Frequently Asked Questions
General Information for BA and MA Students
What is the attendance policy?
Attendance is mandatory. If you miss a class, you must write to your instructor to apologize for your absence and explain why it was unavoidable. Students who miss more than 2 sessions of a lecture or seminar and more than 1 session of a Colloquium will fail the course in question. In the case of military service, absences will only be excused if the student informs his or her teacher before the class begins, and does not miss more than 5 sessions.
Course Registration and Evaluation
Do I have to register for courses and evaluations?
Yes, the Department of English uses KSL for the electronic registration for courses and evaluations. Students are required to register for the individual courses before the beginning of term. The deadline for course registration and deregistration is 15 October for the autumn semester, 15 March for the spring semester. The registration and deregistration deadlines for seminar papers or exams are 15 November in the autumn semester and 15 April in the spring semester. This gives students sometime to decide whether or not to write a seminar paper. Exceptions are the graded Propädeutikum courses, where course registration automatically registers students for the exams as well.
What do I do if a course I have completed is missing from KSL?
For courses you did in the old system (that is FS10 and earlier) please contact Sarah Zürcher in the Secretariat. For courses in the new system (everything HS10 and later) please contact the respective course instructor. Courses are usually entered in KSL in course of the semester break and sometimes entries might be delayed as much as to the beginning of the next term, so the first rule is to be patient.
Can I still fail a course which is ungraded?
Yes, every ungraded course is evaluated on a pass/fail basis. You have to meet all the course requirements in order to pass the course and receive ECTS for it.
How often am I allowed to retake an exam or rewrite a paper if I fail at the first attempt? Can I still keep insufficient grades (Kompensation)?
You can retake an exam or rewrite a paper once. In the case of BA Propädeutikum modules, an insufficient grade at the second attempt will exclude you from continuing your studies in our department. The same applies to the MA foundation lectures: if you fail the evaluation twice, you cannot continue your MA studies with us. If you fail at your second attempt in the evaluation of a Focus Module (BA) or a seminar, lecture or workshop, these credits will not count towards your degree and you will have to replace the entire module.
Courses at Other Universities
Can I take courses at other Swiss universities?
Yes, you can. In order to earn credits for courses attended at other Swiss universities, you need to:
- Make sure you are familiar with the requirements of the host university – talk to a study counsellor or the instructor of the course at the host university.
- Discuss your course choice with the professor of the respective field in our department (e.g. if you are planning on attending a lecture in Modern Linguistics in Basel, you need Professor Britain’s or Professor Thurlow's approval).
- Fill in the "Courses taken at other universities" form, which is available on the stand in front of the secretariat.
- At the end of term, hand in the form to the instructor of the course and have them sign it. Alternatively, they can also scan it and send it to you electronically after they have corrected your assignment.
- Take the form to your study counsellor at our department, so your ECTS can be entered in your record.
If you are interested in taking courses at the Universities of Neuchâtel or Fribourg, please note that there is a special exchange programme called BeNeFri. For more information, see the BeNeFri section on the Admissions Office website.
Our study plan allows you to earn the following maximum amount of credits at other universities:
BA Major: 30 ECTS
BA Minor (60 ECTS): 15 ECTS
BA Minor (30 ECTS): 7 ECTS
MA Major: 30 ECTS
MA Minor: 10 ECTS
Can I take more graded courses than required?
No. We understand that this would be a way of earning credits more quickly. However, the goal is to diversify your studies and thus to attend a wide range of courses covering the field of Languages and Literatures in English.
Thesis Registration and Diploma Application
Do I have to have completed all other requirements before I can register for the thesis?
No. BA students have to have completed the Propädeutikum, the Focus Module and the graded seminars, the Advanced Reading List Exam and the Stay Abroad. They can still miss a reasonable number of optional credits and/or Wahlbereich credits (a maximum of 20 ECTS in total). MA students need to have completed all graded courses and may still miss a maximum of 10 ECTS required optional credits. Read more about thesis registration on our website.
How do I find a supervisor for my BA or MA thesis and when is the time to approach a member of the teaching staff for thesis supervision?
You should choose your supervisor for your BA or MA thesis according to the topic you want to investigate in your thesis. Ideally, your supervisor teaches and does research in the field you are interested in. Check individual entries of members of staff on the website to find out more about their fields of expertise. Please also consult the information on supervisors in Literature, and Language and Linguistics.
How do I apply for my diploma?
In order to apply for your BA or MA diploma you need to contact the person in charge of the diploma supplements in both your major and your minor subject (for English, see the Who to Ask section). If everything is in order, they will sign a confirmation slip for you, which you need to hand in to the Dean’s Office along with your diploma application form and proof of payment of a fee. For more information and the relevant forms, go to the Faculty of Humanities website.
Which courses can I take to earn optional credits (Wahlleistungen)?
You can earn optional credits in the following courses:
Workshops (1-3 ECTS)
Individual lectures (3 ECTS)
Individual seminars (4 ECTS)
Independent Studies (1-5 ECTS)
All courses taken as part of the Wahlleistungen are ungraded.
All courses offered within the BA can be taken as ungraded courses with the sole exception of the Core Curriculum Module and the Language Module. These are compulsory courses (Propädeutikum) for all our students and therefore cannot be taken twice. Both lectures and seminars that form part of a Focus Module can be taken separately as ungraded courses.
May I begin taking MA courses during my BA studies?
Yes. You can begin taking Vorgezogene Masterleistungen (VML) in the last semester of your BA or when your waiting for your diploma to be issued. You cannot take VML for more than one semester. You also must have accumulated at least 150 ECTS in their entire course of study (major, minor, and Electives/Wahlbereich) in order to do VML.
Which courses can I take to earn credits for my Electives (Wahlbereich)?
The Electives (Wahlbereich) consists of 15 ECTS that every student in the Faculty of Humanities has to earn in courses outside of his/her major subject. It is meant to give students the opportunity to diversify their interests and get an impression of other subjects and courses of study. You can take courses in every department of every faculty of the university, provided the course is open to Electives (Wahlbereich) students and graded (please check with the respective course instructor in advance).
Can I do other courses before having completed the Core Curriculum and Language Module (Propädeutikum)?
No. You need to complete all courses of the Core Curriculum and Language Module before you can move on to other courses. The Propädeutikum gives you the necessary skills and background knowledge to follow our other courses. The only exception are the Electives (Wahlbereich) for major students.
If I fail an exam or a paper for a graded course, can I still have the seminar or lecture counted as an ungraded course?
No. Once the registration deadline on KSL is over you cannot change from a graded course to an ungraded course. After the deadline, you have to fulfil all grade requirements, otherwise you lose the entire module. Go to our KSL registration website for the deadlines.
Are there any restrictions to consider when choosing courses in my BA studies?
No, there aren’t any restrictions. The only combination rules that you have to take into account are the ones concerning the coverage of both Language and Linguistics, and Literature. For BA majors this means that at least one of their 3 seminars has to be taken in Language and Linguistics and one in Literarture, and that students need to complete one lecture in either field. BA minor students do not have these restrictions.
Are there restrictions on what I can do for my Stay Abroad?
In your Stay Abroad we want you to go to an English-speaking country in order to experience a different culture first-hand and to improve your language skills. You should spend your time abroad either studying or working. Pure tourism will not be accepted. You are encouraged to use your imagination when considering your options for work or study in order to make the Stay Abroad as practical, effective, and enjoyable as possible. The International Coordinators are able to advise on the viability of your choices. Talking to students who have already completed the Stay Abroad is another useful way of finding out about your options.
Is it possible to split the Stay Abroad?
If your stay abroad is longer than three months, you can split your Stay Abroad into two trips - each of at least one month. If you go on a three-month Stay Abroad, you cannot break up your trip.
Can I get time spent abroad prior to my studies acknowledged for the Stay Abroad?
ECTS points are not granted to students who are not matriculated with us. This means that although you may receive recognition for your Stay Abroad, you will have to make up for the 5 to 10 ECTS points that you would normally have acquired on your Stay Abroad by taking courses. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis. Please send a formal letter to the Head of Department with copies of transcripts, plane tickets, etc. Be specific about when you were abroad and when you started studying with us. Only stays abroad that took place no more than two years prior to the beginning of studies can be considered.
Can I get an internship or work experience placement done prior to my studies accredited for the Stay Abroad?
You can if it was in an English-speaking country.
What if I have a disability or other personal circumstances that prevent me from spending significant amounts of time outside Switzerland?
The Stay Abroad is compulsory for all students. If travel abroad is impossible on the grounds of disability or other extenuating circumstances, however, alternative options can be considered. These could consist of doing an internship in a professional area relevant for students of English or in other activities related to the study of English.
How is the Stay Abroad evaluated?
Once you have completed your Stay Abroad, you have to write a short report (approx. 750 words) or contribute to and participate in the annual Stay Abroad Meeting, in order to complete and pass the ungraded Stay Abroad module.
This report is an account of many elements of your experience - the culture of the host country, your experiences at the workplace/university, the linguistic discoveries and insights, and anything else that may be of interest to the other students that read it. It is designed as a resource that will enlighten others about what they can do for the stay abroad. Students are encouraged to write in the first-person: reflexively, and relatively informally.
Depending on the nature of your experience, studying or working, you will meet with your International Coordinator to finalise your Stay Abroad file by submitting the above report or agreeing to contribute to the Stay Abroad Meeting, as well as providing copies of your plane (or other transport) tickets, and a copy of your university transcript or a confirmation letter from your employer (outlining the duration and nature of your time with them).
How do I organise my Stay Abroad?
Read all our online information on the Stay Abroad; if possible, attend the Stay Abroad Meeting and get an idea of your wishes. Then contact your International Coordinator in order to confirm the details of your stay abroad.
Can you tell me about the changes to the regulations of the Pägagogische Hochschule (PH) regarding stays abroad?
During 2015, the PH changed its own stay abroad requirement for English students. Unfortunately, we are not able to advise about these changes in detail, but students should note that prospective English teachers must have spent at least 6 months abroad. Contact the PH for further details.
Do I have to continue paying student fees to the University of Bern during my Stay Abroad?
Yes, students must remain matriculated in Bern during their stay abroad as it is a compulsory component of their studies with us.
Are there admission requirements for the MA programme?
Yes, information on the admission requirements can be found on the faculty's website of our MA programme.
Are there any Latin requirements for admission to the MA programme?
No. However, students with an interest in Medieval and Early Modern Literature are strongly encouraged to acquire at least basic Latin skills.
When do I start the MA Colloquium?
Normally you would start it in your second term and that is what we highly recommend. Students need to attend their third (and final) MA Colloquium in their fourth semester, i.e. when they are writing their MA thesis.
Can I take the MA Colloquium for four terms?
Yes, you can do so if you want, but you will only receive credits for the compulsory three terms.
Major, Minor and Specialization
Can I do both my major and minor within the department?
Yes. In this case the major has to be done in one specialization, the minor in the other.
At what point of my MA do I have to choose my specialisation?
The specialization is chosen when you register for our MA programme and before you start your MA courses.
Optional Credits (Wahlleistungen)
Which courses can I take to earn optional credits (Wahlleistungen)?
Any MA courses can be taken as optional credits. MA optional credits cannot be acquired in BA courses. Workshops can only be counted towards an MA degree if they are marked as open to MA students in the Course Booklet.
Are there any restrictions when choosing courses in my MA studies?
MA majors have to take 14-18 credits in the field which they have not chosen as their specialization. For example, if you are an MA major student with Language and Linguistics as your specialization, then you need to earn 14-18 ECTS in literature courses. One graded seminar (7 ECTS) can be among these courses. MA minors can (but do not have to) earn up to 9 ECTS in the other specialization. Minors typically take all their graded courses in their chosen specialization.
As a Major/minor combination student I am technically supposed to attend three foundation lectures, but there are only two offered. What do I do?