What is a seminar?
The seminar is a very common – especially in the humanities. It serves to gain experience regarding scientific work: research, writing, presentation, and discussion. There are two types of seminars for this purpose: Proseminars, which are usually attended at the beginning of a course of studies, focusing on the basics of scientific work. Here, you will learn the necessary tools, supplemented by specialist knowledge of the basic courses. If you attend an advanced seminar (Hauptseminar) later on, the contents are seen as a basic requirement – to be practiced and deepened.
Thematically, of course, seminars are based on the chosen course of studies. Accordingly, the Institute of Linguistics and Literature offers seminars on (Digital) Linguistics, (Digital) Literary Studies, and of Mediaeval Studies. As all these subject areas also have to be covered during your studies, you will have to attend seminars from each of these areas. The specific seminar content is not always the same. It is often based on the research work of the respective lecturer. Thus, the contents of the seminars changes from semester to semester, as it primarily serves to practice scientific work in general.
What happens in a seminar?
Measured by the number of participants and compared to basic courses or lectures, seminars tend to be small. They usually take place once a week for one and a half hours. The focus lies on interaction between the students, i.e. on discussion and argumentation. The lecturers decide on the topics for the individual sessions and provide theoretical texts on the matter. Based on these texts, the students have to prepare themselves for the respective session in order to actively participate. In order to spark a discussion, it is common to start off a seminar session with a short presentation on the topic, to complement the knowledge from the theoretical texts.
While the individual seminar sessions are aimed at exchange and conversation, you will often have to write a seminar paper to successfully complete seminar. Other options are smaller essays, extensive presentations, or other achievements. The necessary skills are taught during the seminar. In the course of your studies, you will write texts of different types – which, in addition to the scope of respective seminar, is also to be seen as a good exercise for your Bachelor's or Master's thesis.