Degree focus at Heidelberg University

Master’s in Matter to Life: Molecular Systems Chemistry and Engineering

Years 1 & 2 of the 5-year MSc-to-PhD program

The Matter to Life (MtL) program at Heidelberg University focuses on the field of Molecular Systems Chemistry and Engineering.  This degree provides students with a multidisciplinary education by integrating fundamentals in Chemistry with aspects from Physics, Molecular Systems, Engineering, and Life Sciences.

This interdisciplinary curriculum focuses on the following scientific topics:

  • Physical chemistry and the physics of life
  • Quantitative analysis of life
  • Hierarchical assemblies of molecular and nanoscopic units as a basis for life-like materials

The MtL curriculum at Heidelberg University has been developed to overcome the traditional boundaries that exist between disciplines. It addresses the roots of biological processes in chemistry and physics, forming the basis for the understanding of life, as well as providing the means to engineer life-like processes. Thus, the program is heavily research-oriented and encourages students to think and learn autonomously. It expands upon the student’s foundations from their Bachelor’s studies into interdisciplinary scientific issues.

The curriculum catalog is published here in English and in German:

The first year of the two-year Master’s program is dedicated to courses that establish a common core knowledge for all students. In the second year, the program is research based. Students will focus on lab rotations and performing research work that will be used for a written Master’s thesis. Students are encouraged to work with more than one fellow from the entire MtL network, including those in locations outside of

An overview of available courses is listed below:

Core Courses

  • Physical Chemistry of Life
  • Data Science & Simulations
  • Introduction to Physics of Complex Systems
  • Synthetic Biology/Biomolecular Engineering
  • Synthetic Chemistry
  • Ethics in Synthetic Biology
  • Quantitative Analysis

Specialized courses

  • Macromolecular Structures and Functions
  • Chemical Biology
  • Bioconjugation & Imaging Chemistry
  • Genome Engineering
  • Synthetic Cells & Virology

    In addition to the classes held at Heidelberg University, students will participate in an annual Max Planck School MtL Summer School alongside students from the other MtL programs at the University of Göttingen and the Technical University of Munich.

    After successful completion of a Master’s degree at Heidelberg University, PhD candidates will continue the last three years of the program performing research with any of the MtL fellows within the network (see Faculty page).  

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