Theoretical Physics is a challenging field in which Utrecht University has earned worldwide recognition as a leading institution. Our highly acclaimed research programme has two main focus areas. The people in Quantum Gravity, Strings and Elementary Particles (QGSEP) seek to provide a theoretical and quantitative description of space-time, the fundamental forms of matter and their mutual interactions. They work in areas such as quantum gravity, elementary particle physics and cosmology. Those in Condensed-Matter Theory, Statistical and Computational Physics (CMTSCP) aim for a better understanding of macroscopic phenomena on the basis of microscopic many-body theories. Their research addresses a wide range of subjects, including Bose-Einstein condensation, chaos theory, polymer dynamics, quantum Hall phenomena and the structure of colloids. The Master's programme in Theoretical Physics provides you with a thorough education in both areas and introduces you to an exciting world of curiosity.
The Master's programme aims at training young, promising and motivated students to become sophisticated researchers in theoretical Physics. An undergraduate student with a good grasp of quantum mechanics, electrodynamics and modern classical mechanics usually still needs a solid introduction to the concept and ideas of field theory that lie at the heart of modern theories.
Rules and procedures
A factsheet with the current rules and regulations regarding the Theoretical Physics Master's program is available here.
Doing research in theoretical physics requires you to have a solid grasp of the fundamental theories and the methodologies involved, as well as a high degree of skill in applying them. The first year of the Master's therefore offers a number of courses. The basis consists of the obligatory courses on quantum and statistical field theory. These are followed by optional courses on subjects such as standard model, string theory, general relativity, cosmology, interacting electron systems, modelling and simulations and the many-body aspects of soft condensed matter. Some of these courses may be chosen outside of physics, e.g. in the areas of advanced mathematics or, the foundations of physics or astrophysics, with each of which the Institute of Theoretical Physics has close ties. Taking at least one math course is compulsory.
The classes are usually small; the contact to lecturers is close, as are the links to current research. The strongest exposure to these your will experience in the ITP-colloquium, the many seminar talks, on an enormous variety of topics, by visitors as well as by members of the ITP. In the second year you will participate in the student seminar, in which a group of students under the guidance of one of the faculty members, study a research subject of current interest in depth and present talks on this themselves.
The largest part of your 2nd year will be devoted to doing a supervised research project within one of our research programmes. You will report on this in a thesis and in a seminar talk for the ITP. Practical information can be found on the page Master's Theses.
The subject of your research is chosen in consultation with your advisor. It is also possible to do research at an outside institution (e.g. an experimental lab, an industrial research lab or, occasionally, an institution abroad), under the final supervision of one of the ITP faculty members.
In the last two weeks of August a summer school is organized to help starting and prospective master students preparing for our master courses. Short courses are offered in quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, statistical physics and computational methods. These are very helpful in overcoming deficiencies in any of these subjects. In addition they offer an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the Utrecht way of teaching, with the Institute of Theoretical Physics and with its members.
For more information visit the Summer School page.
Graduates from the Master's in Theoretical Physics from Utrecht University easily find their way into PhD programmes in the Netherlands and elsewhere. A substantial number of graduates continue with a PhD in Utrecht. A PhD position in the Netherlands is typically fully funded for a duration of up to 4 years. Several graduates have entered PhD programmes outside of theoretical physics or started careers in industry, consultancy firms, banks, IT companies or public institutions.
Admission Master's programme
For information on admission requirements, procedures and tuition fees visit the Future Master's students page.
For general information on the Theoretical Physics Master's programme at the Department of Physics and Astronomy visit the Theoretical Physics Master's page.