Fulfilling course requirements

Last week I had to sign up for classes, and this has been quite an ordeal. There are certain credit point (CP) requirements I need to fulfill to graduate. The requirements for the computational linguistics department at Universität des Saarlandes (UdS COLI) are as follows (and I hope I understood this correctly):

img_20161021_173657

“Admittedly, coffee breaks were more fun earlier.”

  • 27 CPs of core courses, in which:
    • 9 CPs are the mandatory Foundations course
  • 48 CPs of other courses, in which:
    • 7 CPs are a master’s seminar with presentation and paper
    • 8 CPs min and 15 CPs max are courses through the comp sci department
    • one course (probably a seminar) contains an oral exam
  • 12 CPs of a master seminar
  • 30 CPs of a master thesis
  • 3 CPs of a master colloquium

No less important are the LCT requirements that I need to fulfill, which are completely separate from the above requirements. In short (to summarize the link above, and once again, if I’ve understood this correctly):

  • 24 CP from Language Tech
    • 6 CP from foundation courses
    • 9 CP from computational syntax/morphology
    • 9 CP from computational semantics/pragmatics
  • 24 CP from Comp Sci
    • 6 CP from data structures/data organization/processing
    • 9 CP from logic/computability/complexity
    • 9 CP from formal languages and algorithms
  • 42 CP from advanced courses
    • 4 CP from advanced comp ling (machine translation, NLP, speech recog., etc.)
    • 4 CP from advanced comp sci (machine learning, AI, neural nets, etc.)
    • 15 CP for a project (I believe this matches UdS’s master’s thesis+colloquium)
    • 19 CP from other advanced courses
  • 30 CP for a master’s thesis

By the way, course CP values generally work like this:

  • 6 CP for a core course, with exceptions for larger 9 CP courses like Foundations
  • 4/7 CP for a master seminar (4 with presentation only, 7 with paper)
  • 5/8 CP for a project seminar (5 with presentation only, 8 with software project)
  • the oral exam just has to be taken as a requirement and gives no CP

So how shall I fulfill all of these requirements? No idea.

If you read the signing up for classes  post, you will know that the “system” at UdS is “not centralized” (this is a nice way of putting it). The COLI department’s “system,” in particular, is truly a clusterfuck (I’m using this word a lot lately). For example… today is November 1st, and the semester officially started one month ago on October 1st. Deadlines for sign ups for classes in other departments, including sports, languages, and computer science were finished either last week or two weeks ago. Classes in other departments started last week, or are starting this week. Despite all of this, the COLI department only just nailed down their class schedule at the end of last week, and had sign ups open for only the span of, or in some cases half of, last week.

Because we didn’t know about when sign ups for computer science courses took place (due to the “not centralized” system at the uni), and because we didn’t know when our COLI classes would actually take place, and finally because we all had to participate in an intensive COLI course that made us unable to visit the first day of other department’s classes, most of us completely missed computer science department classes.

For those of us that are LCT students, and hence are only here for one year, particularly those of us with linguistics rather than comp sci backgrounds (such as myself), the computer science requirement for COLI is particularly hard to fulfill. This is because, for one, only master’s courses count, but we haven’t taken undergrad comp sci courses so we are missing those foundations. Second, we are generally weaker in math as well, which comp sci courses can be heavy on. Finally, most annoyingly, computer science courses taught by a COLI professor don’t count even if they are offered through the comp sci department and even if LCT would view it as a comp sci course. In addition, many CS courses are only 6 CPs, so we may need two of them (or a core course and an even more advanced level seminar).

So because we missed sign ups, we will likely have only one semester to find some way to fulfill this challenging requirement. The second year LCT students are at even worse disadvantage, because they are supposed to be working on their master’s thesis now, but instead (or rather, in addition) they now need to find some way to fulfill this requirement for COLI.

In terms of the requirements for LCT, we all have been asking for (a) the correspondences of courses to the LCT modules, (b) information about what will be offered next semester, and (c) guidance on what to do for the comp sci requirement. For (a), apparently there’s a list somewhere of correspondences, but the lady who has it has not supplied it, for (b), no one knows what courses will be offered next semester, since they barely know what they are offering this semester, and for (c), in my case at least, guidance was “do you speak German?” (I don’t speak it well enough to take a comp sci course in it).

Long story short, four weeks into the official start of the semester, I still don’t know my schedule for this semester. Let’s not even talk about what will happen once I get to Italy (although they seem more organized in that they do have some of their LCT correspondences posted, and only the CS courses will be difficult to figure out).

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