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Master Program Matter to Life

The program is part of the Max Planck School Matter to Life. This internationally oriented project comprises cooperating master's programs at three different university locations, supported by German research institutes by a network of more than 40 renowned scientists: Max-Planck School.

The term Matter to Life describes an emerging topic of bioengineering. The field is studying biological systems at the nanoscale, approaching the question of how the interplay of biological building blocks can make life and how to replicate life-like systems. Matter to Life is a multidisciplinary field in which the boundaries of scientific disciplines are repeatedly deliberately exceeded in order to make new findings possible for basic research as well as new applications.

The objective of the Matter to Life study program is to train innovative and creative inventors who combine new technologies and unknown topics in an explorative learning-by-doing approach and creatively use biological substances to gain new insights and invent applications in the life sciences.

What, exactly, is life? Can processes, functions and objects related to life be simulated and recreated in the laboratory? These are the overarching questions addressed in the curriculum and research training of the Max Planck School Matter to Life. Image: Max Planck Schools

This page gives an overview on the curriculum in the Master’s program Matter to Life and links to current information for students enroled in the program. Applicants interested in the program can find detailed information on the program in the extensive description.


The first year of this interdisciplinary Master program focusses mainly on assisting lectures and lab courses, while the second year focusses on the research within the framework of the Master's thesis.


7. und 8. Semester - first year

PH2228 Synthetic Biology 1 5 CP
Explorative Research 18 CP
Elective module Ethics 3 CP
Elective modules Sciences 35 CP

9. und 10. Semester - second year

Collaborative Research Lab 30 CP
Master's thesis 30 CP 

In the first year lectures from the compulsory and elective module catalog are visited. The elective modules deal with selected topics from the field of Matter to Life and introduce current research. The second year is very research-oriented and is divided into Lab Rotation and a research work that culminates in a Master's thesis.

The master's program is a consecutive, four-semester course that can be started annually in the winter semester. Admission to the degree program is via a suitability procedure.

The aim of the program is to promote students' independent and creative thinking. In the area of Matter to Life, this knowledge can best be conveyed in a learning-by-doing approach directly at the laboratory bench while working on a scientific question. The proportion of modules that provide practical work in the laboratory, in addition to basic knowledge-imparting lectures, therefore comprises 65 percent of the total services, with a total of 78 credits.

In order to get acquainted with exploratory research, the students bring 18 credits for the practical module Matter to Life: Explorative Research in the first two semesters. This newly designed module has the goal to encourage the students in their own initiative for a creative approach to scientific issues. Groups of three to four people over a period of two semesters can work flexibly on a research proposal from the field of Matter to Life. Here, the groups themselves are involved in the formulation of their own topic, which is generally chosen so that an explorative approach is necessary to approach the topic. The topics pick up on current developments in the Matter to Life area and formulate innovative ideas for new applications.

„Direct Track“ from the Master Program to a Ph. D.

Students can continue the Master’s research phase seamlessly with a doctoral project, speeding up their academic career. Already during your Master’s research phase (Thesis) you may become a member of the Department Graduate Center and hence participate in the training program of TUM Graduate School.

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