PGCert in Nanotechnology | University of Oxford
Quantum dots
Semiconducting nanocrystals ("quantum dots") luminescing in different colours depending on their size
(Image Credit: Argonne National Laboratory / Flickr)

PGCert in Nanotechnology

About the course

The online Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Nanotechnology offers a nine-month introduction to the subject for those seeking a thorough grounding in the science and application of nanotechnology.

The PGCert in Nanotechnology is a unique online, part-time course aimed at professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds who wish to learn more about the foundations of nanotechnology, technological advances and the applications it enables.

The course has been developed to introduce fundamental material essential to the understanding of nanotechnology. Its content has been designed to enhance career development that is recognised and accepted within industry, and there are opportunities to access cutting-edge research and current practice in a wide range of nanotechnology topics. 

The course can be taken from anywhere in the world by those seeking a solid foundation in nanotechnology. Its modular structure provides flexibility while a tutor-led approach lends cohesion and depth to the distance learning experience which has been tailored to enable busy people in full-time employment to study.

The PGCert in Nanotechnology comprises three modules:

The Wider Context of Nanotechnology

This module introduces the core principles and background to nanotechnology, along with the social, environmental and regulatory contexts within which nanotechnology enterprises operate.

The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology

This module covers the essential core principles that determine the length-scale effects that constitute nanoscale phenomena.

Fundamental Characterisation for Nanotechnology

This module provides an introduction to the characterisation techniques that can be utilised to determine the properties and the successful production of materials and structures at the nanoscale. 

The modules present difficult concepts in an engaging way and introduce the most commonly used and most important analytical, quantitative and experimental methods in nanotechnology. The content of each module contains up-to-the-minute thinking and reflects the University of Oxford's world-leading research in nanotechnology.

Each module lasts for seven to ten weeks, corresponding approximately to the University of Oxford's term calendar. The modules are taught through a blend of independent study of online learning materials and group work which takes place during discussions and research, as well as weekly live online tutorials. At the end of the third module you will attend a residential weekend in nanoscale materials characterisation based at the University of Oxford’s Begbroke Science Park.

To complete the PGCert in Nanotechnology students must:

  • complete three mandatory modules;
  • attend a compulsory visit to the Oxford facilities; and
  • successfully complete a portfolio of assignments (written reports, problem sheets and presentations) for each of the modules.

This flexible programme is delivered by Begbroke Science Park and the Department for Continuing Education’s Continuing Professional Development Centre. The online components are delivered through a bespoke virtual learning environment and Adobe Connect, which are supported by a dedicated IT support helpdesk.

Graduate destinations

Most part-time students on this course are already in full-time employment in related fields on commencement of their study.

The Department for Continuing Education regularly follows up with its alumni to find out what they have gone on to do after completing their course.

According to the latest Careers Service report, which covers the period 2009-12, 60% of PGCert in Nanotechnology alumni were in employment six months after completing the course, 30% were undertaking further study, and the final 10% were combining both work and study. Several of the course's alumni have gone on to undertake DPhil and masters' courses.

Related courses

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 a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, eg mathematics, materials science, physics, chemistry, or engineering. For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

Applicants with an undergraduate degree in biology, pharmacy, medicine or business must demonstrate at least A-level (or equivalent) knowledge in mathematics and physics.

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).

Alternatively, students will have some practical experience in related fields. This experience would be demonstrated by publications or approximately five years of employment in a related field.

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.

Video interviews will be held after each deadline and periodically until the programme is closed to applications. They will be conducted by a minimum of two interviewers and will cover the applicant’s application.  

A video interview will be arranged for all of those who appear to fulfil the basic requirements for entry to the course. All of an applicant's previous experience will be taken into account.

The purpose of the interview is to:

  • ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study; and
  • establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study.

Publications

Publications are not expected.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Successful applicants will normally provide:

  • evidence of a demonstrated interest in nanotechnology;
  • evidence of their motivation and ability to complete the course;
  • a clear and well-argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the applicant's current employment situation and future prospects;

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate an approach to their study which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage their own time.

Applications should include evidence of employer commitment in the form of a signed statement, from a named individual within the company, of willingness to release the employee for attendance at the programme.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher 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 Begbroke Science Park and/or the Department for Continuing Education 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 Begbroke Science Park and/or Department for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • A supervisor may be found outside the Begbroke Science Park and Department for Continuing Education.

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.

You are strongly discouraged from registering on any other award programme concurrently with this award programme.

Resources

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

Remote access to the Bodleian Libraries’ electronic resources is provided for distance-learning students.

The course has a dedicated course director and administration team who specialise in the supporting you and others undertaking distance learning and part-time courses.

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.

A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£7,880N/A£7,880
Overseas£7,880N/A£7,880

The fees shown above are the annual tuition 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. College fees are not generally payable for non-matriculated courses although a small number of courses may permit college affiliation for which a charge will be made.

Tuition 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 fees).

For more information about tuition 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

This course has residential sessions in Oxford so you will need to meet any travel and accommodation costs you may incur in attending these sessions.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition 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 for full-time study 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. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

Colleges

This is a non-matriculated course and students studying non-matriculated courses do not become members of an Oxford college. More information about matriculated and non-matriculated courses can be found on the Matriculation page.

How to apply

You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.

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:
One page

Your statement should explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

There is no specific word limit, and there are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible and written in English.

Applicants with an undergraduate degree in biology, pharmacy, medicine or business, rather than a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, should include information about the level of their knowledge of mathematics and physics in their statement.

This will be assessed for your motivation for applying to this particular programme of study; your objectives in attending the course; your relevant academic, research, or practical experience; the areas of study within the subject that interest you.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

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.

Professional references are acceptable if these are relevant to the course.

Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for the programme. You should ask your referees to provide any other information they consider to be relevant to your application. If they have knowledge of your recent study, it would be helpful if they could indicate the standard attained.