Faculty of Engineering SciencesMatter to Life

The main focus areas in the subject Matter to Life are molecular systems chemistry and engineering. The subject provides a multidisciplinary education as it comprises not only chemistry but also topics associated with physics, molecular systems, engineering and life sciences.

The subject is profoundly research-oriented, encourages students to think and learn independently and deals with interdisciplinary scientific issues. Students have the opportunity to acquire consolidated expert knowledge of the chemical-physical foundations of life and are able to scientifically describe, analyse, assess and successfully solve challenging problems and issues. Students further acquire a profound understanding of applications, connections, materials and processes in chemical-biological contexts, qualifying them for professional research work in interdisciplinary and innovative scientific fields.

SGF Matter to Life


The students are integrated into the Max Planck School Matter to Life. The Max Planck School Matter to Life unites established scientists across different locations who work on the same scientific topic and provides students with a research-oriented degree programme combined with individual mentoring and a variety of lab spaces in an interdisciplinary community.

The low number of university places ensures an ideal ratio of students to lecturers and enables support measures tailored to the individual needs and interests of the students.

In the degree programme Matter to Life, the teaching approach is that of the ‘inverted classroom’. In this approach, students initially work on and learn the lecture topics autonomously with the help of the available learning material. In the subsequent contact hours, problems and questions are discussed and knowledge is consolidated by solving specific problems and questions together.

Graduates are scientifically qualified to pursue a PhD at the Max Planck School Matter to Life and can additionally benefit from events such as Summer Schools and the individual mentoring programme.


Due to the department’s strong focus on research, students are not only provided with in-depth insights into excellent research in chemistry at Heidelberg University but are also given the opportunity to link their knowledge with that of leading scientists in various fields of research at other locations and to therefore forge new paths for themselves.

Thanks to the unique cooperation of the departments of chemistry, physics and biology, students are prepared to work at the interfaces of the individual scientific disciplines and to achieve outstanding results by combining the expert knowledge of these fields. The reputable research institutions in Heidelberg, such as Heidelberg University, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), make the town the perfect location for excellent research.


Graduates are optimally prepared for a career in science. In addition to outstanding teaching and close supervision at both the scientific and personal level, the Matter to Life programme also provides students with excellent contacts to the scientific community consisting of leading researchers from reputable universities and research institutions in the interdisciplinary field Matter to Life.


sgf Studierendenzitat Matter to Life

As a student in the internationally oriented Master’s programme ‘Matter to Life’, I benefit especially from the excellent supervision by scientists from different subjects and disciplines, from the outstanding laboratories and facilities at Heidelberg University and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, and from the close cooperation with other non-university institutions on site.

Deus Mwesigwa, 24, Matter to Life, Master