Profile of the Programme


The Master of Science in Photonics Engineering is a programme with a duration of two years, which builds upon the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and on the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics. It will lead to a joint interuniversity diploma given by Ghent University (UGent) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). It allows its holder to use the title of “Burgerlijk Ingenieur”. Also other entrance profiles can be allowed access to this Master, but in some cases a preparatory programme will be required.

The ambition of this master's programme is to form engineers with firm basic knowledge in the field of photonics and with the ability to apply their knowledge in a methodological and effective way on the design, realisation and the management of various technical systems based on the properties of light. The graduated engineers will also be able to start fundamental as well as applied research in this field. Furthermore, they will show a critical and problem solving attitude in their research towards feasible solutions, keeping in mind the socio-economical and environmental aspects. An important goal hereby is to provide the student with a sense of responsibility. Finally, each engineer must have basic social, communication and management skills.

Since photonics is a strategic enabling technology and since the holder of this master's degree is working in a diverse range of industrial sectors -information technology, telecommunications, the energy sector, laser manufacturing techniques, the biomedical and biotechnological domain etc. – this program covers a broad range of subjects. It consists of five parts: compulsory courses, advanced elective courses, a minor, non-technical courses and the Master's Dissertation.

The compulsory courses concentrate mainly on the fundamentals of photonics: light propagation in complex media, basic understanding of the properties of optical materials and lasers, whereby both theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills are addressed. With respect to practical skills, the student will get acquainted with the design and instrumentation toolbox of a photonics engineer and will do so through teamwork. Secondly, two further compulsory courses have a broadening aspect: on the one hand a course about micro-systems and the interface towards electronics, on the other hand a course about the physics of technological manufacturing processes. A last compulsory course, called ‘Recent Developments in Photonics’ will introduce the students to the latest industrial and scientific developments through seminars by external guest speakers. The students themselves will also study new developments and summarize them during an oral presentation. For each compulsory course there is a team of 2 lecturers, with involvement of both organising universities UGent and VUB.

The elective courses will provide the students with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in more specialised topics of photonics, e.g. display technology, photovoltaic energy conversion, optical communication systems, photonic semiconductor components, non-linear and quantum optics etc. During the summer holidays the students will also have the opportunity to do an engineering training in a company.

The minor will allow the students to learn in a structured way a second discipline, with relevance for a photonics engineer. The student can choose from a wide range of disciplines such as information technology, bio-systems, material physics and management.

The student will also have to choose a non-technical course from a limited list of such courses for engineers. Some examples include ethics, entrepreneurship, etc.

During the Master Thesis the student will learn to work in a project oriented and independent way on a major task calling for a structured and creative approach. This work culminates in a written and oral report.

Practical Information

Practical information

If the student so wishes, he/she can study at a foreign university during the second master's year (or one semester of it), in the context of the Erasmus exchange program. For this purpose bilateral agreements have been set up with several foreign universities with a strong program in the field of photonics.

The programme can be taken both at UGent and at VUB. All compulsory courses are taught at both locations, whereas the advanced elective courses are taught in one of both places. This means that the UGent-students have the opportunity to take a limited number of courses at VUB (and vice versa). Normally this will amount to no more than one trip between Ghent and Brussels per week.

While this programme is a Dutch-taught programme, a number of courses are taught in English, jointly with the students of the English-taught European Master of Science in Photonics. Exams however can always be done in Dutch.