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FAQ’s – Language Courses for Doctoral Candidates at the AMC, Winter Semester 2018/19


Thank you for your interest in our language courses for Doctoral Students and Candidates! All the information you will need to know regarding the courses we offer, registration procedure and deadlines is available on our website and here in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

The Albertus Magnus Center (AMC) in conjunction with the program Promoting International Doctorates at the University of Cologne (IPaK) and the German as a Foreign Language Department (DaF) at the University of Cologne are pleased to offer a selection of German- and English-language courses for Doctoral Candidates at the University of Cologne.


1. Q: What sorts of language courses are available for doctoral students and candidates at the University of Cologne?

A: The AMC and the German as a Foreign Language Department (DaF) are pleased to offer three German as a Foreign Language Courses to doctoral students and candidates, as well as two English courses.


2. Q: What levels of German are offered?

A: The levels of German as a Foreign Language courses we plan to offer in the 2018 – 2019 winter semester are: CEF A1, CEF A2, and CEF II / B1.


3. Q: What levels of English are offered?

A: The University of Cologne does not offer any basic-level English courses, but rather courses to hone your English skills in an academic environment.

The courses offered are: Conversational English in an Academic Setting, and Abstract Writing, which focusses on writing abstracts and grant proposals. Neither of these classes require a certificate of proficiency in English, but an advanced grasp of the language is necessary to benefit from the courses.


4. Q: When and where do the courses take place?

A: All course details such as the time and date of each course are estimated to be available on our website as of September 17th 2018.


5. Q: When and how can I register for the course(s) I would like to take?

A: Registration will be possible as of September 17th 2018, and will close in Calendar week 41 ( October 8th – 14th, 2018). Resitration is done exclusively online, through our online portal.


6. Q: When do courses begin?

A: Courses will begin in Calendar Week 42 (October 15th – 21st, 2018)


7. Q: How much does it cost to participate in a language course with IPaK?

A: There is no fee for the IPaK language courses for doctoral students and candidates at the University of Cologne.


8. Q: I received a confirmation of my registration. Does that mean I have a place in the course?

A: No, a confirmation of registration is NOT an official acceptance to the course. We send you the confirmation to be sure we have your contact information correct. There is usually a waiting period of at least 2-4 weeks before the acceptance notifications are sent out. See FAQ#9 for details about how acceptance to the different courses works.


9. Q: How are places in the courses awarded?

A: Acceptance to the German courses are awarded after the placement test ( required for all participants in German levels CEF A2 and CEF II / B1, who have NOT received a certificate of completion of the respective prerequisite course from the University of Cologne within the previous two semesters), and for the English courses, at the end of the registration period.

If more people have registered than there are spots in the course, places are awarded at random.

In all cases, you will receive:

  • A confirmation e-mail that we have received your registration,
  • An e-mail with the information about the placement test (German courses only; level A1 does not apply)
  • An e-mail containing the results of your placement test, and letting you know whether you have received a place in the workshop. This e-mail will include the times and dates for those who have been admitted, as well as any information about preparation to do before the course, if applicable.


10. Q: What is a placement test, how does it work, and why do I have to take it?

A: A placement test is a written exam that all participants wishing to participate in German levels CEF A2 and CEF II / B1 must write. The purpose of the placement test it to see whether your German really is at the level you believe it to be.

The way it works, is that you and everyone else wishing to participate in these courses assemble together in one of our Lecture halls, take a seat, and simply answer the questions you see on the test before you.


You will not be graded, and the results of this test will have NO IMPACT upon your future studies. This test is simply a measure of your German proficiency so that we can place you in the course at the best level for you, so you can get the absolute most out of the course as possible.


11. Q: What happens if I have registered for one level of German, but after the placement test am assigned to another?

A: You will simply participate in a class at a different level. All this means is that your German is at a different level than you expected, which is nothing to worry about! It is for this exact reason that we have the placement test; so we can make sure you receive instruction at the level that best suits and strengthens your current abilities.


12. Q: When does the placement test take place?

A: All the details about the placement test will come to you in an e-mail after you have registered. See FAQ #9.


13. Q: Who all must participate in the placement test?

A: All participants who wish to attend German levels CEF A2 and CEF II / B1 must write the placement test, EXCEPT:

  • Participants who completed the appropriate prerequisite course within the past two semesters at the University of Cologne.
  • For CEF A2, this means: You have completed German CEF A1 at the University of Cologne within the past two semesters.
  • For CEF II / B1, this means: You have completed German CEF A2 at the University of Cologne within the past two semesters.
  • In both cases, you must provide the DaF with proof of successful completion of the course. Please refer to the DaF directly for further details:


14. Q: I received my B1 certificate within the past two semesters at the University of Cologne. Is it possible to attend a B2-level course as a doctoral student or candidate?

A: IPaK unfortunately does not offer German classes above level B1. For information about what other levels of German, and any specific skill sets offered in German, please refer directly to the German as a Foreign Language (Deutsch als Fremdsprache) department:


15. Q: I registered right at the beginning but didn’t get a spot. Why did this happen?

A: In cases where we have more registrations than there are spots in the course, we have to award spots to participants at random. This means that although you signed up very early, there is still a chance that you will not get a place in the course.


16. Q: Is there a chance I may still get a spot?

A: Oftentimes we have short-notice cancellations, which allows places to open up. In the event that some people are not initially awarded a spot in the Workshop they hoped for, we put their names on a waiting list and let them know as soon as a spot becomes available.


17. Q: I have some German training already, and have signed up for a class level above A1. What does that mean for me in terms of my chances of being admitted to the class of my choice?

A: All participants who register to German levels A2 and B1 must take a placement test before being awarded a place in the class. The only exception to this rule is if the participant has proof of completion of the previous course (A1 and A2, respectively), that was completed maximum two semesters prior at the University of Cologne. All other participants must take the placement test (German: Einstufungstest). See FAQ#13.


18. Q: I registered for German A1. Is there anything else I need to do in terms of tests or preparation?

A: Nope, you’re all set! Just wait for your confirmation of registration e-mail to come in, and your subsequent confirmation of acceptance.


19. Q: What is the time commitment of the different courses?

A: The German courses take place on a weekly basis, and generally require a maximum of 4 hours of work weekly including class time.

English courses take place on a monthly basis and require two hours of class time a month, plus preparatory work, when assigned. In total, the average participant spends a maximum of 2 hours a week on the English courses.


20. Q: Will there be a test or exam at the end of the course?

A: If there is a test or exam, it will be clearly stated in the course description.


21. Q: Will I receive anything to prove that I have successfully completed this course?

A: All participants receive a certificate of participation at the end of each course.


22. Q: I was told that I would receive my confirmation e-mail two weeks before the start of the course. It is later than that, and I have not yet received an e-mail. Has something gone wrong?

A: No, nothing has gone wrong. As long as you have registered and gone to the placement test (if necessary), you’re right on track. Because of the high level of interest in our courses, it often happens that the confirmation e-mails get sent out later than expected.

A good rule of thumb is that it can take up to 5 extra business days for the confirmations to get sent out, so there is no need to worry. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes, and thank you for your patience and understanding!


23. Q: Is participation in a language course mandatory for doctoral students and candidates?

A: No, participation is not mandatory. The courses are simply here for you if you would like to participate.


24. Q:  Who can participate in the IPaK language courses?

A: The IPaK language courses are only open to doctoral students and candidates at the University of Cologne.


25. Q: What else is offered by IPaK and the Albertus Magnus Center (AMC)?

A: The AMNZ offers a wide selection of workshops designed to offer guidance and support throughout the entirety of your doctoral studies. All information about Workshops through the AMNZ is available here:


IPaK and the University of Cologne also host a monthly International Stammtisch, which all international Doctoral Candidates, Post-Docs, Visiting Scholars and Visiting Professors are invited to attend! The programme consists of a tour of one of Cologne’s historical or cultural sites, such as the Cologne Cathedral, followed by drinks – on us! All you have to do to attend is send us an e-mail, and bring 3.00 Euros to the meet-up point with you for the small attendance fee. All information about our International Stammtisch is available here:

If your question was not answered here, please feel free to send an e-mail to Rosemary Hoekstra, who will be happy to help: