30 ECTS credits
750 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4020335FNR for all students in the 1st and 2nd semester at a (F) Master - specialised level.

1st and 2nd semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Enrollment Requirements
In order to enroll for the 'Master Thesis', students must be enrolled in the final year of their study programme, and must effectively be able to graduate in that year. ‚Äč
Taught in
Partnership Agreement
Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen
Applied Physics and Photonics
Educational team
Heidi Ottevaere (course titular)
Activities and contact hours
750 contact hours Independent or External Form of Study
Course Content

The Master Thesis Project in Photonics Engineering must present an original contribution to the optics and photonics research field and its content must contain the following characteristics:

* a clear formulation of the scope and aim of the research topic

* a complete and structured written presentation of the research methodology: theoretical/technical/experimental parts

* a clearly formulated conclusion positioning the performed research and/or the obtained results vs the current state-of-the-art, future goals/opportunities, implementation/fabrication/valorisation taking into account ethical, social and commercial aspects

* the work incorporates a literature study as well as personal research: a mere inventory or description does not suffice

* the work must be personal and original: any form of fraud or plagiarism, in whatever form, is strictly forbidden

The subject of the Master Thesis will be determined in consensus with the promotor, the departments involved in the MSc will provide a list of recommended subjects and/or a subject can be determined in the framework of an existing project or in collaboration with a company/research institute. In all cases there should be a substantial amount of research related to optics and/or photonics.

The student must submit the following data to the Secretariat of the Faculty (see Faculty website for forms and deadlines):

* subject and promotor of the master thesis

* signature of promotor (as a means to confirm approval of the chosen subject)

In mobility track 2 (MSc thesis abroad) the student works fully or partially at an international partner university.

Additional info


Learning Outcomes

General competences

Competences in one/more scientific discipline(s)   

Master and apply advanced knowledge in the own field of engineering in case of complex problems. 

Apply Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools and sophisticated calculation- and communication-instruments in a creative and target-oriented way. 

Specify, design and test complex photonic components and systems. 

Understand and apply the properties of the most important optical materials. 

Thoroughly understand and apply several areas of specialisation (to be chosen by the student) in the field of photonics. 

Be acquainted with the recent innovation trends in the domain of photonics. 

Have knowledge of the most important application areas of photonic materials, components and systems. 

Understand non-optical aspects of photonic systems, in particular electronic, mechanical and thermal aspects. 

Have insight in the most important fabrication methods for photonic components and systems. 

Scientific competences   

Analyse complex problems and convert them into scientific questions. 

Perform research by means of scientific literature. 

Select and apply the proper models, methods and techniques. 

Develop and validate mathematical models and methods. 

Analyse own results and results of others in an objective manner. 

Perform scientific research in the field of photonics at a starters level. 

Have an insight in the main evolutions of fundamental research in the field of photonics. 

Understand the context of technical or scientific papers in the field of photonics and further investigate unclear parts independently. 

Intellectual competences   

Take up independent positions about complex situations and be able to defend the point of view. 

Use own knowledge in a creative, target-oriented and innovative way when it comes to research, conceptual design and production. 

Reflect on own way of thinking and acting and be aware of the own expertise. 

Be aware of ongoing evolutions in the field of interest, improve competence to expert level. 

Flexibility to adapt to changing professional circumstances. 

Exhibit eagerness to learn about fundamental scientific and technical fields which are closely related to photonics. 

Competences in cooperation and communication   

Ability to talk about field of specialisation in English. 

Project planning: ability to formulate objectives, report efficiently, keep track of end-goals and progress of the project. 

Ability to work in a team in a multi-disciplinary working-environment and start to take the lead. 

Report on technical or scientific subjects orally, in writing and in graphics. 

Function as a member of an international team. 

Societal competences   



Act in an ethical, professional and social way. 

Interpret the historical evolution of the own field of engineering and its social relevance. 

Understand the safety standards specific for photonics engineering. 

Profession-specific competences   


Master the complexity of technical systems by the use of system- and process models. 

Reconcile conflicting specifications and boundary conditions and transform them into high-quality, innovative concepts or processes. 

Transform incomplete, contradictory or redundant data into useful information. 

Dispose of enough knowledge and comprehension to control the results of complex calculations or make approximate estimates. 

Pay attention to entire life-cycles of systems, machines and processes. 

Pay attention to energy-efficiency, environmental pressure, use of raw materials and labour costs. 

Pay attention to all aspects of reliability, safety and ergonomics. 

Show perseverance, drive for innovation and a sense for the creation of added value. 

Use photonic components and systems accurately. 

Choose the most appropriate design and test methods, including CAD methods, for photonic components and systems, understand their theoretical background and apply them accurately. 

Interpret the manuals of standard photonic instrumentation and work with this instrumentation. 

Submit and elaborate creative proposals to optimise the performance of photonic components and systems. 

Find original and innovative solutions for problems in photonics.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Other Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Thesis and presentation with a relative weight of 1 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

Additional info regarding evaluation

The Master Thesis in Photonics Engineering must be presented in writing and during an oral presentation to a selected jury.

The written work will be read and quoted independently by promotor and jury members and prior to the oral defence, based on the following criteria:

- The technical-scientific contents:

  * Literature study:

     - does the literature study offer a clear and relevant overview of the existing literature;

  * Research:

     - is the chosen research methodology relevant and/or applied in an efficient and systematic way;

     - if applicable: has a proof of concept/software been developed and how is its quality and completeness;

  * Results:

     - are the results measurable in both quantitative and qualitative numbers;

     - is there significant contribution to the research field;

     - is the contribution sufficiently original;

- The written presentation of the work:

  * Language:

     - is the language clear, businesslike and scientific;

     - is the language grammatically correct;

  * Structure:

     - is the master thesis structured in a logical and comprehensible way;

     - is the relevance of the subject motivated scientifically and socially

     - are the problem statement and the research questions clearly formulated, put in  context and motivated;

     - is the used methodology sufficiently motivated;

     - does the work contain a conclusion with an answer to the research questions and a reflection about the value of        the contribution of the student;

 * Layout:

     - is the master thesis laid out with care;

     - are the illustrations (photographs, drawings, tables, citations, graphical diagrams, …) of good quality, to-the-point        and do they carry fitting captions;

     - are the appendices introduced and commented on in a clear manner

  * Bibliography:

     - are the bibliography and the references formulated correctly

The promoter also quotes the personal commitment and attitude of the student during the research work:

  * Were the planning and the use of time by the student adequate;

  * Was there enough commitment, independence and initiative on the part of the student;

  * Did the student show a good critical attitude and good problem solving abilities;

At the oral defence, promoter and jury quote:

- The oral presentation of the work:

  * Language:

     - is the language clear, businesslike, scientific and polished;

  * Attitude & presentation style:

     - is the attitude of the student good and fitting for a scientific exposition;

     - is the exposition clear and easy to understand;

     - is it delivered smoothly;

     - were the right audio-visual means applied;

  * Structure:

     - is the presentation well-structured;

     - are the subject and the problem statement clearly formulated and motivated;

     - is the methodology used sufficiently motivated and explained;

     - are the obtained results sufficiently commented on;

     - does the presentation end with an answer to the proposed research questions and a reflection on the value of the      personal scientific contribution;

  * Defence:

      - can the student answer in a fitting and correct manner to the questions posed to him/her and defend the methods he/she used;

  * Use of time:

     - can the student present his/her work during the time allocated to him/her ?

The oral presentation sessions take place during the annual Photonics Summer Symposium as part of the official exam sessions.

The jury consist of the following members:

- chair + vice chair of the Programme Board

- 1 VUB ZAP-member

- 1 UG ZAP-member

- 1 external jury member (not from the department in which the MSc thesis was made)

It is impossible to graduate for the master program with insufficient marks (i.e. less than 10/20) for the master thesis.

The final grade for this course is determined by the master thesis (24 ECTS), but the following parts are compulsory to get the final grade:

- Report on MOOCs (4 ECTS)

- Attendance at Summer symposium (at least once per academic year) (1 ECTS)

- Attendance at Photonics Networking Event, and Light Night at institution of registration (1 ECTS)

In case of absence to one of these additional requirements an alternative task will be given.


Allowed unsatisfactory mark
The supplementary Teaching and Examination Regulations of your faculty stipulate whether an allowed unsatisfactory mark for this programme unit is permitted.

Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of Photonics Engineering: On campus traject
Master of Photonics Engineering: Online/Digital traject