New and Sustainable Photovoltaics (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
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New and Sustainable Photovoltaics (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

This course looks to train future leaders in advanced photovoltaics (PV) for research and industry with a view to finding new approaches, including nanotechnology, low temperature processing and photon engineering coupled with enhancements to emerging thin film and conventional PV device technology.

This DPhil is a research-based four-year course. You will be supervised throughout the entire duration of the programme and join the research group of your supervisor. There will usually be opportunity to attend conferences or conduct experiments in other institutions inside or outside the UK.

During the first year you will be required to attend a comprehensive instruction course about all the mainstream PV technologies and underlying science.

You will be assigned to a research group: work on your original research project will start immediately and continue for the duration of your DPhil. You will attend eight residential taught courses in PV during the first year. The course will run from October to March and be delivered in two-week blocks hosted by each of the participating universities. This involves a mixture of lectures, group exercises, master classes and industrial lectures/visits. You will therefore get the benefit of the different facilities, expertise and approaches of the leading PV groups in the UK.

After the first term of the second year, you are expected to submit a report on your research and to defend it in an interview with the Graduate Studies Panel and a specialist reader. The Panel will determine whether you can transfer status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil Student.

In the following years you will concentrate on your research work.

Towards the end of the second year you will present a poster to the Department of Physics sub-department of condensed matter physics. Discussion of your research project with panel members at the poster session will contribute to your decision whether to confirm your status as DPhil student.

At the end of the third year you are expected to give a talk to the sub-department and to answer questions following the presentation.

Graduate destinations

Students will be well trained in all aspects of physics, engineering, material science with a focus on photovoltaics and optoelectronics. This training will provide a springboard for a career in academia and industrial research organisations and the financial sector to name a few.

Multiple applications

In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee.

You may only apply to one programme from Group B under this arrangement without paying further application fees.

Group A
Group B
Diamond Science and Technology (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Atomic and Laser Physics
    DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics
DPhil in Materials
DPhil in Particle Physics
DPhil in Theoretical Physics

For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in physics, chemistry, materials science or engineering. The degree must be at the level of MPhys, MSc, MSci or equivalent. Bachelor's degrees with a minimum of four years standard duration also satisfy the entry requirements. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.0 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

In exceptional cases professional or research experience might be accepted as a substitute for a master's degree. 

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

If you are a UK or EU candidate, you will be expected to attend a personal interview in Oxford. If you are a candidate from outside the EU, the interview will be conducted via Skype.

Shortlisted interview candidates usually have a 20-minute interview with the Graduate Admissions Panel followed by an interview with any supervisors who have expressed an interest in their application. The duration of supervisor interviews varies between 20 and 40 minutes. You will be notified of the result of your interview by email.  This will either be an offer, a rejection or your application may be ‘re-evaluated’ if no decision has been made, and will then be reassessed at the next admissions deadline.

Information about the planned interview dates can be found on the CMP website for prospective students.

Publications

Publications are not expected but may strengthen an application.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Physics to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Physics and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Physics.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

Resources available to graduate students in condensed matter physics include:

  • nanofabrication facility
  • solar cell fabrication and characterisation facilities
  • crystal growth laboratory
  • magnetic characterisation suite
  • MBE facility for epitaxial thin films and multilayers
  • X-ray diffraction laboratory
  • Nicholas Kurti High Magnetic Field Laboratory
  • Atomic Force Microscopy Lab, operational from October 2016
  • facilities for protein expression, cell culture and biophysical measurements
  • the Radcliffe Science Library.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

This programme has a dedicated stream of funding, and the majority of students on the programme are funded. Eligibility restrictions apply. Further details can be found on the CDT webpage.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£19,335£3,021£22,356

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You may contact a prospective supervisor before you apply to discuss possible research projects.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
Up to 500 words

The statement should outline your reasons for wishing to study for this course and the type of research project that you wish to undertake. It is not necessary to be very specific about your choice of project, but if you do have a clear preference for a particular research area or supervisor please indicate and explain this.

This will be assessed for evidence of motivation for and understanding of the area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case in English; commitment to the subject.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group. All references should be academic.