Female student looking into the camera, in the background a bright, modern seminar room
Developing interdisciplinary projects in plug-in modules
Image: Adobe Stock / baranq
  • Sustainability, Studies

Gaining insights into other disciplines with new teaching formatsOutside the box: Plug-in modules at TUM

A computer scientist working on climate action and the common good economy; a medical scientist studying the basics of artificial intelligence; a biologist learning how to start her own business: TUM's new plug-in modules combine professional expertise with bigger picture thinking. The first courses in the new format will be offered in the summer semester.

Learning the basics of a discipline, applying specialist knowledge and being taught the latest findings from research – that is the core of every degree program. However, the education at the pulse of cutting-edge research offered by TUM means even more: students learn creative and future-oriented thinking outside the box in order to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. For this, the interplay of disciplines is crucial. Studying at TUM offers many opportunities to engage with topics from other fields and to link them with those of one's own subject.

Exchange across disciplines

In order to promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary exchange even more strongly and systematically, TUM offers the so-called plug-in modules, starting in the 2021 summer semester. These are courses that are particularly aimed at students from all degree programs and impart knowledge that is relevant to all disciplines. At the same time, participants learn to use approaches from other disciplines for new perspectives in their own field. Usually, the credits earned here can be credited as an optional course or as an elective module.

„Students can engage with the essence of a discipline foreign to them.”— Martina Wayand, instructor and coordinator of plug-in modules


Martina Wayand, who not only coordinates the plug-in modules at the TUM Center for Study and Teaching but also offers one of her own, explains the idea behind the new format: "Motivated bachelor's and master's students can use plug-in modules to delve deeper into the essence of a discipline that is foreign to them, into special topics and challenges in subject areas that span disciplines."

They can form very personal and unique competence profiles and acquire knowledge that cannot yet be considered in the regular curricula. They deal with issues and approaches from disciplines outside their own subject area and work together with fellow students from other subjects on interdisciplinary projects. This generates ideas and expertise to find solutions to pressing social and technological issues.

Sustainability, entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence

Interested students can initially take four modules:

  • Digital Sustainability Transformation of, by and for the TUM: The two-semester teaching-research project is offered by the Chair of Policy Analysis. In a lecture and a seminar, participants bring together digitization and sustainability and develop ideas to make them fruitful for the transformation of our university and our society.
  • Behavioral Economics Meet Real World Challenges. A Project Rally: In this module of the Chair of Corporate Management, participants gain an overview of current topics in behavioral economics and their application to societal or environmental challenges, and engage with a specific topic in depth.
  • What's Cooking? Founding Start-ups and Unicorns in Real Time in One Semester: In the module of the Chair for Strategy and Organization, students come together with start-up and tech experts to develop start-up ideas and found a start-up in just one semester.
  • Learning from Data and Linear Algebra: In the block course offered by the Chair for Data Processing, students deal with mathematical basics and tools from the field of Linear Algebra and deepen them by acquiring practical programming skills in the application field of machine learning.

On the plug-in modules website you will find a continuously updated overview of the courses. There you can also find out about the exact module contents, the course type and the registration mode.

Who knows – it may end up being the biologist's company that develops next-generation vaccines, the medical scientist who uses artificial intelligence to calculate their most effective application, and the computer scientist who develops models that help protect habitats and biodiversity that prevent the next pandemic.

More information:

Technical University of Munich

Konstantin Götschel – TUM Center for Study and Teaching

Article at tum.de

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