Study Modules

Some of this page's information is only valid for the old study regulations. Please refer to the information on your Freshi Slides and the official new regulations.

There are 10 compulsory modules. Beside the 8 modules mentioned below, also Logic and Statistics are compulsory modules. Each of these modules consists of one or two courses which every student has to pass.

Compulsory optional modules are additions to the compulsory modules (except for Logic and Statistics). You can satisfy them by taking additional compulsory optional courses which you can find on the website of the IKW.

For each module, a profile with the following structure should be created:

  1. Short description
  2. size of compulsory and optional modules
  3. Contact person in the institute
  4. Choice of compulsory courses and a short description for each
  5. optional compulsory courses usually offered
  6. style of the module examination
  7. Useful references (aka Java-Buch etc)
  8. dig deeper: which research groups are contributing to this module?


People often make a distinction between “wet” neuroscience (i.e. stuff that requires you to poke around in organic material) and “dry” neuroscience (e.g. imaging techniques such as EEG). It is fair to mention straight away that there is no wet neuroscience research done at the Institute of Cognitive Science. You will still learn the foundations of these in courses taught by lecturers from the biology department.

Compulsory courses:

to complete the compulsory module, you have to choose two out of three courses: Introduction to Neurobiology, Sensory Physiology and Functional Neuroanatomy. While technically you can choose only to do the latter two, the First course will provide the fundamentals for many other courses. If you take all three, one of the courses will count towards your optional compulsory module!

Optional compulsory courses:

To get your twelve credits of optional compulsory courses,most people take the Action & Cognition I lecture in their third semester. An optional seminar will grant you another four easily earned credits. The follow-up lecture, Action & Cognition II (offered in the summer terms), is thematically mostly independent from (however not without references to) the first course. With just a little extra work you can take A&C II without having done A&C I.

Cross-Module Examination:

Depending on your focus, you can take an examination with the biology lecturers - in which case the subject will mostly be low-level, wet stuff - or with one of the Institute’s lecturers, shifting the focus to things you learned in their lectures. At any rate, prepare for a tough interrogation, the key to success here is simply knowing everything. Period.

Who’s who?

People you’ll likely see in your first lectures are Gunnar Jeserich, who’s research interest is ion channel expression and Roland Brand, who is working on molecular mechanisms of neuronal development, aging and degeneration, which has applications to Alzheimer’s disease. Peter König heads the NeuroBioPsychology lab at the Institute, which features a broad range of projects from sensory augmentation, EEG, EyeTracking and computational modelling. Other work groups contributing to this module are Gunther Heidemann’s biologically inspired computer vision lab and occasionally Frank Jäkel’s cognitive modelling group and Frank Pasemann’s neurocybernetics lab, which works on neuro-controllers for humanoid robots.


Learning mathematics and programming is a lot like learning to play an instrument. Theoretically knowing which finger goes where and when won’t get you very far. Only practice makes perfect, and practice takes time! So, if you have never programmed and spent your mathematics lessons at school mainly meditating over your bellybutton, chances are you can still take Mathematics and Computer Science in your first semester and will pass both (maybe even quite well) - but that doesn’t necessarily mean you learned anything. So plan in enough time to do all the homework assignments for yourself (splitting between your group members may save time, but is not a good idea as far as your learning experience is concerned. Solve all tasks individually and hand in the most elegant solution!)


  • “Most of us took mathematics courses from mathematicians - Bad Idea!” The (free!) book Street Fighting Mathematics teaches you how to solve mathematical problems the quick and unsanitary way.

Computational Linguistics: Prof. Dr. Peter Bosch

  • Can you describe language in a formal way?
  • What information is contained in a text?
  • How do automated translations work?
    ECTS required for module: 20

Artificial Intelligence: Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Kühnberger

  • What is knowledge, what is a problem?
  • How can those be represented?
  • How can we draw new conclusions from existing knowledge?
    ECTS required for module: 20

Neurobiology: Prof. Dr. Gunnar Jeserich

  • How is the brain composed?
  • What are the neuronal mechanisms of life?
  • How can medical conditions like Parkinson and Alzheimer be explained?
    ECTS required for module: 20

Philosophy of Mind: Prof. Dr. Achim Stephan

  • What is "soul" and "self"?
  • Do we have "free will"?
  • Can machines ever be like humans?
    ECTS required for module: 18

Neuroinformatics: Dr. Gordon Pipa

  • How can computers learn?
  • How can huge amounts of data be analyzed in an intelligent way?
  • ECTS required for module: 24

Cognitive Psychology: Dr. Jacqueline Griego

  • How does memory work?
  • How do humans represent their environment?
    ECTS required for module: 16

Mathematics: Prof. Dr. Winfried Bruns

  • Conveys foundations in Analysis, Algebra, and Stochastic
  • Essential for modern research with EEG, fMRI, learning algorithms, ...
    ECTS required for module: 18

Informatics: Vorsitzende(r) des Prüfungsausschusses Informatik

  • Foundations in algorithms and data processing
  • Important not only for AI, Neuroinformatics and Linguistics, but also for experimental design, data analysis...
    ECTS required for module: 18

Cross-Module Examinations

What are Cross-Module Examinations?

During your study, you have to do 5 Cross-Module Examinations, which you can choose from the 8 different study-fields (Neuroscience, Cognitive (Neuro-)Psychology, Philosophy of Mind and Cognition, Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Neuroinformatics, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence). You have to take one oral exam and can take one further optional oral exam. Each oral exam is worth 3 ECTS. For the remaining four / three examination fields, you can use your already gained “Scheine”.

Why do I need them?

Your final Bachelor's Grade is calculated like this:

  • 1/3 grade of your Bachelor's Thesis
  • 2/3 average grade of your 5 Cross-Module Exams (→ each Cross-Module Exam counts 11,2% of your final grade)

Furthermore, to register for your Bachelor's Thesis, you need at least 3 Cross-Module Exams (and all compulsory modules).

Why are they important (and why are your normal grades important)?

As you may recognize, your normal grades do not count at all for your final grade. However, this does not mean that they are useless!

When you apply for your semester abroad or your master study, you normally neither have your final grade nor many of your Cross-Module Exams. Therefore, your transcript of records is important, which only shows your normal grades.

Ok, so, how does it work?

  1. Talk to the lecturer you want to do your Cross-Module Examination with. Normally, this will be someone you took one or two lectures at, but you can actually ask anyone who teaches that subject, as long as he/she agrees to examine you.
  2. Get your 2nd examiner. Normally, this will be either another lecturer or a PhD-Student.
  3. Download the Registration Form, then go to the examination office and register for it.
  4. Prepare. Hints on how to prepare and what you can expect from the exam you might find at the bottom of this page at the specific sections ("Examination Protocols").
  5. Do it! Actually, normally this is not too bad, much better than the learning before. Most people get about the grade they got in their related "Scheine" (or better). The thing takes around 30-45 minutes, so it is not too long.
  6. Be happy! And write an "Examination Protocol", which may then be added to the examination protocols archive (requires authentication) on the fachschaft's homepage.

What happens if I fail?

If you fail, you will get a second and even a third chance. In fact, you have to do another trial. The examination regulations suggest that you should do a new examination in the range between 6 weeks to 6 months.

How can I hand in my “Scheine” and which “Scheine” do I have to hand in?

  • Download the form and do what is written there
  • You have to perform the "Scheineinreichung" when you register for your Bachelor's thesis

The overall grade for an examination field is calculated by multiplying the single grades from the courses you bring in with the corresponding ECTS points, adding all those products together and dividing the result by the total number of ECTS points. This result is being rounded down to the last digit behind the comma.

The "Scheine" you bring in have to be the ones from the compulsory modules, so called "Pflichtscheine" and from the corresponding compulsory optional modules, "Wahlpflichtscheine", sufficient for getting the required ECTS credits in the module.

Can I improve my grade?

  • No! If you do not fail you have to take that grade!
  • Of course, your examiners can decide that you failed instead of getting a bad grade (if you really want to). However, this is solely the decision of your examiners. If they do not let you fail, you have no possibility to fail afterwards to get a new try.

Can I maybe do more than 5 Cross-Module Examinations to choose between them?

  • No. Every Cross-Module Examination you passed will count for your Bachelor's Grade.
  • You can decide to take a second oral exam to substitute bad "Scheine" in one module.