Faculty of Engineering SciencesMolecular Systems Science and Engineering

The Master Program in “Molecular Systems Science and Engineering” (MSSE) aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to explore the complexities of molecular systems through the lenses of Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and the Molecular Life Sciences.

After one semester of basic lectures with exercises in at least three of the five main subjects, students specialize in electives from the second semester onwards. The compulsory modules Creative Science Lab, Technology Transfer, Data & Project Management form an important part of the program, as they provide students with the knowledge and skills to design and carry out research projects as independent scientists. This is followed by the research phase in the form of internships accompanied by seminars and a Master's thesis.

MSSE graduates will be well-prepared for careers in research or development in the field of Molecular Systems Science and Engineering, as well as for participation in PhD programs.

Q&A via Zoom

The Faculty of Engineering Sciences invites interested students to question-and-answer sessions about the new degree program. On the linked page you can register for one of the dates taking place on Zoom.
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Special Features and Characteristics

The MSSE is mainly based at the Institute for Molecular Systems Engineering and Advanced Materials (IMSEAM), a part of Heidelberg University's Faculty of Engineering. Essential modules' courses and lectures are directly overseen by the relevant principal investigators and many of them occur directly within the working groups' laboratory settings. In the elective modules, students can tap into the diverse expertise available across various institutes in the faculties of Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology at Heidelberg University. 

The MSSE program offers five specializations in Energy Conversion, Molecular Design, Biomaterials, Nanosystems, and Philosophy and Ethics in the Engineering Sciences, all of which fall under the umbrella of Molecular Systems Science and Engineering. Each specialization includes advanced-level modules that comprehensively cover the field. Students acquire a deep understanding of various approaches and methods, enabling them to evaluate their merits and shortcomings in order to devise optimal solutions for specific scientific problems. 

The MSSE program has a focus on practical skills. Students learn to work with state-of-the-art tools from molecular systems and materials research and are able to apply these skills to develop working solutions for application-oriented problems efficiently.


Students will first learn the basics of Molecular Systems Engineering in three out of these five categories: 

  • Energy Conversion: Core principles and regulations governing energy conversion, practical calculations, operational mechanisms of specific energy conversion tools and system, performance assessments, material requirements. 
  • Molecular Engineering: overview of typical reactions and common organic chemistry synthesis methods, molecular characterization methods.
  • Biomaterials: molecular engineering, typical reactions and common organic chemistry synthesis methods, molecular characterization techniques. 
  • Nanosystems: Types of nanosystems, manufacturing processes, characterization methods for nanosystems, applied nanosystems and their functionalities. 
  • Philosophy and Ethics in the Engineering Sciences: Discussions and comparisons regarding the questions and principles within the philosophy of science and Molecular Systems Science. 

During the first specialization, students will choose one of these four topics: 

  • Specialization (Macro)Molecular Engineering: Fundamental principles of macromolecules and polymers, advanced synthesis techniques, properties, and characterization methods related to macromolecules. 
  • Specialization Life Inspired Molecular Systems: Biomaterial classes and their corresponding properties, mechanics of biomaterial systems, integrate knowledge from disciplines such as biomedicine, biophysics, and biostatistics. 

Specialization Physics of Functional Materials: Advanced and functional engineering materials, employ principles from physics, chemistry, and materials science for articulating the characteristics of advanced and functional engineering materials. 

  • Specialization Physical and Biological Principles of Sensing: Information science, analyze strategies within information sciences and computing, model molecular systems. 

The final theoretical specialization happens in two of these four modules: 

  • Functional Organic Materials: Optoelectronic properties of organic (semi)conductors, operational mechanisms of common organic electronic devices, numerical experiments, analyzing experimental data. 
  • Synthetic Biosystems: Synthetic biology 
  • Advanced Macromolecular Chemistry: Designing, synthesizing, and developing macromolecules for practical real-world applications, processes of polymer synthesis and characterization, determination of the structures and properties of macromolecules. 
  • Physics of Molecular Systems Science and Engineering: Molecular systems, physical characterization of molecular systems and their fabrication techniques, applications of molecular systems 

The theoretical specializations are supported by a wide array of potential host labs for lab rotations and the Master Thesis

Employment opportunities

Graduates having acquired competences in MSSE can for instance address challenges in the area of energy harvesting, biomaterials, nanosystems, and molecular engineering. These include research and/or teaching positions at universities (usually as part of the PhD program) or directly in industry.  

Possible employment in industry: 

  • Chemical industry 
  • Energy technology companies 
  • Medical engineering 
  • Soft robotics 

Their interdisciplinarity makes graduates attractive for employment, as different subject specific cultures and terminologies have been trained, even in the direction of philosophy and ethics.  

Potential employers range from large companies, to start ups very specialized in the field. Due to courses in entrepreneurship, IP, etc. it is also anticipated that graduates become active in these areas. Graduates of MSSE are also suited for employment in public services, as business consultants, and various freelancing opportunities. 

Video about the study programme