Structure of the Master's Degree

The Master's degree is organised into a course work phase and a research phase, both having a modular structure with credit points associated.

In Heidelberg, Master studies in physics is divided into two phases. The first one, which consists of lectures, seminars and other types of courses, comprises two semesters, in which students can enhance and extend their existing knowledge and skills. Upon completion, students enter into their research phase, during which they learn how to do their own research and explore new issues. The research phase ends upon completion of a Master's thesis.


As is the case with bachelor courses, the course achievements are recorded in the form of credits. A complete Master's course consists of 120 credits, which are generally taken over the course of four semesters, with 30 credits to be taken per semester. Just as they do for the bachelor's course, credits refer to the workload that students are expected to perform for any given course module; this includes attendance, preparation, post processing, as well as the time needed for assignments and essays. One credit point is equivalent to about 30 hours of work. Students are expected to work a total of 900 hours per semester, which is only possible if they make good use of the periods between the semesters in which no lectures take place.


The course structure includes an obligatory basic part with a choice of modules from the physics course list totalling 16 credits, an obligatory specialised part with a choice of courses from a list of possible topics to gain in-depth knowledge in one particular field comprising 12 to 16 credits, and an open part with modules of the students' own choice worth 16 to 20 credits, which can be selected freely from within any neighbouring discipline, interdisciplinary skills courses, or other courses on offer by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Further 6 credits are awarded for the oral examination at the end of the first year. The research phase consists of further obligatory modules: 'Scientific Specialisation' and 'Methods and Project Planning' (15 credits each), and the master thesis (30 credits).


A list of the modules and the areas they pertain to (including detailed descriptions) can be found in the Master's module handbook. Further formalities are dealt with in the examination regulations for the Master's degree.