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

Research seminar (equivalent of 1 course)

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.

Thesis (equivalent of 7 courses)

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?



You are required to fill out the following forms in order to be able to either start or finish your research project or extracurricular internship. This project or extracurricular internship may take place at Utrecht University or at one of our partners (a different university, research institute, or business). 

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.

  • 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 note that this protocol (English version) applies when a project is delayed. 
  • In case of a project or extracurricular internship outside of Utrecht University, please make sure you have filled out the 'daily supervisor' section of the Research Application Form and also fill out this Work Placement Agreement.
  • 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 at the Science Studente Desk in order to have your grade registered in Osiris. 
  • Specific for Mathematical Sciences students: please refer to these guidelines.
  • Specific for Nanomaterials Science students: please refer to these guidelines.