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Curriculum design

Combining theory and practice

The Master of Science in Engineering comprises a total of 90 ECTS points, which is equivalent to a time expenditure totalling 2700 hours. You will earn 30 credits by attending the theory modules. Another 30 ECTS poins are based on practical application of the knowledge acquired at the institutes and centres with which you are affiliated. Passing the Master's thesis will earn you 30 additional credits. The Master of Science in Engineering therefore offers a particularly high level of practical relevance.

Theory modules

The theoretical training with 30 credits comprises around one third of the Master's degree programme. There is a variety of modules to chose from. 

At least ten modules must be selected from the full range: three FTP-modules (fundamental theoretical principles), five TSM-modules (technical scientific specilisation) and two contextual modules. Selection takes place on the basis of an agreement with your advisor. This results in a study plan optimised to suit your individual study objectives. The planning software MSE-Tools serves as an aid in this process.

Fundamental theoretical principles (FTP)

Foundation modules extend your basic mathematical-scientific knowledge. Depending on the profile and the chosen field of expertise, a model plan of study is recommended. For each field of expertise, three mandatory modules are defined which you must take in all cases. Deviations in the study programme are permitted.

Technical scientific specilisation (TSM)

The modules for the technical focus promote the degree of specialisation. You must take at least five modules. Depending on the profile, the profile commission makes recommendations which facilitate the selection process. The institutes and centres can declare individual modules as mandatory.

Contextual modules (CM modules)

Contextual modules serve the purpose of interdisciplinary broadening of knowledge. These modules convey important non-technical themes from the fields of management, quality assurance and jurisprudence. You must take at least two of these modules.

Practice-oriented in-depth specialisation

Practice-oriented in-depth specialisation accounts for one third of the course of study. This enables you to acquire targeted practical know-how in an environment characterised by real industrial research and development projects. You will normally work on two projects. In the first, you will act as a team member of a development group. You will be allocated a specific task and expertly supported by lecturers or experienced scientific staff. During the second project, you will be allocated additional conceptual tasks and greater development responsibility.

The supplementary events (EVA), from which you earn at least six credits, are also part of the in-depth specialisation block. EVA events are special theory modules designed to help promote development of your specialism. These modules are always organised by the institute/centre where you are studying. However, you can also take suitable modules offered by other universities.

Complementary modules for external MSE students

External MSE students (i.e. students not enrolled at the ZHAW) wishing to attend complementary modules offered by the School of Engineering must have their attendance confirmed by their home university.

Please ask your degree course director or degree course secretariat to confirm your attendance by sending an e-mail to

If you have any questions on complementary modules or would like to make an advance reservation to attend a module, please contact Reto Knaack, School of Engineering MSE degree-course director.

Master's thesis

You will use the Master’s thesis to prove your ability to independently complete a comprehensive piece of work which meets demanding methodological, conceptual, and scientific criteria. You will also be able to present the results in both written and spoken form.

The Master's thesis is carried out as far as possible as a third-party-financed project in collaboration with an industrial partner. Ideally, you will assume the role of a project manager. You will be largely responsible for the conceptual development of the project. Within the scope of the thesis, you will often lead a small team – generally as co-supervisor of a project or Bachelor's thesis – covering some of the subject areas of your Master's project.