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Applied Computer Science

Degree Master of Science
Application required  access-restricted
Course commences winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration 4 semesters
Format options full-time only
Language requirements German (For international students: DSH2)
Language of instruction German
Other features postgraduate / consecutive  


Computer Science at Heidelberg University


Course outline

The M.A. course in Applied Computer Science builds on the concepts, models and techniques discussed in the B.A. course. Alongside extension and specialisation in their knowledge of the subjects, the students also acquire additional scientific skills. The course is notable for the number of options it offers for intensification and specialisation, both in the direction of Information Systems Engineering, Computer Engineering and also in methods and procedures for analysis, modelling and simulation in the context of complex and distributed systems. A major asset of the course is the close cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR), notably in the optimisation and simulation of complex phenomena in the natural sciences. The M.A. course also provides ample scope for independent research and development work. At Heidelberg University, graduates from the course planning to embark on a doctorate have a wide range of research opportunities to choose from.


Students applying for the M.Sc. course need to have a B.Sc. in computer science or a related subject. The course sets out to deepen the knowledge of concepts, models and applications in computer science acquired in the compulsory lectures of the B.A. course in Computer Science. A special prerequisite is familiarity with a programming language (C, C++, Java etc.), an operating system and the fundamentals of algorithms and data structures. Deficits in this respect must be remedied by the students in the early stages of the course. Mathematics figures prominently in the M.Sc. course as a foundation for extensive areas of computer science itself and the subsidiary subjects that students are required to take. Accordingly, interest and advanced proficiency in mathematics are a major asset. Also essential is a good working knowledge of English, as most of the scientific publications on computer science are written in that language.

Career prospects

Prospective careers range from the communication industry, corporate consulting, the media industry, various Internet service providers and portals, insurance, banking and public administration to all sectors of engineering (mechanical engineering, process engineering, electrical engineering, etc.). The importance of computer science in academia (both the sciences and the humanities) is increasing by leaps and bounds (geo-information systems, bioinformatics, linguistic analyses, etc.). While many computer scientists are employed in software and hardware development, just as many have found job opportunities in project management, teaching, research and computer training, as well as in many other sectors where technological and communicative knowhow is at a premium.

Course structure

The M.Sc. course in Applied Computer Science is modular in structure. Credit points (CP) are awarded for each module. The required total number of CP is 120. They are divided up as follows:

  Credit points
Modules in Computer Science 72
Subsidiary (minor) subject     18
M.Sc. thesis 30
Total 120


At least 8 of these CP in Computer Science must be acquired via seminar attendance. Alongside the modules listed below, other modules may be countable towards the total number of CP provided they supplement the content dealt with in the listed modules. Taught classes take up the first three semesters. The fourth semester is reserved for completion of the M.Sc. thesis.

An integral part of the M.Sc. course in Applied Computer Science is the study of a subsidiary (minor) subject. The following subjects can be chosen as minors: Astronomy, Biosciences, Chemistry, Computational Linguistics, Economics, Geography, Geosciences, Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics. Upon application, the examinations board in conjunction with the relevant Faculties may also permit the choice of other subsidiary subjects, as long as they can be studied at Heidelberg University and have an adequately demonstrable connection with Applied Computer Science.

The modules on offer in the field of Computer Science include

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Efficient Algorithms
  • Algorithmic and Numerical Optimisation
  • Software Engineering
  • Databases and Information Systems
  • Parallel Computing and Parallel Computer Architectures
  • Cluster Computing
  • Scientific Computing
  • Compiler Construction
  • Microelectronics

Alongside specific knowledge of the subject proper, acquisition of other important skills also figures on the curriculum:

  • Scientific methodology
  • Introduction to interdisciplinary systemic thinking
  • Experience with practical applications
  • Communication and team skills

The modules can be freely selected or specifically combined for the purpose of in-depth specialisations like Information Systems Engineering or Computer Engineering.

Main research interests

In its research work, the Department of Applied Computer Science at Heidelberg University dedicates its endeavours to improving the understanding and design of complex (engineering) systems and processes operative in computer science. Core activities revolve around the development of innovative strategies for the efficient and effective design of data- and computer-intensive processes and systems as the basis for complex applications. Examples are calculability and complexity theory, strategies and mechanisms for the efficient use of application-specific high-power computing systems, algorithms for the solution of optimisation problems, procedures for the administration and analysis of scientific data, data mining and knowledge-based software development. Findings from basic and applied research in physics are drawn upon for the development of computer-aided systems with innovative features and high computing capacity. Examples are photonic systems and the use of concepts from theoretical physics (Hamiltonian formalisms, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics).

On the application side, the Department engages in intensive cooperation with groups working in Physics & Astronomy, Mathematics, Scientific Computing, Medicine and Biology, Geography and Computational Linguistics. Here the engineering and methodologies of computer science are implemented in the design of application-specific, computer-assisted systems for the natural sciences and the life sciences. In these sectors, many research projects handling immense amounts of data and thus requiring high computing capacities are only feasible on the basis of scientific instrumentation of this kind, e.g. data capture or analysis by special computers.

Formal requirements

Access and Admission

Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Prospective students from Germany

Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the Institute of Computer Science for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries must apply in writing, so that their previous academic record can be verified. The deadline for international applicants is 15 June for the winter semester and 15 November for the summer semester. Applications must be addressed directly to the International Relations Office. Please use the M.A. application form here and enclose the necessary documents.

Further information

Current information on procedure


Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.Sc. (22 July 2010)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

Academic advisor

PD Dr. Wolfgang Merkle
Im Neuenheimer Feld 205 - Mathematikon (Part A), Office 02.211
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone.: +49 (0)6221-54-14323


Institute of Computer Science
Im Neuenheimer Feld 205 - Mathematikon (Part A)
D-69120 Heidelberg


Office 01.308
phone.: +49 (0)6221-54-14300
fax: +49 (0)6221-54-14301

Student representation

Fachschaft MathPhys
Office 01.301
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0)6221-54-14999
fax: +49 (0)6221-54-16114999

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Latest Revision: 2018-03-08
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