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. 


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 to determine the focus of your programme.

Experimental Physics is presenting 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 curriculum then consists of a 60 EC course part, followed by a 60 EC research part in year 2.

Course part (60 EC)

The course part of this programme consists of:

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

Research part (45 EC)

The majority of the 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 will familiarise 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 and possibly a publishable paper based on your research. Thesis results are presented and discussed during the thesis defense. 

In experimental physics research, 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. Research projects on Bose-Einstein condensation, condensed matter physics, and nanophotonics 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 international research centre in Geneva, Switzerland. The Utrecht group collaborates closely with the Nikhef Institute in Amsterdam and the FOM Institute for particle physics in the Netherlands.

The research part can be started when all courses have been completed. 

Educational courses

Lecture courses

Many of our courses are full-semester lecture courses consisting of a weekly lecture (two 45-minute sessions) presented by a staff member, combined with a weekly problem class session (3-4 hours of problem solving) supervised by teaching assistants.

Hybrid Project and Lecture courses

Several of our courses are full-semester courses that consist of both a lecture component with associated problem classes, as well as an extended project component.

Thesis research project

The thesis research project is an individual one-year project supervised by a staff member.

View thesis example: The Movement of Particles in a Glassy Material


  • Midterms 
  • Final written exams
  • Graded Assignments 
  • A few courses conclude with a large final computational project
  • The course Experiment Design is purely project based
  • Thesis 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