General rules for Bachelor's and Master's Programmes
Welcome to the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University in Prague. Our faculty offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programmes, given in either Czech or English. This document is dedicated to the bachelor’s and master’s programmes in English, namely to those leading to
- Bachelor of Computer Science
- Master of Computer Science
- Master of Mathematics.
In this introduction we provide the basic information you will need in order to study at our faculty. For supplementary information we refer to the Code of Study and Examination of Charles University and to the Rules for Organization of Studies at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics. The subsequent chapters of this document describe the academic calendar for 2020/21 and the curricula for our programmes.
Duration of Study
The standard period of study for a bachelor’s programme is three years and for a master’s programme two years. The standard period of study for a degree programme is the period of time in which it is possible to successfully finish the respective degree programme if one follows the recommended course of study. The course of study is concluded with a state final examination and its successful completion leads to the degree of Bachelor of Computer Science (Bc.) for a bachelor’s degree programme and to the degree of Master of Computer Science or Master of Mathematics (Mgr.) in a master’s degree programme. The maximum period of study in a bachelor’s degree programme is six years and in a master’s degree programme five years.
As a Charles University student, you also have the possibility of undertaking a period of study at a linked institution in Europe under the Erasmus+ exchange programme. Check the website https://www.mff.cuni.cz/exchange_programmes.
Each academic year consists of a winter (October – January) and a summer (February – June) semester. In each semester there are typically 13 weeks of teaching and an examination period of 5 weeks. A study programme is subdivided into sections so that progress and compliance with the conditions for registration for the next study section can be regularly monitored; a study section is typically an academic year, although for students enrolling in a bachelor’s programme, the first two study sections correspond to semesters (i.e., the first study section is the winter semester and the second study section is the summer semester). At the end of each study section there is an Annual Evaluation of Study, whose purpose is to establish whether the results of your study hitherto qualify you to register for the next study section. (For those in their first year of a bachelor’s programme, the Annual Evaluation comes in two parts, one for each semester.) You are entitled to register for the first study section if you have successfully completed the admissions process. You are entitled to register for later study sections if you meet the requirements of the Annual Evaluation (see below). Registration is a confirmation that you are continuing your study at the faculty.
Study in a degree programme is guided by a degree plan. Most of our programmes are divided into specializations. The degree plan specifies the following for each degree programme, and, where applicable, for each specialization:
- Obligatory courses (you have to complete these before the state final examination),
- Elective courses (you have to complete the prescribed part of these before the state final examination),
- State final examination - its parts and requisite knowledge needed for them,
- Recommended course of study (for some programmes) - assignment of obligatory and some elective courses to specific study sections; in some cases also provision of supplementary information on the curriculum.
The recommended course of study is not binding. However it is advisable to follow it because it is put together to satisfy the requisites (see below), considers the relationships between the courses, takes into account the schedule, and leads to timely graduation. All courses other than the obligatory and elective that are offered at the university are considered as Optional courses for the corresponding curriculum; it is up to you whether you decide to take some of these.
In all tables, obligatory courses are printed in boldface, elective courses are printed upright, and optional courses in italics. Here is a small example:
|NPRG030||Programming I||6||3/2 C||—|
|NDMI012||Combinatorics and Graph Theory II||6||2/2 C+Ex||—|
|NMAI069||Mathematical skills||2||0/2 C||—|
The course code is given in the first column. The number in the “Credit” column specifies the number of ECTS credits for completion of the course. The Winter and Summer columns specify the semester in which the course is offered, the number of hours of lectures/ hours of classes per week, and how the course is assessed (i.e., by a course credit – C, by an exam – Ex). Please be aware that some elective courses are not taught every year.
At the beginning of each semester there is a period of several weeks during which you should choose from and enrol in courses that you plan to take that semester (see the Academic Calendar). Enrolment is performed electronically through the Student Information System (SIS) – http://www.mff.cuni.cz/sis; further technical details about course enrolment are provided on the webpage https://www.mff.cuni.cz/course_enrolment.
The period for course enrolment is split into two phases: in the first phase (priority mode), you have the right to enrol in courses that are primarily designated for you (e.g., the obligatory courses); in the second phase (open mode), you can enrol in any courses. It is up to you which courses to enrol in, subject to the requirements of your curriculum and to the number of credits required in the Annual Evaluation. If your interests are wider than specified by your curriculum or if you decide not to follow the recommended course of study exactly, then you can enrol in additional courses; there is no upper limit to the number of courses in which you can enrol. Course enrolment may be restricted by certain conditions (requisites), of which the most common are the following:
- Prerequisite – A prerequisite to Course X is a course that must be successfully completed before you can enrol in Course X.
- Corequisite – A corequisite to Course X is a course that you have to enrol in at the same time as Course X, or that you have already successfully completed.
- Prohibited combination (or incompatibility) – Courses X and Y are a prohibited combination if it is impossible to enrol in Course X when you have already completed, or you enrol in, Course Y.
In some cases, it is specified that completion of Course Y is equivalent, with respect to the requirements of the curriculum, to completion of Course X; these two courses are called equivalent or interchangeable. Information about these relationships among courses are described in the Student Information System in the module “Subjects” (http://www.mff.cuni.cz/courses). Please note that the prerequisites and corequisites for a course X, as specified in SIS, apply to study programmes and study branches in which the course is compulsory or elective. We recommend giving due attention to these conditions, as missing a course that is a prerequisite for another course in which you intend to enrol may result in an unfavourable extension of your period of study.
Lectures and Classes
Courses are mostly given in the form of lectures and/or classes. A lecture is an oral presentation intended to teach students a particular subject. Typically accompanying a series of lectures are classes (aka exercises or tutorials), in which a tutor helps a small group of students assimilate material from lectures and is able to give students individual attention. Classes for programming-related courses typically take place in computer labs. The schedule of the faculty is given as 45-minute periods with 5-minute breaks, and most lectures and classes are organized as 90-minute long blocks of two such periods, taking place once or twice a week. Attendance of lectures and classes is usually not required, but is strongly recommended. Information about course locations and times is available in the Student Information System in the module “Schedule” (http://www.mff.cuni.cz/schedule). Lectures are mostly given by senior faculty members, whose academic ranks are professor (in Czech profesor) or associate professor (docent). Classes are usually conducted by junior researchers and Ph.D. students. Apart from lectures and classes, another significant component of a student’s timetable is private study, and in the first semester of the first year of study, also regular meetings with mentors.
Exams and Course Credits
Mastery of a course is confirmed by a course credit and/or by an exam. A course credit (usually for classes) is awarded at the end of the semester. The conditions for obtaining a course credit differ according to the nature of the course, for example involving the completion of a test, programming an application, or writing a survey, and are specified by the teacher at the beginning of the semester. The possible outcomes are Pass (in Czech Započteno - Z) and Fail (Nezapočteno - K). Exams are taken during the examination period at the end of the semester and may be oral, written, or a combination of the two. Examination dates are announced by the lecturer at the beginning of the examination period. There are four possible outcomes for an exam (the corresponding numerical values and Czech equivalents are given in parentheses): Excellent (1 - Výborně), Very good (2 - Velmi dobře), Good (3 - Dobře), Fail (4 - Nevyhověl). You pass an exam if you obtain a grade of Excellent, Very good or Good; otherwise you fail. You have up to three attempts to pass an exam (provided there are still dates available) but we strongly recommend preparing as well as you can for the first attempt. If you do not succeed in passing the exam or obtaining the course credit for a course, you are allowed to take the course again in the next section of study, but a course can be followed at most twice. For each successfully completed course you obtain a certain number of ECTS credits that is specified for each subject in the curriculum (and also given in SIS).
Annual Evaluation of Study
Progress is monitored at the end of each study section. The Annual Evaluation of Study involves a check of your credit total, that is, the number of credits obtained in all previous study sections by the end of the last examination period. If you in previous study sections have attained in total at least the normal number of credits (corresponding to the sum of the credits in these sections in the recommended course of study), or if you have obtained at least the minimum number of credits (see below), then you have the right to enrol in the next study section. Please note that while the Annual Evaluation of Study may come after the end of the official examination period for the previous study section (see the Academic Calendar for the exact dates of the winter and summer examination periods), only credits obtained by the end of the official examination period will be considered as part of the assessment. Attaining at least the normal number of credits is one of the necessary conditions for obtaining a scholarship for excellent study achievement. If you have not received the minimum number of credits, then this is considered as a failure to fulfil the requirements of the study programme and results in exclusion.
The normal and minimum numbers of credits required for registration in the next study section are given as follows (normal number of credits is followed in parentheses by minimum number of credits):
- Normal and minimum number of credits
- Bachelor’s degree programmes
- 30 (12) for enrolment to the second study section (i.e., the summer semester of the first year of study),
- 60 (45) for enrolment to the third study section (i.e., the second year),
- 120 (90) for enrolment to the fourth study section (i.e., the third year),
- 180 (135) for enrolment to the fifth study section (i.e., the fourth year),
- 240 (180) for enrolment to the sixth study section (i.e., the fifth year),
- 300 (225) for enrolment to the seventh study section (i.e., the sixth year).
- Master’s degree programmes
- 60 (45) for enrolment to the second study section (i.e., the second year),
- 120 (90) for enrolment to the third study section (i.e., the third year),
- 180 (120) for enrolment to the fourth study section (i.e., the fourth year),
- 240 (165) for enrolment to the fifth section study (i.e., the fifth year).
- Bachelor’s degree programmes
For the purpose of the Annual Evaluation of Study, all the credits for completed compulsory and elective courses are counted, and credits for optional courses are counted up to the following limits (in parentheses we specify what percentage of the corresponding normal number of credits the maximum number corresponds to):
- Maximum number of credits for optional courses
- Bachelor’s degree programmes
- 4 credits (15 %) for enrolment to the second study section,
- 9 credits (15 %) for enrolment to the third study section,
- 18 credits (15 %) for enrolment to the fourth study section,
- 54 credits (30 %) for enrolment to the fifth study section,
- 72 credits (30 %) for enrolment to the sixth study section,
- 90 credits (30 %) for enrolment to the seventh study section.
- Master’s degree programmes
- 18 credits (30 %) for enrolment to the second study section,
- 60 credits (50 %) for enrolment to the third study section,
- 126 credits (70 %) for enrolment to the fourth study section,
- 167 credits (70 %) for enrolment to the fifth section study.
- Bachelor’s degree programmes
You are allowed to enrol in and complete optional courses with a larger number of credits than the maximum specified above, but then some of these credits will not be considered in the Annual Evaluation of Study. Although you technically only need the minimum number of credits to register for the next study section, we strongly recommend attaining the normal number of credits, otherwise you most likely will not be able to complete your study programme within the standard period of time. Technical details about the Annual Evaluation are provided on the webpages https://www.mff.cuni.cz/first_annual_evaluation and https://www.mff.cuni.cz/annual_evaluation.
State Final Exam
Studies are concluded with a state final examination. This examination consists of several parts (two or three, depending on the corresponding curriculum), one of which for bachelor’s degree programmes is always the defence of a bachelor’s thesis and for master’s degree programmes the defence of a master’s (diploma) thesis. If a student fails a part of the state final exam, only the failed part is repeated. Each part of the state final exam may be repeated at most twice. Each part of the state final exam is graded separately and from these an overall grade is awarded. Necessary conditions for taking the State Final Exam include passing all obligatory courses, obtaining the required number of credits for elective courses, reaching a total of at least 180 credits (in bachelor’s degree programmes) or 120 credits (in master’s degree programmes), and submitting a completed thesis (for the thesis defence). The knowledge requirements for the State Final Exam are specified in the degree plans of the respective study programmes and branches of study, which are described in this document.
More detailed instructions and advice on the assignment, writing up, submission and defence of bachelor’s and master’s theses are provided at the webpage https://www.mff.cuni.cz/final_thesis.
Advising others is always a bit tricky but nevertheless I would like to give here a few suggestions for making the most of your time at our faculty. They are addressed primarily to students in their first year.
Ask questions. As the wise old saying goes, “Many things are lost for want of asking.” Please do no hesitate to ask when you do not understand something – in our culture it is not considered impolite or improper to do so. Ask the lecturer during the lecture or after, ask the tutor during the class or after it, ask your mentor, ask your classmates who (think that they) understand. Arrange a meeting with your teacher during office hours and ask there.
Write. Many of you will learn faster and better if listening and reading is complemented by writing. These days, for many courses there are excellent written materials, often including slides prepared by the lecturer. Nevertheless, many of you will profit by taking your own notes at lectures and classes. It is important to use pen and paper during your preparation for tests and exams. Do you think that you already understand the proof of a theorem? Write it down with the book closed, making sure to include all necessary details. Finally, if you want to learn to program well, write some code.
Work. Even if nobody makes you do so. In contrast to many secondary schools, you will not have to take a test or do homework every day. However, there will be plenty of tests and exams at the end of the semester. Be aware of this and learn as much as you can during the semester rather than later. You will learn more, you will retain it longer, and the examination period will go more smoothly for you.
Plan. This is related to the previous point. In the examination period you will rarely be able to learn well for an exam during a single day or night. Take this into account when planning the dates of your exams in the examination period. Allow yourself enough time to prepare for exams, to code programs or to solve problems for obtaining a course credit. Reserve some time for possible second attempts at failed exams. Do not postpone until the next semester or the next year what you are to do now. If you do so, most likely you will not be able to catch up.
Think. Not everything that you read on the internet is correct. Not even everything that you hear in a lecture is always correct (we all make mistakes). Try to understand everything. Do not be content merely with answers to the questions how? and what?, but also ask why? If you have a question, try first to find an answer by yourself before searching for an answer in a textbook or on the internet.
Persist. Many of our current and past students have reported that they find study at our faculty difficult. We have seen many students with outstanding results in their previous studies who have struggled with the demands of our study programmes. Thus, don’t be surprised if you start feeling lost! Instead, persist, keep going, and know that you are not alone in feeling this way. Your persistence will pay off!
Best wishes for an enjoyable and successful academic year.
Coordinator for Studies in English
Prague, July 17, 2020