1. Choosing an area of focus
As a rule, the choice of an area of focus is made at the end of the period of lectures in the fifth semester (mid to end of January). You can only choose online. The selection procedure and the exact selection period will be announced in good time on the homepage of the Faculty of Law and on the Students Portal.
See under three to find out about the significance of practice-based class grades for choosing your area of focus.
2. Study course in the area of focus
The study course in the area of focus takes place in the two semesters following on from the selection of the area of focus. It always begins in the summer semester (usually in the sixth semester) with the classes on the foundation module of the chosen area of focus (eight weekly semester hours). In the subsequent winter semester (usually in the seventh semester) classes on the advanced module of the chosen area of focus follow (likewise eight weekly semester hours).
3. Requirements for admission to the examination on the area of focus, § 5 para. 2 clause 2 SchwPO
The requirements for admission to the examination on the area of focus must be fulfilled on registering for the examination in the area of focus, which takes place after the study course for the foundation module at the end of the summer semester (usually the sixth semester), § 5 para. 1 SchwPO [Schwerpunktbereichsordnung – Regulations relating to areas of focus] (around mid-July to 1st August: Please note! This is the cut-off date!).
The details of the requirements for admission are the following:
- Midterm examination (First-fourth semester), § 5 para. 2 clause 2 no. 2 SchwPO. To gain admission applicants first of all need to have passed the midterm examination (see on this topic).
- Foundation subject certificate (First-fifth semester) *, § 5 para. 2 clause 2 no. 3 SchwPO. Acquiring a foundation subject certificate is the requirement for admission to the examination on the area of focus. In accordance with § 11 StudO students receive a foundation subject certificate if they have successfully completed a written assessment of academic achievement in a foundation subject class.
- Confirmation of seminar attendance (Fourth or fifth semester) *, § 5 para. 2 clause 2 no. 4 SchwPO. Students are to receive a seminar certificate confirming successful attendance at a seminar, which they need to gain admission to the examination in the area of focus if they have produced the pieces of work required in the seminar (usually a written report and oral presentation of a paper).
- Pieces of work for practice-based classes (Second-fifth semester) *, § 5 para. 2 clause 2 no. 5 SchwPO. The student needs to pass a total of three written exams in the practice-based classes in Criminal Law, Civil Law and Public Law, with one in each subject-area, as well as a total of two pieces of homework in two different subject-areas which can be chosen by the student.
Advice about pieces of work for practice-based classes:
- As a result, two practice-based written exams are offered per practice-based class in one period of lectures as well as one piece of homework, which is to be submitted in the subsequent lecture-free period in the semester in which the practice-based class is held, a second piece of homework is not offered. A further practice-based written exam per area of law is offered in a refresher and consolidation course on the practice-based classes in the fifth semester. Should a piece of work not have been completed successfully as part of a practice-based class it is possible to complete the corresponding written exam or homework in a later practice-based class in the relevant area of law or to retake the relevant written exam in the relevant refresher and consolidation course.
- Pieces of work which are comparable to a practice-based exam, which have been produced during a course of study abroad as defined by § 25 para. 2 no. 3 JWG NW or as part of simulated court proceedings as defined by § 25 para. 2 no. 5 JWG NW, may be credited subject to a decision by the Examination Committee (Prüfungsausschuss).
- The grades achieved in the practice-based classes are likewise referred to in the choice of an area of focus as a selection criterion giving entitlement to access a course of study in an area of focus and if the number of applicants for an area of focus exceeds the capacity and therefore it is necessary to limit the number of participants, § 13 para. 2 StudO [Studentenordnung – Student Regulations]. In the selection procedure, the following pieces of work for practice-based classes can be submitted: Three practice-based exams (one written exam each in Criminal Law, Civil Law and Public Law) as well as two practice-based class pieces of homework in two different subject areas, which you may choose. These practice-based class pieces of work must be graded as satisfactory at least; if there are several such practice-based class pieces of work, in principle when calculating the grade point average the best piece of homework and written exam grade in one area of law will count.
4. Examination on an area of focus
The examination in an area of focus makes up 30 % of the overall grade of the “ first examination” (§ 29 para. 2 JWG NW). According to § 4 para. 1 clause 1 SchwPO the examination in an area of focus comprises a five-hour proctored examination (§ 6 SchwPO), a four-week piece of homework (§ 7 SchwPO) and an oral examination (§ 9 SchwPO).
- The proctored examination is to be completed in the semester break (usually mid-September) after studying the foundation module.
- The homework follows in the semester break (usually handed out in mid-February) after studying the advanced module.
- The oral examination is held regularly during the period of lectures in the subsequent summer semester (usually the eighth semester).
5. Special-status resittable exam, § 18 SchwPO
Should an examinee enrol to take the examination in an area of focus by the end of the sixth specialism semester of an uninterrupted course of study and not pass the examination, this is deemed as not having been taken (special-status resittable exam), § 18 para. 1 SchwPO. § 25 para. 2 – 5 JWG NW shall apply accordingly.
* The specification of the semester is a recommendation in which period of time the requirement for admission should be fulfilled if the option of the special-status resittable exam is to be granted.