Alptug Ulugöl, student
"It is remarkable how the students develop their knowledge to cutting-edge levels in such a short time"
Why did you choose this Master’s?
I was sure that I would pursue a career in theoretical physics in the junior year of my Bachelor's degree. Close to the end of that academic year, my study advisor said it was time to talk about graduate school. When I told him I wanted to continue my studies in Europe, he pointed out that Utrecht University was the university that could truly challenge my skills. After I checked the Theoretical Physics Master's programme and academic staff of Utrecht University, I was sure that Utrecht was the right place for me.
How does the Master’s meet your expectations so far?
The Theoretical Physics programme at Utrecht University has a condensed yet still diverse study programme that extends from condensed matter physics to cosmology and high energy physics. It is remarkable how the students develop their knowledge to cutting-edge levels in such a short time. In my opinion, this is where Utrecht University stands out. On the other hand, it is also the most intimidating aspect of the programme. The prospective students have to be ready for two demanding years. At the moment, I am writing my thesis on spin currents in hydrodynamics, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be introduced to such a novel topic.
What is the relevance of your study you think?
Physics is the study of nature at its most fundamental level. It was essential a thousand years ago, and it will still be aeons later. This has two main reasons; one philosophical and one practical. Humankind's never-ending strive for knowledge will keep us pushing the boundary of physics further and further. Moreover, we are not doing physics just for knowledge's sake. Physics is the fundamental driving force of technology. As long as we keep on advancing technology, we need physics. Driven by these reasons, I will stay at Utrecht to complete my PhD degree after my Master's studies.
Would you recommend this Master’s to others?
If I could go back in time to two years ago, I would choose Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University without a doubt. I believe this programme challenged me in a way that enabled me to become the best version of the physicist I can be. If you want to explore different fields of theoretical physics and are up to a challenge, this Master's is definitely one of the programmes that you should consider.
Lotte Spanjers, student
''I choose this Master’s because of the same reason I choose my bachelor: I want to find out the why''
Why this Master’s
I choose this Master’s because of the same reason I choose my bachelor: I want to find out the why. I want to know the theory behind things, and I find it beautiful to see how mathematics can describe the world. I was told this master was one of the hardest ones you can choose, and I was not sure that I’d be good enough. But in the end, I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.
About this Master’s
It’s true that this Master’s is hard, but that’s because you are really learning a lot. Moreover: You are never doing this alone; there are always other students struggling with the same material, and together you can achieve what you can’t alone. It isn’t true that a TP student should be locked up in a room all day, and come out with a notebook full of calculations at the end. You can do this if you want, however, most of it is a team-effort above all.
Kyla Bogaarde, student
''You really learn to push through and stick to the problem when it gets hard''
Why I chose this Master’s
I did my bachelors (TWIN) in Utrecht so I already heard lots of stories about the master Theoretical Physics from my first year on. Mostly saying that it is a madly difficult master. Therefore, up until my last year bachelor, I didn’t consider this master because I was concerned I would never make it through. However, in my final year bachelor I participated with great joy in the courses statistical physics 2, quantum mechanics 2, classical field theory and quantum matter. I passed these courses quite smoothly, giving me a bit of confidence. Since I have the habit of always raising my own bar to see how far I can make it, I decided to take a leap and sign up for this master.
About this Master’s
You really learn to push through and stick to the problem when it gets hard. To some extent you should already possess this skill. Of course your ability to picture very abstract things will be tested in this master.
Regarding the courses, I would say there are enough courses to structure your master either in a more theoretical or a more practical way. However, I would say the theoretical side dominates slightly, but this depends on what you consider to be theoretical/practical. The field of research you choose for your thesis is based on whichever course you were most interested in, when doing it. You will spend almost a whole year doing the research for your thesis.
Ferran del Moral Méndez, student
''Be prepared to work hard to learn the fundamentals of nature, and you’ll see it’s worth the effort''
Why Theoretical Physics
I always wondered about the universe and its origins. When I watched Brian Greene’s documentary ‘The Elegant Universe’ as a teenager, this triggered my desire to study the fundamental questions of the universe, and to focus on black holes and string theory. During my Bachelor in Physics at the University of Barcelona, my curiosity to understand the fundamentals of nature only grew more eager, and made that I wanted to pursue a Master’s in Theoretical Physics.
Why Utrecht University
I chose Utrecht because the study plan is very flexible and allows you to focus on those fields you’re interested in most. You can even choose subjects from other Master’s programmes, especially from the master in Mathematics, which in my opinion makes the programme even more complete and interesting. Besides, Utrecht city is beautiful, people are really easy-going and the lifestyle is fun and relaxed at the same time. I personally enjoy the variety of music venues and music styles that you can enjoy practically every night.
Be ready to work hard
I came to Utrecht with high expectations, and it’s even better than I thought. I never imagined I could learn so many things, in such a short time. A year ago, I barely knew the very basics of quantum field theory and now I fully understand the standard model and the renormalization techniques in depth. Obviously, this doesn’t come easy: be prepared to work hard and spend many hours solving hard problems. If you choose to study Theoretical Physics in Utrecht, be ready to work hard to learn the fundamentals of nature. It might not be easy in the beginning, but you'll soon discover that it's worth the effort!
Robert Châu, student
''You have to be able to ask yourself questions that even a child would ask in order to get to the deeper meaning of things''
After finishing my Bachelor in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, I worked in engineering for a couple of years. While working I realized more and more that I wanted to deepen my knowledge to get to the basic meaning of things. Einstein once said that “the eternally incomprehensible thing about the world is its comprehensibility”. Encouraged by the accelerating breakthroughs in science, I like to believe that the world is in fact comprehensible. I chose this Master’s because I want to follow the same challenging path of scientists before me who tried to comprehend the world, and I believe that Theoretical Physics is closer to this ultimate goal than any other form of science.
What I like best about this Master in Utrecht is that it is very broad. The main focus of the programme is on research, which is inevitable in this theoretical field. This of course requires skills like juggling difficult mathematical concepts or digesting seemingly illegible articles. But most importantly you have to be able to ask yourself questions that even a child would ask in order to get to the deeper meaning of things.
As for my myself, I’m currently focusing on my research on the mechanism of Spontaneously Symmetry Probing in the case of inflationary perturbations. Through this, I hope to gain more understandings about the Effective Field Theory of inflation, particularly its time dependent coefficients. After my Master’s I would like to continue in a PhD programme, which would help me to get one step further on my path to jointly comprehension of the world.