Specialization: Astroparticle Physics

The specialization Particle and Astroparticle Physics is unique in the Netherlands. Its programme is fully embedded in the research of Nikhef, the Dutch national institute for subatomic research. Nikhef staff teach the subjects at the forefront of particle and astroparticle physics research. The programme provides an excellent springboard for PhD positions, both within the institute and elsewhere.

Burning questions:

·          What are the smallest building blocks of the universe?
·          What forces cause these “particles” to interact?
·          How can we understand apparently random particle masses?
·          Why do we live in a universe dominated by matter as opposed to anti-matter?


Physicists use particle accelerator experiments to investigate high-energy interactions in a controlled environment aimed at approximating the conditions a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. They study the neutrino radiation from the sun, supernovae and other speculative sources. Such experiments often rely on state-of-the-art technology and innovative software, including distributed computing as part of the GRID project.

This specialization is offered in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University.

Programme outline
Students take compulsory courses on particle and astroparticle physics and experimental techniques. They can also choose from a wide range of courses offered by VU University Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

Online study guide
Check the online study guide for more detailed information about the curriculum and the research opportunities.

Participating research institutes

Dr. Tjeerd Ketel
E-mail: T.J.Ketel@vu.nl
Telephone: +31 (0)20 598 7903