MSE Master of Science in Engineering

The Swiss engineering master's degree

Each module contains 3 ECTS. You choose a total of 10 modules/30 ECTS in the following module categories: 

  • 12-15 ECTS in technical scientific modules (TSM)
    TSM modules teach profile-specific specialist skills and supplement the decentralised specialisation modules.
  • 9-12 ECTS in fundamental theoretical principles modules (FTP)
    FTP modules deal with theoretical fundamentals such as higher mathematics, physics, information theory, chemistry, etc. They will teach more detailed, abstract scientific knowledge and help you to bridge the gap between abstraction and application that is so important for innovation.
  • 6-9 ECTS in context modules (CM)
    CM modules will impart additional skills in areas such as technology management, business administration, communication, project management, patent law, contract law, etc.

In the module description (download pdf) you find the entire language information per module divided into the following categories:

  • instruction
  • documentation
  • examination 
The Physics of Materials and Engineering Devices (FTP_Physics)

The students understand and are able to explain the basic principles of important engineering devices in relation to material properties and by applying microscopic concepts. These concepts include electrons and holes in solids, energy band structures of metals and semiconductors, polarization mechanisms in dielectrics and in piezoelectric materials, elementary dipole moments in magnetic materials and pairing of electrons in superconductors (Cooper pairs). Actual applications such as thermocouples, photovoltaic cells (solar cells), light emitting diodes (LED), piezoelectric actuators, magnetic sensors and data storage devices can be discussed by means of these concepts. This module will allow the students to understand modern concepts of prevailing technologies and use them in the future.


A solid knowledge of the fundamentals of physics is essential. Notions such as energy, force, thermal energy  kBT, specific heat capacity, oscillations, resonance frequency, waves, electromagnetic field vectors: E, D, B and H, electric capacitance C, dielectric constant epsr and Bohr's model of atoms are mandatory. Also required are simple differential equations and complex numbers, in particular e-iwt.

Learning Objectives

The students

  • understand the thermal and electric conduction in solids using the kinetic description of particles
  • can relate thermal conduction to electric conduction via microscopic models
  • are able to describe the principles of thermocouples and diodes by means of energy bands, Fermi energy and contact potential
  • can explain the physical origin and technical realization of vertical resolution of scanning probe microscopes (atomic force microscope, scanning tunnelling microscope) in the nanometer range
  • know the classification of magnetic materials and can name examples of their technological applications
  • understand the difference between the Meissner effect of a superconductor and a perfect diamagnetic material
  • are capable to solve quantitative problems to all topics of this module.

Contents of Module

Elementary concepts of materials are studied with emphasis on applications. The module is divided into five topics:

  1. Crystallography and quantum physics.
    • Basic principles of quantum physics.
    • Thermal fluctuations and thermal activation (Arrhenius plots).
    • Crystal structure and crystal symmetry (bcc, fcc, hcp), types of bonds and bond energy.
    • Bravais lattices and crystal defects.
  2. Concept of thermal and electrical conduction in solids.
    • Electrical conduction (Drude model), drift velocity, relaxation time, mean free path.
    • Lorentz force and Hall effect, Hall voltage, new Ohm standard.
    • Temperature dependence of resistivity of ideal pure metals.
    • Thermal conduction (Wiedemann-Franz law).
  3. Concept of energy bands in semiconductors, metals and insulators.
    • Schr√∂dinger equation and some applications
    • Electrons and holes, effective electron mass.
    • Doping: n-type, p-type.
    • Ensemble of particles, Fermi-Dirac statistic of conduction electrons.
    • Contacts: ideal p-n junction (diode), pure metal contact and thermocouples.
    • Devices: diode, photovoltaic cell (solar cell), light emitting diode (LED).
  4. Dielectric and piezoelectric materials.
    • Electric polarization mechanisms, dipole moment, polarizability.
    • Local electric field, Clausius Mossotti relation between the polarizability and the dielectric constant.
    • Dielectric constant as a complex quantity, absorption of electromagnetic waves and loss factor.
    • Piezoelectricity, actuators and sensors, scanning tunneling and atomic force microscope (STM/AFM), pyroelectricity.
  5. Magnetic properties and superconductivity.
    • Magnetization and magnetic permeability.
    • Different classes of magnetic materials: diamagnetic, paramagnetic, ferromagnetic, antiferromagnetic, ferrimagnetic.
    • Magnetic domains and magnetic data storage
    • Superconductivity: zero resistance and critical current density, generation of large magnetic fields.
    • Measuring magnetic fields: Hall effect, magnetic flux quantization and SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device).

Teaching and Learning Methods

Instruction teaching: presentation and discussion of fundamental concepts.
Exercises: solving quantitative problems and analyzing the physical concepts.
Individual learning using the lecture notes and the textbook.


Principles of Electronic Materials and Devices, Safa O. Kasap, McGraw Hill

Download full module description