Intelligent Adaptive Systems

International Master of Science at Universität Hamburg, Germany

The Intelligent Adaptive Systems (IAS) Master is one of the few computer science programs in Germany that is taught purely in English, preparing students for international research and professional work.

The IAS Master takes a balanced approach between courses with a technical, low-level hardware focus and general computer science courses. Its curriculum focuses on the area of smart technology and intelligent adaptive systems and provides in-depth training in this area. The selected modules offer a comprehensive overview, including technical aspects and state-of-the-art algorithms. The IAS Masters introduces students to current research in the corresponding fields and provides the opportunity to deepen their acquired knowledge by participating in international research projects.

The Masters in Intelligent Adaptive Systems is a 2-year research-oriented program taught in English. Both national and international students can profit from the international environment and improve their knowledge of the English language and their intercultural competence. The academic exchange between students is promoted in seminars and workgroups and extended in extra-curricular discussions and activities. Due to the proximity to current research projects the students have the possibility of a smooth transition into collaborative research environments and continuing education. Up to 90% of IAS students have an international background. In 2020, we received applications from 35 nations – this year there are applicants from 19 nations among the top 30 (approx. 40% female applicants). For many years in a row, the top 1 application came from a female student. Part-time study is permitted but not advised because classes are during the day. For the Project, group work, and Master thesis students are expected to study full-time.


The Master’s program consists of 120 ECTS credits points, which are divided into core lectures, selectable areas of focus, extension lectures, and project work. 

  • Core Lectures (39 CP)
  • Focus Options (24 CP)
  • Extension Options (15 CP)
  • Project and Thesis (42 CP)

As a general rule, 1 ECTS corresponds to 25–30 hours of work.

Core Lectures

Core lectures are compulsory for all students. They provide an in-depth understanding of different types of intelligent adaptive systems and introduce students to current research in several core areas. All core modules consist of a combination of lectures and seminars/tutorials to encourage student participation and continuous application of learned content.

  • Software Architecture
  • Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence
  • Intelligent Robotics
  • Research Methods
  • Neural Networks
  • Machine Learning

Focus Options

Focus options offer students the opportunity to strengthen their background in a selected area or deepen their knowledge in an area that complements core modules. Focus options will be selected in consultation with the IAS academic advisor and can be selected from a list that was put together to align well with the overall focus of the master. This list contains individual modules that complement core lectures as well as suggested sets of lectures that form a coherent focus area together. The list is regularly reviewed to reflect current research and to include newly emerged and complementary teaching areas.

Example areas these modules are selected from may include:

  • Computer Vision I
  • Computer Vision II
  • Databases and Information Systems
  • Robot Technology
  • Speech Signal Processing
  • Knowledge Processing
  • User Interface Software and Technology
  • Language Technology

Extension Choice

15 credit points can be selected from a range of lectures taught at the Department of Informatics or other departments (if available). In comparison to the focus options, these modules can be used to gain knowledge in fields that go beyond the scope of this program, but are linked to its contents, e.g., Psychology or Biology. The lectures are again chosen in consultation with the academic advisor for IAS, to guarantee a meaningful choice in alignment with the student’s background and aims. German language courses are accepted here too.

Independent Study

This study program offeres students special Mini-Projects called indendent studies. The independent studies are completely free to choose topicwise and scopewise. Students find a supervisor at the Department of Informatics, and set with a supervisor their learning agreement for either 3 ECTS or 6 ECTS. Students are allowed to do 2 Independent studies: one for Extension choice and one for Focus choice.

Project and Thesis

After lectures and seminars, where the focus is usually on individual work, the student has to participate in a group project, before undertaking a research project that finally leads to the Master’s thesis. In the group project, the focus is on teamwork, scientific exchange, defense of ideas, to prepare students for a collaborative scientific environment. Students are encouraged to choose projects in preparation for their master thesis and to actively take part in research projects of a chosen area. Up to 15 students are expected to work as an ‚independent research group‘ with a supervisor from the corresponding area.

A seminar, where all groups meet, allows students to present their work to a broader audience of peers, in an environment comparable to a scientific conference. In the last term, students work full time on an independent Master thesis which ends with the submission of the final Master’s thesis.

This Master program was especially invented to foster students to become independent and well educated researchers. 

Example curriculum comprising 4 semesters of study with 30 ECTS each

Course catalog

The latest course catalog and timetable of the Department of Informatics for IAS can be found here.

STiNE online catalog to book your courses can be found here.

Wiki links to IAS courses in STiNE can be found here.

Module Regulations: here

Current but general information about the Department of Informatics: here

All courses taught in English at the Department of Informatics, can be found here.

Tuition fee and semester contribution

There is no tuition fee only a small semester contribution.

Tuition fee

The city of Hamburg subsidized tuition fees for all students in Hamburg, which means you do not have to pay tuition fees for the Master’s programme „Intelligent Adaptive Systems“. You only have to pay a semester contribution which all students at the Universität Hamburg have to pay.

Semester Contribution

Each student at the Universität  Hamburg has to pay a semester contribution (around 350€) for each semester he or she is enrolled. You have to pay this fee to get your student card which already includes a free public transport pass for the Hamburg area. More information on how this fee is calculated and the current amount can be found on the Universität Hamburg main page here.

Full-time program

The Intelligent Adaptive System Master is a full-time program. Each semester, students attend courses worth 30 ECTS. That means students finish after 2 years: 30 ECTS x 4 Semesters = 120 ECTS.  There is no special part-time program – however, students are allowed to apply for part-time studies with the central administration (CampusCenter) of the university after they have been accepted to the program. That means part-time students are allowed to attend courses 8 Semesters x 15 ECTS.  Please note, that courses are during the day, and attendance is expected. There is also project work in which students are expected to attend up 16 h per week. Full-time and part-time students have only 6 months to complete their master thesis.

More detailed information

The IAS Team maintains a wiki with a lot of helpful information around the application process, the enrollment process, useful information for the life in Hamburg for students, health insurance, scholarships, jobs, housing – please have a look at the FAQ for a list of useful links

Our advice – read carefully – this might make all the difference for a perfect and well-written application for IAS.

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