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Surface Science (SUS)


Admission requirements

Elective course MSc Chemistry, MSc Physics, MSc Astronomy
BSc in MST with a major in Chemistry, a BSc in Physics or a BSc in Astronomy. Other students should be familiar with basic concepts from physical chemistry/chemical physics, in particular those generally discussed in standard one-semesters courses on quantum chemistry/physics, chemical kinetics, spectroscopy, and statistical thermodynamics.


Many properties of solids are strongly influenced or even determined by the behaviour of the outermost atomic layers of the material, the surface. Surfaces are also key to many physical and chemical processes with high societal value. For example, heterogeneous (electro)catalysis relies on special surface properties of particular metals and metal oxides. Deposition and growth of semiconductors is critical to the electronics industry. Yet, surfaces form a relatively young field of research in chemistry, physics and even astronomy.

A very wide collection of surface phenomena and surface properties, experimental surface sensitive techniques, and theoretical approaches to describing surface phenomena could be studied in this course. Beyond a few, e.g. geometrical surface structure, surface crystallography and low energy electron diffraction, the exact topics in this course are, however, determined by student interest. Students (re)write the textbook for this course, each couple of students contributing or rewriting one chapter to this book. The chapter topic is chosen from a list provided by the lecturer containing subjects, e.g. surface thermodynamics, surface diffusion, melting, adsorption and desorption, elementary chemical reactions, a large range of surface-sensitive techniques, microscopies and spectroscopies, and surface science for heterogeneous catalysis. Using peer review, each student couple’s contribution is optimized. For self-study and (re)writing of their chapter, other textbooks used in the field, internet resources and primary literature are employed. Beyond scheduled meetings that focus on assigned chapters, a significant part of the course work is thus performed through self-study and peer review.

At the end of the course, all student couples briefly present the final version of their chapter and its essential parts in an on-campus presentation to their peers. The presentation aims to help other students in the class study for a final written exam that spans the assigned chapters and the (re)written chapters.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students:

  • have learned to digest information from a variety of books, internet sources and the primary literature on a topic of choice within the field of surface science;

  • have learned to summarize and present this information in the form of a book chapter with a significant focus on visual representation;

  • have gained basic knowledge of the structure of surfaces, various physical and chemical phenomena taking place at solid surfaces, and common experimental techniques that reveal information on surfaces and adsorbates;

  • are capable of applying this knowledge to solve simple problems related to physical and chemical aspects of solid surfaces.


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 and blended learning through academic writing, peer review, and student presentations.

Assessment method

Active participation in peer-review (20%)
Identified contributions to a written book chapter (60%)
Written examination (20%)
The grade for each component of the assessment must exceed an unrounded 6.0 grade to pass the course.

Reading list

The course material may be based on books such as

  • Surface Science: An Introduction, K. Oura, V.G. Lifshits, A.A. Saranin, A.V. Zotov, and M. Katayama, Springer 2003 (or reprint from 2010)

  • Surface Science: Foundations of Catalysis and Nanoscience, 3rd ed., K. Kolasinski, Wiley 2012

  • Surface Science: An Introduction, John B. Hudson, Wiley and sons, 1998, ISBN 9780471252399,

  • Introduction to Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Gabor A. Somorjai, Wiley, 2nd edition, 2010. ISBN 9780470508237

In addition, students will read articles from the primary surface science literature.

For peer-review and writing, online resources, e.g. BrightSpace, Pitch-to-Peer, FeedbackFruits, Google Docs and/or Overleaf may be used.


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.


Dr. L.B.F. Juurlink


According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.