Study programme

Experimental Physics is a two-year research oriented Master's programme (120 EC). EC stands for European Credits in which 1 EC equals 28 hours of work. 

Experimental Physics has a renewed curriculum as of September 2023. Information on this website is based on the new curriculum. Information on the former curriculum can be found on our students website.


The programme is build around three specialized tracks, each focusing on a different area of experimental physics. At the start of the programme you must select one track, which determines the main focus of your programme. You then complement this with courses from another track to also broaden your knowledge. The curriculum structure consists of a 60 EC course part in year 1, followed by a 60 EC research part in year 2.

Course part (60 EC)

Your first year is spend on courses, which include;

  • 1 compulsory course (7,5 EC)
  • 7 elective courses (52,5 EC)

In the course list below you can find a description of the specific courses.

Research part (60 EC)

Your 2nd year is spend on conducting a research project and writing your Master’s thesis. The research project must contain a significant literature study, in which you familiarize yourself with the subject. As part of your research training, you will also enhance your academic skills by regular attendance of various seminars. The project concludes with writing a thesis of which the results are presented and discussed during the thesis defense.
The research part can be started when all courses have been completed. 

Research projects

Within experimental physics, you have the opportunity to study a broad range of science-related issues ranging from advanced technology to the interpretation of forefront physics results and the discussion of their implications. The research projects in this Master’s programme are all related to cutting-edge experimental research:

  • Bose-Einstein condensation, condensed matter physics, and nanophotonics projects are generally done in the state-of-the-art labs at the University or externally in national research institutes such as the FOM Institutes DIFFER and AMOLF.
  • Particle physics projects in high-energy physics and most of the measurements are carried out at CERN. The Utrecht group collaborates closely with the Nikhef Institute in Amsterdam and the FOM Institute for particle physics in the Netherlands. 
    View thesis example: The Movement of Particles in a Glassy Material

Educational methods

  • Lecture courses (full semester, weekly lectures)

  • Problem class sessions

  • Research project

  • Thesis


  • Midterms 
  • Final written exams
  • Graded assignments 
  • A few courses conclude with a large final computational project
  • The course Experiment Design is purely project based
  • Research project: written thesis and final oral presentation 

Extra opportunities

Utrecht University offers several programmes for students looking for an extra challenge. These programmes are followed on top of your regular Master’s programme and go beyond the regular curriculum. Do you want to know more about extracurricular opportunities?  

Read more about the honours programmes