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Master Sciences, Technologies, Santé

Nuclei, particles, astroparticles and cosmology

The NPAC Master's degree (or “M2”*) is designed to provide training for students who wish to study nuclear physics, particle physics, astroparticles and cosmology. More specifically, it prepares students for either an experimental or a theoretical PhD in these fields in laboratories attached to universities or other major research institutions (CNRS, CEA).

(*) In the French system, the master program is divided into two years: M1 (first-year of Master) and M2 (second-year of Master).


The content of the program has a dual objective. On one hand, it provides an introduction to the physics of the “infinitely small” - the physics of the fundamental particles and interactions in nature, and the physics of nuclei built from these elementary building blocks. On the other hand, it introduces the physics of the “infinitely large” - modern cosmological theory and its description of the geometry and contents of the universe (including notably dark matter and dark energy). The students are also taught about astroparticle physics, which concerns another important class of “cosmic messengers” that may provide the keys for several unanswered questions.


The topics covered by the program are at the cutting edge of current scientific research. For particle physics, one of the most recent highly visible breakthroughs has been the discovery of the Higgs boson (2013 Nobel Prize) at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. In cosmology and astroparticles, the 2011 Nobel Prize honoured the physicists whose measurements of the expansion of the Universe provided evidence for dark energy. The field of nuclear physics is also very active with the starting up of SPIRAL2, an accelerator that should, amongst other issues, provide some understanding of the origin of the elements and their abundance on earth.


The NPAC program thus trains the researchers of tomorrow in these fields. One of the program's main assets is its strong connection to research. All the lecturers are leading researchers in the area they teach. The students have the opportunity to work in laboratories, both during their internships and also when studying a selected researcher's work, particularly in instrumentation. Indeed, these fields of research require increasingly powerful and sophisticated instruments, whose performance will determine the discipline’s advances. The program thus includes lectures in the physics of both detector and accelerators.

The students have many opportunities during the year to have hands-on experience of research:

In the first semester they work in pairs on a one-month project, in which they conduct a small experiment from the design phase to the analysis of results. This project allows them to acquire knowledge in instrumentation, data analysis, and detection techniques. The “Detector Physics” course also involves an immersion in a research team: during 4 half-days, the students (in pairs) are hosted by laboratories whose researchers and engineers are working on an experiment under construction. Bibliographical work, a written report and an oral defence are required at the end of these meetings.

The last three months of the program consist of an internship in a laboratory, which naturally leads the students to their PhD for the following year.

The academic rigor and quality of the NPAC program is recognized by institutions in France and abroad. It applies particularly to laboratories of the CNRS particle and nuclear physics division (IN2P3) in the Paris region and all over France, and also for theoretical and astrophysics laboratories all over France.

After the NPAC 1-year training, about 90% of the students obtain a full fellowship to pursue a PhD thesis. The hosting laboratories are mostly in the Paris area, but there are also some elsewhere in France or abroad.


Web site of NPAC.



The year is divided into 2 semesters.

• During the first semester, September is fully dedicated to an experimental laboratory project. Then, from October to January, the students take three main courses (60 hours each), one detector course and an optional course (chosen between general relativity and accelerator physics).

• During the second semester, the students pursue a two-week advanced level lecture course on the physics field related to their future PhD. During these 2 weeks, they also follow a computing course and project. Between March and June, the students have a laboratory internship, within the team of their future PhD.


Requirements for application:

Candidates must have successfully completed a Master 1 level in fundamental physics, or have an engineering diploma with a large physics component. In either case, candidates should have a strong background in modern physics subjects such as quantum mechanics and statistical physics. It is strongly recommended to have studied at least one of NPAC's main fields.



The selection is based on the application form and an interview with the directors of the program.

There are about 30 students per year enrolled in NPAC, coming from both French and foreign universities and also engineering schools. Foreign students represent between 25% and 30% of the total student body.



Traductions :





    Delphine HARDIN (delphine.hardin @ (LPHNE)

    01 44 27 63 18

    Eli BEN HAIM (eli.ben_haim @ (LPNHE)

    01 44 27 84 24


    Contact administratif

    Valérie BOILLEVIN (valerie.boillevin @

    01 44 27 48 77



    Delphine HARDIN (hardin @ (LPNHE)

    01 44 27 63 18

    Eli BEN HAIM (eli.ben_haim @ (LPNHE)

    01 44 27 84 24



    Valérie BOILLEVIN (valerie.boillevin @

    01 44 27 48 77

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