Course certificates and examinations


On Bachelor's and Master's degree courses, individual courses are grouped into modules. Modules are independent teaching units that are linked with regard to content and time, at the end of which there is usually an examination. The marks obtained in the module examinations go towards the final grade for the course. The module examinations can take the form of oral examinations, tests, other forms of written work, or other examinations. They usually take place soon after all courses have been completed for the module. The grades awarded for work completed during the module (e.g. for a presentation, essay, etc.) can count towards the grade of the module examination, provided that these were completed under exam conditions. In accordance with the Bachelor and Master examination regulations issued by the Senate of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, students are permitted to retake a failed module examination twice.

Course certificates

Just like in school, grades are also awarded at university. The presentations, essays, and tests, for instance, which are required in the individual teaching courses, are graded. These courses represent building blocks within the different modules, which are completed with a final module examination.

Course certificates can be awarded for the following:

Oral presentation

A topic is agreed with the lecturer, for which a presentation is prepared. The presentation is held in a seminar in front of other students. The presentation may sometimes be given in pairs or groups. The presenters must also prepare a "thesis summary" for all seminar participants, outlining the key points of the presentation and providing a list of references used.

Written essay

A written essay can be 10-20 pages long, depending on the requirements. A topic for the written essay, which must be related to the course, is agreed with the lecturer. Written essays are often produced during the period when no lectures are held.


At the end of the lecture period for the semester, written exams are held in many courses. These are similar to class tests or course work at school.

Oral examination

In this type of examination, the lecturer tests the knowledge of students verbally (often with someone present to take notes).


For each course at the university, the examination regulations specify the course certificates that students must provide in order to graduate. The examination regulations are outlined in more detail in the relevant curriculum. The examination regulations and curricula are written in legal language and are therefore not always easy to understand. You should nevertheless obtain a copy of these rules at the start of your course, in order to gain an overview of the course requirements. These documents are available here and as a print-out from the Registrar's Office or Dean's Office responsible for your core subject.

Literature recommendations to help you organize your studies are available here. These books can be borrowed from the Infothek of the Student Service Center.

Credit points

A specific number of credit points is awarded for each successfully completed module. The credit points system is a formal system used to define the quantitative amount of work assumed by the student on the course.The points are usually awarded in accordance with the guidelines of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The number of credit points available for each module reflects the average workload involved for the student (1 credit point corresponds to around 30 hours of student work time). The time includes both classroom hours during the module and the time required to prepare and post-process the teaching material (self-study). During a three-year Bachelor's degree course, you will usually be required to obtain 180 credit points; for a Master's degree in a two-year course, 120 points are required. The number of credit points that can be acquired through the individual modules can be found in the relevant examination regulations and in the curriculum. Points are only awarded for successfully completed courses, irrespective of the grades awarded for the work.

Study and work techniques

Many of the study and work techniques learned and used at school can also be applied at university, such as time management, preparing for examinations, preparing presentations, etc. One of the skills required at university is the ability to work with computers, e.g. for online research, using statistics programs, and for writing reports and essays.

You will probably have to develop your existing knowledge and skills with regard to learning strategies and practice. In particular, subject-specific study and work techniques, such as academic writing or conducting experiments, are usually only taught at university in courses for the relevant subjects.

The lecturers and student representatives are your first point of contact for questions relating to subject-specific work techniques.

If you find that your existing study/work techniques and knowledge acquired in subject-specific courses is insufficient to enable you to master the subject well, do not ignore the need for improvement, but, rather, make an effort to improve these areas in the required fields. Anyone with relatively little experience in working with a computer, for example, can improve their skills in courses offered by the Center of Data Processing.

Interdisciplinary courses on study and work techniques, as well as on preparing for exams, are offered by the following establishments (free-of-charge or for a small fee):