As if starting a degree wasn't complicated enough, professors, lecturers, secretaries, fellow students and whoever else is running around the university seem to do their best to make it difficult by using hundreds of abbreviations or otherwise incomprehensible terms (or by using miserably long sentences). This article attempts to explain some of the most important of these terms and, where appropriate, to indicate where you can find further information. Of course, one cannot hope for completeness here.
Cluster of Excellence
is an association of research institutions from different disciplines working together on research projects. They receive project-related funding for internationally competitive fields of research as part of the German federal funding programme Excellence Initiative (called Excellence Strategy since 2017). There are currently six Clusters of Excellence in Bonn,
one of which is the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics (HCM) with the alternative long title “Hausdorff Center for Mathematics: Foundations, Models, Applications”.
is the name of a Mexican beer brand. It is available in most supermarkets. Ah, yes, there is also a virus with the same name...
is short for ☞ credit point. Credit point is a unit of measurement defined by the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS); one credit point corresponds to a workload of 30 hours. To obtain your master’s degree, you need to acquire at least 120 credit points (for your bachelor's degree 180 credit points). Further requirements are regulated by the PO.
is a project by the AStA which gives free admission to certain museums and reduced tickets for various theatres.
is an event happening once every semester. There will be no regular courses on that day but many multidisciplinary and cultural events. The programme will be published at www.uni-bonn.de/en/studying/degree-programs/more/life-long-learning-university.
is a proprietary online service. It offers chats, (video) calls and server management architecture. Discord has proved to be a valuable (unofficial) communication tool during times of the coronavirus lockdown. Discord is available to download for free at discord.com.
is short for ☞ Research Institute for Discrete Math-
is an official web service that can be used by lecturers to host course materials and communication interfaces. Its use has increased massively since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. You have to register for your courses at the beginning of the semester (in addition to your registration on BASIS). If a course is password protected, the login data will
(hopefully) be communicated by the Bachelor–Master Office (BaMa).
is short for ☞ European Credit Transfer and Ac-
is a service that allows you to use free Wi-Fi in the vicinity of university buildings. The eduroam network in Bonn is operated by the HRZ. European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a system designed to make academic achievements in European countries better comparable. It specifies that grades are weighted by credit points.
Problem: credits points are a purely quantitative measure. The introduction of the ECTS in Germany is part of the Bologna Process.
is a vague term that can meandifferent things in different contexts. By law, the Fachschaft Mathematik is the collection of all enrolled students in the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes of mathematics. In everyday usage, a “member of the Fachschaft” usually refers to a student who is involved in organising or executing Fachschaft-related tasks. The Fachschaft is run by the FSR and the FSV. Some people translate Fachschaft as “student council”, but we like to preserve this term for the FSR.
Website of the Fachschaft Mathematik: fsmath.uni-bonn.de.
is German for bicycle repair shop.
is an online storage service provided by the HRZ.
Fraunhofer Society is a German research organisation with 72 institutes spread throughout Germany, each focusing on different fields of applied science. There are multiple Fraunhofer institutes in Bonn and its surroundings, but mainly three of them are of interest for mathematicians:
» Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI),
» Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS),
» Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE).
Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI) is a research institute independent from the university and part of the Fraunhofer Society. It is associated with the Institute for Numerical Simulation (INS).
is short for Fachschaft.
FSR (Fachschaftsrat, meaning “student council”)
is one of the two committees of the Fachschaft — alongside the FSV. Tasks of the FSR include day-to-day business, the organisation of events and the AWD. The FSR holds regular meetings — normally in the annex — where everybody (not only elected members) is invited to speak.
FSV (Fachschaftsvertretung, meaning “student representation”)
is one of the two committees of the Fachschaft—alongside the FSR. It is elected yearly by all matriculated students. Tasks of the FSV include deciding on the budget of the Fachschaft.
is the digital identity management system of the university. Here you can change your residential address and manage email aliases.
Hausdorff School for Advanced Studies in Mathematics (HSM)
supports postdoctoral researchers beginning a career in academia or beyond the university, including training in academic teaching. It is part of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics (HCM).
Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics (HIM)
organises international long-term research programmes devoted to topics in mathematics and mathematical economics. It is part of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics (HCM).
Hausdorff Center for Mathematics (HCM)
is the Cluster of Excellence in the subject of mathematics. It includes all five institutes of mathematics (MI, IAM, INS, DM, MPI) as well as the Department of Economics.
is short for ☞ Hausdorff Center for Mathematics.
HG (Hochschulgesetz, meaning “Higher Education Act”)
is a law that all universities in North Rhine-Westphalia must comply with.
is short for Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics.
HRZ (Hochschulrechenzentrum, meaning “University Computing Centre”)
is a central institution operating the university’s IT services. They also provide support and instructions for setting up Wi-Fi and email.
is short for Hausdorff School for Advanced Studies in Mathematics.
is short for Institute for Applied Mathematics. Institute for Applied Mathematics (IAM) is one of three mathematical institutes of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Website: www.iam.uni-bonn.de.
is short for Institute for Numerical Simulation. Institute for Numerical Simulation (INS) is one of three mathematical institutes of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Website: ins.uni-bonn.de.
is a video conferencing software.
means “Chamber of Agriculture Rhineland”. This self-regulatory organisation was housed in the building of the MZ until 2004, when it merged with the former chamber of Westphalia-Lippe to form the new Landwirtschaftskammer Nordrhein-Westfalen.
is the period within the semester in which courses take place. It is usually around 14 weeks long (not including holiday breaks). Exams are usually scheduled in the lecture-free period. Start and end dates are different each semester. They can be found at www.mathematics.uni-bonn.de/study/master-mathematics/calendar.
Library of Mathematics
is located in the MZ. It is run co-operatively by the ULB Bonn and the mathematical institutes. To borrow books you need an account at the ULB Bonn which you can get for example from the MNL Branch Library.
main building (“Hauptgebäude”)
is the palace next to the Hofgarten. It is mainly used by the Faculty of Arts and the theological faculties. Not to be confused with the MZ.
Mathematical Institute (MI)
is one of three mathematical institutes of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics (MPI)
is a mathematical institute independent from the university but part of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics (HCM).
is the name of the canteen run by the StwB. There are two relevant sites: CAMPO (next to the MZ) and Mensa am Hofgarten (interim tent directly next to the main building). Depending on the site, a Mensa Card might be required to buy a meal.
can be used for cashless payment in every café and Mensa run by the StwB. It is available for a deposit of €5 at every Mensa and has to be renewed at the start of each semester. If you are a resident of a dormitory, you will also need the Mensa Card to operate the washing machines and dryers.
is short for Mathematical Institute.
MNL Branch Library
is a branch of the ULB Bonn. “MNL” stands for medicine, natural sciences and agriculture (German “Landbau”).
is the building block of your studies. These are courses (e.g. lectures or seminars), which usually span one semester and are concluded by an exam.
is a document containing information on all modules offered in the mathematics master’s degree programme. It can be found at www.mathematics.uni-bonn.de/files/master/ma_modulehandbook.pdf.
is short for Max Planck Institute for Mathematics.
MZ (Mathematikzentrum, meaning “Mathematics Centre”)
is home to the Bachelor–Master Office (BaMa), the Mathematical Institute (MI), the Institute for Applied Mathematics (IAM) and the Library of Mathematics. This building has previously been used by the Landwirtschaftskammer Rheinland (and because of monument protection you can still see its lettering above the entrance). Some people will call this the “main building” to distinguish it from the annex, but make sure not to confuse it with the actual main building.
is German for annex.
PO (Prüfungsordnung, meaning “examination regulations”)
dictates how your entire study program is structured. This is a very important document that you should read carefully at least once.
Download link: www.mathematics.uni-bonn.de/study/master-mathematics/documents.
recreation room (German Aufenthaltsraum)
is located in the annex. Here you can relax, make a coffee or tea or work on your homework. There is also a microwave and a fridge.
is German for standard period of study.
is the time in which you’ll be able to register for exams. It usually takes place from 1st December to 20th December for the winter semesters and 1st June to 20th June for the summer semesters.
Research Institute for Discrete Mathematics (DM)
is a mathematical institute outside of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
is short for the Latin term sine tempore, meaning “without time”. If these letters appear next to a time specification, it means that time is exact, i.e. “10 s.t.” means “10:00”. The contrary is cum tempore (c.t.)
is short for Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing.
is a cloud storage service offered by the university. More information can be found in the chapter “Digital Services of the University”, page 15.
is short for student parliament.
is the city hall of Bonn. It is the largest and probably the ugliest building in the city centre. Among other things, it houses the residents’ registration office. Don’t forget to register! You have to reserve an appointment; expect eternally long waiting times.
standard period of study (German Regelstudienzeit)
is the number of semesters finishing your studies is planned to take, i.e. four in case of the master studies. You won’t have to fear any consequences by the university if you cannot finish your studies in the standard period of study, but some financial aids are only payed during this period, e.g. BAföG.
student parliament (SP)
is the highest institution of the student body. It is elected by all students, usually in January.
is an official web service where you can download official ceritificates of enrolment and view your payment status of the semester fees
StwB (Studierendenwerk Bonn, meaning “Student Services Organisation Bonn”)
is a public non-profit organisation for student affairs in Bonn and its surroundings. In particular it runs every Mensa, the dormitories and the day care for students with children and it handles all BAföG applications.
is the period of the year from 1st April to 30th September. Within the summer semester lies a lecture period with varying start and end dates and the Pentecost break.
ULB Bonn (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn,meaning “Bonn University and State Library”)
is the central library of the university. It consists of a main site and the MNL Branch Library. Students can get a free account to borrow books.
is your username to access all digital central services such as GOsa, BASIS, eCampus and sciebo. It is also part of your email address.
WaCE (German WuKA)
is short for Wine and Cheese Evening, an event organised by the Fachschaft.
is the period of the year from 1st October to 30th March. Within the winter semester lies a lecture period with varying start and end dates and the Christmas break.
is German for WaCE.
is a proprietary online service. It offers video calls with screen sharing capabilities. Zoom has been used by most lecturers for online lectures during times of the coronavirus lockdown. Zoom can be accessed via the university’s zoom page at uni-bonn.zoom.us. A standalone client is available to download for free at zoom.us.