Diamond Science and Technology (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
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Diamond Science and Technology (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

This EPSRC-funded CDT brings together for the first time the range of UK expertise in diamond science and technology (DST) to train the next generation of researchers, industrialists and entrepreneurs enabling them to play important roles in the emergence of diamond as a high-tech material for a range of applications. You will benefit from a multidisciplinary training programme aimed at providing a solid and comprehensive platform for a career in DST.

The CDT brings together a consortium of eight universities – Warwick, Aberystwyth, Bristol, Cardiff, Imperial, Newcastle, Oxford and Strathclyde – and forty academic partners who provide the necessary complementary research excellence and breadth to enable transformative breakthroughs in DST. Over thirty companies and many international partners are also involved, advising and supporting the CDT and its students in a wide variety of ways. Oxford is offering PhD projects for this course based in four different departments - Materials, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering Science. 

In the first year you will undertake a purpose-designed MSc in Diamond Science and Technology at the University of Warwick. The course will be taught by academics from the partner universities and by industry experts. It will cover the fundamentals of the material science and technological applications – present and future – of diamond and related materials, from its use in abrasives and cutting tools to biomedical sensors, high power lasers, and quantum information systems.

The course begins with a pre-sessional week at Warwick during which social and networking sessions are organised for the cohort. The formal focus will also be to help chemists, physicists, material scientists, engineers and scientists from related disciplines, speak the same scientific language. This will be organised through workshops and small group interactions deliberately mixing different disciplines to discuss different basic concepts taught at undergraduate level.

During the two ten-week teaching terms (from the end of October to early December and then from mid-January to mid-March) the course is based around 11 two-week modules, nine of which are compulsory and two optional. Each module comprises a range of taught lectures, seminars, problems classes, workshops and laboratories. Teaching and assessment styles will be varied from module to module to best deliver and examine the training content. Lectures, seminars and workshops will be reinforced with a substantial practical or laboratory component. This will make use of the instrumentation and computational resources at Warwick, for example, state-of-the-art suites in magnetic resonance, electrochemical analysis, spectroscopy, electron microscopy, dedicated clean-rooms for the growth, characterisation and processing of new materials and next generation power electronics etc. The facilities will also be supplemented by the loan of specialised equipment from collaborators. The practical aspects of the modules will enable you to gain essential hands-on experience of a wide variety of techniques/instrumentation, eg CVD growth, laser processing, device fabrication, characterisation and instrumentation such as Raman, microscopy, XPS, data analysis and modelling.

Examination of the taught elements of the MSc will be by a mixture of continuous assessment of practical and class work, and written examinations which will take place in mid-April. From late April to early July and from mid-July to mid-September you will undertake two ten-week mini-projects at two different universities or industrial partners, which link to the theme of your chosen DPhil (PhD). The first mini-project will be examined by a poster presentation at the annual Diamond Conference, and the second by a written report. The chosen PhD programme will then commence in early October, subject to passing the MSc.

During the Oxford DPhil part of the CDT programme in years 2 to 4 there will be regular activities aimed at building the DST community, including seminars, away days and attendance at the annual Diamond Conference.

Other than these activities, the Oxford DPhil part of the CDT programme will primarily follow the standard three-year DPhil programme offered by the relevant department at Oxford. For further information on each course, please refer to the links in Group B (Non-CDT DPhils) under 'Multiple applications' below.

Graduate destinations

This is a new course, from which it is anticipated that most graduates will pursue careers in materials science and engineering. Whilst focused on diamond and related materials, the course will provide a general grounding in the techniques and understanding required for a far wider range of materials including semiconductors, ceramics and glasses. The range of applications of diamond is diverse, and graduates will obtain skills suitable for careers in manufacturing, information technologies, and mineral extraction (including oil and gas).

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
Biomedical Imaging (EPSRC and MRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Atomic and Laser Physics
Industrially Focused Mathematical Modelling (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Engineering Science
New and Sustainable Photovoltaics (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Materials
Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)DPhil in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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, earth science, engineering or in an appropriate related discipline.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 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).

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 shortlisted candidate, you will be contacted by your proposed supervisor(s) to arrange a suitable time. Interviews are preferentially held in person, though may also be held by telephone or teleconference (eg Skype).


Publications are not a requirement but can strengthen an application by providing evidence of research experience.

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.

In addition to the University of Oxford's language requirements, applicants must also satisfy the language requirements for admission to the taught MSc component at Warwick.

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 Materials, in conjunction with other relevant departments in the MPLS Division, 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 Materials, in conjunction with other relevant departments in the MPLS Division, 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 Materials and/or other relevant departments in the MPLS Division.

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.


Warwick has significant experience of running CDTs and has world-class facilities which will be used during the course. During the MSc year students will enjoy dedicated and modern seminar and study space, making use of state-of-the-art IT facilities and support.

Practical work will make use of the substantial instrumentation and computational resources at Warwick, for example, state-of-the-art suites in magnetic resonance, electrochemical analysis, spectroscopy, high resolution aberration corrected TEM, FE-SEM and FIB (imaging suite), dedicated clean-rooms for the growth, characterisation and processing of new materials and next generation power electronics etc. The facilities will also be supplemented by the loan of specialised equipment from collaborators.

The practical aspects of the modules will enable you to gain essential hands-on experience, of a wide variety of techniques/instrumentation eg CVD growth, laser processing, device fabrication, characterisation and instrumentation such as Raman, microscopy, XPS, data analysis and modelling. During years two to four, when students move to their respective universities, procedures are in place to ensure that the cohesion of the cohort is maintained throughout the programme.


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.


Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

During the first year of the course you will be charged fees by the University of Warwick. Further information about fee rates can be found on the institution's website.

In each subsequent year of study at the University of Oxford, you will be charged tuition and college fees at Oxford’s fee rate for that year of study. For an indication of costs, the table below shows the estimated annual tuition and college fees for the 2018-19 academic year at the University of Oxford. Please be aware that these fees will increase annually.

Estimated annual fees for the 2018-19 academic year at the University of Oxford

Fee status

tuition fee

college fee

Total estimated
annual fees

(including Islands)
c. £4,420c. £3,142c. £7,562
Overseasc. £20,110c. £3,142c. £23,252

Tuition and college fees are payable 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). Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

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.

Students admitted by the University of Oxford are enrolled on the MSc in Diamond Science and Technology at the University of Warwick for one academic year and will be liable for fees at that University at their fee rates. Subject to meeting the progression criteria, students are then enrolled by the University of Oxford and are liable for a further 9 terms of fees at the University of Oxford.

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 of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave 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.

Please consult the University of Warwick website for further information about living costs while studying at that institution.

For the 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs is estimated to be between £1,022 and £1,500 for each month spent in Oxford. Further information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for the 2017-18 academic year, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You must apply both for the MSc course and for your chosen PhD project, from the advertised list of projects, at the outset. You are strongly encouraged to contact the lead supervisor of the relevant PhD project to discuss it before applying.

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.


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 400 words

You should include a personal statement, written in English, outlining your areas of academic interest.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two 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.

Ideally, one of your references should be from an academic staff member who has supervised you in a research project.

If you are a current master’s student or have completed a master’s course, one of your referees should be your supervisor or course director on that course. If you do not provide a reference of this kind, the department will usually ask you to do so before completing the assessment of your application.

Normally at least two of your references should be from academic staff members who taught or supervised you during your bachelor’s and/or master’s degree programmes. 

The primary purpose of the references is to provide the department with evidenced insight into your potential to excel as a research student. Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.

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