The Bachelor (from Latin: baccalaurea/baccalaureus: “someone who is crowned with a laurel”) is a so-called undergraduate course and the first scientific degree that can be obtained. A Bachelor's degree is a prerequisite to take up a Master's course. As only a single scientific discipline is addressed, the degree is also referred to as “Monobachelor”.
Credit points and lectures/courses
In order to complete a course of studies, it is necessary to collect a certain number of credit points, which are acquired through successful participation in lectures, seminars, exercises, projects, by submitting theses, and taking part in language courses, completing internships, or other accomplishments. Each lecture/course is assigned a certain amount of credit points, and you can collect points until you have acquired 180, allowing you to – in connection with submitting an adequate Bachelor's thesis – obtain the degree.
The study regulations govern how exactly the 180 credit points have to be acquired – subject to the respective course of studies. In order to obtain a Bachelor in Digital Philology at the TU Darmstadt, for example, you have to acquire 135 credit points in the compulsory subject area, which is divided into areas such as Digital Philology or Linguistics. The remaining points can be obtained through the elective required subject, which serves to focus on subject-relevant topics, and the optional subject, in which you can take a look beyond the scope of your scientific discipline, for example by attending courses/lectures in the fields of Political Science, Sports Sciences, or language courses – and, finally, through the final thesis.
Grades and graduation
However, a bachelor's degree is not only dependent on a certain number of credit points. The grades obtained during the course of study play a major role as well, as they determine the overall grade. On the one hand, this grade results from the final thesis, but also from the grades earned during the course of study in the various courses. However, not all events are graded, and even the graded lectures/courses can – depending on the course of studies – be included in the final grade, with different weightings. If you manage to collect all necessary grades and credit points, you are able to obtain a Bachelor's degree, which helps to take up a successful career or a subsequent graduate course!
By the way, the exact title of the Bachelor's degree depends on the respective course of studies. By obtaining a degree in a subject area of the Humanities, you will obtain the Bachelor of Arts, while a Bachelor of Science is awarded in Science or Engineering. If the subject has a pedagogical orientation, you will obtain a Bachelor of Education. For Bachelor's degrees, the standard period of study is usually six semesters, but that does not necessarily mean that you have to complete your studies in that time frame.