Study programme

The History and Philosophy of Science 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 curriculum  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:   

  • 4 compulsory courses (23,5 EC) 
  • elective courses (37,5 EC)

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

Research part (60 EC)

The second year is devoted to your own research project, resulting in a master’s thesis according to the rules and methods current in the field. The thesis should demonstrate that you are able to produce new scholarly knowledge and insights, and can share the results with fellow researchers in a coherent way. It is based on independent research, refers to relevant litera­ture, assesses earlier work on a chosen topic and contributes to scholarly debate. 

You can also chose to do a 15 EC internship or extra courses (subject to approval by the Board of Examiners), in combination with a smaller thesis (37,5 EC). A full (52.5 EC) HPS master’s thesis will normally consist of around 30.000 words; theses on philosophical topics or foundations of physics can often be shorter. 

Educational methods

  • Seminar discussions: 25 %
  • Lectures 10 % 
  • Self-study 50 % 
  • Group work 5 %
  • Other (including workshops, excursions) 10 %


  • Papers or other writing assignments: most courses involve one or more writing assignments, often based on your own research 
  • Presentations: many courses include oral presentations on prescribed literature or on your own research 
  • Other assignments: courses may include group assignments, hands-on workshops, or other formats. Also, you may be asked to submit critical questions about the course literature.   
  • Exams (oral/written) are rare in the master. 

Examples of recent thesis

  • Birth of the Human Being: historicizing the notion of ‘human’ in the study of reproduction
  • Measurements and Elements of Reality in Relational Quantum Mechanics
  • The Spectacle of Scientific Masculinity: military, science and masculinity in Great Britain and Germany 1820 – 1880
  • How We Became Our Brains: an analysis of the relation between brain imaging technologies and beliefs in brain research
  • Lab Coats, Heroes and Impending Doom: the visibility of science in video games

The flexibility to shape your own HPS-curriculum and the diversity and interdisciplinarity of its courses allows you to create your own path within the programme.

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