The new degree programme will contain more interdisciplinary elements and will establish closer links with chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science than has been the case up to now. It is planned to coordinate the study content for biology with that of the other subjects. “In raising these concerns we found we were pushing at an open door,” says Vorholt. This reciprocal, networked approach should make the other disciplines more relevant and exciting for future biologists.
“So, for example, a colleague from earth sciences will use their expertise to show what the earth would have looked like without life, and what dramatic changes to the earth have been triggered by biological processes,” explains Vorholt. “This should open students’ eyes to the major connections from the very start of the programme, before getting into the molecular basis of life processes.”
In contrast to the two degree programme initiatives mentioned above, which are reorganising existing course content in order to incorporate current knowledge of the subject into teaching, the growth of knowledge in other areas is leading to the development of completely new courses. In Autumn Semester 2019, for example, the two federal institutes of technology ETH and EPFL launched the Cyber Security Master’s programme. “This joint degree programme combines the strengths of our two universities in a field that is of vital interest to our country,” says ETH Zurich President Joël Mesot.
In this Master’s programme, computer science students follow up their undergraduate studies by delving into aspects of cryptography and the security of hardware, software and networks. They also examine ways of ensuring user confidence. As well-trained specialists, they will one day help our increasingly connected society to guard against threats such as data theft or attacks on vital infrastructure.
The Master’s programme in quantum engineering, also launched in Autumn Semester 2019, is similarly forward-looking. This course is open to students with Bachelor’s degrees in physics or computer science and electrical engineering.
In a project-based learning environment in which mixed teams of engineers and physicists work together, they are taught both the basic laws of quantum theory and the engineering skills necessary to implement, measure and control quantum processes.