same epoch.

1.3 Students of other subjects: Awarding ECTS credits
If students of other subjects (or visiting students) need a different number of ECTS credits than the usual amount for the course, lecturers can also award a different number of ECTS credits in cases where this justified and corresponding coursework is completed. As a benchmark, one ECTS credit has the equivalent value of 30 hours of work. Deviations from the usual number of ECTS credits should remain the absolute exception.

1.4 My minor subject gives me only 39 ECTS credits, but I need 40. How can I get the missing credit?
In Gender Studies and other minor subjects, it may be that instead of the required 40 ECTS credits, only 39 ECTS credits are in the curriculum. The missing point must come from the area of transferable skills (SQ).

You are free to choose from the available courses and may earn more than 1 ECTS credit. However, if you want to include a language, you must earn 6 ECTS credits.

2. How are my courses assigned?

All courses in history are assigned to one or more epochs and to one or more of the study programmes in history (teacher education, bachelor's programme, ...). In addition, courses can be open (or closed) to students from other study programmes and can be limited to certain groups (e.g. first-year students or students who are soon to graduate).

2.1 How are the courses assigned to the epochs?
All courses are assigned to an epoch or, if applicable, to several epochs based on the information provided by the individual lecturers. However, introductory seminars should only be assigned to one individual epoch.

2.2 How are the epochs defined?
Each examination regulation defines different historical periods from about 1500 onwards.

The following applies to the B.A. and M.A. programmes

Epochal classification:

  • Antiquity
  • Middle Ages
  • 16th - 18th centuries/early modern times
  • 19th - 21st century

For the teacher education programs B.Ed. and M.Ed:

  • Premodern era: Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Modern era: 16th - 18th century and 19th - 20th century

In the WPO 2001 examination regulations, the "modern era" encompasses the entire period from about 1500 onwards and is still partly divided into the period from about 1500 to about 1900 on the one hand and the history of the 20th century on the other.

Courses can also be assigned to more than one epoch. In the case of examination topics, the examiner must always determine exactly one epoch to which a topic belongs.

2.3 How are the courses assigned to modules?
All courses are assigned to the individual modules based on the information provided by the respective lecturers. Unless lecturers indicate otherwise, it is assumed that courses are open to all history students (B.A., M.A., teacher education programmes) in all semesters, but should not be linked in any other study programme.

2.4 How are courses assigned to other study programmes?
The respective departments are responsible for assigning history courses to modules in other subjects (e.g. KdA, Gender Studies, Eastern European Studies).

3. What types of courses are available?

3.1 Lectures, courses and practice tutorials (2 course hours per week; usually 3 ECTS credits)
All students who wish to acquire a record of academic achievement must complete a graded performance assessment; there are generally no "certificates of attendance" in the history department in Konstanz.

As a rule, an exam is required in lectures and a presentation in courses, but each lecturer can also specify other performance assessments for all or individual participants (essay [5-7 pages], taking of course minutes, oral exam, written exam, etc., but no "longer" term papers); the type of performance assessment is explained in the description of the course and during the course itself.

Most lectures, courses and practice tutorials offer 3 ECTS credits, which corresponds to a workload of about 90 hours for classroom time, preparation/reviewing of course material, and studying for an exam or preparing a presentation. Courses with a particularly high workload (approx. 180 hours) have correspondingly more ECTS credits, namely 6. This applies to all introductory lectures. In all cases, this information can be found in the list of prerequisites, and it applies to all students (regardless of their study programme and examination regulations).

Most of these courses are open to students in all semesters.

It is not possible to earn records of academic achievement for seminars by completing lectures, courses or practice tutorials.

Lectures in Konstanz are only offered by professors, junior professors and "Privatdozent" lecturers; courses and practice tutorials can be offered by all lecturers.

3.2 Introductory seminars with tutorial (4 course hours a week; 9 ECTS credits)
Introductory seminars are intended to impart knowledge on a specific topic and at the same time introduce students to the study of the respective epoch, in particular to provide knowledge of specific tools and working techniques für this epoch.

Depending on the study programme, an introductory seminar is, for part of the students, the only course in the corresponding epoch; for a larger part, it is one of two courses that they attend in this epoch.

The credits are usually awarded for an oral presentation plus a term paper (10-20 pages); the tutorial is usually accompanied by an exam, the passing of which is also a prerequisite for the record of academic achievement. Lecturers may, in justified cases, also issue a record of academic achievement for the course. In this case, one performance assessment (usually the paper) is sufficient, and students then receive 3 ECTS credits.

Introductory seminars should generally be offered by lecturers with a doctorate; visiting lecturers generally do not teach in introductory seminars.

Neither introductory seminars nor tutorials should overlap with Mr Fugmann's Latin courses.

3.3 Tutorials
Successful completion of the tutorial is required in order to get credit for an introductory seminar; this also applies to students from other departments, even if they require less than 9 ECTS credits. In agreement with the respective lecturers, students may also attend another tutorial from the same period, e.g. if the scheduled tutorial conflicts with a required course from another subject.

Students who have not passed an introductory seminar, but have attended the corresponding tutorial and passed the corresponding exam, do not have to attend the tutorial again together with their next introductory seminar in the same (!) epoch; the burden of proof lies with the student.

3.4 Compact courses (2 course hours a week; usually 3 ECTS credits)
Courses can also be offered in compact form. The number of classroom hours should be the same as for normal two-hour events (approx. 15 double periods). The requirements for students are otherwise identical to those of a "normal" course, as is the teaching load for the lecturer.

We recommend offering an information event for such compact courses during the lecture period but before the end of the registration period for course-related performance assessments. For organizational reasons, compact courses should not be offered during the regular lecture period.

3.5 Excursions (usually under 1 course hour a week, usually 3 ECTS credits)
Excursions should be offered in connection with preparatory courses that are required for participation in the excursion; this fact should be announced in the course catalogue. In any case, students must complete performance assessments in the context of excursions (e.g. a presentation on site or an essay); this applies to all students in any study programme. The preparation and completion of the excursion should correspond to a workload of about 90 hours. If the workload is higher, more ECTS credits will be awarded.

Excursions should last longer than one day. Day excursions can be part of other courses without requiring a separate record of academic achievement.

The teaching workload regulations stipulate that excursions can be credited to the teaching load as follows: "Excursions are credited to three tenths of the teaching load obligation; a maximum of 10 teaching hours per day is taken as a basis. A nine-day excursion therefore counts as a maximum of 30 working hours and thus 2 SWS of teaching load.

The department can provide cost subsidies to a certain extent. Please contact the director of the departmental administration, Dr Thilo Raufer, to request financial assistance.

3.6 Advanced seminars (2 course hours a week; 9 ECTS credits)
In the B.A. history programme, the prerequisite for attending an advanced seminar is the successful completion of an introductory seminar in the same epoch as the advanced seminar and, in the B.Ed. programme, the successful completion of the subject-specific examination. The latter applies especially to students who do not study history but, for example, Gender Studies.

As a rule, the credits are awarded for an oral presentation plus a term paper (20-30 pages). Lecturers may also issue a record of academic achievement for the course, which only requires completing the term paper, and for which students receive 3 ECTS credits. It is not possible to acquire records of academic achievement for seminars. In Konstanz, advanced seminars are only offered by professors, junior professors and "Privatdozent" lecturers.

3.7 Graduate courses (2 or 3 course hours a week; 9 ECTS credits)
Graduate courses are intended for M.A. students only. In practice, however, such courses are actually advanced seminars also attended by B.A. students in higher semesters; all rules mentioned for advanced seminars thus apply accordingly. Sometimes it is common practice in Konstanz to offer a "third hour" of teaching to master's students every week or to offer additional content just for them. However, the examination regulations do not prescribe this and practice varies somewhat.

3.8 Colloquia (1-2 course hours a week; 3 ECTS credits)
In the examination regulations, colloquia are only required for master's students. Colloquia last one or two hours and are worth 3 ECTS credits. Other advanced students can be admitted, but master's colloquia are mainly intended for master's students and should be based on their contributions.

The term "colloquium" is also used for other courses in which no credits are earned. The examination regulations do not govern such colloquia.

Colloquia are offered in Konstanz only by professors, junior professors and "Privatdozent" lecturers.

3.9 Student advisors
Although the departmental student advisors do not offer lectures, all study programmes require consulting them in certain study phases.

In the B.A. and B.Ed. programmes, all students in the second semester (as part of the orientation test) must see the Student Advisory Service for a first consultation followed by a second appointment before registering for the subject-specific exam.

In the second semester, M.A. history students are required to consult with an examiner for the subject "history" and not with the Student Advisory Service. This person is usually the student's thesis supervisor.

All students generally have a right to consult a student advisor in all matters concerning their studies.

4. Registration for courses

4.1 Introductory seminars: Registration via ZEuS
Registration for introductory seminars takes place before the lecture period starts. The registration deadline for each introductory seminar is listed in ZEuS (usually about a week before lectures start).

Both participants and lecturers will receive an email shortly afterwards notifying them of who will be participating in which introductory seminar. Registration is binding, and you do not need to register again for the respective course-related performance assessment.

Only students who registered for an introductory seminar are guaranteed space in the course. Space in courses is allotted based on the students’ priorities and so that each introductory seminar has 5-20 participants.

It is generally possible to take part in two introductory seminars in any given semester. In this case, you will neet to register for the second introductory seminar via the departmental student advisory service.

More information about the registration process

If you cannot complete your registration using ZEuS, then you will need to email the departmental student advisory service during the registration period at the latest: Studienberatung.Geschichte@uni-konstanz.de

Students who do not want to earn the usual record of academic achievement (student auditors, students taking intermediate exams, students who only need a (smaller) record of academic achievement for the course) can only register for the introductory seminar as long as it does not become too full as a result. The teacher for the course decides in these cases.

4.2 Latin courses
The Latin courses offered by Mr Fugmann have limited space (approx. 90 participants); registration takes place via ZEuS.

4.3 All other courses: Registration via ZEuS
As of winter semester 2020/21 all students (including those from other departments) must register via ZEuS for all courses by the respective deadlines before lectures begin. The deadlines are listed in the course catalogue.

Only in cases where this is not possible can students be registered manually for courses. This is the case, for example, with some exchange students and students from the Thurgau University of Teacher Education (PHTG).

5. Course-related performance assessments

5.1 What are course-related performance assessments and how do I register for them?
For each course type there are common performance assessments (see above), but each lecturer can decide for him/herself which ones apply to individual participants or to all participants. This information should be included in the course catalogue and explained again clearly the first time the course meets.

The following course-related performance assessments are possible: term papers, class presentations, oral exams, written exams, mid-term papers and essays.

In history courses, term papers must be 10-20 pages long for introductory seminars and 20-30 pages long for advanced seminars and graduate courses. Term papers are required only for introductory and advanced seminars and should not be replaced with other exams.

Class presentations usually last about 15 minutes (length can vary); they can be completed as group project at the lecturer’s request. Oral exams last 10-30 minutes per student and, although they are uncommon, group exams are also permitted. Written exams should last 60-240 minutes. The usual length is 90-180 minutes. Multiple-choice exams are uncommon but are permitted. Mid-term papers sometimes take the form of essays (5-7 pages), and the amount of effort required to complete them should be significantly less than for a term paper.

Other forms are also permitted (taking of course minutes, writing reviews, etc.). While giving and evaluating assignments, the lecturer should take care to ensure that all alternative exam formats and the effort required of the students are essentially equal. The examination regulations state that, for all performance assessments except term papers, students should need about 30 hours to prepare for and/or complete them.

For all course-related performance assessments there is a registration period each semester that is listed on the history website. Please take note of this period and complete your binding registration for all exams before the deadline! Without this registration, you cannot earn a record of academic achievement for the respective course. Conversely, all students who have registered must receive a grade for their work (including the possibility of a “fail” grade).

5. 2 What does it mean to lose the right to take examinations?
Losing the right to take examinations is the toughest consequence for attempted cheating during an exam or for inadequate coursework and performance assessments.

In such cases, students are exmatriculated ex officio and are not permitted to continue their studies in an identical or similar programme at any other German university.

It is also possible to lose the right to take examinations by missing certain deadlines or by attempting to cheat during an exam. The Examination Board decides whether students lose this right.

Please contact the departmental student advisors in good time if you have concerns about missing exam deadlines or you encounter other hurdles to completing your studies!

5.3 Late submission, non-participation, missing exam deadlines
In the following cases students can be given a failing grade: by not completing a performance assessment, by not submitting a term paper or thesis on time or by not taking part in an oral or written exam without good justification for doing so.

If you do not register for certain exams on time, you can also receive a failing grade for them. This can be the case under certain conditions for the orientation test and, for teacher education students, for subject-specific exams and the intermediate exam.

If you think you may not be able to keep a submission deadline, please contact either the respective lecturer or the departmental student advisors!

5.4 Attempts to cheat/plagiarize
Plagiarism and other attempts to cheat will result in a failing grade for the respective performance assessment. Other consequences may follow, including losing the right to take examinations. In such cases, lecturers list the respective failing grade as “plagiarism”. Lecturers should contact the departmental advisory service, so the Examination Board can address repeated attempts appropriately.

5.5. Exam retakes / final failure of exams
In general, all failed exams (and course-related performance assessments) in modular study programmes can be retaken only once. The Examination Board decides about exceptions.

Failed course-related performance assessments must be re-attempted in the following semester at the latest. Exam retakes and the like should be offered for students; the examination regulations require there to be at least four weeks between the announcement of the initial exam grades and the exam retake. If there is no retake option, students must complete an equivalent course in the following semester (e.g. introductory seminar on the same epoch).

If the student fails the retake as well, then the exam is graded as “finally not passed” which can have broad negative consequences for the student.

Similarly, if the final examination for a study programme is graded “unsatisfactory”, both for an initial submission as well as for the second submission of, for example, a bachelor’s thesis, then the entire exam is graded “finally not passed” and cannot be repeated again.

6. Examinations

6.1 What type of exams are there?
In addition to the final exams in bachelor’s, master’s and teacher education programmes, there are the following exams:

The orientation test in the bachelor’s and teacher education programme: Students have to successfully complete the introductory lecture as well as an introductory seminar and must be able to document the required language skills as well as having met with the Student Advisory Service. As soon as those requirements have been fulfilled, please contact the Student Advisory Service. The orientation test will be entered as passed in ZEuS without you having to take a separate exam.

In the B.Ed. programme you will take the subject exams in the pre-modern and modern periods in the fourth semester. Each exam will last about 15 minutes and will cover a topic related to your focus area (pre-modern and modern period). At least one of the two topics must not overlap with the topics of the introductory seminars you attended.

Admission requirements for the subject exam are having passed at least three of the four introductory seminars as well as the documentation of the language skills required for the study programme.

As soon as you meet these requirements, you can submit this registration form to the Student Advisory Service. The registration deadline for the subject exam in the winter semester is 15 January, and in the summer semester 1 June.

A date for the exam will be coordinated between student and examiners.

The intermediate exam in teacher education programmes and the Magister programme (phase out programme) is an oral exam after the fourth to sixth semester. In the teacher education programme as per WPO 2009 (phase out programme), final module exams have to be taken. These are oral exams that are similar to the previous intermediate exams in terms of topics and scope.

6.2 Deadline extension for the orientation test
If you do not have the required language skills (English, Latin and a third foreign language) you may be granted additional time to catch up on the missing language skills.

This means that you will be allowed two semesters more to complete your Latin skills and another two semesters if you need to complete the A2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for the third foreign language. Your standard period of study will be extended by two or four semesters respectively. 

If you need such an extension, please contact the Student Advisory Service and present your school certificates or other documentation of language skills.

6.3 Due to the coronavirus pandemic I cannot participate in on-campus exams. How can I take exams instead?
Basically it is possible to take online oral exams. If your examiners agree, please submit the corresponding request. In case of final exams, you will have to submit it to the Central Examination Office. In case of subject exams, to the Student Advisory Service.

6.4 What is the B.A. exam?
The B.A. exam consists of a written bachelor’s thesis (around 30 pages) and an oral exam (thesis defence). There are two dates each semester when students can start their thesis. They will have six weeks to complete it. The date for the oral exam can be agreed upon between the student and the examiners.

All persons with a ‘Habilitation’ (postdoctoral qualification) including junior professors are authorized to conduct exams. As a rule, the two reviewers who assessed the bachelor’s thesis will also be the examiners in the oral exam.

To be admitted to the B.A. thesis, students have to document only a relatively low number of course-related performance assessments. To be admitted to the oral exam, however, all course-related performance assessments have to be completed and graded.

Reviewers should give the B.A. candidates the option of handing in their seminar papers earlier and assess the papers as soon as possible, as otherwise the oral exam cannot take place.

6.5 What is the master’s exam?
The final exam comprises the master’s thesis and the oral exam. The allotted time to complete the master's thesis is four months, the scope is not prescribed.

In the oral exam, which lasts around one hour, four topics will be examined. Two topics will be from the core study area of the student, but the topic of the master’s thesis is excluded.

6.6 Who is authorized to conduct examinations?
Only authorized examiners may conduct and grade performance assessments that are not part of a course. For individual exam types (BA, MA, teacher education etc.) authorization has to be obtained separately, and there are different pre-requisites. The Examination Office is responsible for granting authorization; in case of the state examination, the “Landeslehrerprüfungsamt” (state teacher examination authority). You can find a current overview on our website.

6.7 What is the intermediate exam (teacher education/GymPO 2009)?
The intermediate exam is taken after basic studies and is the pre-requisite for advanced studies. It lasts around 40 minutes. If you study as per the old examination regulations WPO 2001, the two topics must be from two of the three epochs antiquity, the Middle Ages and modern period. As per the new examination regulations (Gym-PO 2009), one topic of the “Modulanschlussprüfungen” (module follow-up exams) must be from the modern period, and one topic from the pre-modern period.

All persons with a ‘habilitation’ (postdoctoral qualification) including junior professors are authorized to conduct exams. Students may also suggest a lecturer without ‘habilitation’ as the second examiner if they have taken an introductory seminar with that lecturer.

Together with the examiners, the student agrees on topics, date and place. The Student Advisory Service is responsible for registration and admission, as well as for checking the topics and combination of examiners. When taking the exam, students must present their written admission.  Like all other grades, the grades are recorded in ZEuS and verified by certified transcripts.

The frequently heard rumour that candidates for the intermediate exam have to choose an introductory seminar topic as their exam topic and/or attend an additional introductory seminar is false. Candidates for the intermediate exam who no longer need to acquire introductory seminar certificates should not be admitted to introductory seminars. Lecturers are allowed to admit such students, but if the number of students is limited, other students will have priority. The new examination regulations PO (2009) explicitly state that the topics of the ‘Modulanschlussprüfungen’ (module follow-up exams) should not overlap with the topics of the completed introductory seminars; otherwise there are no restrictions on the topics.

6.8 What is the difference between the old and new intermediate exam
(altes Lehramt/ GymPO 2009)?

The "new" intermediate examination regulations (GymPO 2009) differ from the old de iure in that the two examiners do not examine the candidate together, but each one examines the candidate individually. This difference is relevant if one of the two parts of the exam is assessed as "fail". According to the old examination regulations, the entire intermediate exam can still be passed if the average of both individual grades is at least 4.0; otherwise the entire exam must be repeated. According to the new examination regulations, however, the respective partial exam is considered failed regardless of the assessment of the other part and must be repeated. In an exam retake only one topic is examined; however, a second person must be present as an observer. Observers must have completed at least a degree equivalent to the state examination (Master, Magister).

The final module exam in the B.Ed. programme consists of, as per GymPO 2009, two separate exams; the rules mentioned above also apply here.

7. M.Ed. examination and state examination

Authorization to conduct exams
All persons with a ‘habilitation’ (postdoctoral qualification) in history including junior professors are authorized to conduct exams. The authorization to conduct exams (for new lecturers, substitutes, etc.) must be applied for once via the department at the “Landeslehrerrprüfungsamt” (state teacher examination authority) before the first exam and will cover all parts of the exam, i.e. supervising papers/theses required for admission, compiling and assessing exams as well as conducting oral exams.

You can find a current overview on our website.

7.2 Preparation
Students must register for the exams about half a year in advance and obtain the signatures of the examiners; while doing so, they will determine the topics of the oral exam and discuss whether attendance of a preparatory exam colloquium is mandatory.

For the M.Ed., the following registration deadlines apply at the Central Examination Office:

For the master’s thesis:
Winter semester:      01 - 15 February (start 1 April)
Summer semester:  01 - 15 July (start 1 October).

For the oral exams:
Spring dates (April/May):  1 – 15 July of the previous year
Exam date in autumn (October/ November): 1 - 15 February of the same year

The registration for state examinations is sent to the “Landeslehrerrprüfungsamt” (state teacher examination authority), which organizes the exams; deadlines are 30 April and 31 October.

The oral exams (usually in April/May or October/November) cover four agreed topics, one from each of the four epochs antiquity, the Middle Ages, early modern times and modern history.

8. Grades, grade registration, deadlines

8.1 Grade overview
The following grades can be awarded in all courses and for all performance assessments in the modularized study programmes: Passed achievements will be graded with figures from 1.0 to 4.0 with intermediate grades 1.3, 1.7, ..., 3.7. Achievements not passed will be assessed as 5.0 (fail). Grade overview:

very good 1,0
very good: 1.3    

good 1.7      
good: 2.0
good: 2.3

satisfactory 2.7
satisfactory: 3.0
satisfactory: 3.3 

sufficient: 3.7
sufficient: 4.0    

fail 5.0

Deviating from this grading scale, only whole and half grades (1.0, 1.5 ... 4.0; 5.0/fail) will be awarded for the exams in the phase-out study programmes, in particular for intermediate exams and in the state examination (WPO 2001). In the certificates, only whole grades will be included.

In History, you will usually not acquire ungraded certificates. A “pass” without a grade will, in case it is relevant for the final grade, be counted as “sufficient” (4.0).

8.2 Submitting term papers and receiving grades
The examination regulations determine that students have to submit their term papers by the end of the semester and that the students have a right to know their grades before the next registration period starts (i.e. in the middle of the following semester at the latest) (see § 26 (2) Bachelor-PO or §18 (2) Lehramts-PO).

In general, all students should be treated equally, which does not exclude the possibility of extending deadlines for individual students. Each lecturer decides on submission deadlines as well as on extensions in individual cases. Recognized reasons are in particular preparing for the exam in Latin and internships; in the case of longer illnesses or similar circumstances for which the student is not responsible, the students have the right to submit their work later or to withdraw from the registration. If a student does not submit a paper by the agreed date without a valid reason, this paper will be assesses as "fail".

If necessary, individual grades can be entered in ZEuS both before and after the internal deadlines. Subsequently correcting the grades is possible. In particular, the grade "fail" can be replaced by a better grade if the lecturer after all accepts a paper that was submitted too late, or conversely, a passed grade can be revoked if it turns out that it was achieved because of deception.

8.3 Returning/reworking term papers
If a term paper does not meet the criteria of scientific papers, it must be graded "fail"; however, students have the right to a second attempt which has to be completed within the usually allotted time (four to six weeks).

Legal Affairs states that a new topic must be issued in case of a second attempt. If a second attempt in the same seminar is not possible, the student must attend an equivalent course in the next semester and write the term paper there; partial performances (e.g. the tutorial for an introductory seminar) can, however, be transferred (see above).