Studying Computer Science in Germany
Computer scientists focus on processing, transmitting and storing data.
An article by Meike Fries in collaboration with Oliver Burgard
That is what it’s about
Computers are the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the words Computer Science. But it is actually the basic science of systematically processing information and involves all devices that can be programmed. Cars and airplanes are also equipped with processors and software. Computer Science is needed to control industrial systems and, more recently, also to operate "smart" domestic appliances. The first semesters focus mainly on the principles of software development, formal systems in Computer Science such as logic and language as well as mathematics. Students learn the components that make up a computer, how to connect computers to networks and how data bases are programmed. They deal with operating systems, software and programming languages. It is essential for students to understand the basic concepts behind programming and how computing processes interact to ensure that they can independently learn other programming languages or deal with new operating systems later on. Computer Science students often work in groups and learn how to present results. "Teamwork gives students a taste of what their professional lives will be like because the times when computer scientists tinkered around alone on their devices are long past," says Ulrich Bühler, professor at the Hochschule Fulda in Germany and chair of the department conference for Computer Science. Students choose a specialisation in later semesters of the Bachelor's degree course. They can choose from a number of subjects including data security, Internet engineering or network technology depending on the degree course. Some of the degree courses in Germany are specialised from the very outset, for example Bioinformatics or Media Informatics. The Business Informatics degree course is especially common.
suitability, obstacles, misconceptions
Many students think they need programming skills to begin the degree course and succeed in their studies. But this isn't true! "You don't need to be familiar with Java, Linux and web design before starting the degree programme, nor will having this knowledge be enough to complete the degree course successfully," says Günter Schäfer, professor at the Technische Universität Ilmenau in Germany and chair of the faculty conference for Computer Science. It is much more important to have a high level of stamina and be able to think in abstract terms. "You shouldn't let yourself be discouraged by setbacks," says Schäfer. "The degree course is manageable with enough hard work." But computer scientists also need the ability to communicate and understand the user's perspective because later on in their jobs they often work together with people who don't understand technology very well. At the majority of higher education institutions in Germany, there are no admissions restrictions for a Computer Science degree course and students can enrol directly. Where there are course entrance restrictions, grades often need to be in the two or three range.