Introduction for Master Students

This is a guideline that will help you to plan your timetable of the first year of the master degree course. There is a link at the beginning of each section that will provide further information on the topic. You can change the language of most of the websites of the physics department into English.

Deutsche Version: Einführung zum Master Physik


If you have just started at TU Dresden, you should activate you ZIH account, which will be your access to your mail account and the web portals Hisqis and Opal. To do so, please have a look on this information for freshmen (German) written by the student representatives (Fachschaftsrat - FSR). You will also find other helpful tips and tricks to get started at TUD.

Important: If you have any questions, your FSR will help you or send you to the right contact person.

Our contact information:

Physikgebäude TU Dresden
Raum: PHY/D017
Tel.: +49 351 463-34788
Facebook: Fachschaftsrat Physik TUD


Timetable for the next two years

Studienordnung Master (pdf, German)

You can find the flow chart for all semesters at the bottom of the study regulations (Studienordnung). It shows when you have to take which modules.

The masters programme is divided into two parts:

  1. The first year is the studying phase where you attend lectures, seminars, exercises and practical courses. Each module will be discussed below. They are completed by taking different types of exams (the general term for this is “Prüfungsleistung”, short PL) like oral and written exams, reports and talks.
  2. The second year is completely dedicated to research. It consists of the modules “Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten” (Research Practice) and “Masterarbeit” (Master's thesis).


The first year

Obligatory Modules (“Schlüsselkonzepte”)

Annotated Course Catalog – obligatory lectures

For each, experimental and theoretical physics, there is a lecture, exercise and tutorial that you are supposed to attend. The lectures will briefly discuss the physical basics taught in the bachelor's degree at TUD and then look more deply into advanced topics for master students.

The idea of the so called “Schlüsselkonzepte” is to illustrate the key concepts that are commonly used in different areas of physics, so you can see the similarities and transfer your knowledge of concepts from one area to another.

The lectures will start in winter semester (WiSe) with one weekly double lesson (“Doppelstunde” DS, 90min = one lecture unit at TUD) and one additional lesson every other week and will be read in German. The dates can be found in the Weekly Course Schedules.

You can find the dates for the exercises and the registration link on Opal on the homepage of the lectures. You can choose between exercises in English and German.

An important part of these modules is private study (“Selbststudium”). You should spend a lot of time on revision of both basics taught in the bachelor's degree and the new topics discussed in the lectures. If you need a list of basic topics you should repeat, ask the professor of the lecture. They can also give you a tip on helpful literature. Try to get in touch with your fellow students who studied for their bachelor's degree at TUD in order to study together for the oral exams.

During the summer semester (SoSe) there are tutorials where you discuss special topics from the lecture or read papers and give a talk on it. These tutorials will help you to prepare for the oral exams if you don’t know where you should start with your studies and what to focus on.

After one year you should take an oral exam in both modules. They will include basic knowledge and the advanced topics discussed in the lecture. The exam will take 45 minutes and account for 13% of your final grade.

In Theoretical Physics you can choose between many examiners. Before you take the exam, you should ask the examiner about the topics, especially if you didn’t study for your bachelor's degree at TUD. In Experimental Physics you can usually just choose the professors who gave the lectures.

Like in all the other lectures there is no compulsory attendance. You can take the exam even if you didn’t hear the lectures or attended the tutorials. If you take the exam in the first semester it is called a “Freiversuch”. You can then repeat the exam in the second semester to improve your result without the risk of getting a worse grade if something goes wrong.

Physical Specialization (“Physikalische Vertiefung”)

Specializations Bachelor and Master

You can choose one specialization area from the six different topics listed in the link above. They all belong to one or more institutes related to the department of physics.

Explanation of the link above: You will find a complete list of all courses for the winter and the summer term sorted by the specialization areas. A description of the different specialization areas and its institutes can be found below in the link list numbered 1.-6.

First you have to choose your area of specialization. Within this specialization you then collect credit points (CPs). All in all, you need a sum of at least 12 SWS (Semesterwochenstunden = credit hours per week) that you should attend. The list of courses linked above states how many SWS you get for each lecture (sometimes you can add the SWS of an exercise, i.e. 2/1=2 SWS lecture+ 1 SWS exercise) and whether it is held in German or English. You don’t have to prove that you have attended enough courses.

You should have a look at all offered courses in winter and summer semester to plan what courses you want to take. Usually they’re only offered once a year, not every semester.

Many specialization areas have lectures which you need to understand the basics, they’re marked with “VWo” in the list. You should take them if you didn’t attend something similar during your bachelor's degree course. You need the basic knowledge for the oral exam.

Important: Another part of this module is the lab practical course (Laborpraktikum, experimental specialization) or independent study (Rechenpraktikum, theoretical specialization) of 4 SWS. You have to pass it in order to take the oral exam. If possible, you should plan to do it in your first semester so that you can take the oral exam whenever you want. Please contact the institute that belongs to your specialization area or check the website of the specialization area in order to find out when the lab practical course/ independent study starts and how you sign in.

At the end of the second semester and after you passed the lab practical course/independent study you can take the oral exam. Choose two courses of the categories listed as “VWo”, “VW” or “VWm” that you attended. Their content and the general basics of your specialization will be the topic of your oral exam. It lasts 45 minutes and will account for 26% of your final grade.

You can contact the professor of your choice to conduct your exam. Just contact them and make an appointment. You can choose the date freely, but you have to inform the examination office about it. If you want to take an exam about lectures by two different lecturers, ask them if they can conduct the exam together.

If you take your exam after the first semester it will be a “Freiversuch”. You can then repeat the exam in the second semester to improve your result without the risk of getting a worse grade if something goes wrong.

Non-Physics Minor

Minor catalogue

The Non-Physics Minor (“Nichtphysikalisches Wahlpflichtfach”, alias “Nebenfach”) is another module where you can choose courses. Please do not confuse it with the physical specialization (“Physikalisches Wahlpflichtfach”).

You can choose your minor from an extensive course catalogue of 25 minor topics in 11 minor subjects.

Example: After choosing your minor subject chemistry (“Chemie”) you choose a minor topic, e.g. “Anorganische, Physikalische und Organische Chemie”. There you choose 3 out of 4 possible courses, i.e. one practical and two lectures.

It depends on your choice of the minor topic when courses start (winter or summer semester), which exams you need to take and how they account for the minor grade. There are minor topics in German and English. The minor grade will account for 13% of your final grade.

If you need help to choose a minor, contact the FSR. They can help to fit the choice into your schedule.

Please keep in mind that minor courses can coincide with obligatory courses or physical specialization courses. Try to find the dates for your minor courses online (websites are linked in the course catalogue) as soon as possible. If the website is not up to date, try to contact the lecturer.


Specializations Bachelor and Master

In the Hauptseminar you give a talk about a scientific topic assigned by your professor/ supervisor and listen to the talks of the rest of the group. You should take the Hauptseminar that is related to your physical specialization. You should also check in the first semester whether your Hauptseminar will take place every semester and how to sign up. If you need help finding the right contact person, ask the FSR.

The second year

Research practice (WArb=Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten) and Master’s thesis (MA=Masterarbeit)

Information about WArb and MA

We recommend taking a look at the information on the website above.

The WArb is directly linked to the MA to form a yearlong research phase.

The supervisor and examiner of your WArb and MA has to be a professor, junior professor, Hochschullehrer or Privatdozent who is a member of the department of physics. Please take care that your supervisor fulfills this criteria. You can find more detailed information on the examiners of the WArb/MA in the Indications of the examination committee.

In order to find an institute, where you can do your WArb/MA, you should choose an area related to your physical specialization. If you don’t know which institutes offer WArb/MA that fit your skills and interests ask the lecturers of your specialization or contact the academic advisor of the physics department.

The WArb is completed by a 45 minute talk. After that you can start your MA that is completed by handing your thesis in.