Research project - master thesis

Your research project can be carried out in one of the seven research groups which are part of either the Debye Institute or the Institute for Sustainable and Circular Chemistry. The link below provides a short introduction of the research in each group. It also describes the required courses and contacts of the coordinators. Very often, these courses will be taught after the start of your research project. The combination of learning theory and performing your experiments at the same time will enhance your learning and works well in our field of science.

Research groups

Condensed Matter and Interfaces
Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis
Materials Chemistry and Catalysis
Organic Chemistry and Catalysis
Physical and Colloid Chemistry
Nanophotonics (P)
Soft Condensed Matter and Biophysics (P)

When do I start? 

Depending on the courses you choose, you probably will start your research project in the first or second period of the programme. If you did not do your bachelor study at Utrecht you are advised give priority to course work. It will help you to get used to our teaching and assessment methods, and to the expectations of our teachers.  

How do I find my spot? 

We expect you to follow your own interest in finding a research topic. This means that you have to take initiative and contact one or more coordinators at the research groups. More information on the actual research topics can be found on the website of the Debye Institute of Nanomaterials Science and the Institute for Sustainable and Circular Chemistry. 

How do I apply? 

When you have found your subject you have to follow this application procedure on this page. In the application form you set an end date for your project. Calculate the end date based on the 36 weeks for your project (52.5 EC), other course you will be doing alongside your project (5 weeks for every course) and, possibly, your work as a student assistant.  

What do I do if my project gets delayed? 

If you, due to circumstances beyond your control, foresee a delay of your project, contact the study advisor and the programme coordinator and ask for consent to determine a new end date for your project. You will have to send a request for delay of the master research to the Board of Examiners of the GSNS. Osiris Student/My Cases offers a procedure and an online form for this purpose. 

Who will supervise? 

Your work in the group is supervised by a staff member, who also acts as your advisor. He/she can help you design your course programme (possible deficiencies, the choice and timing of the courses) and, if relevant, to plan and help you find an internship. You also will have a daily supervisor - in many cases a PhD candidate or a post-doc. A second staff member acts as an additional supervisor to ensure a proper assessment of your work. 

How will I be assessed? 

Part 1 (SK-MRES1: 15 EC): Introduction and start of the research project 

You will receive your first assessment after one third of the project with a pass or a fail. The evaluation of part 1 will be based on your work and a presentation. With these you show that 

  • you know the goals of the research project; this includes a translation of a problem in your research field into a relevant research question and design; 
  • you have obtained first results and have analysed them and can present them in a comprehensible way; 
  • you have a clear strategy for the second part of the research project. 

The research group decides who will join your presentation. The second examiner will co-assess the presentation together with the supervisor who acts as the first examiner. The intention of the presentation is to assess your work and your understanding of the project, not your presentation skills. However, feedback on presentation techniques can be part of the feedback. You will receive a grade after the presentation, followed by a written explanation on the assessment form. The supervisors are strongly advised to make use of the graduate school’s rubrics for feedback. The supervisor will send the final alphanumerical grade to student affairs using the regular assessment form. 

The idea of the assessment of Part 1 is primarily a Go or No Go decision. The Education and Examination Regulations provide three options:

  1. A “V” means that you automatically continue with part 2.  
  2. A ”AANV” means that your supervisor explains which parts need to be improved. A new date to assess part 1 has to be defined to evaluate the unsatisfactory parts. Your supervisor will send an update of the grade to the student desk.  
  3. A “ONV” means that you have failed on the above mentioned learning goals and have to abort the research project. Your first supervisor will report his/her findings to the programme director who will invite you and the study counsellor. The programme board decides whether starting up a new project at another Debye group will make sense. 

Part 2 (SK-MRES2: 37.5 EC): Research and thesis 

Thesis part 2 will be assessed according to the following criteria: 

  • Process (project execution and management): 30% 
  • Results: 30% 
  • Master’s Thesis: 30% 
  • Presentation: 10% 

Your supervisor will use the online version of this assessment form to grade your project and to give you feedback on your performance. He/she will use input from your daily supervisor. The second examiner will check the assessment form and confirm the grades online. You will receive a message (including instructions) from Student Affairs that your grade will be registered if you have uploaded your final thesis to Igitur and included an plagiarism check and laymen summary.