You are here: Home Current Students Course Types

Course Types


The following is a detailed overview of the different types of courses offered by the English Department.

  • As a rule, the language of instruction is English.
  • Active and constructive participation is always encouraged, with certain course types being especially conducive to class discussions.
  • In order to earn course credit (in the form of ECTS credits), students must complete certain requirements, which vary depending on the course type, the required amount of ECTS credits and the individual instructor. Examples of required coursework include: individual or group presentations, essays, term papers, reading responses, written exams, take-home exams, or oral exams. Students may also be evaluated on regular attendance, active participation, preparation of readings and note-taking. Check HISinOne to find out the coursework requirements for an individual class.


Lecture (Vorlesung)

The lecture is the most anonymous type of course, with the greatest distance between students (ca. 35200) and instructor. As the name indicates, this is a course in which the instructor communicates material via recitation. The majority of communication in the course is one-directional: instructor to students. Most lectures require students to complete a final exam; some also include a mid-term exam or essay as well as small projects.

Alongside continually changing lecture offerings, often dependent on current affairs, the department also regularly offers required (introductory) lectures, which are continually updated:

Literary and Cultural Studies

  • Introduction to Literary Studies
  • Introduction to Cultural Studies
  • Survey of English Literature
  • Survey of British and Postcolonial Literature
  • Survey of North American Literature


  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • English Linguistics: Variation and Change
  • English Linguistics: Structures

Alongside the classic lecture, taught by a single instructor, the university also offers lecture series (Ringvorlesungen) organised and taught by multiple (often interdisciplinary) instructors. These series offer weekly varying lecturers (from the University of Freiburg or other institutions) from mostly different disciplines and areas of study.

Tutorial (Begleitübung)

Some required lectures are offered in concert with accompanying tutorials. In these tutorials, tutors from the department will guide students in understanding, reviewing, and enlarging upon the respective lecture material. Tutors are either more advanced students or recent graduates of English literary studies, cultural studies, or linguistics. Thanks to the relatively small course size, tutorials offer the perfect opportunity to discuss unanswered questions or more complex issues.

Regular tutorials include:

Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft

  • Introduction to Literary Studies (required)
  • Introduction to Cultural Studies (voluntary)
  • Survey of English Literature (voluntary)
  • Survey of British and Postcolonial Literature (voluntary)


  • Doing Linguistics (required)


Seminars are fundamentally different from lectures – both due to the smaller student-instructor ratio (between 5 and 25:1), as well as due to the expected active participation of the students, allowing for (and indeed requiring) two-directional communication in the course.

Students contribute to the course by way of verbal input, active participation in discussions and group work, as well as presentations or session moderation and are thereby instrumental in the constitution of the seminar. Furthermore, students may be required to submit written work, whether in the form of an essay, term paper, final exam, or session notes.

The difference between a Proseminar and a Haupt-/Masterseminar is one of degree: in the latter, the expectations – and therefore the ECTS points – are higher. For example, the length of term papers is greater (generally between 15 and 25 pages), presentations are expected to be more extensive, and final exams (written or oral) are more complex.

In a Blockseminar, course meetings are not held weekly, but in compressed form. The block may take many forms: additional sessions supplementing shorter weekly meetings, multiple days within one week, multiple weekends, or after the end of the semester. Some seminars include preliminary discussions before the semester begins.

Practical (Übung)

In a practical course (Übung), the student-instructor ratio is comparable to that of a seminar (max. 20:1). As in a seminar, students are instrumental in the course's composition, as a practical is primarily concerned with deepening study, fostering students' abilities, and applying learned material. Practicals are offered primarily in linguistic competence (B.A., 2-HF-B & M.Ed.), and include:

  • Foundation Course: Grammar and Writing
  • Foundation Course: Speaking English
  • Advanced Language Practice I & II
  • Academic Writing Practice
  • Translation
  • Oral Competence for Master Students
  • Written Competence for Master Students

All of our practical courses in linguistic and written competence are instructed by native speakers. The instructors (Sprachlektor*innen) include native speakers of British, American, South African, and Canadian English. The goal of these practicals is to train students' English language competence, both in oral as well as written communication.

Course requirements depend on the course and instructor, and may include various oral and/or written assignments. These range from (mini or group) presentations to peer editing and peer review, essays, text preparation, and (oral) exams.


The Examenskolloquium (GymPO) and the Kolloquium zu Themen der Literatur- und Sprachwissenschaft des Englischen (Colloquium on English Literary Studies and Linguistics) (M.Ed.) should aid in preparing for the state board exam or the module's final exam, respectively.

Generally, GymPO students attend a colloquium with their respective examiner. Nevertheless, it's also possible to attend a colloquium with other instructors, e.g. if the examiner is on research sabbatical and isn't teaching any courses. In linguistics, the equivalent to the literary studies Examenskolloquium is the practical "Essentials of English Linguistics," which is offered each semester by a different examiner in linguistics, so it's typical for students to take the course with an examiner other than their own.

The Kolloquium zu Themen der Literatur- und Sprachwissenschaft (Colloquium on Literary Studies and Linguistics) for M.Ed. students is divided into two equal units held by two examiners. Together with the practical course "Fachwissenschaft und Fachdidaktik des Englischen," the colloquium serves as immediate preparation for the module's final exam (Modulabschlussprüfung). 

Furthermore, introductory colloquia are offered in literary and cultural theory for master's students of literary or cultural studies, respectively. In contrast to seminars, these colloquia are designed for a particular target audience and carry very challenging requirements. In addition, colloquia take a deeply theory-centric approach and serve to explore complex theoretical concepts which form the basis for further research and study.

Graduate Seminar (Oberseminar)

Graduate seminars are targeted to advanced students as well as graduates, doctoral candidates, and often habilitating professors. Participation in a graduate seminar is dependent on a personal invitation from the organizing professor or a preceding application (written or in person).