Frequently asked questions (and answers) about studying physics

General questions

  • What prerequisites should you have for your studies?
    Interest in and fun with physics. All the rest can be acquired.
  • Can you find out in advance if university is right for you?
    The lectures are freely accessible so that you can always just go there and have a look at them. For orientation, there is always the university’s course overview.
  • Does it make sense to study physics without much prior knowledge from school, but with great interest in the subject?
    Yes – and no. There are many students who manage this very well, while others have trouble. But this is true even if you had a lot of math in school. The most important part is being interested in the subject and having fun doing it.
  • How difficult is it really?
    Depends partially on prior knowledge, but mostly on how much time you invest on revising and doing the problems. Studying physics is full-time, though, so that a “40-hour week” is quite normal.
  • Are students taken care of well even though there are so many?
    YES! Very well! (Just like at many other physics departments in Germany.)
  • Is the study program well-organized?
    We think: Yes! Even if there might always be individual points which can be optimized. We’re cooperating very well with the department.
  • How good are the teachers? Does the quality of professors and lecturers reach the students?
    Most of the time ;-) The Student Council has been evaluating the courses for many years and can assert in sum that the students’ satisfaction is pretty high here. Through the teaching prize which we award since the summer semester 2013 the lecturers are incentivized even more to make an effort in teaching.
  • What is the general mood like among students? Is there a good connection to the professors? How satisfied are you with your studies?
    The mood in the department is very good. We don’t know of any fundamental and/or larger differences among students or between students and lecturers.
  • What about about a student assistant (SHK) position? Can you get one if you want to, e. g. as a tutor for tutorials or lab courses?
    There are many student assistant (SHK) positions available; you just have to apply for one early.
  • Does the university have a distinct experimental or theoretical focus?
    Münster is represented strongly both in theory and experiment. You can find details on the research focal points with all working groups at the department homepage.
  • Are studies in physics especially demanding/easy compared to other universities. Which other universities also have a good or perhaps better reputation for this subject etc.?
    Heidelberg or Munich are larger, for example, partially “better” in research… However, students report a worse quality of teaching. If you’re into rankings, having a look at those lists might be useful. Be wary of statistics, though (don’t trust any you haven’t forged yourself) ;-)
    In general, it’s true that physics is always demanding and that the choice of location is not as important for the bachelor’s as it is for the master’s.
  • I want to start studying physics in the winter semester. Is it already possible to recommend some books?
    For the first semester, typical candidates for math are Analysis 1 – Otto Forster (Vieweg) or Analysis 1 – Königsberger (Springer) and for physics e. g. Grundkurs Theoretische Physik 1, Klassische Mechanik – Wolfgang Nolting (Springer), Experimentalphysik 1, Mechanik und Wärme – Wolfgang Demtröder (Springer) or Gerthsen Physik – Dieter Meschede (Springer). Additionally, we present the most common books in the Introduction Week – you can look at our slides for the book club talk if you’re already enrolled. However, every professor can structure their lecture according to a different book; recommendations are given in the first lecture. Besides, you can get most books from the Springer publishing company as a free download if you’re a student at WWU. The books mentioned here are also present in great numbers in the textbook collection at the ULB where they can be loaned, since especially books on experimental physics are quite expensive. We recommend that you wait until you find out about the professor’s recommendations. Definitely look at several different books because people cope differently with different writing styles.
  • How and when can I register for lectures and exams?
    The respective periods for registration are given centrally. However, these are only general dates from which individual subjects can deviate. Due to this, the professor will usually tell you when you have to register. You will also receive reminder emails about the registration periods. Registration is done (exclusively!) in the QISPOS system. Registration for courses in the course overview (HIS LSF) is not necessary for physics. (Take note, however, that in some minors, e. g. philosophy, registration in the HIS LSF may be required to get a seat in the seminars.) See also the QISPOS FAQ at the university homepage. You don’t need to register for any courses before your studies begin.
    (Note for double bachelor’s: For your other subjects, the situation can of course be different. Especially in education, a registration date is often placed even before our Introduction Week! We recommend hopping over to the Education Student Council if you have questions about this.)
  • Where can I find my schedule?
    We’ve created a schedule for the first semester which you can view online on our website or in our freshman magazine Ersti-Φbel which you’ll receive in the Introduction Week. There is also a schedule function in the HIS LSF (course overview), but this is just a hopeless mess and thus not really useable in a useful way.
  • I need a certificate for BAföG. Where can I get these?
    There are two different certificates. The first has to be included with every application and shows that you’re a student at the WWU Münster. You can download and print this one for each semester. The second one (Formblatt 5) has to be handed in after the fourth semester and shows that you’re studying in regular time and have all necessary achievements. You can get it signed by the study program coordinator (Prof. Bracht, see course guidance).

Physics as a major (bachelor’s)

  • How can I enroll for physics?
    Physics is unrestricted (information at the Central Study Guidance, ZSB) so that you can enroll (online) directly without application. Note, however, that there are special application requirements for international students. For physics, this is only possible for the winter semester. If you just want to study physics, the Bachelor of Science (single subject) is the way to go; if you want to become a teacher in Germany, you need to do a double bachelor’s (2FB). We recommend taking the preparatory courses at the beginning of the semester as well as attending the Introduction Week.
  • What is a minor subject?
    The “minor subject” (not to be confused with the second subject in a double bachelor; the correct term is “interdisciplinary studies” as a compulsory optional subject) consists of attending a few lectures in a different subject which must be related to physics (or a later choice of profession) for two or three semesters. Which lectures these are specifically is determined by the exam regulations. Typical subjects for interdisciplinary studies are chemistry, computer science, mathematics, philosophy, but others are also possible. You “choose” the minor by attending the relevant courses and registering for these courses and the exams during the registration period. Since these do not start at the very beginning of the semester, you have a few weeks to look around and decide on a subject. Other decisions like the subject of the bachelor thesis are completely independent of this. All further information is available on our info page on minor subjects.
  • What is the role of the different institutes during the bachelor’s? Are these only specializations for the master’s?
    In principle, these are only important for the bachelor thesis and some seminars, so only starting from the fifth (sometimes fourth) semester.

Physics as a major (master’s)

  • I’d like to do a Ph.D. in the future, but without switching universities. So of course I’m interested if I can get a good Ph.D. position in Münster.
    This is often very possible in Münster; of course, this depends in part on your performance and field of research, but the chances are good!

Physics teacher’s program/double bachelor (2FB)

  • Is it possible to switch from a teacher’s program/double bachelor’s (2FB) to the “regular” bachelor’s in physics? Is a transition to the master’s in physics after a double bachelor’s possible?
    With some advance planning, the switch is possible even in higher semesters or after the bachelor’s degree, but it’s linked to additional work. The differences are mainly that mathematics are missing and that the physics courses are shortened starting from the second semester. The lab courses in the third and fourth semesters are shortened as well. Except for maths, this can be integrated into the schedule relatively simply, though.
    Our suggestion is therefore: Try to study both programs in parallel in the first few weeks, i. e. attend the “regular” physics program lectures (math for physicists, all tutorials). If this is working out with respect to time and workload, you’d be able to get two degrees in the end. If it’s not, you can stop this “experiment” at any time. If the only problem is math, there is the option to take everything else so that only math is missing, which can be done at a later point relatively easily.
    After the double bachelor degree, the missing subject matter must be made up for in adjustment studies and in the context of interdisciplinary studies. This will take about two semesters.

Physics as a minor subject

  • What is contained in the physics minor?
    For this, we refer to the study and exam regulations for the respective major subject.

Questions about Münster and student life

  • What is the housing situation like in Münster? Can you find an apartment easily?
    It is possible to find a beautiful and affordable apartment, but you have to search, search, search… and, unfortunately, be lucky. The housing market is in constant flux, since the student dorms have been/are being renovated so that some housing space is missing. The Student Union (AStA), the university, the university of applied sciences and the town administration are trying to create affordable living space for students together (Information from the AStA on housing).
  • What about living expenses, e. g. how expensive is the canteen?
    Münster is not exactly cheap, but it’s not Munich, either. On the other hand, Münster is the most livable town in the world! The canteen prices are OK (usually 2–3 euros for a meal).