In the second year of the program, students  start working on a thesis, based on independent research.

The Research Seminar History and Philosophy of Science (FI-MHPSSEM) is a required course in this part of the programme. It includes participation in regular resaerch seminars on either history of science, philosophy of science, or philosophy of physics.

Part of the requirements for this seminar is the attendance of several colloquiums organized. It is strongly advised to attend these colloquiums also during the first year of study.

The student should write a substantial thesis (52,5 EC), potentially publishable, based on his/her own original research. It must be approved by the thesis supervisor (normally a member of the Descartes Centre) and a second reader chosen by the examination committee. The student must hold a public colloquium about his or her resaerch.

Students can also chose to do a 15 EC internship or extra courses (subject to approval by the Board of Examiners), in combination with a smaller thesis (37,5 EC)

Examples of recent research topics:

  • Why read the Book of Nature when you can watch the movie? The curious past and future of natural history museums
  • Struggling for Objectivity: Theory and Empirical Research in the Early Frankfurt School
  • Cassirer’s conception of causality and determinism and the responses of contemporary physicists
  • On the Role of Energy Conservation in the Victorian Conflict Between Science and Religion
  • Reception of the General Theory of Relativity in Belgium
  • History of a Mental Hospital in the Netherlands Indies, 1923-1942
  • Cosmological Themes in Early Modern Dutch Literary Texts
  • 20th Century Nutrition Education in the Netherlands
  • The historical relation between explosive technology and terrorism
  • Grounding Artificial Intelligence through motivated learning inspired by biology
  • What is there to be realist about?


Within all Master's programmes one or more research projects are mandatory. Please see ‘Study programme’ for general information on such projects in your curriculum. In many cases, a research project may be carried out outside of the university, in the form of an internship at a company, research institute, or another university. This can be in the Netherlands as well as abroad (see also: ‘study abroad’). 

You are required to fill out the following forms in order to be able to either start or finish your research project or internship. Please fill out the forms digitally and use a print-out for signing and handing in. The documents require macros to be enabled in Word to use all of the form functionality. After approval of your registration you will be automatically registered in Osiris.

  • Make sure to hand in the co-signed Research Application Form at the Science Student Desk prior to starting your project. Important: this form can only be filled out completely after you have discussed the project setup with your intended project supervisor! 
  • Please DO NOT register yourself in OSIRIS for the relevant research project courses. You will be automatically registered upon approval of the Research Application Form.
  • Please note that a fixed protocol applies when the project is delayed. The full text of the protocol can be found in the OER
  • In case of a project or internship outside of Utrecht University, please make sure you fill out the Work Placement Agreement in Osiris Student/My Cases. This agreement will be available for filling out in Osiris Student/My Cases after you have submitted your initial request for research project approval.
  • If your project is split into two parts, your project supervisor will fill out the assessment form part 1 at the end of the first part of your project.
  • At the end of your project your supervisor will fill out the assessment form part 2 and hand it in (in PDF) at the Science Student Desk in order to have your grade registered in Osiris.