Academic Life

Studying at Hamburg Universität is an opportunity to immerse your in a vibrant, relaxed and distinctly Northern German campus.

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The university itself is centred close to both the city centre and the diverse districts of Rothenbaum, Eimsbüttal, Schlump and Sternschanze. The journalism department is based in Allende-Platz. It’s an area of campus that boasts a rustic charm – think political posters lining corridors, cafes that double as bars in the evening and a boutique cinema. Allende-Platz also has its own Weinachtsmarkt in the lead up to Christmas.

Besides cheap food, coffee and alcohol on campus as well as a great study atmosphere, there are some other things that all Mundusians should be aware of when making the transition from Aarhus University to Hamburg Universität. Most importantly – studying here in Hamburg is a completely different academic experience to what you will have had in Aarhus. This is the beauty of the Erasmus Mundus Master programme – you get to immerse yourself in two different and often contrasting study cultures. It is also the challenge.

Based on the experiences of your Mundus Journalism peers – here are a few things to take note of:

Theory: The Hamburg specialism offers students the ability to theoretically reflect on and discuss the current state of journalism and media. It is not a practical course nor will it be any more practical than what you experienced in Aarhus. What this programme does offer is the chance for students to critically assess the journalism industry from a scholarly perspective. As a culmination of your learning, you will spend six months writing a theoretically grounded, 80-100 page thesis. This is a big focus of the course and from the time you start classes, your teachers will ask you to start thinking about what you want to write about for your thesis. So in short, this is not going to be a programme where you learn how to do journalism!

Independence: Studying as a second year master student at Hamburg University means you will have a lot of expectation placed on you as an individual. You have already had several courses to give you an overview of journalism, media, and globalisation. Nobody here is going to take your hand and remind you of this. Students are expected to come to class having completed the readings and having attained necessary background knowledge for each course of study. If you want to know about a particular theory or area of research – get into the books and figure it out! This is the German way.

Flexibility: With independence comes flexibility. You can chose some courses in the programme, and when you’re not attending class you are free to do as you like. The timetable means there is plenty of time not just to study, but to travel and enjoy the social scene that makes this city great.

You also have great flexibility within your studies. Again, German master students are given a lot of freedom in their approach to studying, particularly to writing academic papers.* There are often no guides or briefs on how or what to write – you are expected to be at the level where you show off your own initiative and prove to your markers that you can think as an independent researcher.

Self-drive: The programme here in Hamburg is really driven by how much you want to get out of it. Teachers here are generally accessible and friendly. And they’ve a lot of specific knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions! That said, no one is going to chase you up. There is a lot of good learning and interesting insights on offer through the programme, but it is up to you to figure out what you want to do with the knowledge you attain. There are also additional lectures on offer around Hamburg University and there are sometimes special themed lecture series, all of which it is at your own discretion whether or not you attend.

Peer-focused: Let’s get straight to the point – there are a lot of student-led presentations as part of the Hamburg University course. Often this can be frustrating and means that students drive the content of some classes. On the flipside, it is again about what you’re prepared to get out of the class and some of the most fruitful discussions come from interacting with one another’s presentations, ideas and opinions.

One of the other great things about moving to the specialism year of the Mundus Journalism programme is that the smaller cohort often allows students to form tight bonds with their peers. On a campus like at Hamburg, it’s easy to whittle away the hours discussing journalism concepts and encouraging your friends to develop their ideas.

For more insight into the specific papers offered during the year, see the programme overview. Career guidance gives a summary of the different directions this course could take you in, while internships suggests a few avenues that could help you get there. Mundus, the life after, looks at how some students – now alumni – found the transition post-programme.  If you’re after a little more general insight into what to expect from life in Hamburg, check out the student blog and here you’ll find programme feedback from the class of 11′-13′.

*Note – the degree of flexibility depends on both the course and the teacher. Different teachers have different expectations so be sure to check with the person who is marking your paper as to what their marking criteria is. Some classes, such as papers dealing with research methodologies, have strict criteria compared to classes where students are expected to turn in essays. 

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