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How to Address People in the University Context

Some students struggle with the question of how to address lecturers and other members of staff in the university context. There are certain standards. Please note that one can always breech such rules. If you do so, you should, however, do so consciously. To give you an example: If you are more the Hippie type of person and want to fight hierarchies, you might not want to care about standards, but you will know that you will be confronted with some opposition or even rejection--either because people are sensitive about their titles or because your specific way of addressing people might appear to be sloppy, uninterested, inconsiderate or rude. If you do not care about expressing a political agenda, it seems worthwhile to just stick to the established codes of conduct.

A note for our exchange students from Romance countries: While in most Romance languages basically everybody who teaches is called professor, this is not the case in Germany. Take the time to find the academic title of the person you want to contact. You'll find the information on their website. Using "professor" too much will never appear rude but might look sloppy or inconsiderate, so the time to look up titles is well spent.

Please also note, that while some members of staff might refer to other members of staff in a certain manner (e.g. first names or without titles), this does not mean that you are supposed to use the first names or dropping titles when contacting the respective person.

Presentations Dos and Don'ts


  • Read the syllabus and the materials on Moodle. This gives you the power of knowledge. You will know what you have to do, in what context, for what purpose. You will not only know the formal requirements but all sorts of other rules and regulations.
  • Listen carefully what the lecturer tells you about the presentations. If unsure, ask.
  • Discuss your presentation with the lecturer during his office hours and at least a week in advance. Only by talking with the lecturer will you be able to know the precise function, scope and length of your presentation. Ideally attend the office hours early, so that you have the chance to find relevant literature.
  • Depending on what you have decided upon in the seminar, either upload handouts to the respective folder on Moodle at least a week in advance (this is for your fellow students) or bring enough copies on paper to your presentation.
  • Depending on what you have decided upon in the seminar, upload handouts and screen presentations to the respective folder on Moodle at least a week in advance. This is for the lecturer.
  • Use image captions:

Fig. 1: A sparrow perching on a twig in Ludwigsburg

  • Give your sources in parenthetical references in your screen presentation.
  • Give a list of all (!) used sources at the end of your screen presentation.
  • Sources are given according to the MLA Handbook, please get the MLA Handbook from the library. Don't just present a list of URLs as your sources. This will not suffice.
  • Come early and prepare to present (i.e. prepare your computer or the computer in the seminar room--talk to other presenters and the lecturer), so that there are no gaps before your presentation.
  • Stick to the time allotted to your presentation.
  • In your presentation software, switch language to English and use the spell checker.
  • Make sure to know the meaning and the pronunciation of all the words and concepts you are using or referring to in your presentation.


  • Don’t use „German“ quotation marks but “English”.
  • Don’t use dictionary definitions of words and concepts unless you presentation is about dictionaries.
  • Don’t plagiarize.
  • Don’t be late.
  • Don’t drop out of the course without notice.
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