The MSc programme in Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University provides students with a broad overview of methods and topics in theoretical physics and teaches them to work independently in a specific sub-discipline of the field. Students also learn to present and discuss their work both orally and in writing, and to take a critical attitude towards the existing literature.
Our programme offers excellent preparation for further research studies in physics or careers in the international job market. Two-thirds of our graduates continue on to conduct PhD-level research either at Utrecht University or at other prestigious institutions around the world.
Accredited by: NVAO
The first year consists of two required courses and six elective courses. In the second year, you will conduct a thesis research project, participate in a student seminar, and take additional advanced courses related to your research interests.
Two required courses, Quantum Field Theory and Statistical Field Theory, run in parallel in the fall semester and form the basis of several courses taught during the Spring semester. Students are strongly advised to start the programme in September in order to take these courses.
The remainder of the first year consists of elective courses, with at least three primary electives from theoretical physics, one from mathematics, and two secondary electives from the natural sciences (including theoretical physics, experimental physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, etc.).
In the fall semester of the second year, students participate in the Student Seminar, where they sharpen soft skills such as literature searches, discussion, oral and written presentation, etc., in a theoretical physics context. Students devote most of their time during their second year to the thesis research project, possibly while taking additional (advanced) lecture courses.
Most courses are full-semester lecture courses consisting of a weekly lecture (two 45-minute sessions) presented by a staff member, combined with a weekly problem class session (3-4 hours of problem solving) supervised by teaching assistants.
The course Theory for Technology is a special mini research project on a topic of choice supervised by theoretical physicists from the Technical University of Eindhoven.
The Student Seminar is highly interactive through discussions, presentations, literature searches, projects in small groups, writing, etc., all on a specific topic of theoretical physics. The sessions are supervised by a staff member and teaching assistants. The thesis research project is an individual one-year project supervised by a staff member.
Utrecht University typically admits 25-35 students to the programme each year. The required courses generally have 40-50 participants (this includes students from other disciplines, e.g. mathematics and experimental physics), and the elective courses typically have 15-30 students.
Most courses have a midterm and a final written exam, and some require students to complete assignments throughout the course. The Modelling and Simulation course concludes with a final computer project, and the Theory for Technology course concludes with a final written report. The thesis project is graded based on content, originality of the research, the student’s degree of independence, and the quality of the written thesis and the final oral presentation to the Institute for Theoretical Physics.
A profile is a coherent set of courses totaling 30 EC and can be chosen to expand the thematic range of your Master's programme. The courses are on a single theme that is usually not a standard part of the programme.Educational profile – teacher degree
If you are passionate about sharing your knowledge, and you would consider a career as a teacher in secondary education, this profile might be right for you. The emphasis of the Educational Profile is on practitioner skills and school-based activities. Throughout the profile, learning theories and teaching methods will be taught closely linked to your day to day work in the classroom. The profile is tailored to meet the professional development needs of teachers in the early stages of their careers. More information.Complex sytems profile
Complex Systems is an interdisciplinary profile for ambitious students from different Master’s programmes, who want to work on modelling solutions within the field of Complex Systems. The profile gives you the opportunity to broaden your view and knowledge from an interdisciplinary angle and widens your opportunities for further development. It prepares you for a career in interdisciplinary fields at, for instance, financial companies. You will receive a Complex Systems certificate.
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Scholarships, fellowships, and grants offered by Utrecht University, the Dutch government, and other organisations can help fund your studies at the university. Please note that the scholarship options for programmes starting in February are limited.
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