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Department of Computational Linguistics

Studies FAQ

In this FAQ we have tried to answer all the questions that we have been asked in the past and to answer them as best we can. If your questions are not answered here or in the study pages and the relevant study guide, please contact our study advisor, Simon Clematide.

Study time limit

Is the study time limited? Do I have to complete my studies within a certain period of time? How long is a proof of achievement, e.g. a passed module, valid?

Time limit for study: For subjects of the Faculty of Philosophy there is currently neither a time limit for study nor a limited validity of credits.

Career opportunities

What are the career opportunities?

In general, the career opportunities are considered to be very good,
especially in the age of ChatGPT (which is a computational linguistics product).
There are already separate job profiles here, e.g. that of a prompt engineer.

Otherwise: big companies like Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft are hiring us.
Even companies seemingly unrelated to our field like Zalando, Bosch etc.
do hire computational linguists.

Machine translation also requires specialised knowledge that computational linguists

Companies that deal with text may need to carry out automatic analyses, this
is our field. Also, there are many Start UPs that are hiring.

Otherwise: you can also apply for IT (computer science, informatics) jobs (especially if text
mining or similar topics are mentioned):  computational linguists also are programmers.

Main challenge of the CL study

What are the main topics of the study? What is the main challenge of the study?

Machine learning is the dominant approach of our field. In order to understand and use it,
particular mathematical (incl. statistical) skills are needed. And, of course, programming skill (in Python) are mandatory.

We teach everything from scratch - assuming school-level background knowledge (Matura). We only introduce mathematical concepts that are needed. From the 4th semester onwards, the study becomes more application-orientated.

Cancellation of a module after the deadline has passed

Can I cancel a course (module) after the official deadline has passed?

This is only possible if you have real problems (e.g. illness that lasts over a longer period). A formal proof is needed. Only the Dekanat can cancel courses, our department is not able to do so. 

Study CL inspite of exclussion from computer science

Despite being excluded from studying computer science at the University of Zurich, is it still possible to study computational linguistics at UZH?


Combinations of other UZH programs with our Computational Linguistics BA and MA.

Can I combine Computational Linguistics with any other program?

Almost. Only the combination with other programs offered by our department is not possible. For instance, you cannot combine the MA major  "Computational Linguistics and Language Technology" with the MA minor "Digital Linguistics".

In general: For your BA (120 ECTS) you need a 60 ECTS minor, for your MA (90 ECTS) a 30 ECTS minor.


Change of study program (MA level): from Monomaster Linguistics to MA in CL

Please also see below Change of study program (BA and MA level): in general. 

Which completed courses from the Monomaster Linguistics can be transfered to a CL MA?

All MA courses offered by our department or the department of computer science can be transfered to a CL MA program.

Courses that are BA courses offered by our department can directly be used to reduce the additional requirements (up to 60 ECTs from our BA). These CL BA courses might be MA courses of the Monomaster, but will be used as BA courses in case of a program change.

Courses that are MA courses of the Monomaster but neither BA nor MA courses of our department cannot be transfered (e.g. Quantitative Methods). Note however that some of these courses are similar in content to  CL BA courses.  Given this, a further reduction of BA ECTs requirements is possible. However, we cannot tell in advance what the reduction exaclty will be.

Change of study program (BA and MA level): in general

Can I change my study programm?

This is always possible (except your new major minor combination is not allowed) 

Transfer of credits in case of a change of study program

Can I transfer ETCS to my new CL study program?

ECTS from completed courses of the old study program can only be tranfered to the new study program if they have been crosslisted by our department: see the UZH Course Catalogue under "study program".  All courses offered directly by the Institute of Computational Linguistics will be credited in case of a BA or MA application for a CL program (incl. a study program change).

Application to our MA programs (incl. program change)

What are the preconditions for MA application in a CL study progamm? 

with a BA (at least 60 ECTS) in CL:

The application to our MA programs (Computational Linguistics 30 and 90 ECTS) is possible without further restrictions with a completed BA study in Computational Linguistics (60 or 120 ECTS).

without a BA in CL:

For applications without a CL BA additional requirements of up to 60 ECTS from our BA will be set up.
The concrete requirements will be decided upon individually upon application for the MA program. Former ECTS might be transfered under the conditions described above (see Transfer of credits)

Additional requirements from our BA for a MA study

Is there a maximum number of ECTS that I might get?

60 ECTS is the maximum you might get from a particular program. Note: if both, the major and the minor program, set additional requirements, and if these together are more than 60 ECTS, then your application will get rejected. You can avoid additional requirements from your minor if you choose a complementary minor program (no requirements)

When should I carry out the BA requirements?

The additional requirements from our BA ideally are fulfilled in the first year of a master study. Nevertheless, MA courses can be booked from the very beginning of the study provided that the needed background knowledge of the course is given.

Are the requirements  module specific?

At the moment, the additional requirements are not tied to specific modules. That is, the students can freely choose which courses they book in order to fulfill the requirements. However, we strongly recommend to first take all mandatory CL courses offered and then the CL core modules.

What courses from a former study can be used to fulfill the BA requirements?

Upon MA application, the study advisor  looks through all completed courses from a former study program and decides which courses count towards the general requirements of 60 ECTS. ECTS of approved courses are substracted. In general, only courses from computer science, mathematics or computational linguistics are candidates, but not pure linguistics courses.

Language of instruction

In which language are our courses taught?

All courses (BA and MA) are taught in English.

External internship

Am I entitled to do an external internship?

Internships are intended for advanced students at the BA or MA level.

How can I find a company for an external internship?

The institute does not keep a list of companies etc. You are required to find a company for an intership yourself.

Can I book the external internship module myself?

No. Please contact the module coordinator before you start an external internship. The module coordinator has to approve the internship.

What are the requirements of the module external internship?

Upon completion of the internship send an email to the module coordinator. Two documents are needed.

  1. confirmation of the company comprising the student name, the duration of the internship and the total workload in hours
  2. a report written by the student about the tasks and results

Also: provide your student number (Matrikelnummer)

Internal internship

What are internal internships?

see the modul catalogue for more info

Am I entitled to do an internal internship?

Internships are intended for advanced students at the BA or MA level.

How can I find a supervisor  for an internal internship?

Ask any member of the department whether they have an open opportunity or whether they are willing to define one on the basis or your interests.

Can I book the internal internship module myself?

No. Upon completion of the internship send an email to the module coordinator and your supervisor (CC). Specifiy how many ECTS (3 or 6) the intership is worth and don't forget to include your  student number (Matrikelnummer)

Booking and crediting of ETH courses 

Can  ETH courses be credited for my UZH study in Computational Linguistics and Language Technology?

Yes, given the courses are NLP courses. You have to fill in a form (download here (XLSX, 880 KB) (MAC) and here (XLSX, 879 KB) (PC)) and send it to the study advisor. If the stuy advisor approves it, you can take the courses and - upon completion - send an email to the study advisor together with formal proof of success.

How many ETH courses can I take?

For BA or MA major studies:  at most 18 ECTS, for a BA minor: at most 12 ECTS, for a MA minor: at most 6 ECTS. Contact the study advisor if  Computational Linguistics and Language Technology is not your study program.

Computational Linguistics in the Faculty of Philosophy

I have heard that Computational Linguistics/Language Technology is a subject within the field of Computer Science. Do I have to have a permit to study Computational Linguistics/Language Technology as a student with a major in the Faculty of Philosophy?

No, "Computational Linguistics and Language Technology" is a regular subject of the Faculty of Philosophy.

Recognition when changing course of studies

I am (for the time being) registered for another minor/main subject. Can I still book modules in Computational Linguistics/Language Technology? Will my points be retained if I change my minor/main subject at a later date?

As soon as someone is enrolled in a programme with points, he or she can book modules without being enrolled in the corresponding minor subject. In the module booking tool, you simply have to select "all ECTS degree programmes and minor subjects" (or similar) before you can start the search. If you change your minor/main subject, your credits will be retained.

Completion of major and minor subjects

Can I complete the minor subjects before completing the major?

In principle it is, but it should prolong your studies, because it is unlikely that the required credit points for a single subject will be offered in a shorter period than the minimum duration (6 semesters). If you still work part-time and therefore plan a longer study period from the outset, this can be an option.


What can be done if courses of major and minor subjects overlap?

First determine which are the compulsory courses in the subjects concerned, these have priority when booking. Then identify which of the courses in the subjects concerned must be completed in a certain order. The more other courses depend on a given course, the more priority must be given to this course.
Also consider the scores of the subjects concerned. Since it is usually possible, for example, to place the 30 points of a minor subject in one to two years, the subject with the higher number of points always has priority when taking the course in case of doubt.

First year

Which minimum courses should I take in the first and second semesters when studying Computational Linguistics/Language Technology?

The most important information is compiled on the page First Notes for Beginners. More detailed information can be found in the guidelines. There you will find a list of all relevant modules and a sample curriculum for each course, which will give you a reasonable idea of how you can organise your studies. Read the relevant guidelines carefully. If you still have unanswered questions, contact your student advisor.

Double module credit

Module X is a compulsory module in my subject Y. But X is also a compulsory module in "Computational Linguistics and Language Technology". Can I have module X double credited?

Credit points can only be credited once. If you have to take a compulsory module in the subject "Computational Linguistics and Language Technology", which you also have to take as a compulsory module in another subject you have taken, then this module must be substituted in the subject with the smaller number of credit points by a module not yet taken from the range of this subject. This applies in particular to modules that you have to take as part of the minor subject Computer Science. To be on the safe side in this situation, contact the student advisors of both subjects concerned.

Previous knowledge for courses

Can any CL student attend any CL course?

No, it depends on the type of course. You will need to check the study regulations to see which module group you can count courses from when choosing your major and minor subject.

Irregular Courses

What does it mean if a course is offered irregularly ("Date: irregular") or "by arrangement" in the electronic course catalogue?

  • irregular: These are usually block courses and the like, which are offered on a few dates during the semester, but often also in the evening and/or on Saturdays. The actual dates can then be found behind the link "irregular".
  • by arrangement: The date of the course (often an examination or similar, which is not linked to a course) must be negotiated bilaterally with the lecturer.

Exchange programs: study abroad for one or two semesters: Semp (former Erasmus) et al.

Can I study abroad?

Yes. Procedure:

  • have a look at the webpages of UZH mobility where you can find all informations about studying abroad etc.  and where you can apply
  • also: find a guest university and select the courses you'd like to carry out
  • then: fill in the learning agreementhere (XLSX, 880 KB) (MAC) and here (XLSX, 879 KB) (PC) and send it to the study advisor (he/she approves it or not)

Can I get credit for courses completed abroad?

Yes. Follow the procedure described in previous section Can I study abroad?

Booking Deadlines

The booking deadlines for the events of the Department of Computational Linguistics and the Department of Informatics are different. Which ones apply to me?

The booking deadlines of the course provider always apply. The courses offered by the Department of Computational Linguistics are subject to the rules of the Faculty of Philosophy and those of Computer Science to those of the Faculty of Economic Sciences (and if you attend courses from a third faculty, you must also observe their rules).


Notification Grades

When and where can I find out whether I have passed a performance test? Where are the grades for performance certificates published?

As soon as the grades or the information as to whether you passed or failed have been recorded electronically, you can view them with the help of your UZH login data via the link .

Requirements for learning events

I registered with the booking tool for a course, visited it regularly and successfully completed a series of exercises. But now the lecturer claims that I don't meet the requirements for attending this event.

The booking tool does not check whether a module booking is permitted. It is possible to book a module for which you have not fulfilled the admission requirements. But the points you earn in a module booked in this way will not be accepted by the points management system and will therefore be lost in the long run. It is therefore the sole responsibility of the individual student to ensure that his/her module bookings are admissible.


I cancelled a booking in due time. The university claims that I never cancelled this event, so I didn't pass the performance test. However, the booking tool had accepted my cancellation.

Experience shows that the cancellation is often not carried out correctly to the end without the student realising it. It is therefore strongly recommended that the cancellation confirmation generated by the system be printed out and stored carefully. Without this document you will not be able to prove that the module booking has effectively been cancelled. If such a confirmation has not been generated, the cancellation has not taken place and must be repeated!


Book a watchlist

I have collected all the courses I have to attend and put them on my watch list in the electronic course catalogue. How do I get them into the booking tool?

Use the small print symbol in the upper right corner to print/save the notepad and then enter everything manually in the booking tool. Since you only have to click on one button per selected module in the booking tool, this is a small additional effort (compared to an automatic transfer of the data which is conceivable in itself).


Deregistration from modules or assessments

Can I deregister from a module? What happens if I do not deregister?

Modules with place restrictions and modules without place restrictions can be cancelled within the deadlines set by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. You can find these deadlines here or in the course catalogue for the corresponding module. After the deadline, you can only deregister from a module with a verifiable reason for not being able to attend, such as illness (according to § 24/ 25 RVO PhF).

For a justified deregistration after the deadline, you must carry out these two steps:
1. you must immediately inform the responsible persons (lecturer/module supervisor) of your deregistration.
2. you must also submit a deregistration request in the Student Portal via the app "My applications". This justified deregistration request contains the relevant confirmations such as a doctor's certificate and you must submit it no later than five working days after the date of the  assessment.

Otherwise - and even in the case of a module booking made only in error - failure to provide assessment will be permanently noted in your credit journal as "not fulfilled".


Term paper

How do I design a term paper?

The most important notes and rules are summarised here.


What is OLAT?

OLAT is the LMS (Learning Management System) of the University of Zurich. As a rule, for each module there is an OLAT course in which all documents are made available, tasks can be submitted and a forum is hosted. The lecturer can send e-mails to all course participants and follow the progress of the students. 



Is it possible to do a doctorate in CL in Zurich?

In principle, if certain prerequisites are met. Further information can be found here.


Is it possible to habilitate in CL in Zurich?

Absolutely. But please note the following conditions:

  • Requirements: Anyone with a doctorate can submit a habilitation application in CL (to the Dean's Office of the Faculty of Philosophy). It is strongly discouraged to submit a habilitation application without prior consultation with the subject representative.
  • The written habilitation can be in the form of a habilitation thesis or a selection of individual papers already published (cumulative habilitation) specified by the candidate.
  • Oral habilitation performance: A rehearsal lecture of (maximum!) 25 minutes with subsequent colloquium of (maximum) the same duration in front of the assembled faculty represents the oral habilitation performance.
  • Guidelines for Habilitation and more information can be found here.

Weiterführende Informationen

quo vadis


Student Consultation

For questions that are not answered in the guidelines and study regulations, read the FAQ first. Please also consult the site Student Services of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

If a question remains unanswered, please contact the Student Advisor for Computational Linguistics.

International students

Information for International students: International Scholars Center

For detailed information on what you need to take into account upon relocating to Switzerland, please refer to  Before and After Arrival.


Download guidelines and other important documents here.

CL Mailing List

Information (important announcements, excursions, courses, vacancies for tutors, job offers) is distributed to our students via our mailing list.


We collect web-based demos of different applications. Try out what language technology systems can do!