I'd just like to confirm with a native speaker. Do you first think 'department' or 'field/area of study' when you hear 'Fachbereich? '
You're better off asking native English speakers who are fluent in German. It's hard to explain why, but I hope I can do it: Essentially, a German really just immediately thinks of whichever English word they've learned to translate it to, so what pops in their head depends on what they were taught. I'm an American teacher of German, and I have to say that it's HEAVILY context-dependent which one of these I would use. If I have no context, I'll say "area of study" but ONLY because "Fachbereich" is literally "subject area". This is counterintuitive and counterproductive on my part, however, because "Fachbereich" is better translated to "department" like 98% of the time (I made that figure up). Still, I'd be better off if I had learned to associate it with "department" since that's the most common translation. When you're confused about things like this in the future, I highly recommend using http://www.linguee.com/ to see what official translators have chosen in various contexts, and remember that most words are very context-dependent. Hope that helps!
Thank you very much for the kind explanation. Despite having studied it for 12 years, my German went rusty without access to German media. Academically, I never even got close to being in contact with German, that's why I was caught off guard.
Youtube. And even before, you could always listen to deutsche welle, they were always available on Balkans
Can you use the word "Fachbereich" as a translation for "department" in any institution or only in the educational and scientific institutions? How would you translate "the electronics department in a supermarket" into German?
Fachbereich is specifically related to subject area. The word you're looking for in your example would be Abteilung.
So when is Fachbereich different from Amt, as both seem to mean department?
An Amt is an administrative department as in the Department of Transport, or The Department of Agriculture.
I translated Fachbereich as "major" and it was not accepted, if there is any German speaker who could tell me whether it is right or wrong, I would be grateful.