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Master of Science in Physics of Life

The Master's degree program in Physics of Life at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel provides training in cutting-edge research at the interface of physics, mathematics, engineering, and life sciences. The MSc Physics of Life is aimed at students who have obtained a strong education in mathematical methods and/or experimental methods in physics, chemistry, or engineering during their Bachelor’s degree.

Scientists with training in physical and mathematical sciences, as well as engineering, have regularly revolutionized biology with the introduction of new methodologies, such as super-resolution microscopy, magnetic resonance techniques, and DNA sequencing techniques. In addition, they have made broadly impactful contributions to the understanding of living systems by introducing quantitative concepts and theoretical models. This has not only led to innumerable discoveries at the atomic and molecular scale but also at the cellular, multicellular, and ecosystems scale, and for the origin of life itself. As recent developments of molecular techniques have led to the rapid acquisition of huge amounts of quantitative data for biological systems, the impact of scientists with training in physics, mathematics, and engineering is expected to grow. To accelerate future discoveries, the MSc Physics of Life therefore trains students with a BSc education in physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering in the concepts and techniques of frontier research in life sciences.

Degree program overview

The MSc Physics of Life is hosted by the Biozentrum, which is one of the world's leading institutes for basic research and teaching in molecular life sciences. The MSc Physics of Life offers courses and research training in both experimental and theoretical approaches. The major focus of the MSc Physics of Life program are your research projects: Two smaller research projects and a longer research project for the Master thesis. These projects are conducted in research groups at the Biozentrum, or in research groups at other departments within the University of Basel. You will supplement this practical research by attending lectures in Physics of Life, and lectures in your field of choice, which may include lectures from physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, biophysics, structural biology, microbiology, infection biology, immunology, neurobiology, pharmacology and computational biology – a wide variety of options for theoretical and experimental topics are available!

Through the combination of coursework and research projects within the MSc Physics of Life program, you will be able to identify important biological research questions and deploy appropriate physical, mathematical, or biological methods to address these questions. You will also have the practical experience to complete a research project and the skills to communicate your results. 

A limited number of scholarships for international candidates with outstanding records of accomplishment are available. 

Research areas

Physics of Life research at the University of Basel includes both theoretical and experimental research, on a wide variety of topics that span many length scales of living processes, including macromolecular structures & biophysics, cellular physics, multicellular physics, neuroscience, systems biology, and evolutionary dynamics.

A list of potential research project supervisors for theoretical and experimental research is available here

Career perspectives

The Master of Science in Physics of Life opens up diverse career perspectives. These include a research career at a university or in industry, work in the lab or at a school, in a patent attorney firm or in consulting, biocomputing, or science journalism. With your knowledge of biological processes and your training in quantitative methods, many doors open for you in biomedicine, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical and food industries, at universities, or in public organizations.

Depending on the intended professional position, it may additionally be recommended to complete a PhD degree or to acquire other qualifications. For a career in research, a PhD is typically required. If you have any questions about your career entry or further education, you can contact the Student Advice Center Basel or the Career Service Center of the University of Basel.

For any questions concerning your studies, please contact the Coordinator of the MSc Physics of Life (see below).


Key facts

The admission to the MSc Physics of Life requires a Bachelor of Science (BSc) with at least 180 credit points (CP), where the focus should have been on mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, or engineering. The exact formulation of the admission criteria are described in the document available here.


  • It is possible to start the MSc Physics of Life in both the spring and fall semesters. The application deadline for the fall semester is April 30, and for the spring semester November 30.
  • Application system for the MSc program

Duration of study
3 semesters.


Course structure
Credit points (CP) are awarded for successfully completed course work, in accordance with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). One credit point corresponds to a workload of approx. 30 hours. Evidence of the achievement of 90 CP is required for the award of a Master of Science in Physics of Life.

  • Lectures and courses 30 CP
    • Module: Foundations in Physics of Life
    • Module: Elective courses
  • Two research projects with 10 CP each, giving a total of 20 CP
  • Master thesis 30 CP
  • Master’s examination 10 CP

Further information


University of Basel
Coordinator of MSc Physics of Life
Dr. Sarah Güthe
Spitalstrasse 41
4056 Basel
Tel.: +41 (0) 61 207 16 49
email: sarah.guetheunibasch

Contact hours: appointments on request