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Degree State Examination
Application     mandatory, incl. higher semesters
Course commences winter semester
Standard course duration       9 semesters
Language requirements none
Language of instruction German


Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law was one of the founding faculties of Heidelberg University in 1386. Today it is one of the outstanding legal faculties in the Federal Republic of Germany and one of the leading faculties of its kind in the European Union.

The Heidelberg Law course is based on the Ministerial Order of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Justice on the education, training and examination of Law students (the JAPrO). It closes with the First Examination in Law. This examination consists of the State Examination in Compulsory Subjects (State Examination) and the University Examination in Focal Subjects (University Examination). Minimum course duration is three-and-a-half years, standard course duration 9 semesters. Graduates can go on to a doctorate (Dr. iur.). Law graduates from abroad can choose between two postgraduate programmes leading to an LL.M. or an LL.M. int. degree. The latter is now also available for law graduates who have studied in Germany. “Public Law” can be selected as a subsidiary subject (25%) in the framework of a Bachelor programme.

Training for law students divides into two parts, the Law course proper and the subsequent two-year preparatory service (judicial service) ending with the First and Second Examinations in Law conferring on graduates the status of judicial service trainees and junior executive officers, respectively. Successful completion of these two parts of the overall training schedule is the essential qualification not only for holding judicial office and entering the administrative civil service but also for all other mainstream legal professions (barrister/solicitor, notary, etc.).


Course outline

The aim of the Law course is set out in § 3 I of the JAPro: “With the requisite academic thoroughness, students engage with the most important sectors of Civil Law, Criminal Law and Public Law as well as a focal subject with due concern for international (notably European) and procedural perspectives. Appropriate attention is paid to the foundational subjects (History of Law, Philosophy of Law, Sociology of Law, Legal Methodology, Comparative Law, General Constitutional Law).” The Law course as described here is designed to establish the basis for admission to preparatory (judicial) service and the later practice of a legal profession. 

Achieving this goal is conditional first of all on thorough knowledge of present-day Law and its historical, economic, political and philosophical foundations and implications. This knowledge is imparted primarily by lectures on the three core sectors in Legal Studies: Civil Law, Criminal Law, Public Law. The practical classes associated with the lectures are where students acquire and consolidate the ability to apply their legal knowledge to actual cases. They are required to demonstrate this ability in written form by sitting examinations under invigilation and completing written assignments.

The subjects

Civil Law (Private Law) regulates the legal relations between individuals (e.g. contract law, laws on compensation, inheritance, employment, family law, etc.).

By contrast, Public Law is concerned with legal matters that have a bearing on the political and sovereign capacity of the state, notably the legal relations between the state and its citizens (e.g. constitutional law, administrative law).

Criminal Law defines criminal conduct and investigates the establishment and enforcement of criminal laws.

Part and parcel of these core subjects are the corresponding procedural provisions regulating the conduct of proceedings at civil, criminal, constitutional and administrative courts.

The three core subjects divide up inti numerous individual sectors that are not all given the same emphasis in the programme. Accordingly, the JAPrO distinguishes between compulsory, foundational and focal subjects (preferential focus). The foundational subjects deal with key historical, philosophical and sociological aspects of the Law (history of law, philosophy of law, sociology of law, legal methodology, comparative law, general constitutional law) and are designed to provide a profounder appreciation of Law and its applications. Subjects in the focal areas (preferential focus) are more specialist in nature and geared to central concerns in economic law, criminal law, administrative law etc. They supplement, consolidate and extend the knowledge acquired in the compulsory subjects associated with them. Engagement with a focal area begins after the intermediate examination. Selection should be dictated by personal preference and/or by the future professional pathways envisaged.

Study requirements

Apart from the general qualification to study at university (Abitur, A-levels, etc.), the Law course imposes no specific requirements on potential students, not even knowledge of Latin. Evidence of adequate proficiency in Latin (the Latinum, etc.) is however required of students embarking later on a doctoral programme in Law. Alongside a broad fund of general knowledge, Law students should possess the ability to express themselves correctly (both in writing and orally), an ability absolutely indispensable for the legal professions. In addition, the work involved in the course calls for logical and abstract thinking. A grasp of, and an interest in, political, economic and societal issues should be self-evident. In future, knowledge of foreign languages (notably French and English) will be even more important for lawyers than they are now. One indication that may be helpful in coming to a decision on what to study is the fact that various investigations have shown that there is a clearly defined connection between the average grades achieved in German, Mathematics and Latin (or the first foreign language) in school-leaving examinations and success in studying Law (examination results and study duration).

Special features of the Heidelberg Law course

Within the ambit of the statutory provisions governing education for Law students, the Heidelberg Law Faculty has a highly distinctive profile. This is reflected first of all in the focal areas offered in the later stages of the course:


In response to the large number of Law graduates who opt for a profession as a “lawyer” (barrister or solicitor, attorney), the Faculty of Law introduced in 1996 a “lawyer-oriented” training programme called Anwaltsorientiere Juristenausbildung. This new programme gives students a greater opportunity than before to acquaint themselves in class with the lawyer’s or notary’s perspective on legal activity. One of the ways this is achieved is by integrating lawyer-oriented approaches and issues into the traditional classes on elective and compulsory subjects, not least by inviting experienced practitioners to participate in lectures and practical classes. This pioneering Heidelberg model has been emulated by universities all over Germany.

The Faculty’s “HeidelPräp!” programme is designed to facilitate comprehensive preparation for the first Examination in Law (State Examination and University Examination). For a detailed account of the strategy behind it and the elements it is made up of, go to

For many years, the Heidelberg Faculty has run a three-semester course providing an introduction to the foundations of French law and French legal parlance closing (if so desired) with an examination. A similar course on the foundations of British and American law is also available.

There are partnerships with the Law Faculties of universities in Cambridge, Georgetown (Washington DC), Montpellier, Budapest, Cracow, Porto Alegre, Prague and the Cornell Law School, Ithaca (NY).

Within the framework of the ERASMUS programme exchanges are possible with the Law Faculties of the following universities: Athens, Barcelona, Barcelona Autônoma, Bergen, Bologna, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca, Complutense (Madrid), Copenhagen, Cracow, Deusto (Bilbao), Ferrara, Fribourg, Gdansk, King’s College (London), La Laguna (Tenerife), Lecce, Leeds, Leiden, Leuven, Ljubljana, Lund, Maribor, Montpellier, Neuchâtel, Poitiers, Porto, Prague, Roma III, Salerno, San Pablo CEU (Madrid), Sorbonne-Paris I, Strasbourg, Tilburg, Uppsala, Vilnius, Yeditepe (Istanbul).

Course structure

Unlike many other higher-education course, the Law programme is not especially regimented (no attendance lists or end-of-term examinations), so that to a very large degree students can organise their studies as they see fit. However, to provide some guidance in the expedient and systematic management of coursework, The Faculty of Law has elaborated a Study Plan. It is a proposal that takes account of the requirements of the JAPrO and contains recommendations on what classes (subjects) to attend in a given semester.

Formal requirements

The course is admission-restricted (numerus clausus = limited intake). The current Selection Regulations are available here. Application online.

International applicants

There are special regulations for international applicants. Please consult Heidelberg University’s International Relations Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt, Seminarstraße 2) for more information. International students are offered a preparatory semester in the summer term prior to the beginning of the course proper.

Study and examination regulations

Overview of Examination and Study Regulations on the website of the Faculty of Law
Intermediate Examination Regulations (new, from summer semester 2009)
Intermediate Examination Regulations (old, up to winter semester 08/09)
Regulations on Course Content and Examination in Focal Areas (2015)
Regulations on Course Content and Examination in Focal Areas (2013)
Regulations on Course Content and Examination in Focal Areas (2008)
Regulations on Course Content and Examination in Focal Areas (2004)
Fundamentals of French Law: Examination Regulations (14 July 1994)
Fundamentals of Anglo-American Law: Examination Regulations (14 July 1994)
Non-grading of classwork with identical content

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 advisors
(during term-time)

State Examination
Dr. Daniel Kaiser
Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 6-10,
Office 019
office hours in term-time: Mondays and Thursdays 9 – 11 am and 2 – 4 pm
phone: +49 (0)6221 547632

Bachelor (25% subsidiary subject), M.A. subsidiary subject (to be discontinued) and other issues connected with subsidiary subjects
Karla Klemann
Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 6-10, Office 016
office hours in term-time: Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10 am – 12 noon
phone: +49 (0)6221 547435



Faculty of Law
Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 6-10
D-69117 Heidelberg

phone: +49 (0)6221 547631 or 547630
fax: +49 (0)6221 547654

Student representation
phone: +49 (0)6221 547720
fax: +49 (0)6221 547654 (address to “Fachschaft”)

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Latest Revision: 2018-04-17
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