Study Programme

The Master's programme Theoretical Physics (THPH) of Utrecht University is a 2-year programme of 120.0 EC, taught in English. The programme consists of:

  • 29.5 EC compulsory elements
  • a minimum of 22.5 EC primary electives, i.e., three (7.5 EC) courses from the theoretical physics programme
  • 18.0 EC secondary electives
    • of which at least one mathematics course of at least 6.0 EC
  • a research thesis of 50.0 EC
  • attending 18 Nico van Kampen colloquia, 3 alumni talks, and 1 career event is mandatory

You can find a complete overview of all courses of the Msc Theoretical Physics programme, with references to the course descriptions in de CoursePlanner.

Go to the CoursePlanner

The Theoretical Physics Master's (THPH) Programme curriculum consists of the following parts:

Keep the following things in mind:

Course communication

Blackboard and MS Teams are typically used by lecturers to put the course information online just before the start of the course, whenever it is a part of a Utrecht University Master's program.

Problem class attendance

Most Theoretical Physics (THPH) courses consist of a weekly lecture (2 x 45 minutes) by an Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP) staff member and a problem class session (3 hours) supervised by Teaching Assistants (TAs) of the ITP.

These problem class sessions are a service to our students and involve a substantial effort in terms of ITP manpower. It is therefore expected that all students following a course actively participate and (if applicable) sign the attendance list of at least 75% of the sessions; this amounts to being present at least 12 out of the usual 16 weeks. This list will circulate during the first 15 minutes of the problem class session, and signing implies full attendance.

Exceptions are to be discussed with the lecturer in advance. Sanctions for poor attendance, at the discretion of the responsible lecturer, will be communicated at the beginning of the course. Active participation to the problem class sessions can be a necessary condition for access to the final exam.

Colloquium attendance

The ITF organises a biweekly 'Nico van Kampen Colloquium'. This is a key ingredient of the THPH program, in which students are exposed to the full breadth of (theoretical) physics through talks by leading researchers in their respective fields.

To qualify for a Master’s degree, THPH students must attend at least 18 colloquia out of the 36 that are organised over the two years that are typically needed to complete the programme**.

In addition, students must attend 3 alumni talks out of the 10 in this period, as well as a career event. Attendance is maintained electronically via the Theoretical Physics Colloquium Blackboard community, to which students are registered upon entering the programme. In addition, an attendance list will circulate during the first 15 minutes of the colloquium/alumni talks, which cannot be signed afterwards (barring exceptions approved by an ITP staff member); signing for another student is fraudulent. The ITP hosts one career event per year.

To better prepare THPH students for the colloquium, an introductory talk will occasionally be presented one hour before the start of the colloquium. Attending these occasional preparatory talks, which will be announced in advance, is also compulsory.

**It is highly recommended to start attending the colloquium in the first year in the THPH program already, not only to make sure to complete the set of 18 required sessions but also to get oriented optimally on the possibilities for MSc-thesis topics.

Exam and retake rules

The grading of most THPH courses involves a final exam, combined with a midterm exam and/or hand-in exercises. The details vary from course to course and are to be clearly stated (in writing) by the lecturer at the start of the course and can usually be found on Blackboard or MS-Teams.

Every year there is one retake per course, which is not open for those who scored below 4, or obtained 6 and above in the regular (first) grading period. These THPH rules conform to the Education and Examinations Regulations (EER) of the Graduate School of Natural Sciences.

Integrity and quality of hand-in work

Hand-in exercises are an important part of the feedback mechanism from lecturer/TA to student. The quality, readability, and exposure of this work must therefore be of such a standard that feedback is possible efficiently; it doesn't need to be typeset. Additionally, in line with proper scientific integrity, it is also mandatory to:

  • (i) provide references to (non-standard) sources other than the book/notes of use in the course,
  • (ii) to mention key input from others (e.g. fellow students with whom the work was carried out or internet discussion forums).

Lastly, handing in work for grading also implies implicitly and explicitly that the work was actually done by the student, otherwise, it will be considered as fraud - if discovered - with all due consequences as stated in the EER.