M2-PSA - Practical information

Master supported by the French excellence initiative IdEx and included in the Graduate School QMAT and Magistere MdPF


  • WARNING : a pre-admission session with lectures is organised from Monday 29 to Wednesday 31 August 2022  from 8:30 to 12:30 in the morning and 14:00 to 17:00 in the afternoon. Although not mandatory, attendance is strongly encouraged (additional information will be sent by email to enrolled students).
  • Welcome meeting on Thursday 1 September 2022 at 9:00 to 12:00 (amphitheatre Grünewald, IPHC building 25), and first lecture in the afternoon.
  • Admission procedure for 2022 starts in November 2021 for the semester beginning in September 2022. Consult Graduate School>Admission and Scholarship.
  • For applying to QMat for the semester beginning in September 2022, submit via the online form  before 18 March 2022 (All students). A second call specifically for European students will open in April 2022.


The PSA Master programme focuses on fundamental and applied research programmes conducted at facilities like large centres in particle physics (for instance LHC at CERN in Geneva, or JUNO in CHina) or in nuclear physics (for instance SPIRAL at GANIL in France) and on the strong connections with modern cosmology and astrophysics. The two-year Master programme includes advanced lectures on theoretical methods and experimental techniques and requires active participation of the students in research projects to prepare them for a professional career in science.
Student can enter the programme directly in second year, see the admission.


Learning by active participation in research The educational programme is built around the wide range of research activities at the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien (IPHC) hosting the second year specialisation of the Master. This assures close contacts between students and scientists participating in the Master programme via lectures and research projects proposed to students. In addition to theoretical physics, the institute has a long tradition in developing state of the art instrumentation for ambitious research programmes within large international collaborations. Scientists of the IPHC conduct world-class research in all current major centres and domains of subatomic physics.

The fundamental and applied research programmes in particle and nuclear physics and the strong connections with modern cosmology and astrophysics define the basic content of the second year of this Master.

The successful graduates acquire a solid expertise preparing them for the different phases of a scientific research programme in experimental or theoretical subatomic physics :

  • Theoretical description and experimental aspects of a given physics problem
  • Design study, development and realisation of appropriate detection systems
  • Data taking and data analysis
  • Simulation of experiments and modelling of physical processes and phenomena
  • Interpretation of the experimental results

A two-year programme The first year of the Master aims at providing a solid and broad base in theoretical and experimental physics and is shared by all specialisations : Condensed Matter and Nanophysics, Astrophysics and Physics of Radiation and Imaging techniques. Students from other universities, who have acquired this base, can join the Master Programme directly at the second year, where the specialisation takes place. In the second year the students attend advanced lectures in particle and nuclear physics and cosmology. The second semester is devoted to a full time research project (Internship or Master thesis). This phase represents a crucial step in our educational approach driven by active participation in research and aims at high qualification to prepare a PhD thesis in France or abroad.

Admission & Scholarships

Online application for 2021-22 :
ecandidat.unistra.fr from France and most European countries (opens around April 2021)
www.campusfrance.org for foreign students, (opens from November to March 2021)

For any question, contact B. Hippolyte mail

Scholarships : The Graduate School QMAT offers scholarships, however an ADDITIONAL application should be done using this page from February 2021.

Second year admission (M2) :

A selection committee examines the applications for the 2nd year inscription after a complete file has been submitted. Applications can be submitted by :

  • Students who passed their first year (M1) exams at the University of Strasbourg
  • Students who successfully passed the M1 programmes of a French university or engineering school
  • Foreign students who can justify a successful training equivalent to an M1 level, which covers the majority of the subjects listed below under "prerequisites"

Prerequisites M2 :

Solid knowledge of the M1 programme oriented towards subatomic physics. The main subjects include :

  • Special relativity (basics, calculations implying four-vectors)
  • Analytical mechanics, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms
  • Quantum mechanics (spin formalism, symmetries, perturbation theory)
  • Electrodynamics (the basics)
  • Introduction to subatomic physics (nuclei and elementary particles)
  • Interaction of radiation with matter (photon absorption, energy loss in matter by charged particles)
  • Numerical Methods and Programming (one programming language and the basics of linux)

The introductory courses will only briefly remind the students about the basic concepts. It is therefore very important for the students to revise the subjects in question beforehand if their knowledge is insufficient or limited. A special lecture course at the very beginning of the semester offers the possibility of verifying and completing the knowledge of the basic concepts.

First year admission (M1)


Access to lecture room on Cronenbourg campus

All lectures take place at IPHC on the Cronenbourg Campus. Two rooms are used : the main one is the Amphitheatre Grünewald located in the building 25 ; the second one is room 130 at the groundfloor of building 26 which is directly connected to building 20. You can ask for direction at welcome desk on the main campus building. You can find below a general map indicating the way.

Student project

After the 1st semester lectures focused on knowledge and before the master thesis, the 2nd semester starts with projects to strenghten scientific and technical skills. Students benefit from a rich choice of possibilities listed below .
Projects are evaluated by a panel of scientists in a similar way as the future master thesis. A short 2-page report is expected in the format of a standard scientific publication. Then students defend their projects for 15’ in front of the committee, after which 15’ of questions follow.

  • Solving a physics problem with computing (TIPP) By group of two, students receive a simplified problem related to a research topic conducted in one of the IPHC groups. The game is to solve the problem with a computer program written from scratch and inspired by the statistical data analysis lecture. The program is elaborated from scratch, based on the tools seen during the first semester : ROOT, PYTHON, possibly GEANT4.
    The project span over 3-4 weeks and students are followed by a tutor for technical help. Results are then discussed with the research group and summarized in the form of a short scientific paper followed by a defense.
  • Performing a real subatomic experiment (EX2) Thanks to the Excellence Initiative of the University of Strasbourg, various advanced experimental platforms allow students to perform real subatomic experiment on a small scale, under the supervision of a research group at IPHC. These platforms feature state-of-the-art detectors used for research. For a list, consult the EX2 site
    Within 3 to 4 weeks, each student group should elaborate and conduct their experiment, analyse the data and obtain the measurement a physical observable. In addition, a partial or complete simulation of the experiment might be implemented to allow a robust data interpretation. Results are then discussed with the research group and summarized in the form of a short scientific paper followed by a defense.
    Exam : 2-page paper and oral defense
  • QMAT Graduate School project For QMAT students, initiative proposed in the context of the Graduate School (experimental projects, new lectures, schools, ...) can be validated.
    Exam : 2-page paper and oral defense
  • European School in Instrumentation (ESIPAP) ESIPAP is a European school proposed advanced lectures on instrumentation for particle and astroparticle physics with specialists of the fields and hands-on practice at CERN.
    Student might participate to the first module of the ESIPAP school with other master students from all over Europe, instead of taking part to a project.
    Course details on the ESIPAP page.
    Exam : follows the examination rules of the ESIPAP school

Internship and thesis

The internship or master thesis is an essential part of the graduation process, allowing all students to have their first research experience. About 65% of our students continue with a PhD thesis.

Students can pick various thematic and locations for their internships and thesis. This is a distribution of their choices over the past ten years (see also the map below) :

  • Internships and thesis IPHC :
    Each year, the lab hosting the M2-PSA propose a dozen of internships and thesis. Past and current subjects can be consulted on this dedicated page.
  • Proposals outside Strasbourg :
    The list of all external proposals and research labs in France and abroad is updated in the private site accessible to our student on Moddle.

Careers and alumni

Our students pursue their career both in the public or private sector, either after a successful PhD-thesis or directly after graduation. The career possibilities cover a large range of domains, both in fundamental and in applied research : Universities, CNRS, CEA, IRSN, EDF, ANDRA, AREVA, international research organisations, companies developing detectors or detector systems (BERTIN Technologies, CANBERRA) and/or simulation or big-data analysis programs (COMSOL) with numerous applications, as well as the other economic sectors like consulting.

  • (In French only, sorry) Consultez les enquêtes de l’ORESIPE sur le devenir des étudiants.

The M2-PSA has a long history dating back from the 20th century, in the last ten years about 150 students graduated. Our alumni formed a group on the Linkedin network, from which you will extract valuable contacts and information for your future career.