Computational Science

Is Computational Science the study for you?

Would you like to confront a tornado in virtual reality and predict its path of destruction? Or understand the behaviour of financial markets? What if you could simulate the outcome of a surgical procedure before it is used on a patient? Or predict how a crowd would behave in the event of a disaster?

What is Computational Science?

Computational Science seeks to explain the complex world we live in using technological simulations. By collecting data and creating computer models, computational scientists can make predictions on varying problems such as how to influence the flow of traffic, how an epidemic will spread or the probability of individuals in society becoming addicted to drugs. The curriculum relies heavily on algorithmic-driven procedures (step-by-step procedure for solving a problem in a limited number of steps), but also involves lots of mathematics and logic. Students will learn to apply this knowledge to different research areas in the natural sciences.

In the Master's you will learn:

  • to build computational models from real-life observations;
  • to develop skills in turning these models into computational structures and perform large-scale simulations;
  • theory that gives you a firm basis for the analysis of complex simulations;
  • to analyse the results of your simulations in a virtual laboratory using advanced numerical algorithms;
  • to control the power of the largest supercomputers.

To achieve these goals, you will have access to some of the most advanced computing, networking, storage and visualization facilities in the world. When completing the programme, you graduate in one of the many domains Computational Science has to offer, such as Computational Finance, Computational Biology, Numerical Mathematics or Complex Networks.

Joint degree programme with University of Amsterdam

This is a joint degree programme of the University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam. Courses are given at the two Faculties of Science. Graduates receive a diploma accredited by both universities. Therefore, as a Computational Science student you benefit from the expertise, networks and research projects at both universities.

VUvA logo

Three types of courses

  1. The core courses reflect the central body of knowledge in Computational such as modelling, simulation, and computing. Students should study a substantial part of the topics offered in the core.
  2. The constrained choices offer breadth and depth, allowing students to either deepen their knowledge on core topics or broaden their scope.
  3. Finally, electives offer students the option to take courses in application domains. These are especially intended for students who would like to do a research graduation project in one of the application domains as described below.

UvA Course Catalogue - Computational Science

The first year

The first year is dedicated to core Computational Science courses covering computing & algorithms, modelling & simulation, massive-data processing and multidisciplinary collaboration.

During the first year, you can choose between different core courses for each study block. In most blocks, two core courses are available, of which you can choose one. You may also opt to take both core courses that are offered in a block. The constrained choiceand electives courses are in addition to your core courses and can be chosen freely from an extensive list. The constrained choice courses are needed to obtain the required 60 EC for the first year.

The second year

The second year is dedicated to elective courses and the Master's project.  The electives provide opportunity to deepen your knowledge of core concepts in Computational Science. Electives are selected to obtain a specialty in Computational Science or the different application domains, such as Finance & Economics, Biology & Bioinformatics, Numerical Mathematics and Earth Sciences.

The electives help you prepare for the Master's project. The Master's project will be conducted in a scientific group at in one of the universities in Amsterdam, but could also take place at institutes at the Science Park, such as CWI, NIKHEF, AMOLF, AMC and the NKI, outside Amsterdam or abroad. Often students who choose Finance & Economics will do their Master's project at a financial institute such as 'de Nederlandse Bank'. The Master's project must be a scientific project with potential to complement the existing body of knowledge in Computational Science.

Graduation in different domains

Not only do you graduate with knowledge of the core concepts of Computational Science like complex network simulation, but you can also specialise in one of the application domains, such as Computational Biology or Computational Finance. You can use the electives to take specific courses in application domains and perform your research in helping solving domain-specific problems in collaboration with domain experts.

Computational Science courses in study guide.

Graduates of Computational Science are highly valued because of their skills and knowledge in this new field of science. They are ready to start a career in any research environment where computation is the core business. Here are some examples of what you can end up doing after graduation:

Vladislav Sergeev MSc Grid Computing-Computational Science (2006). 
Current Position: Quantitative Analyst, Financial Markets department, ING Bank.

“My interest in computational problems faced by financial industry has been triggered by a course in Computational Finance.  Doing graduation work on a topic of option valuation with PDEs, combined with a few optional courses from the Econometrics department of the UvA, was a natural way forward. Without a doubt, the training received at the UvA has paved the way to a career where I can freely steer between quantitative finance and software engineering. Be it development of an automated option trading platform, a financial engineering position in a risk management consultancy or quant development in a large bank, my confidence is rooted in the solid foundation of my MSc years.” 

Johann de Jong MSc Grid Computing-Computational Science 
Current position: PhD student The Netherlands Cancer Institute

My research focuses on transposons and retroviruses. These are pieces of genetic material that can integrate themselves into the DNA of a host cell. The goal is to predict where integrations will occur, how active they will be, and how they influence their environment (the 'chromatin'). I use very large ('genome-wide') datasets describing the chromatin, and techniques mainly derived from machine learning and statistics. The study of transposons and retroviruses is of great importance for cancer research and the safety of gene therapy, and more generally to gain new insights into gene regulation.

Future in Science

In addition, many of our students go on to join a research group and pursue a PhD, whether in Amsterdam or abroad. 

Read what our PhD students have to say

Interested in the Master Computational Science? Check out the video to get a good idea what it's like.

If you would like to know more

For questions specific to this programme, please contact the Programme Manager, dr. Jaap Kaandorp


Email the Programme Manager

Overview Computational Science: joint degree with UvA

Language of instruction



2 years

Tuition fee

Missing Resource with key: aanmelding

Start date

1 September

Study type




Field of Interest

Computer Science, Mathematics and Business


Information about the programme

For questions specific to this programme, please contact the Programme Manager, Mike Lees:


For further information you can contact the PR Officer:
Erik van Zwol
T +31 (0)20 598 7499

Practical information for international students

Would you like to know more about our courses, scholarships and application & registration procedure? Please contact our International Office.


General information about VU Amsterdam

Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 10:00 to 12:00). You may also e-mail us at

Would you like to read the key points of the Master's programme? Order the brochure. Or find out more about the Master's programmes and visit our information days.