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Physics and Astronomy: Theoretical Physics (track)

Study programme

Courses in the track Theoretical Physics in Amsterdam are conducted by researchers from the UvA Institute for Theoretical Physics. They specialise in quantum matter and complex systems; particle physics, cosmology and quantum gravity; and history of physics. The track offers you a broad spectrum of advanced courses on these and other current research topics. Its backbone is formed by training in quantum field theory, statistical physics and condensed matter theory. In addition, you can take elective physics and mathematics courses on topics such as:

  • Computational methods
  • Quantum optics
  • Group theory
  • General relativity
  • Nonlinear dynamics and chaos

In further seminars and informal meetings you get a taste of the original creative and imaginative spirit of the field, and learn the craft of explaining things to other (lay) people.


  • First year

    The first year of the programme consists mainly of courses. The following courses are compulsory:

    • Statistical Physics and Condensed Matter Theory I (6 EC, first block)
    • Quantum field theory (6 EC, second block)
    • Quantum field theory extension (3 EC, third block)
    • Academic skills courses (6 EC in total, throughout the first year)
    • Student seminar Theoretical Physics (6 EC, first semester second year)

    In addition, you choose an individually tailored set of elective physics and mathematics courses (21 EC in total), under compulsory guidance. Examples are:

    • Cosmology
    • ​General Relativity 
    • ​Mathematical Methods 1 and 2
    • ​Advanced Numerical Methods in Many-Body Physics
    • Particles and Fields
    • Statistical Physics and Condensed Matter Theory 2
    • Statistical Physics of Soft and Living Matter
    • Advanced QFT
    • ​String Theory.

    At the end of the first year of the programme, you make a start with your Master's project, which will take most of your second year.

  • Second year

    Master's project and thesis

    At the end of the first year of the programme, you make a start with your Master's project, which will take most of your second year. This project:

    • provides your research training
    • comprises independent research on a contemporary subject in theoretical physics
    • takes place within one of the participating research groups, or in industry under the supervision of a faculty staff member.

    During your Master's project you can still take one or two elective courses, and you receive some training in career planning and presenting.

    Your Master's project culminates in a written Master's thesis, and an oral presentation of your project results completes the programme. A few recent examples of Master's theses in Theoretical Physics from the UvA are:

    Other Physics Master's theses can be found in the digital theses library of the UvA Faculty of Science.

Detailed course information

For detailed information regarding the curriculum and courses, please see the UvA Course Catalogue via the link below. 

Double degree Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

Are you fascinated by abstract mathematics and theoretical physics? Do you long for a more precise understanding of the fundamental laws of physics? Do you wonder about the deep role of topology and geometry in theories of nature, such as gauge theory and quantisation? The double Master's degree programme in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the UvA gives you the opportunity to study both fields and to search for answers to deeply fundamental questions. You therefore enrol for both 2-year programs. Both curricula are designed in such a way that it should be possible to complete both programs if at least 180 ECs of courses have been completed.

Extra scholarships available

For Physics and Astronomy only, we have in addition to our regular Amsterdam Science Talent Scholarships, extra scholarships available for excellent (non-Dutch) EU/EER students. The Amsterdam Physics and Astronomy Scholarship.

Pre-Master's programme

If you lack the required knowledge and skills to be admitted to the Master's programme Physics and Astronomy, you can close the gap in our pre-Master's programme.

Majors and minors

At the UvA  you can choose to do your Master's programme with a society-/ business-oriented major or minor that focuses on other skills than doing research. In this case you will follow the programme of your chosen scientific discipline during the first year of your Master's (although slightly adjusted), and a society-/ business-oriented major or minor during the second year. You will graduate as a Master of Science. If you have the ambition to do a professional specialisation make sure to inform about conditions early in your Master's programme.  

Accreditation and title

This track is a specialisation of the Master's programme Physics and Astronomy, which has been accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). Upon successful completion of the programme (a total of 120 ECTS), students will receive a legally recognised Master's degree in Physics and Astronomy and the title of Master of Science (MSc).

Bring your own device

All students enrolled in the Physics and Astronomy Master's programme are requested to bring their own laptop. More information on specific system requirements can be found here.