Read what current and former students say about their study choice and experiences with the programme.

Frans Huntink

Portrait of Frans Huntink

"The Computer Vision course stands out because of how original and open-ended the practicals were. It really makes you think about how to set up a complex model pipeline from scratch."

What makes this programme unique in your eyes?

What makes this programme unique is the way in which the courseload is structured. Aside from two mandatory courses you get to pick all of your own courses. This is great! I am typically only interested in the technical set of courses that the programme offers so those are the courses that I picked for my Master's programme. For example, I got to combine my interest in writing physical simulations with my Master's programme by picking a course like Game Physics from the Game Technology programme.

If you had to tell something about the programme you know now, but what you didn’t know before you started, what would you tell?

Take your time for the courses and try to take up as much information as you can. The courses you can choose are bound to specific periods, so if you missed some courses you would have liked to take then there is usually the possibility of postponing your thesis for a couple of months. It really is a solid investment.

What is your favourite subject of this programme? Could be a course, a project, an assignment, the thing you like most?

Evolutionary computing is quite a theoretical course about employing evolutionary systems for optimisation problems. To me the course was exceptionally interesting because the evolutionary approach for solving problems is both very intuitive and unique.

Computer Vision to me was the course with the highest workload and that was mainly due to five intense practical assignments. What made the course stand out is how original and open-ended the practicals were. It really makes you think about how to set up a complex model pipeline from scratch.

What is the future you? What would be your ideal job in a few years?

I could definitely see myself doing R&D for a company that I like. I've always been driven by curiosity so researching state-of-the-art models, pipelines and general AI or software infrastructure would be very cool. Ideally, I would combine this with occasional hands-on programming.

Emma van Zoelen, student

Emma van Zoelen

''The versatility of AI research makes this a multidisciplinary programme"

How did you get interested in this Master?

In the final year of my Bachelor Industrial Design, I started to watch science-fiction movies like ‘Her’ and ‘Ex Machina’. It made me think "why does Artificial Intelligence always has to be like humans in those movies? And why are AI systems in the real world always so extremely practical and not personal?" This was exactly what my final bachelor project was about and what later helped me to choose for the Master's in Artificial Intelligence.

When I was looking for a Master's programme I wanted to do something more theoretical, with more mathematics, than Industrial Design and at the same time I wanted to keep the multidisciplinary way of working that I was used to. The AI Master's programme is indeed very theoretical; we read lots of papers and therefore we get the feel of the different kind of research there is, not just the tools that businesses happen to use. That is what makes the field multidisciplinary. Research within AI reaches much further than you might think, and for that you need some creativity in seeing how it all connects. It is hard to explain, but when you experience it, you will see how many fields are inspired by the field of AI.

What do you like the most?

One of the things I like the most about this programme is that you can choose almost anything, and really create the programme you want. We are free to do electives at many different departments and thanks to that I have already learned a lot about many new areas, such as neuroscience and linguistics. Another aspect that I really enjoy is that the people in the program have very diverse backgrounds. In assignments, projects and presentations, people from different backgrounds show a different approach with different opinions, which is very inspiring. I feel that this programme is a great preparation for going into research. I like research in general but I still don’t know exactly what I want to do when I graduate. What I do know is that, wherever I end up, I want to be able to use the ability to research into different fields even if I am unfamiliar with them at first. Connecting different areas and coming up with new ideas for research related to AI is something I really enjoy and would like to have in my future.

Francesco Solinas, student

“I wanted to get a broader view on the discipline, rather than primarily focusing on the practical, engineering aspects of AI“

Why Artificial Intelligence?
I first learned about Artificial Intelligence during my previous Master’s in Psychology. AI captivated me as a fascinating fast-growing science full of potentials that, with the right oversight, can provide groundbreaking technologies that can help society and the world as a whole. At the same time, we have to be careful that these advancements do not lead to harmful directions for the humankind. That is why I wish to become a PhD researcher in this field and hopefully combine the powerful technical knowledge of AI with the necessary philosophical guidance.

Why Utrecht University?
I was looking for a place that allowed me to dive deeper into AI (even with limited or no computer science) and that could offer me a broader view on the discipline, whereas most universities generally focus on the more practical, engineering aspects of AI. In Utrecht the master is strongly research-oriented and gives a general perspective on the several different disciplines that make up and characterize AI such as; cognitive science, logic and of course, philosophy. I find this division into different specializations very useful as it allows you to look into the various aspects of AI and their relationships in the broader sense.

What characterizes this Master’s?
The structure of the courses stimulates students to think critically, by examining and discussing the papers of the researchers directly. Of course, this comes at a price: sometimes the course offer is so broad that the specialization into a single topic or its practical aspects has to be sacrificed for this more theoretical and research-oriented perspective. This notwithstanding, in many courses I have been capable of putting concepts that I had previously learned into practice. For example using Game Theory or Logic for the development of intelligent agents or the modeling of their interactions in complex strategic environments.

Nina Hendriks, student

“Learning about all the different fields that are influenced by AI, keep convincing me of the relevance of AI in our society, a great motivation for my studies“

Why did you choose this Master’s?

As a bachelor student, I had a hard time choosing a path for my Master’s. I completed a Bachelor in Mathematics and took many classes in History and Chemistry. I was interested in all three fields, which made choosing a direction complicated. I enjoyed the problem solving nature of History and Mathematics. I liked the fact that Chemistry and History describe the real world. Lastly, I enjoyed the predictive power of the computations in Mathematics and Chemistry. While searching for a master’s where I could combine all these skills, I first considered Computer Science. But I missed the in-depth study of the theoretical background behind algorithms, and wanted to learn more about that. That is when I found out about Artificial Intelligence.

Did you have any hesitations to choose this Master’s?

At first I was skeptical because I thought AI was just a science fiction hype and I was scared it was a very narrow topic for a master’s programme. However, when I found out about all the different courses that the program offers, I changed my  mind. The classes offered are very diverse. Some classes focus on theoretical concepts and papers, while other classes are very practical with a focus on projects. The topics off the classes that I have taken in the program range from logic to computer science algorithms and cognitive science. I decided to apply because I believed that this wide variety of classes would be a good preparation for a career in AI related research.

Did the Master’s meet your expectations so far?

When I first started the programme, I was intimidated by the wide range of topics I had to learn about. Many of my class mates had a stronger background in psychology or computer science which made me feel like I wasn’t ready for this program. It has, however, been great to be a part of such a diverse group of students. We all learn from each other and the teachers are considerate of everyone’s academic background. All the different classes made me aware of the variety of fields that are influenced by AI. In this way, I keep getting convinced of the relevance of AI in our society which is a great motivation for my studies.