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Degree Master of Science
Application required access-restricted

Course commences

winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration 4 semesters
Format options full-time only
Language requirements None
Language of instruction English, partly German
Other features postgraduate (consecutive)

Faculty of Physics and Astronomy

Course outline

Owing to their wide-ranging and comprehensive training, there is a high demand for physics graduates in many walks of life. Potential career prospects range from research and development at universities, research institutions and in industry to positions in the field of information and communications or in management consultancy. The ideal basis for taking advantage of these opportunities is for students to follow up their B.Sc. degree with a research-oriented M.Sc. programme that gives them in-depth specialist knowledge and understanding of the scientific methods employed in physics along with insights into neighbouring fields (depending on the choice of modules). In addition, the M.Sc. lays the foundations for a later doctorate.

With an eye to the array of professional opportunities available, the aim of the M.Sc. course in Physics is not extreme specialization, but rather flexibility and scientific self-reliance. Both in research and industry, physics graduates are expected to be able to work their way into new fields and to recognize and solve new problems. The M.Sc. course is notable for the immense freedom of choice it offers. It is extremely challenging and encourages and promotes students’ critical faculties, problem-solving abilities and creative thinking. Here, the one-year research phase integrated into the course is particularly significant (see Course structure). In that phase, the Heidelberg students learn how to go about research of their own and acquire the requisite skills in turning new findings to productive account.

The model syllabuses to be found in the module handbook provide assistance in planning your course. They contain examples of the various pathways students can embark upon, depending on the interests they have.

Course structure

The structure of the Heidelberg M.Sc. programme in Physics is two-pronged. Two semesters of taught classes (lectures, seminars, etc.) are followed by a one-year research phase in which students work independently on projects of their own and learn how to turn new findings to account. The research phase ends with the M.Sc. thesis.

To pass the M.Sc. course, students require a total of 120 credit points (CP). The course takes four semesters altogether (30 CP per semester). The CP reflect the workload required for a given module, including contact time, preparation and follow-up, plus the time required for essays and projects. One CP corresponds to 30 hours of work. A total workload of about 900 hours is expected per semester. This can only be achieved by taking advantage of a substantial part of the lecture-free period between semesters.


Compulsory electives:
2 modules from Experimental, Theoretical or Astrophysics


1st year

Specialisation in Physics:
additional Physics modules; one compulsory seminar


Compulsory electives:
modules from Physics, Informatics or other subjects; cross-disciplinary skills


Final oral examination



One-year research phase:
M.Sc. thesis including preparatory work


2nd year

 Table 1: Structure of Master’s programme


The course is subdivided into the areas indicated in Table 1. It includes a set of compulsory electives in the Physics programme worth 16 CP, electives for specialisation in individual areas of Physics worth 14 CP, and electives worth up to 24 CP, in which modules can be freely chosen from neighbouring subjects, from “Cross-Disciplinary Skills” and from other modules from the Faculty’s Physics courses. Another 6 CP are awarded for the final oral examination. The research phase consists of the two compulsory modules “Scientific Specialisation” and “Methods and Project Planning”, worth 15 CP each, and the M.Sc. thesis worth 30 CP. A summary of the different areas, including the module descriptions, can be found in the module handbook. See the M.Sc. examination regulations for further details.


  1. Compulsory electives (16 CP)

This section of the course aims to familiarise students with one or two of the topics central to present-day Physics. In all, they can choose from two theoretical and five experimental lectures. The modules on offer are

  • Statistical Physics (theory)
  • Theoretical Astrophysics
  • Particle Physics
  • Physics of Condensed Matter
  • Nuclear, Molecular and Optical Physics
  • Environmental Physics
  • Observational Astronomy

Further details on these modules can be found in the module handbook. At least two of these modules must be successfully completed to obtain the M.Sc. degree. Modules from courses completed during the B.Sc. programme may be counted towards the overall total. In this case, however, the requisite CP must be obtained by attending additional compulsory-elective or elective modules in Physics. See the examination regulations for further details.

  1. Specialisation in Physics (compulsory electives) (14 CP)

Further modules must be completed for specialisation in Physics from one or two elective areas of Physics, either from the course programme or from a range of useful courses listed in the module handbook and worth 14 CP. The modules from the specialisation courses can, moreover, be used for the electives. The CP needed for specialisation in Physics can be freely combined from the courses on offer. However, the Faculty recommends that M.Sc. students follow the models proposed so as to achieve as coherent a course programme as possible with a maximum of two specialisation areas.

  1. Electives (24 CP)

Here subjects totalling 24 CP must be chosen from Physics, from a neighbouring subject or from “Cross-Disciplinary Skills”. In Physics, the modules can be chosen from the course programme and the specialisation programme. In addition, electives can be chosen from the offerings of other Faculties in the following areas:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Economics
  • Informatics
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Physics of Imaging
  • Physiology

Selecting a block of classes from these areas enables students to acquire competence in a subject adjacent to Physics. Such competence is of course a definite asset when it comes to interdisciplinary work. The relevant departments offer coordinated modules for this kind of combination, normally a series of connected submodules extending over two semesters.

  1. Final examination (6 CP)

The M.Sc. examination in Physics is a collegiate examination conducted by two professors/lecturers. Questions may refer to Theoretical or Experimental Physics or both. The subject matter discussed in the examination is taken from two lectures in the course programme (A.), along with content from Specialisation in Physics (B.) totalling at least 14 CP. Students indicate their choices to the examiners in advance. In the oral examination, the students are expected to show that they (a) have a full and thorough understanding of the essentials of the subject, (b) can recognise the connections existing between different areas of research in Physics, and (c) have acquired in-depth knowledge of at least one such research area.

  1. Research phase (60 CP)

In the one-year research phase, students learn how to go about independent scientific work. This phase consists of the two compulsory modules ‘Scientific Specialisation’ and ‘Methods and Project Planning’ accounting for 15 CP each and the M.Sc. thesis accounting for 30 CP. The compulsory modules both take three months and help in approaching the topic of the thesis. This work-up to the thesis can take place by attending additional useful lectures, via personal study or by participating in the research group relevant to the M.Sc. thesis. The precise mixture is determined in consultation with the supervising lecturer. Besides providing the necessary tools, the module on Methods and Project Planning is intended primarily to address the planning necessary for the actual research project. The thesis then contains the student’s own research, including a (written) summary of scientific findings.

Formal requirements

Application and admission

Access to the course is restricted. Please consult the Admission Regulations.

Prospective students from Germany
Prospective students from Germany need to complete an online application form. They are required to present a statement in writing issued by a representative of the M.Sc. programme they are applying for, confirming that the conditions laid down in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please contact the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy for details about further procedure.

International prospective students

Prospective students from other countries have to submit an application in writing to enable verification of their previous academic achievements. The closing date for international applicants is 15 July for the winter semester and 15 January for the summer semester. The application must be sent directly to the International Relations Office. Please use this online application form.

Further information

Current information on the application procedure

Website of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.

Examination regulations

Examination regulations M.Sc. (25 July 2008)
Examination regulations M.Sc. (14 April 2011, amended 10. April 2014)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.


A contribution must be paid to the student services organization and there is an administrative charge.

Academic advisor

  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Uwer
    Physikalisches Institut, Im Neuenheimer Feld 226, 69120 Heidelberg,
    Tel. 06221/54-19402 ; by appointment only (PHYSICS).
    Sekretariat, Tel. 06221/54-19400,
  • Apl. Prof. Dr. Michael Hausmann
    Kirchhoff Institut für Physik, Im Neuenheimer Feld 227, 69120 Heidelberg,
    Tel. 06221/54-9824 ; by appointment only (PHYSICS).
    Sekretariat, Tel. 06221/54-9271,
  • Apl. Prof. Dr. Andreas Just
    Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Mönchhofstr. 12-14, 69120 Heidelberg,
    Tel. 06221/54-1829; Consultation hours 1pm-2pm, Room 20 (Astronomy).
  • Apl. Prof. Dr. Stefan Wagner
    Landessternwarte, Königstuhl, 69117 Heidelberg,
    Tel. 06221/54-1712; by appointment only (Astronomy)
  • Prof. Dr. Peter Fischer
    Ziti / B6, 26; 68131 Mannheim
    Tel. 0621 181-2735 by appointment only (Informatics)
  • Dr. Alexander Ostrowski (application issues)
    Klaus-Tschira-Gebäude, Im Neuenheimer Feld 226, 69120 Heidelberg, Zi. 2.101,
    Tel. 06221/54-19642; Consultation hours Mon to Fri 2pm - 3:30pm, and by appointment.


Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, Dean’s Office

Albert-Ueberle-Straße 3-5, 2nd floor, east side
D-69120 Heidelberg


phone: +49 (0)6221 549298

Secretaries’ office for examination issues

phone: +49 (0)6221 544124



Student representative body MathPhys (no application issues)

Im Neuenheimer Feld 205, Office 1.301
D-69120 Heidelberg

phone: +49 (0)6221 5414999

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Latest Revision: 2018-03-08
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