Research project and master thesis (52,5 EC)

The research project is a mandatory project that most students start a few weeks after their arrival in the programme. However, we suggest students who did not perform their bachelor study at Utrecht to first direct their attention to course work. Many students from abroad are not used to our teaching and assessment methods, nor to the expectations of our teachers. A bit more time to adapt to our way of teaching and learning may be necessary in the beginning.

We expect students to follow their own interest towards finding a research topic. Therefore we ask every student to make an appointment with one or more research coordinators of the Debye research groups. Apart from the information on research on this website you can find useful information in this Post Graduate Research Projects booklet in which PhD candidates present their own research.

There is also an option to perform your research project abroad. If you intend to do this, you first have to contact the programme coordinator.

The research project is executed in one of the research groups of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science or (partially) in one of the partner groups outside the institute. Note that two Utrecht examiners are needed of which one acts as your supervisor. We do not provide students with a list of possible research projects as they change every year. Instead, each student makes an appointment with the research coordinator to discover the projects they are offering. The names can be found in the course guide of this master's programme. 

When you have found a research project

Before you start your research, you have to complete a research application in Osiris student which will be signed off by your master's coordinator, your supervisor and the Board of Examiners. You can find more information about this procedure at the menu Academic policies and procedures.

You will receive an answer from your examination board in case the application is not filled out correctly or the project proposal does not fit the master's programme's aims. Ask your supervisor to be very specific about the assessment procedure. The research part of your curriculum determines by far the largest part of your GPA.

After completion of 1/3 of the project work, your work will be assessed in a go/no-go procedure. This procedure is intended to evaluate your progress, understanding your future planning and the guidance that you received. Both examiners, your daily supervisor and you, discuss your progress and if required, actions to take to improve this. If the evaluation tends to result in a no-go, then the programme director can decide on a possible restart in another research group.


At the end of your research project, a final assessment will be carried out, resulting in a final grade based on four sub scores with written feedback on your performance. As the research project can last for 12 to 18 months, depending on how you combine the project with courses, you will grow from an apprentice towards a graduate who has learned to execute research to start his/her own PhD project. Therefore one or two informal evaluations with your supervisors will be held during that year, which will serve to improve your skills.