MSc Physics and Astronomy: Physics of Life and Health

University of Amsterdam

Program Description

MSc Physics and Astronomy: Physics of Life and Health

University of Amsterdam

In the two-year track Physics of Life and Health in the Master’s program Physics and Astronomy, a joint degree with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you will use the language of physics to explore the secrets of life processes. Supported by the cutting-edge technologies available in our laboratories and by a series of theoretical classes delivered by our enthusiastic staff members, you can dive into the fascinating world of DNA unfolding, protein function, cell mechanics, tissue engineering, and organ function. You will learn about photonics and its use in the development of new imaging techniques; or you can choose to deepen your knowledge in the application of physics in the area of biomedical imaging and therapy, in close collaboration with the medical doctors of the two academic medical centers of Amsterdam.

After this program, you can continue an exciting career in an academic research institute, apply for a post-graduation training to become a clinical physicist, work in hospitals, schools, or the private sector.

Is Physics of Life and Health in Amsterdam the track for me?

If you enjoy working in a multidisciplinary environment where you are challenged to bridge fundamental physics and life sciences, Physics of Life and Health is the track for you. Building on your previous knowledge in mechanics, electromagnetism, optics, quantum mechanics, and mathematics, in the first year you will attend a series of classes that will strengthen your physics background while expanding your knowledge in life-related topics.

In the second year, you will choose the subject of your research internship, where you will have the opportunity to work side by side with leading research professionals. Thanks to the extended number of collaborating institutes, we can offer internships in all the areas of Physics of Life and Health, from single molecule to patients, from very fundamental to bed-side.

What does Physics of Life and Health in Amsterdam have to offer me?

The track Physics of Life and Health in Amsterdam is unique in that it involves leading research groups from the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Amsterdam, as well as the two academic hospitals (AMC, University of Amsterdam; and VUmc, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), and other research institutes in Amsterdam, including:

  • the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience
  • the Netherlands Cancer Institute
  • the Amsterdam Movement Sciences Institute
  • the Academic Center of Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA).

Thanks to this broad network, we can offer you the opportunity to learn what it is like to work in multidisciplinary research teams where physicists, chemists, biologists, engineers and medical professionals come together to further develop and improve the underlying physical principles, theories and methods for, for instance:

  • Quantitative functional monitoring and imaging of living tissue
  • Biomedical imaging, molecular and cellular biophysics and photonics
  • Diagnosis and monitoring (such as optical coherence tomography and magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Research in molecular and cellular biophysics (such as single-molecule fluorescence, optical tweezers, stimulated emission depletion microscopy and femtosecond spectroscopy)


In the first year, you follow courses in physics, biophysics, and biomedical physics. Some courses are approached from a fundamental perspective, whereas others offer deeper insights in real-world examples extracted from the experience of the participating research departments. Choosing the elective courses, students can build a profile focused on biophysics (mainly addressing the physics of molecules and cells), on preclinical research (often combining cutting-edge technology expertise with the physics behind cells and tissues), or on biomedical physics (concentrating more on medical imaging techniques and/or computational imaging algorithm). If you are interested in keeping a broader profile, you can alternatively opt for a less focused selection as well.

Compulsory courses

Every student must follow Light Tissue Interaction (6 EC) and Soft Condensed Matter and Biological Physics (6 EC).

You will choose at least 18 EC from the following list of courses:

  • Statistical Physics of Soft and Living Matter
  • Dynamics of Biomolecules and Cells
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Nanophotonics
  • Mathematica for Physicists
  • Parameter Estimation in Medical and Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Modelling and Simulation
  • Stochastic Simulation
  • Advanced Medical Technology
  • Physics of Organs 1: Cardio-pulmonary Physics
  • Physics of Organs 2: Sensory Organs and Bioelectricity
  • Advanced Medical Image Processing
  • Advanced 3D & 4D Medical Imaging

Academic Skills and Project-Based Courses

You must follow one or two courses (for a total of 6 EC) on Academic Skills and one or two courses (for a total of 6 EC) on personal or laboratory projects, such as the Laboratory Challenge project, Advanced MRI training, Advanced Spectroscopy training, or a literature review study.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 18, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
24 months
Full time
13,300 EUR
Netherlands - Amsterdam
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
Netherlands - Amsterdam
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info