The importance of physics in our knowledge-based society can hardly be overestimated. In particular, technology and medicine have highly benefited from advances made in physics. The research domain of physics and astronomy is very wide, and extends from the world of the smallest (the elementary particles) to the study of the largest objects (the cosmos). Both at a national and international level, physics is the cradle of numerous important and innovative concepts, models and techniques, many of which have an interdisciplinary character. This is clearly illustrated by the existence of specialized disciplines of present interest, such as “Medical Physics”, “Biophysics”, “Econophysics”, etc. Not only the principles but also the applications of physics can be found in many aspects of our knowledge-based society. A large number of scientific developments in Physics and Astronomy found their way from the laboratory to the technological applications which color our daily live. There is not a single reason to assume why this would be any different in the future.
Graduates in Physics and Astronomy can be employed in scientific research, in teaching, and in many companies where research and development belong to the core activities. Each of these three branches (economics and business administration, education and research) requires a profound knowledge of physics and of the physical methodology. In particular, this reveals itself in the problem-raising and problem-solving intellectual capacity, in conceptualizing and in modelling. Physicists are widely appreciated because of their polyvalent skills, scientific approach and analytical intellectual capacities.
The curriculum of the two-year study programme “Master in Physics and Astronomy” is constituted as follows:
During the first term of the first Master’s year, the students follow 5 compulsory courses (30 credits). These courses provide a deepening overview of the main research fields for which expertise is available at Ghent University. After the first term, the student will be able to make a well-considered choice between the presented range of research topics and to select a topic for his/her Master’s thesis. Students who choose the research option have to take at least 30 credits from a long list of research-related topics. Students who take the option education have 30 credits for courses belonging to the teacher training program. Students who take the option economics and business administration have 30 ECTS credits for courses in the mentioned discipline. These 2 minors are organized faculty-wide.
Apart from the minors, there are 30 credits that can be chosen from elective courses. For students who took the research option, those can be deepening as well as broadening Master courses. Students who took the options economics and business administration or education should choose at least a part of these electives from the list of research-related topics.
It goes without saying that the Master’s thesis takes up an important part of the Master’s programme (mainly the second year). During the Master’s thesis, each student gets fully integrated in a research group, and undertakes, largely independently, scientific research that results in a written dissertation and a public oral defense.