The subjects physics and astronomy were the object of research and teaching right from the founding days of the University in 1386. On the developmental path from a speculative to an exact science in the 19th century, famous scientists, such as Gustav Robert Kirchhoff and Hermann Helmholtz - both Heidelberg physicists - played an important role.
Today, the Department of Physics and Astronomy is one of the largest in Germany. Excellent study conditions and the diversity of fields in which research is performed make the Department attractive for both students who are just starting their studies as well as those who are at an advanced stage. Students may choose topics for their research theses at the masters and doctor's level either at one of the universities institutes, or at one of the surrounding non-university institutes, such as the Max Planck Institutes, provided that members of the Department are situated there. Heidelberg has the highest number of students that complete their degrees within Germany, Heidelberg is also leading with the number of doctoral students and postdoctoral qualifications completed. The many research opportunities, openness and communicative style of working together with the special ambience that Heidelberg offers form a pleasant base for successful studies of physics and astronomy.