Computational Linguistics & Phonetics Computational Linguistics & Phonetics Fachrichtung 4.7 Universität des Saarlandes

Study program – Frequently asked questions

This compilation of Frequently Asked Questions describes the most important sources of information, concepts and rules and regulations pertaining to this program. The details can be found in the Rules and Regulations (“Studien- und Prüfungsordnung”), which is also available in English translation.


The most important sources of information about the program

The program requirements

The program consists of a number of courses in the various areas plus the Master's thesis. Each course comes with a certain number of credit points (CP) that determines the weight of the course.

The M.Sc. program consists of altogether 120 CP where

  • 75 CP come from courses of various categories in various areas, at least 65 of which must be graded; thus you can determine up to 10 CP of course work to be ungraded—within certain limitations.
  • 12 CP come from the Master Seminar; ungraded
  • 30 CP come from the Master's Thesis; graded
  • 3 CP come from presenting the results of the Master's thesis in a colloquium talk, graded.

The program offers 4 specializations:

  • Computational Linguistics
  • Language Technology
  • Computational Psycholinguistics
  • Phonetics and Speech Technology

There's also a general version called “No specialization.” The details are regulated in the Rules & Regulations (“Studien- und Prüfungsordnung”). More readable versions can be found here. There you will find a “List of Requirements” for each spezialization (including “No specialization”), followed by a sample schedule of the specialization in question suggesting an efficient organization of your studies. You need not commit yourself to a specialization until it's time for your Master's diploma. Of course, if you are set on a certain specialization, some planning ahead regarding the choice of courses may be required.

Even though the detailed requirements should be looked up in the Study Programs just mentioned, we'd like to emphasize a few important points:

  • everyone—no matter what specialization—must complete four core courses, including the course “Foundations of Language Science and Technology”

    For LCT students studying in the second program year at Saarland University, you may request that courses completed at the partner university of the first year be recognized locally as equivalent to a core course. This request must be approved by the study coordinator in advance, i.e., at the beginning of the second program year.

  • everyone has to complete at least one seminar with a seminar presentation and paper (7 CP);
  • everyone has to take one oral exam of 15-30 minutes duration, preferably in a seminar. There are no extra credit for this oral exam, but its outcome should be reflected in the overall grade of the course in which the oral exam is taken;
  • everyone has to take at least 8 CP and at most 15 CP of master level courses from computer science and/or cognitive psychology.

Course requirements and course records

In each course you take you must do something for its successful completion. These requirements depend on the category of the course. Typically, in a lecture you will have to take a written exam, whereas in a seminar you will usually give a seminar talk and/or write a term paper. The course requirements of each course are stated in its course description. The results of your exams etc.—passing from 1.0 (“excellent”) to 4.0 (“adequate”), with increments of ± 0.3 in between—will be recorded in an electronic database (HISPOS/LSF).

Standard duration of studies for the M.Sc. program

The standard duration of studies for the M.Sc. program is 4 semesters. Within this period the program can—and should—be completed; see Sample Schedules.

Standard time slot for a course

This number indicates the semester at which a course should have been completed. The standard time slot for the “Foundations of Language Science and Technology” course, for instance, is the 1st semester, i.e. this course should be taken in the first semester. With seminars the standard time slot is the 3rd semester, meaning that seminars should be taken within the first 3 semesters of the program. A course requirement successfully completed within this period may be retaken in order to improve ones grade. The better result counts. The standard time slot for a course is stated in its course description under “Stellung im Studienplan” in the departmental course bulletin.

Registration for course requirements

You must register for the course requirements of your courses in the HISPOS/LSF registration data bank. The registration deadline should be announced by the instructor in the course description of the online course bulletin as well as in class. If you fail to register in time you will not be allowed to take part in the course requirements, e.g. the written exam. On the other hand, if you are registered for the course requirements, you must take part. A no show means you failed the requirements. Before the deadline you may register and unregister (withdraw) any number of times. Recommend an early registration.

Retaking course requirements (exams)

You may take part in the course reqirements 3 times as a maximum, e.g the regular exam and 2 repetitions in case you failed earlier. At the latest after the third attempt you must have passed the course with at least the grade 4. Exams that have been passed can be retaken once, but only if passed within the standard time slot for that course. For every repetition of an exam you will have to register separately. You can only take part in a repetition of an exam if you were registered for the original exam (even if you didn't show up). Repetitions of exams may be scheduled within the same semester of the original exam (or shortly thereafter), or you may have to wait the course is offered again. It is completely up to the instructor(s) of the course how to handle such repetitions. Be sure to find out about this at the beginning of the course.

Progress evaluation

The Rules & Regulations for the demand that your progress of studies be evaluated at specified intervals. This means you must have completed a certain number of CPs after a certain semester. Failing that you will receive a written warning that reaching the goal of your studies is jeopardized. The minimum number of points for full time students are:

  • after 1 semester at least 9 ECTS
  • after 2 semesters at least 30 ECTS
  • after 4 semesters at least 60 ECTS

If you fail to meet these minimum requirements 2 times in a row cannot continue with the program. The same happens if you haven' completed at least 90 CP after 6 semesters. The details are in the Rules & Regulations, § 11.

The Master Seminar

This is an individual study course, scheduled for the 3rd semester that you do with your advisor(s) with the purpose of preparing Master's thesis. I.e. by the time you start this seminar, you should have thought about a possible topic and the advisors/evaluators of your Master's thesis. The advisors/evaluators—usually two—are members of the department faculty or a related institution, one of whom must be a professor of the department. As with any other seminar you must register for the Master Seminar.

The organization of the Master seminar is up to your advisors/evaluators. The seminar carries 12 CP and is ungraded. It must result in a “thesis prospectus,” i.e. an outline of Master's thesis, preferably including a division into chapters and a bibliography. The length of this paper should be 6–10 pages. As any other seminar paper you have 12 weeks to write it, starting the end of the semester in which you do the seminar. The finished product should be handed in to your advisors, who will read it and report to the examination office whether you “passed.”

The Master's Thesis

This is usually the last requirement in the Master's program. The topic is assigned by a member of the department faculty or a related institution. The thesis is evaluated by 2 advisors/evaluators (“Gutachter”) one of whom is the person assigning the topic. One of the evaluators must be a professor of the department. After registering the thesis with the examination office, indicating the topic and the two evaluators, you have 6 months to write the thesis, with a possible extension of 3 months. The thesis is worth 30 CP and must, upon its completion, be presented in a colloquium (3 CP, graded). After handing in the completed thesis to the examination office (4 copies), the evaluators have 2 months to review and grade it. Details are in § 22 of the Rules & Regulations.

Colloquium on Master's Thesis

You must present the main of your thesis research in colloquium talk to your advisors/evaluators. (You may invite other interested people.) The talk should be about 30 minutes with time for discussion. It is graded and carries 3 CP.

The colloquium talk must be given after completion of the thesis. It is your responsibility to organize it (date, time and room) in consultation with your advisors.  You may also invite other people to attend this talk.

Immatriculation until completion of Master's Thesis

You must be immatriculated in M.Sc. program until you have handed in your thesis, even if you do not live here any longer. The semesters run from October 1 to March 31 (Winter) and April 1 to September 30 (Summer).