Study Programme

The HPS research master's is a fulltime two-year programme of 120 EC. The first year is devoted to theoretical courses, while the second year is dedicated to your own research. 

Year 1: Course part (60 EC)

  • Compulsory courses (23.5 EC)
  • Primary electives (at least 22.5 EC)
  • Secondary elective (at most 15 EC)

See the Courses page for detailed course descriptions and options.

Year 2: Research part (60 EC)

  • Master’s thesis (37.5 or 52.5 EC)
  • Study abroad or internship (optional, 15 EC)
  • Research Seminar (6.5 EC)

Master’s thesis 

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.

Examples of research topics:

  • Spacelike and Timelike Non-Locality
  • Function, Object, System – Kant’s transcendental logic and the foundations of the exact sciences 
  • Early Dutch Interest in Newtonian Mathematics: Adriaen Verwer (1654-1717) and Newton’s usefulness
  • Knowledge, Entertainment, Superstition: Imagining the Arctic in the Netherlands, 1555-1685
  • In and Out of Magelang Asylum: A Social History of Colonial Psychiatry in the Netherlands Indies, 1923-1942
  • The Reception of the General Theory of Relativity in Belgium
  • Sow, don’t tell. The meaning of nature and technology in Dutch seed breeders’ communication strategies
  • Profiling in electronic coaching and authenticity and individuality of the user
  • The historical relation between knowledge of explosive technology and terrorism
History and Philosophy of Science study programme
EC = credits (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System)
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.

Examination Methods 

  • Papers
  • Presentations
  • Assignments
  • Master’s thesis: Your Master’s thesis is a reflection of your training as a researcher in HPS. It should be written in  English. At the end of your project, you will  a formal presentation about your work in the colloquium series of  the Descartes Centre or the Freudental Institute.

Interdisciplinary profiles

A profile is a coherent set of courses totaling 30 EC and can be chosen to expand the thematic range of your Master's programme. Within HPS you can choose to do participate in one of the following profiles:

Educational profile - teacher degree

If you are passionate about sharing your knowledge, and you would consider a career as a teacher in secondary education, this profile might be right for you. The emphasis of the Educational Profile is on practitioner skills and school-based activities. Throughout the profile, learning theories and teaching methods will be taught closely linked to your day to day work in the classroom. The profile is tailored to meet the professional development needs of teachers in the early stages of their careers. More information.

Applied Data Science profile

Applied Data Science is a multidisciplinary profile for students who want to better understand and be able to apply Data Science methods, techniques, and processes to solve real-world problems in various application domains. The foundations of applied data science include relevant statistical methods, machine learning techniques and script programming. Moreover, key aspects and implications of ethics, privacy and law are covered as well. Data science methods and techniques are investigated using case studies and applications throughout the life sciences & health, social sciences, geosciences, and the humanities. More information.

Communication profile

The Communication profile (33 EC) offers students the opportunity to focus on science communication and informal science education within the context of their own science research Master's programme. These days researchers are increasingly called upon to engage with society, to share their results with a great variety of groups and to talk about work-related matters with citizens and interested parties. If you do not just want to become a good researcher, but also want to learn how to communicate properly about your work with a variety of target audiences or how to teach your subject matter well in informal settings, this profile is a good choice for you. For more information check the profile page.

Complex Systems Profile

Complex Systems is an interdisciplinary profile for ambitious students from different Master’s programmes, who want to work on modelling solutions within the field of Complex Systems. The profile gives you the opportunity to broaden your view and knowledge from an interdisciplinary angle and widens your opportunities for further development. It prepares you for a career in interdisciplinary fields at, for instance, financial companies. You will receive a Complex Systems certificate. More information

Science-based Entrepreneurship Profile

Science is a constant source of innovation, whether it is finding a science-based product while working at a large company or performing research in an incubator. The profile Science-based Entrepreneurship offers you the possibility to test your entrepreneurship gene by learning and working on scientific innovation in your field of study.
The foundation of the profile is the course Science-based Entrepreneurship, that concerns developing a business plan and a prototype of a science-based innovation. After that, you can choose from a list of approved electives and optionally a project. These projects can be done in teams and as an individual. More information.