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Condensed Matter

Our researchers explore novel phases and effects in quantum matter by studying exotic magnets, superconductors, topological insulators, and atomically thin materials like graphene, and seek useful applications for these materials. Experimentalists use large-scale spectrometers, atom-resolving microscopes, low-temperature equipment and intense laser fields, while theorists rely on the power of equations and that of supercomputers.

Coordinator: Prof. Andreas Schilling

This master’s program offers an advanced education in experimental Condensed Matter. The first semester consists of lectures, which are accompanied by practice sessions and labs. In the second semester, students are required to spend less time in lectures. Therefore, they can begin work on their master’s thesis once they have written a careful research proposal in direct consultation with a faculty member. The master’s thesis is an independent research project, which takes 9 months under normal circumstances and is completed at the end of the third semester.

The following research groups offer master theses:
Experiment: Groups Aegerter, Chang, Gibert,Latychevskaia, Natterer, Osterwalder and Schilling
Theorie: Group Neupert

Guide to Physics Studies

Compulsory Modules

Condensed Matter compulsory modules

The remaining credit points missing from the total of 90 must be earned through core elective and elective modules offered at the UZH, ETHZ or another university. Whether a module will be awarded credit is determined individually in consultation with the coordinator of the master’s program.

Research seminar

Students are required to regularly attend a research seminar on a topic related to their thesis work during two semesters. Instead of attending a single seminar, students may also opt combined lectures from a variety of seminars (for instance Colloquium in Physics or Seminar condensed Matter).

Elective modules

The remaining credits needed to fulfill the requirement of 90 credit points must be earned in elective modules. At least 2/3 of the credit points must come from subjects that are related to the topic of the Master's thesis. The remaining ECTS can also come from general topics related to physics, materials science or metrology. If you have any questions, please discuss the program with the coordinator of the master's program (Christof Aegerter) or the coordinator of the condensed matter specialisation.

A selection of further elective modules can be found in the course catalogue at The crediting of other, individually selected modules is also possible, provided this has been agreed with the coordinator.



Continuing from a BSc 120 major in Physics

Compulsory module: Solid State Physics (PHY210), Quantum Mechanics I (PHY331*)
it is advised to attend these modules already during the BSc studies
*PHY331 is compulsory for students starting with their master studies in Autum 21 or later.

In addition to these requirements, all students must discuss the courses they intend to complete with their master thesis advisor, who may set additional requirements.

Course contents for compulsory and core elective modules

PHY401 Condensed Matter

Phenomenology of

  • energy bands and fermi areas
  • optical properties
  • supra-conduction
  • di-electrics and ferro-electrics
  • magnetic properties
  • surface effects
  • electron optics and applications of focussed electron radiation
  • production of structures at the micro- and nanometer scale
  • lithographic structuring methods
  • mesoscopic physics

PHY403 Proposal for a master’s thesis

Students must hand in their proposal before beginning with their master’s thesis. It should be 2-5 pages long and be structured as follows: summary, motivation, how much you have researched, research plan (including measurement methods)

PHY411: Theory of Condensed Matter

  • electrons and phonons
  • spectra, band theory
  • application of group theory
  • second quantization
  • Many-body-theory
  • electron-phonon interactions
  • supra-conduction
  • magnetism


Study guide

The Guide to Physics Studies (PDF, 504 KB) provides comprehensive information about the Bachelor's and Master's programs.