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Topics in Theoretical Physics: Topological Quantum Matter


Admission Requirements



Topics in Theoretical Physics is a student seminar course. The course is built around a current physics research topic. The topic for Spring 2023 is 'Topological Quantum Matter’. Subjects that will be discussed include: Topological insulators, quantum (spin) Hall effect, bulk-edge correspondence, chiral and helical edge modes (Dirac fermions), topological superconductors, Majorana fermions and vortex zero-modes, universality classes (tenfold way), topological invariants (Chern number), Weyl semimetals and surface Fermi arcs.

Course Objectives

The purpose of the course is to become familiar with research methods. The first objective is to learn how to distill the essentials from a set of advanced review and current research articles. The second objective is to present this material comprehensibly both in a lecture form as well as in a written summary.


Physics Schedule
For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures will provide background material and put the topic into a broader context. The topic is further developed in tutorials (instruction classes), where students will be asked to present their solutions to problems handed out in advance. Some of these problems may ask for computer programming.

Zie Brightspace

Assessment method

During the course: active participation in the tutorials; at the end of the course, each student will give an oral presentation (with written handout) on a subject of their choice, and submit a report summarizing 3 publications chosen from a reading list.

The final grade will be based on all three course aspects: the presentation, the report, and engagement in the tutorials.

Reading list

The text book to accompany the course is "Topological Phases of Matter" by R. Moessner and J.E. Moore (Cambridge University Press, 2021). This is available as an e-book free of charge for Leiden University students at:

Some of the exercises will be based on the material at
For more information see the dedicated web site at


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: Prof.dr.Carlo Beenakker