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English Department

Master: FAQ

Note: This texts on this page were originally prepared by the Fachverein Anglistik FAVA and have been adapted for the English Department website.

What Are ECTS Credits?

Students receive ECTS credits for passing modules.

Every ECTS credit is supposed to represent 30 hours of work at UZH. However - according to the Fachverein Anglistik FAVA - this often a very generous estimate and if the aim is to 'just pass' a module, one can sometimes manage to do so with much less work (though of course we do not recommend such a minimalist approach).

Students need 180 ECTS to complete a UZH Bachelor degree and 120 ECTS for a UZH Master degree.

A full-time student usually does 30 ECTS credits per semester. Some students finish their Bachelor degree after six semesters (6 x 30 ECTS = 180 ECTS), but most study for one or several semesters longer.

What Are Modules?

A module is basically a unit of teaching. It might consist of just a lecture, or it might consist of two or more courses (e.g. a lecture plus a seminar group). However, at Master level, most modules consist of only one single course.

A module also includes the Leistungsnachweis (i.e. course assessment). Lecture courses are often assessed on the basis of written exams, but other modules may be assessed differently or feature a combination of Leistungsnachweise (e.g. a paper and a learning portfolio).

What Is a "Lecture," "Seminar," "Tutorial," etc.?

There a different types of courses at university, including:

  • lecture: mostly based on input by the instructor(s), with the students listening, taking notes, and asking questions; usually assessed with a written exam
  • seminar: an interactive type of course with some shorter inputs by the instructor(s), but mainly focusing on discussions, group work, and student input; usually assessed with a seminar paper, often combined with another type of assessment (e.g. oral presentation or learning portfolio)
  • colloquium: similar to a seminar, but more 'casual' (i.e. less time-consuming) and not usually assessed with a paper
  • exercise group (Übung): courses with a more narrow and practical focus (e.g. improving one's writing skills); assessed with exams and/or other types of assessments (e.g. short essays or a learning portfolio)
  • tutorial: classes taught by advanced students, usually in tandem with a lecture and/or seminar, to provide further support and input

What Is OLAT?

OLAT (Online Learning And Training) is where students can find all lecture slides, homework, preparatory reading and so on. You can access it

Before you can log in, you need your UZH shortname, so make sure you have that and know your password. Some instructors upload slides prior to the respective session, others do it afterwards.

If an instructor's policy is unclear, or if they seem to have forgotten to upload their slides, it is best to contact them by email.

Please make sure to activate your OLAT account as soon as you have received your UZH shortname and password.

Which Modules Are Available as Pre-Master's Modules?

Students enrolled in the UZH Bachelor program in English Literature and Linguistics may book pre-Master's modules. More information is available in the sub-section on pre-Master's modules.

What Do I Need to Book in My First Semester?

The following are the modules that one should take in one's first semester, if at all possible:

This means that full-time students will be taking two or three of these modules, depending on their Focus Area: Literature only, Linguistics only, or both Literature and Linguistics.

Note: All three modules are offered each semester, i.e. students can take them irrespective of whether they start their studies in the fall or in the spring.

Can I Postpone My Military Service?

Information on applications to postpone one's military service is available on the website of the UZH Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

What to Do If a Course Takes Place at the Same Time as Another?

This can happen quite often because there are a huge amount of programs at UZH, all with their own timetables – and there are only so many hours in the week.

If two mandatory lectures clash with one another, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do. You will have to drop one of them and do it later. (You could try to visit one course in one week and the other course the next week, or try to keep up with uploaded slides only, but this is usually not a good idea - not least because exams are usually in the lecture time slot and you cannot write two exams at the same time.)

Feel free to contact if you need any further advice regarding your timetable.

Where and When Do I Book Modules?

You can find more information on how to book modules in the corresponding subsection of the UZH English Department's website.

What and Where Are PLH and PET?

PLH (Plattenstrasse 47) is the building that houses the English Department's secretary's office as well as three of the four classrooms. The other building, PET (Pestalozzistrasse 50) houses the English Department library and one additional classroom.

You will probably have seminar courses in both PLH and PET. (Note: The big lectures usually take place in or near KOL, the UZH main building.)

You can find maps for all UZH buildings at

What Happens If I Fail a Module?

If you fail a mandatory module too often (i.e. twice), you get a Fachsperre, which means that you can no longer graduate from any program in which this module is a mandatory requirement.

For the Master programs in English, the mandatory modules are:

Note: The rule that one can only repeat the same module twice (i.e. one cannot book it again after having failed the same module twice) also applies to all other, non-mandatory modules. However, in these cases, one can usually substitute the module in question with another (i.e. there are other, equivalent modules available, which means one can still fulfill the program requirements).

If one keeps failing the same type of non-mandatory module over and over again, it is – in theory – possible to exhaust all options within a particular section of the study program. Specifically, this happens if one has failed both Methods and Theories in English Linguistics (6 ECTS)) and : Reading Literary and Critical Theory (6 ECTS) twice.

Should this happen, one must immediately contact the Advisor of Studies at

How Much Should I Work While Studying?

The amount of work you will be able to do comfortably will depend on many factors.

If you’re studying full-time, there’s not much room left to work. Some people say 40% of work is fine, others do about 20% and are fine with it, for others again, 20% may be too much.

The UZH's Psychological Counseling Services generally recommend only 20% of work if absolutely needed. (Of course, the amount of stress that your work causes not only depends on the number of hours, but also on the type of work and employer.)

Depending on your circumstances, you may also want to contact the Student Financial Aid Office.

How and Where Can I Go on Exchange?

If you'd like to go on an exchange for one or two semesters, the English Department offers many study abroad places.

Generally, the best time to go is before your last semester. Usually, there is an information meeting in the fall semester (around mid-October) detailing the many ways to gain international experience.

After the information meeting, you can apply for the following academic year (fall and/or spring semester). You will be invited to an interview and learn about the decision by c. February.

More information is available on the English Department website, in the Stay Abroad section.

Can I Start Studying in the Spring?

Yes, most Master-level modules in English Literature and Linguistics are offered in the fall and in the spring semester.

Note: You may want to check with your other study program to find out if (some of) their introductory modules are only offered in the fall.

How to Extended Deadlines / Postpone Exams & Presentations?

One can only postpone deadlines or extend exam/presentation dates in cases of force majeure. For more information, please consult the corresponding subsection of the UZH English Department's website.

What If I Have a Disability or Chronic Illness?

If you have a disability or a chronic illness, you are strongly recommended to get in touch with the UZH Disability Office.

In addition, we recommend that you read the information concerning Studies and Disabillity on the website of the UZH Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

How Do I Organize the Master Thesis?

You can find more information on the Master Thesis in the corresponding module description.

How Can I Check If I've Completed the Program Requirements?

You can use the information on the requirements for the Major and the Minor (incl. subsites on the three recommended tracks):

When and How Do I Register to Graduate?

The administrative process for registering to graduate – including deadlines – is outlined on the website of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

How and When Can I Apply for the Lehrdiplom?

The application process (including deadlines) is outlined on the UZH website.

Information on the prerequisites is available on the website of the UZH English Department, in the Lehrdiplom section.

Further information is available on the website of the Institut für Erziehungswissenschaft.

How Can I Apply for a PhD in English?

Read the information in the Doing a PhD? section and then proceed to the PhD section.

Weiterführende Informationen

Career Brochure: Alumni Portraits

Career Brochure: Alumni Portraits

prepared by the Fachverein Anglistik (FAVA), and available for download here.

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