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Lecture in a lecture hall at RWTH Aachen

A lecture is a type of course at universities . It is usually held by a professor or a doctoral lecturer .


The term lecture comes from the early days of universities in the Middle Ages , when books were not yet printed. The lecture mainly consisted of the lecturer reading to the students or other people's works and commenting on them.

Course of a lecture

Even today, the lecturer often reads from a script or slides . Lectures are frontal teaching in which up to several hundred students listen to a lecturer in a lecture hall .

Professors often provide the students with scripts for the lectures. More recently, it has become common for the students these scripts automatically from a Web site to download and print the college or the department. The quality of such scripts varies enormously. Sometimes there is a sparse script - for example a collection of the presented graphics, for which the student himself has to write down the actual knowledge - or there are complete teaching texts that almost save the purchase of a lecture-related textbook.

Nowadays the lecturers of the lectures usually want students to point out in order to ask questions. Lecturers also sometimes try to address the students directly and actively involve them in the lecture by asking questions. However , this does not create a classic classroom discussion. Scientific experiments during the lecture are usually not set up and carried out by the lecturer himself, but by the lecture assistant .


With the introduction of the ECTS credit point system at European universities , it should now be possible to compare the workload of students directly. It applies that one ECTS credit point should correspond to around 30 hours (in Austria 25 hours) of time - regardless of whether the student is in the lecture, studying at home or elsewhere. By introducing compulsory attendance, more and more attempts are made to bind students to the lectures.

Start of lectures

In German-speaking countries there is often the academic quarter ; This means that a lecture begins a quarter of an hour after the date officially stated in the course catalog cum tempore (abbreviated c. t., Latin: 'with time'). In contrast, the suffix s denotes. t. ( sine tempore , Latin: 'without time') a beginning of the lecture on the specified full hour. The academic quarter should the student changing the auditorium allow between two lectures. However, many universities have switched to shortening the length of the lectures to 45 or 90 minutes, which means that the academic quarter is no longer required: the lectures usually begin and end at the specified time.

In most other countries, the academic quarter is unknown. In addition, lectures of shorter or significantly longer duration, up to 180 minutes, are not uncommon.

Other forms of teaching

In addition to seminars , tutorials , exercises , internships and working groups that prepare and accompany exams (e.g. Diplomanden-AG), lectures are part of university teaching .

Special forms of lectures

Inaugural lecture

The first lecture that a new lecturer gives at his university after completing his habilitation is called the inaugural lecture. The inaugural lecture is also called the first lecture that a professor reads at another university after his appointment to a new position. The lecturer can for the first time clarify his position and orientation within the university by selecting his topic. At the beginning of the inaugural lecture, the new lecturer is usually introduced by the dean . The inaugural lecture therefore often has a festive setting, even if at the end of the lecture there is often a second, humorous lecture on the private life of the new lecturer.

Farewell lecture

A farewell lecture ( last lecture 'last lecture') is a last lecture given by a teacher at a university.

Christmas lecture

Another special form of lectures are Christmas lectures. They usually take place as the last event of the calendar year before the lecture-free period over Christmas and New Year's Eve . They do not directly serve the teaching in the respective subject, but mostly have humorous or ironic features. For example, a Christmas lecture in chemistry can consist entirely of spectacular experiments or an anatomy lecture can only deal with the “beauty of the human buttocks”. The theoretical background is usually only dealt with superficially or not at all. Lectures of this kind are also known from Rose Monday .

See also


  • Hans Jürgen Apel: The lecture. Introduction to an academic form of teaching . Böhlau, Cologne 1999.
  • Eberhard Straub : From crackling mimes to talk show host. The history of the lecture. In: Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft Issue 4 (2007).

Web links

Wiktionary: Lecture  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Helmut Fend: History of the education system. The special way in the European cultural area. VS Verlag 2005, p. 85.
  2. Archived copy ( Memento from September 16, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Archived copy ( Memento from December 11, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Instructions for both the preparation and supervision of theses can be found in Hans-Otto Schenk: The thesis. A guide for economists and social scientists. UTB 2657, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-8252-2657-3 .