PoL – Physics of Life | MSc Physics of Life

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Master of Science in Physics of Life

What is life?

How do cells self-organize into a living organism?

How do fluxes of energy and matter orchestrate this process?

Can we build tools to control the dynamics of cells and tissues?

Modern technologies and quantitative physical approaches are transforming our view on life. Computational and physical models, as well as data analysis, have become central to understand the dynamics of living matter at the molecular, cell, and tissue scale. At the same time, several physical concepts, from phase separation and self-organized pattern formation to cellular jamming, have been shown to be essential to understand living systems. The newly developed international Master of Science Physics of Life aims at training a new generation of biological physicists at the cross-roads of Physics and Biology, with a strong focus on research and problem-solving skills. Such interdisciplinary training provides a broad skillset for the study of living systems. We seek talented and curious students with a background in physics, applied mathematics, quantitative biology, or closely related fields.

A strong base in fundamental physical concepts including statistical physics, continuum mechanics of active matter, as well as nonlinear dynamics, will be balanced with hands-on training in computational methods and lab work. Lectures in molecular biology as well as cell and tissue biology will be taught with a clear quantitative perspective, providing application examples for the concepts taught in the theoretical lectures.

The modules of the curriculum are designed to build upon each other, and thus provide a fast track to equip students with the essential skills to start their own creative research work in academia, or research-and-development, e.g., in the biotechnology sector.

Specialization tracks

Starting from the 2nd semester, students will choose one of three sub-tracks

  • Experimental Biological Physics
  • Theoretical Biological Physics
  • Nanobiotechnology

by taking dedicated specialization courses.

In addition, a core curriculum of common courses will provide a solid foundation for all students irrespective of their chosen track, which will be crucial for future cross-disciplinary research work. The core modules will cover the following topics

  • Nonlinear dynamics and statistical physics, physical chemistry and thermodynamics, polymer physics
  • Experimental methods & design, stochastic processes
  • Fluid mechanics, elasticity theory, hydrodynamics of active living matter, pattern formation in biology
  • Programming & image analysis
  • Molecular biology, cell and tissue biology, mechanobiology, and developmental biology
  • Introduction to nanobiophysics and cellular machines


  1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
Core Modules Introductory Biological Physics Advanced Biological Biophysics Pattern Formation and Active Matter Hydronamics Master Thesis
Physical Chemistry and Experimental Methods   Research Lab Projects
Statistical Principles and Experimental Design  
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Cells and Tissues
Elements of Nanobiotechnology
Specialization Modules   Specialization Experimental Biological Physics
Specialization Theoretical Biological Physics
Specialization Nanobiotechnology