Legal German at Bucerius

Students participating in the International Exchange Program at Bucerius do not need any German language skills since the law courses offered are taught in English, the campus is bilingual and many Germans speak English very well.

To better acquaint students with German culture and language Bucerius does, however, offer German language courses on five different levels. Students with a very good command of German may opt to take a course in Legal German introducing them to legal terminology and the understanding and discussion of legal topics. After the end of the 2016 exchange program, three of our students reflected upon their experience.

Why did you decide to sign up for the Legal German course?

Laurel (USA): I signed up for the course because I think taking a language course is one of the best ways to learn a lot of vocabulary and increase your language ability in a short time. I wanted to learn German legal terms and ways to express myself in a professional environment, which I thought would be hard in either a general language course or through normal interactions with German friends, etc.

What did you learn during the excursions?

Julia (USA): During our excursion to the "Davidwache," the police station located on the Reeperbahn, we learned about St. Pauli's status as a high-risk neighborhood ("Gefahrengebiet"). Due to the status, police officers are permitted to stop civilians at any time and look into their bags for weapons or contraband. Many of us already knew that weapons of all kinds are prohibited in St. Pauli, but we were surprised that certain areas could be designated as "dangerous" in order to give police officers more power to search people.

We also had the opportunity to meet with a member of the Hamburg Parliament who answered our questions about Hamburg's role in ameliorating the refugee crisis. We learned about the distribution formula ("Konigsteiner Schlüssel") that determines how many asylum-seekers and refugees are sent to each German city and region.

Brent (Australia): I particularly valued the opportunity to visit the detention center because I am interested in criminal law, and this visit gave us the chance to speak with the prison Governor and learn a great deal—not just about the institution, but the German system as a whole.

What was the advantage of enrolling in the course?

Julia (USA): Enrollment in the course enabled us to learn about the inner-workings of both private and governmental German institutions through a variety of excursions. We met with the managing partner of Bryan Cave (while enjoying a breathtaking view of the HafenCity), attended a hearing at the Local Court ("Amtsgericht"), and took a tour of a detention center ("Untersuchungshaftanstalt"), just to name a few of our trips.

To what extent did the course provide you with new insights into Germany / German society / German lawmaking?

Laurel (USA): This course was a really good blend of language and substance—we were constantly learning new vocabulary, but also learning about German legal institutions, current events, politics, etc. This was accomplished through the excursions as well as the readings and class discussions. Andrea was always so well-prepared for our classes and brought a variety of interesting materials, so we had a lot of engaging discussions. The small group setting also helped in this regard.


Annalena Galle, International Office