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Preparing for the Start of School

Preparatory German Language Course
Registration with the University
Getting a campus card
Orientation Days
Creating your own Schedule – Course Selection
Receiving Credit

Preparatory German Language Course

Exchange students who have registered for the Preparatory German Language Course will take part in a 3-to-4-week intensive language course at the International Study Centre before the start of the semester (offered in September for those arriving for the Wintersemester and in March for those arriving for the Sommersemester). The program includes 80 hours of language instruction at three different levels (elementary, intermediate, advanced). All courses contain exercises dealing with German grammar, conversation, reading and writing, listening comprehension, lexis, phonetics, regional and cultural studies and information about studying in Heidelberg. A daily breakfast is also included.

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Registration with the University

Registration for exchange students takes place at the Akademisches Auslandsamt (room #27). The exact dates of the registration period are given on the Zulassungsbescheid.
For students attending the preparatory language course, special registration dates will be offered. You are strongly advised to register on these dates in order to avoid long waiting periods at the beginning of the semester.
In order to register you must come to the Akademisches Auslandsamt in person and present the following documents:

  • valid passport
  • documentation on health insurance
  • letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid)

Please note that this registration procedure concerns Heidelberg University as a whole. Enrolment for specific Seminare and Übungen takes place with individual professors and departments (See chapter 7 "Creating your own Schedule – Course Selection").

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Getting a student ID

Upon enrolment, you will receive also the so-called student ID which makes it possible for you to eat in the student restaurants (Mensa) and to use the university library (Universitätsbibliothek, see chapter 7) as well as the services of the University’s computer center (URZ, see chapter 7). 

You need to activate your student-ID at Once you have activated your identification it is possible for you to print out your Studienbescheinigung (certificates of enrolment).
Further information is available at

Before you can use the university's online services, you need to activate your student account on the university portal LSF

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Orientation Days

Every semester, the Akademisches Auslandsamt organizes Orientation Days to introduce new international students to Heidelberg and to the German university system. These days usually take place in the week before lectures start and consist of a number of events and presentations covering a wide range of academic and social issues. You will receive registration information for the Orientation Days with your letter of admission. The program for the Orientation Days will be posted on the Internet shortly before the start of the semester.

In addition, every department offers introductory sessions to all new students. An overview of the sessions is available shortly before the start of each lecture period at:

We highly recommend these Orientations as a chance to meet other students and adapt to everyday life in Heidelberg.

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Creating your own Schedule – Course Selection

Exchange students have a relatively free choice in selecting the classes they want to take.
Information on the courses offered in the following semester is published online a few months before the lecture period starts at:
For some disciplines, you do not only get course titles and information as to when the course takes place, but also more detailed information on the course content and a reading list. This is very helpful both for choosing courses and as a source of information about receiving credit. Usually, you will also find information as to whether you have to sign up for a course (e.g. by sending an e-mail to the professor who will give a lecture, or by signing up on a list at the office door of a professor, etc.).
For other subjects, this information may not be available through the on-line course catalogue but at the web-sites of the individual departments ( It may also be available in form of a little booklet called kommentiertes Vorlesungsverzeichnis which can be purchased a few weeks before the start of each semester from the respective department.

There are three main kinds of courses offered at the university: Vorlesungen, Seminare and Übungen. While Vorlesungen are primarily lecture courses, Seminare require students to participate in discussions and sometimes prepare oral presentations. Proseminare are basic-level classes. Hauptseminare and Oberseminare are designed for students in the second cycle of their studies. In many departments, you must sign up for a Seminar at the start of the semester. Lastly, Übungen allow students to develop specific types of skills (e.g. translation, lab work etc.). Note: If you are required by your home university to receive credit for a lecture course you can speak to the lecturer and request to submit a paper or take an oral or written test. Most lecturers agree to such an arrangement.

Students who wish to obtain advice on course selection can seek help from the relevant departmental advisor or from their exchange coordinator at the  Akademische Auslandsamt.

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Receiving Credits

The structure of the German educational system still differs from that of other countries. Heidelberg University does not have a centralized system of course registration. Registration for courses usually takes place at the individual departments. For some courses, it may not even be necessary to formally register. Since exchange students usually take courses at various departments, an official transcript can not be issued easily.

To receive a transcript from the International Relations Office, we suggest that you follow the procedure outlined below.
Upon registration, you will receive a Studienbuch (official documentation of enrollment). As you complete your courses, you are issued Scheine (special certificates, credits). These Scheine signify that you have fulfilled the course requirements. There are two types of Scheine: benotet (graded) and unbenotet (ungraded). Some Scheine are ungraded. If your home university only gives credit for graded Scheine, you should speak to the relevant professor(s) at the beginning of the semester and arrange to receive a graded Schein. You should place your Scheine in your Studienbuch: they are the only documentation you receive for the courses you have taken.

Before you leave Heidelberg, you should provide your exchange coordinator with a complete list of the courses that you have attended and for which you have received a Schein. You can then present this list along with your original Scheine to the Akademische Auslandsamt. The Akademisches Auslandsamt will issue an official transcript on the basis of the Scheine presented. It is of great importance that you hand in your Scheine before leaving Heidelberg. Heidelberg University does not keep copies of students’ Scheine and so it is very complicated, if not impossible, to provide a transcript after you have left Heidelberg.
Remember that Scheine are not automatically given for all courses. You are strongly encouraged to talk to the lecturer at the beginning of the semester and make arrangements so that you receive the desired Schein upon successfully completing the course.

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