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Elementary Particle Physics

Our research groups are probing the fundamental nature of elementary particles and the interactions between them at the smallest length-scales. This is done in precision tests of the standard model and the search for new physics that goes beyond these expectations. Experimentalists do these tests at CERN and also develop new detectors for LHCb and CMS.  Theorists are involved in all areas of phenomenology for standard model physics and beyond.

Coordinator: Prof. Massimiliano Grazzini

This master’s program offers an advanced education in theoretical and experimental Particle Physics. Faculty members at the ETH and the UZH jointly offer courses in this program. After introductory lectures, practice sessions and labs, students begin their master’s thesis that should take 9 months.

The following research groups offer master theses:
Experiment: Groups Baudis, Canelli, Kilminster, and Serra
Theory: Groups Crivellin, Gehrmann, Grazzini, Isidori, Pozzorini, Signer and Stoffer

Guide to Physics Studies (PDF, 504 KB)

Compulsory Modules

particle physics compulsory modules

Research Seminar

Students are required to regularly attend a research seminar during two semesters (“Current work in astrophysics and particle physics” or “theoretical particle physics”).

Elective Modules

The remaining credits needed to fulfill the requirement of 90 credit points must be earned in elective modules. Students can also choose additional courses amongst the core elective listing. Every year, specialized lectures are offered on topics of current research. Credits earned in intensive courses for graduate education will also be counted as well as compulsory courses of other master concentrations in physics. If you have any questions, please discuss the program with the coordinator of the master's program (Christof Aegerter) or the coordinator of the particle physics specialisation.

Examples of elective modules

Particle physics elective modules


Continuing from a BSc 120 major in Physics

Compulsory modules: Nuclear and Particle Physics I (PHY211) and Quantum Mechanics I (PHY331)
it is advised to attend these modules already during the BSc studies

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 content of core elective and elective modules

PHY451 Elementary Particle Physics

(will be held jointly by theoreticians and experimentalists)

  • Relativistic kinematics
  • Cross sections and phase space
  • Elements in quantum electrodynamics
  • Unitary symmetries and QCD
  • Electroweak interactions
  • Physics of flavours
  • Limits of the standard model (GUT and SUSY, etc.)

PHY452 Elementary Particle Theory

  • Relativistic quantum mechanics and field quantization
  • Gauge theories
  • Quantum Chromodynamics
  • Theory of Electroweak Interactions
  • Applications to specific particle reactions


PHY551 Quantum Field Theory

  • Relativistic wave functions
    Quantification of free fields
    Perturbation theory

PHY461 Experimental methods in Particle Physics

  • Physics and structure of particle accelerators
  • Foundations and concepts in particle detectors
  • Trace and vortex detectors, calorimetry, particle identification
  • Special applications such as Cerenkov detectors, air showers, direct detection of dark matter, emulsions
  • Simulations methods, selection electronics, trigger and data measurement
  • Examples and key experiments

PHY463 Research Internship

This internship lasts for 4 to 6 weeks, during which students construct, conduct and evaluate an experiment using a particle radiation at CERN or PSI or some other research lab. For instance, you might do an internship at PSI, where you work in a group for three weeks planning and constructing an experiment that uses the PSI’s secondary laser and conducting it jointly during shifts. Then you must evaluate your data and complete a report.

PHY552 Quantum field theory II

  • Advanced topics such as:
    Re-normalization groups
    Abel and non-Abel Eich theories
    Standard model, Higgs mechanism
    Path integrals

PHY568 Flavour Physics

  • B-Penomenology
    Neutrino masses and oscillations
    CP violation in B0s


Study guide

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