Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Study plan 2016
The study plan is the most important document for students which provides detailed information specifying course requirements and credits, papers, exams, attendance and possible study at other universities. It is imperative that you read it thoroughly as it represents the legal basis of your studies (only German version available).
During registration, you will receive a personal email address. Using your campus account, you can access your email address: https://www.mail.unibe.ch Email is our primary means of communication with the student body. It is vital that you check your email regulary.
Registration for courses
You need to register in CTS for every course you take. You can find courses of your choice using the "list of courses", add them to your planning view, and register. Please note:
- You must register for both, courses (CD) as well as assessement (AD) separately.
- There are deadlines for (de-) registration to all courses and assessements (visible in CTS). After the deadline your course registration is binding and cannot be changed. Without registration you will not be able to participate in the assessement (AD). If you do not deregister for the assessement and subsequently do not attend the assessement, the system will give grade 1
- In several BSc and MSc courses, participation is limited (proseminars, excursions etc.). Early registration is necessary. Details
ILIAS: Storage for course materials
ILIAS is the central teaching and learning platform of the University of Bern. It can be used as simple and efficient accompaniment and support for presence-based courses and to implement comprehensive online courses. Once you are registered for a course, you will automatically have access to that course on ILIAS.
You find the current timetable under «courses». In the first (introductory) year of the BSc program, all geography major students attend the same courses; they are compulsory and offered every year.
In the advanced BSc program (from the second year onwards) and in MSc programs, you can choose from a wide range of courses. Please be aware that in geography several courses are only offered at two-year intervals. We recommend to plan your studies in advance using the «table of course» («Leistungseinheiten», annex to the plan of studies) and the annotated course catalogue, to be found under «courses», as well as similar documents from your minors.
At GIUB, assessements take place during calendar weeks 7 (for courses of the fall semester and reexaminations) and calendar weeks 23 & 37 (for courses of the spring semester and reexaminations). Exact dates, times and locations of exams will be announced during the courses or can be found in CTS. You register for assessements only in CTS. (cf. «Registration for courses»)
Insufficient grades (failed assessements)
Failed assessements can be repeated once. Always the second attempt counts. The accepted number of insufficient grades is regulated in the plan of studies.
Compensation of insufficient grade
You are allowed to compensate 0 to 3 insufficient grades according to your study program (study plan). Compensation means: the insufficient grades will be counted and the final mark (an average of each mark weighted according to the number of credit points) must be 4.0 or higher.
The "examiners list" indicates who is entitled to supervise BSc theses, MSc theses, and PhD theses, and who is entitled as an examiner for the oral defense of MSc and doctoral theses at GIUB.
Recognition of external coursework
The BSc major program allows a maximum of 15 ECTS external credits. Courses must be geographic and approved in advance by the director of studies (Studienleitung Geographie, Hallerstrasse 12, 3012 Bern) upon written request.
As a master student, you can obtain up to 15 ECTS (MSc mono) or up to 6 ECTS (MSc major) for courses completed in other institutes, faculties or universities. No request is required but the courses should be master courses. For external courses that are not already in CTS, the directorate of studies requires a certificate of attendance (including grades).
The GIUB has contracts with various universities in Europe (Erasmus) as well as overseas (USA, Japan). You find more information on the page Exchange.
BeNeFri (Bern – Neuchâtel – Fribourg)
Courses attended in Fribourg or Neuchâtel are considered external because there ar no coordinated BeNeFri courses in geography (cf. “Recognition of external coursework”).
Minors in combination with BSc in Geography
The Major can be completed with any Bachelor Minor offered at the University of Bern, within the level of 15, 30, or 60 ECTS. In addition, cartography at the ETH Zurich can be taken as a minor as well. See study programmes.
Geography as Minor
Bachelor theses are always written in the framework of a "research practical". Each research units offers each term a research practical, different topics or themes are available i.a. on their homepages. Likewise we encourage you to develop own ideas and topics and contact potential supervisors. After completion notification of grade and digital version of thesis must be submitted to the directorate of studies.
Details concerning the MSc thesis are regulated in the study plans and recapped in a leaflet MSc theses. Attending the master colloquium of the respective research unit is compulsory. The start of the master thesis must be reported to the directorate of studies (secretariat) using the official form. Students who do not submit this form can neither claim a workspace in the institute nor reimbursement of their fieldwork expenses. The research units offer a number of different topics or themes on their websites, we also encourage you to develop own ideas and topics as well and contact potential supervisors.
A master’s degree from a Swiss University or an equivalent university degree (art. 54 para 1 RSL Phil.-nat.) are prerequisite for admission to a PhD program of the faculty, or for submission of a doctoral thesis written independently. The master degree must be 5.0 (magna cum laude) or higher. You will find more information here.
Working while studying
Studies at the University of Bern are full-time. We do not offer any part-time studies. Nevertheless, working while you are studying is possible, but should not prolong the study excessively.
Extension of the study period
Students who require more than eight semesters in the BSc-program or six semesters in the MSc-program, respectively, need to request for extension. This request needs to be addressed to the institution of your major subject. The director of studies of the major subject can grant the first two semesters of extension, while further extension requires permission of the Dean. Semesters in the BSc- and MSc-program are counted separately, i.e. the number of semesters needed for the BSc does not have any influence on the number of available semesters for the MSc.
You will find more information and the request form for the extension of the study period here. Attention: Failed exams are not accepted as a reason for extending the study period!
Change from a bachelor minor in Geography to MSc major Geography
A change to the MSc Geography is possible if at least 60 ECTS were successfully collected in a bachelor minor program in Geography. On this basis, additional courses are required, usually about 30 ECTS. An application must be submitted to the Phil.-nat. Faculty in order to assess your advance performance and determine the amount of additional courses. For more information, contact the directorate of studies.
University change (incoming)
You want to change from another university to the Institut of Geography in Bern.
- Students who obtained a BSc Major in Geography from a Swiss University may change without restriction to any MSc in Geography in Bern.
- Students who obtained a BA Major in Geography from a Swiss University need to check with the Dean's Office whether you have to make up any missing academic attainments at bachelor level.
- Students who obtained a BSc or BA Major in Geography from a foreign University need to check with the Dean's Office whether you have to make up any missing academic attainments at bachelor level.
- It is also possible to change universities within your degree program. The directorate of studies then checks which of your academic attainments to date can be added to the studies you want to embark on and whether you can start in a more advanced semester.
Please contact first the directorate of studies (student advice) for more deatils.