FAQ - Degree Programs of Computer Science at the University Paderborn

Frequently asked questions regarding the computer science program of Paderborn University

Information about academic rules and the module handbook

Where can I find all regulations of my studies?


Computer Science program in general

Where can I get advice on my study program, specifically for computer science or computer engineering?

For any questions regarding your studies, feel free to contact:

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[Translate to English:] Wo erhalte ich eine fachliche Studienberatung?

Haben Sie Fragen zu Ihrem Studium dann

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I’m suffering from exam anxiety or exam nerves, I cannot start writing an assignment, I feel I’m unable to cope with my study program. Where can I get help

We would recommend you talk to the your mentor, first of all. Also, the central office for study advice (Zentrale Studienberatung) is a good contact point, as is the head of the examination board in charge of your study program (computer science of computer engineering, typically). Experience shows that in many cases, simply talking about a problem is the first step to overcome it and the next steps then follow easily. 

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[Translate to English:] Was muss ich tun, wenn ich eine Prüfung aus gesundheitlichen Gründen nicht einhalten kann?

[Translate to English:]

Kann eine Fachprüfung aus gesundheitlichen Gründen nicht angetreten werden, ist die Vorlage einer ärztlichen Bescheinigung und eines formlosen Rücktrittsantrages bis spätestens 5 Werktage (Samstag ist ein Werktag!) nach der Prüfung erforderlich. Das Attest muss die Prüfungsunfähigkeit bestätigen und spätestens vom Tag der Prüfung datieren.

Ein Formular für die Krankmeldung finden Sie unter den FAQ’s des Zentralen Prüfungssekretariats Informatik.

Falls man selbst zu krank ist, um das Attest rechtzeitig abzugeben, sollte man jemanden bitten, dies für einen zu tun - wenn auch das nicht geht, sollte man unbedingt telefonisch im Prüfungssekretariat Bescheid sagen. In jedem Fall ist es besser, sich zu melden, egal auf welchem Wege, als einfach nichts oder viel zu spät von sich hören zu lassen.

Zurück zu Studium Informatik allgemein

[Translate to English:] Wie beantrage ich einen Nachteilsausgleich?

Bitte reichen Sie einen formlosen Antrag mit ärztlichem Attest an das Zentrale Prüfungssekretariat Informatik ein.

Eine Beratung zum Studium mit Beeinträchtigung finden Sie auf folgender Webseite: https://zsb.uni-paderborn.de/studium-mit-beeintraechtigung/

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[Translate to English:] Ich habe Zweifel zu meinem Studium oder möchte mein Studium beenden. Wo bekomme ich Hilfe zur Entscheidungsfindung?

[Translate to English:]

Manchmal kommen Zweifel zum Studium auf. Sie können sich anonym beraten lassen. Informationen finden Sie auf folgender Webseite:

Darüber hinaus kann auch die allgemeine Studienberatung oder die psychosoziale Beratung hilfreich sein.

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[Translate to English:] Kann ich Veranstaltungen im Masterstudiengang vorziehen?

[Translate to English:]

Sie können bis zu 30 Leistungspunkte innerhalb von einem Semester vorziehen, wenn Sie mindestens 152 Leistungspunkte im Bachelorstudium erworben und die Bachelorarbeit angemeldet haben. Dies ist nur ein Semester lang möglich. Nähere Informationen finden Sie in der aktuellen Prüfungsordnung §11 Abs. 2.

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How do I apply for a semester abroad?

The Institute for Computer Science supports studies abroad in cooperation with the International Office of Universität Paderborn.

You should start your plans at least one year in advance of your intended stay abroad. For example, if you want to spend your fifth semester abroad, you apply for the offered slots abroad at the latest at the start of your third semester; usually, the International Office is your point of contact for such applications. You are also strongly advised to contact the Exchange Program coordinator.

You can find further information about our Study Abroad program on our webpage and in the International Office. Moreover, each year in June, there is an informational event “One semester abroad” (you can find slides from last year here - only in german).  

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What’s the difference between a Proeseminar, a Seminar, and an Oberseminar?

Proseminars and Seminars are very similar. A Proseminar ist part of the Bachelor program (specifically, the second part of the Bachelor program) whereas a Seminar belongs to the Master program. Contentwise, both Proeseminars and Seminars entail the study of existing literature, the preparation of text summarizing, analysing and comparing that literature, and presenting your findings in a talk. Sometimes, the relevant literature is already assigned in a Proseminar; in a Seminar it is usually the case that literature search, discovering relevant publications is a core part of the Seminar as well.

An Oberseminar, on the other hand, is a not a regular teaching activity. It provides the formal context (well, we are in Germany, after all) where students (Bachelor, Master, as well as PhD students) can present their incipient, ongoing, or final work – for example, the plans for or results of a Master thesis. Usually, each research group has its own Oberseminar (sometimes jointly with another group). Sometimes, an Oberseminar may also provide the context for talks by external visistors. Hence, there is no way to “enrol” into an Oberseminar in any formal sense; you attend it because you are interested in the work of a research or because you are presenting your work there.

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How and where can I obtain my examination results, in particular, a Transcript of Record?

You can always have a look at your examination results in PAUL; it lists all the grades for all the lectures, seminars, etc. you have attended. Once you have completed your program, the final certificate will be prepared by the Central Exams Office (Zentrales Prüfungssekretariat); you can pick it up there.

If you need, in addition, a Transcript of Record in English, please ask the head of the examination board or, preferably, the assistant of the board by email.

Please enclose your certificate; they will send you a suitable transcript.

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I failed an exam for a mandatory course. How do I repeat that repeat?

In general, any mandatory exam can be repeated two times (or, equivalently, taken three times). It is possible to take the second repetition (the third attempt) as an oral exam; this is your choice and we recommend you do so if you think you have difficulties with written exams. Such an oral exam is intended to be easier but, on the other hand, the best grade you can obtain here is pass/sufficient (“ausreichend”, 4.0). In case you would like to take such an oral exam, you should contact your examiner directly.
But here is the hard truth: In case your fail even the second repetition/the third attempt, you can no longer participate in the computer science program and will not be able to obtain a degree. Hence, we strongly recommend that after you have failed your first repetition/second attempt, your should talk to your Mentor, your examiner, and the student council. We cannot emphasize enough the gravity of such a situation and the necessity to seek council! 

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I failied an exam for an elective course in the second part of the Bachelor program. What to do then?

The second part of the Bachelor program consists of several Modules, each of which typically comprises two courses. For these courses, you need to be aware of the following rules:

  1. Each exam may be repeated at most two times (equivalently, taken three times).
  2. If you have already participated in an exam, you need to either successfully complete that module or compensate for it.

Compensation means that you can drop pursuing a module and instead pass an exam in another module. But compensation is only possible for up to two modules, so while the compensation rule gives you some manoeuvring space, you should still use some care when selecting which module exams you want to attempt. Compensation is primarily intended as a means to avoid failing the program entirely and leaving without a degree; it can also be used to improve grades in a module where you are not satisfied with the result.

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Can I use the additional modules (the "container") to compensate courses from my minor subject?

Yes, that is possible. Keep in mind, however, that you can only have a maximum of 18 credit points booked as additional modules. That is to say, that when compensating courses from the minor subject, there is less room for courses from computer science – meaning you can only compensate two or less modules from computer science. You should thus use your additional modules wisely. If you want to have a module that you have taken booked as additional module (i.e. move it into the container) or have an additional module booked as one of the eight regular modules (in the master program), you need to send an email to the examination office.

What do all those acronyms mean: ECTS, SWS, LP, Credits, TN, LN?

ECTS (European Credit Transfer System):
A bit of context: One of the (many) goals of European unification was the consistency and comparability of European academic degrees. To this end, a uniform way of judging the performance of students in academic programs is intended. It comprised (among others) rules regarding qualification goals, work load, and grading schemes. 

In this context, the ECTS credit point was created as a unit of work load. ECTS measure that quantitative workload of a student. One ECTS point is equal 30 hours of actual work. Hence, if you take a, say, course of 4 ECTS, you should plan on spending 120 hours on it  - we certainly expect you to do so!
Note that ECTS are NOT a measure of performance but only of quantity. ECTS are award in addition to, not instead of grades. Grades in this context are sometimes refered to as “ECTS grades”.
Sometimes, in particular in German texts, ECTS are also called “Leistungspunkte” (LP) - this is the same thing.

SWS is a abbreviation of Semesterwochenstunde – hours per week per semester. Hours here refers to “academic hours”, which only last 45 minutes. SWS indicates the duration of instruction in class. For example, a course designated as 2 SWS means that the class will take place during 2*45 minutes per week, for the duration of one semester (15 weeks). Unlike ECTS, however, SWS does NOT specify the total workload for a student; typically, SWS hours are accompanied by unspecified homework, independent study, etc. Hence, ECTS gives you an idea of total workload; SWS gives you and idea how much of that time should can expect to spend in class on campus.

LP is the abbrevivation for Leistunspunkt; it is the German equivalent to ECTS (see above).

LN is the abbreviation of Leistungsnachweis (proof of performance). In some study programs, these proofs are required and can take the form of homework assignments, independent studies, etc. In the computer science and computer engineering program, these proofs of performance are not typically used. If you see those in an announcement, you should talk to whoever offers that course.

TN is the abbreviation of Teilnahmenachweis (proof of attendance). In some study programs, these proofs are required. They are typically not used and extremely rare (but not forbidden either) in the computer science or computer engineering programs – we prefer you know something rather than you simply sat in a class. If you see those in an announcement, you should talk to whoever offers that course.

TS is the abbreviation of Teilnahmeschein (certificate of attendance). This is a synonym for Teilnahmenachweis / TN. See there. 


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[Translate to English:] Kann ich Veranstaltungen im Masterstudiengang vorziehen?

Sie können bis zu 30 Leistungspunkte innerhalb von einem Semester vorziehen, wenn Sie mindestens 152 Leistungspunkte im Bachelorstudium erworben und die Bachelorarbeit angemeldet haben. Dies ist nur ein Semester lang möglich. Nähere Informationen finden Sie in der aktuellen Prüfungsordnung §11 Abs. 2.

Information about academic rules and the module handbook

Where can I find all regulations of my studies

Academic rules and regulations:

Module handbook:

Back to Information about academic rules and the module handbook

Bachelor Program

I have been admitted to the Bachelor program in computer science (Informatik), but I do not have the Abitur (or an equivalent degree). Do I now have to take any exams on general education (in particular, German, Math, English)?

In case you do not have the Abitur or an equivalent degree, you do need to take those exams. You will need the corresponding skills during your studies. Hence, Paderborn University offers corresponding courses leading up to the necessary exams. You can find further information here.  Additional information can be found on a specific page of the students’ secretariat: click here.

In case you want to apply without a Fachhochschulreife, you can find further information here: https://www.uni-paderborn.de/zv/3-3/formalitaeten/bewerbung-ohne-allgemeine-hochschulreife/

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How do I plan the second part of the Bachelor program?

Unlike the first part of the program, the second part of the Bachelor program, starting with the fifth semester, offers a considerable degree of freedom. While you do have to complete a prescribed set of four modules, there is a lot of freedom of choice within these programs. There is additional information on this page, including an example program. In general, we recommend that you check the offered courses for each module and pick two that seem interesting and challenging to you. The program is structured such that any combination of courses should work. If in doubt, we strongly encourage you to talk to your Mentor. 

In addition to these four modules, you have to complete the module “Key competences” (Schlüsselkompetenzen) by participating in a Proseminar and in the Mentoring program.

We also recommend that you attend an information event about the second part of the Bachelor program. This event typically takes place at the end of each summer (see slides of previous event). For additional questions, feel free to contact the head of the examination board or his/her assistant

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[Translate to English:] Die Note im Bachelorstudiengang muss mindestens 3,0 sein, um in den Masterstudiengang wechseln zu können. Wie berechnet sich diese Note genau?

[Translate to English:]

Die Notengewichtung finden Sie hier.

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Which courses can I choose in the Sudium Generale?

The goal of the Studium Generale is to foster a broad education beyond the limitations of a particular program. Hence, by and large any course of Paderborn University can be selected under Studium General, with the obvious exception of courses that belong to your own program of study (eg., computer science) as this would not serve the purpose of broadening education. For additional information, there is a page dedicated to Sudium Generale.

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How many ECTS points do I have to earn in Studium Generale?

This depends on the choice of your minor program.

In total, minor program and Studium Generale have to sum up to 25 ECTS. Minor programs have between 18 and 22 ECTS; hence you need between 7 and 3 ECTS in your Studium Generale. Usually, it is not necessary to take exams in the Studium Generale; in general, Leistungsnachweise (see above) with an ECTS certification are sufficient. (Note that this is likely to change with the new legal framework imposed by the Land NRW.)  

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Can I switch my minor?

Yes you can switch your minor once. You have send a request in writing to the Zentrale Prüfungssekretariat.

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Master program

Do I have to apply for the Master program?

If you apply from outside, standard application procedures apply (see separate page). 

If you are studying in the Computer Science Bachelor program in Paderborn, there are  specific rules to ease the transition. In any case, you need to complete your Bachelor with at lest a grade of 3,0 or better.

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I have a Bachelor from another University. Can I be admitted to Paderborn University and the Computer Science or Computer Engineering programs?

To be admitted to the Master program, you need to provide a Bachelor degree that is equivalent to our own Bachelor. For German Bachelor degrees in computer science or computer engineering, respectively, we usually consider this to be the case; in rare cases, we mandate, however, a certain set of Bachelor-level courses to be completed as well (Zulassung mit Auflagen).

In case of Bachelor degrees that are related to compute science or computer engineering (e.g, business informatics, bio-informatics, information technology), we usually do not accept these degrees as equivalent to our own degrees. This is irrespective of whether these degrees have been earned in Germany or abroad. In these cases, we need to individually check your degree and the credits you’ve earned. Usually, we accept some part of these credits and recommend you to enrol into our Bachelor program. After completing a limited number of courses there, you earn the Paderborn Bachelor degree (in either computer science or computer engineering) and can thence enroll into the Master program. 

These checks are performed by the examination board for either computer science or computer engineering. Also compare the website Anerkennung von Prüfungsleistungen.

In the case of international applicants, the equivalence of the studies has also to be assessed by the examination committee. This takes the individual subjects and exams, the structure of the study program and the recognition of the university into account. As the international applicants as a rule do not know enough German, the temporal admission to our Bachelor and taking of a few lessons to fill the gaps, is no option, as our Bachelor is completely taught in German.

When applying to financial funding by the DAAD, the students have to provide an eligibility letter from us which states that we would accept them if they applied for the Masters program. We provide such a letter on request. To assess the eligibility in this case, we need a transcript of records from the applicant’s university prior to the official application. 

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How do I organize my Master program?

The Master program in computer science consists of modules. Modules comprise two courses. Modules are assigned to one of four focus areas (in some rare cases, modules can belong to more than one focus areas). You have to select one focus area as a specialization. From this specialization area, you have to select three modules; from the other three areas, you have to select two modules each. We recommend you choose both specialization area and modules according to your interests and abilities.

In addition to the modules of the four focus areas, you have to participate in a project group; project groups are not assigned to any focus area, they last one year and are characterized by intensive group work. Also, you need to earn 12 ECTS from a minor program or from Studium Generale (any combination between these is permissible).

You can find an example curriculum for the computer science Master program on this page, as well as an informational slide deck. For any questions, feel free to contact your Mentor or the examination boards’ assistant.

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How can I find a project group to join?

There are project groups starting each semester, both summer and winter. These groups are presented at the end of the previous semester. This presentation event is announced and you really should attend it. Details are described here, there is also a separate page listing current and completed project groups to give you an idea of topic ranges.

You can only start a project group once you are enrolled in the Master program; it is not possible to participate in it while you are still in the Bachelor program (unlike ordinary Master courses, in which you can participate to a limited degree already while still in the Bachelor program).

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How many seminars can I enrol in during the Master program?

Old regulation
One must enrol in at least one seminar, which must belong to your specialization area. You may enrol in a second seminar, but no more. The second seminar must not be contained in the same module as the first one.

New regulation (WS 17/18)
In the new master studies (since WS 17/18) you need two seminars.

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My module examiner is with two different examiners. Do I have the right for two separate exams, then?

No. As a rule, all exams in the Master program are oral exams comprising two courses. There are only two exceptions:

  1. One course if the module is a seminar. Then, the seminar’s results will be considered for the final grade of the module. To ensure that, you have to tell the organizer of the seminar with whom you want to take the module exam and ask him/her to forward a grade or performance report to the module examiner.
  2. In the modules III.1.1 model-based software development and III.1.6 Constructive Methods of Software Engineering, you can request the module exam to only cover one of the comprising lectures. But in order to do that, you need to provide a certificate of participation (formally: Nachweis einer unbenoteten Teilleistung). You should talk to the module examiner and the lecturers in this module for that to work out.

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How do I get an appointment for a module exam?

You have to send an email to the secretary’s (!) of the lecturer(s) of the courses in the module. There is a template for these emails available here; you should state the module, the comprised lectures, and your proposed dates for the exam (it makes sense to state a range of dates to make it easier to find a date). You can find more details on this process here.

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What about a failed module exam in the Master program?

Like any exam, a master module exam can be repeated twice (taken three times). Once you have participated in any particular module, this module either has to be successfully completed or compensated for. Compensation means that you can drop pursuing a module and instead pass an exam in another module. But compensation is only possible for up to two modules, so while the compensation rule gives you some manoeuvring space, you should still use some care when selecting which module exams you want to attempt. Compensation is primarily intended as a means to avoid failing the program entirely and leaving without a degree; it can also be used to improve grades in a module where you are not satisfied with the result. Note that even with the compensation rules in place, it is not possible to repeat an exam that you already passed. 

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If I repeat a module exam, do I have to use the same courses as in a previous attempt?

No. In a repeated module exam, you can replace one or both courses against other ones. There is also the option to compensate for a failed (or unsatisfactorially passed) exam (see question above).  

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Thesis work

How do I find a topic for my thesis (Bachelor or Master)?

First, identify which broad topics you are interested in – think about which lectures you enjoyed and which research groups seem to do interesting things. Have a look at the web pages of these groups if you are not familiar with their topics.

Most groups have a dedicated page on their weg where topics for Bachelor and Master theses are advertised; sometimes, you can even find paper copys displayed on blackboards around campus. If such a topic peaks your interest or even you just generally find the work interesting but cannot really identify with a particular topic, you should contact the head of the particular group or one of the PhD students (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter, usually, not students as such) – send them an email or visit their office hours. You could also talk to lecturers in the context of a particular course or speak to your Mentor; often, a project group is also a good source for Master thesis topics. 

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I am working in a company in parallel to my studies. Is it possible to get a topic for Bachelor or Master from a company and write my thesis there?

That is possible to a limited intent. First of all, it is important to understand that a thesis is part of an academic examination and part of your Bachelor or Master program. As such, only the University can give you a thesis topic and decide on the acceptability of your work and give you a grade. Nonetheless, in practice, a thesis that is advised and supervised jointly by University staff and company staff can be possible. In such a case, it is advisable to identify a professor who might be interested in the topic and talk to her/him about the topic, the work conditions in the company, the hoped-for results. You should also provide evidence that the company is indeed interested in your doing such a thesis and would support you – a typical means is to have a three-way conversation between you, a representative of the company, and the professor. But in any case, do talk to such a professor or your Mentor. 

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When and where do I register my thesis?

You can register your Bachelor thesis once you have successfully completed (1) all module exams of the first two semester and (2) modules of the first four semester corresponding to at least 79 ECTS points. In case you are fairly close to this threshold, the examination board can grant excemptions.

You can register your Master thesis once you have successfully completed modules corresponding to 54 ECTS points.

For both Bachelor and Master thesis, you need to agree on your advisor on a work plan for and the goals of your thesis. This plan constitutes the obligations that you have to meet in order to pass your thesis. This plan should comprise a the title of your thesis, problem description, a motivation why this is a relevant problem, the goals to be achieved, a possible outline for the writeup, and a timetable.

Once you have completed this plan and agreed upon it with your advice, you should register your thesis in PAUL. This will produce a document where your advisor will enter the actual start and end date of your thesis. Once your advisor has signet this document, the clock starts ticking – you have five months! 

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[Translate to English:] Wie kann ich die Bearbeitungszeit meiner Abschlussarbeit verlängern?

[Translate to English:]

Sie müssen selbst einen individuell begründeten Antrag auf Verlängerung der Bearbeitungszeit beim Zentralen Prüfungssekretariat stellen.


Die Begründung sollte deutlich machen, dass die Verzögerung der Bearbeitung nicht aus persönlichen sondern aus sachlichen, von Ihnen nicht zu verantwortenden, Gründen entstanden ist. Bei Bachelorarbeiten können Sie einmalig Verlängerung der Abgabefrist um zwei, bei Masterarbeiten um sechs Wochen beantragen. Dieser Antrag muss spätestens eine Woche vor Ablauf der regulären Frist gestellt und von der Betreuerin/dem Betreuer gegengezeichnet werden.

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How can I find a job as a teaching or research assistant?

The primary mechanism is to talk to members of a research group you are interested in – visit the office hours of the professor or PhD students (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter). Often, job offers are also listed on the web pages of the various research groups.

Teaching assistantships exist for courses of the first four semesters (in very rare cases also for courses later in the curriculum); the contact here is the professor who will offer this class next (if in doubt, talk to whoever gave the course previously – they will be happy to forward your request if necessary).

Research assistantships exist for a wide range of topics. Again, talk to people in the respective research groups or loko at their web sites.

Morever, there often are job openings in the Institute’s IT service group (Informatik-Rechnerbetrieb, IRB).

And in addition to these sources, word of mouths and experiences of other students, there are two mailing lists which may be useful:

  1. The generic students mailing list
  2. A mailing list dedicated to job offers: job-eim(at)upb.de.

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I am about to finish my program. How do I learn about job offers and work opportunities for the time after my degree?

There are regular job events on campus. The main event is LookIn, a job fair organized by the Institute for Computer Science in collaboration with local, regional, national and international companies.

For formal reasons, you also have to register with the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeits, informally called Arbeitsamt); this can be particularly important if you are here on a Visa (details depend on the type of your Visa). This agency also acts as job market, but it is usually a good idea not to rely that but to take your own initiatives.

Besides that, there are plenty of job portals, carreer services, etc. around. To name but a few:

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