Close up of large metal machinery in a lab
Laboratory work for the DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry
(Image Credit: Chenbo Wang / Graduate Photography Competition)

Inorganic Materials for Advanced Manufacturing (DPhil)

About the course

The Inorganic Materials for Advanced Manufacturing (IMAT) cohort-based training programme offers a four-year doctoral course focusing on the design, synthesis and characterisation of new inorganic materials and features integrated academic/industrial courses.

The IMAT programme aims to train the next generation of doctoral scientists in the design, synthesis and characterisation of inorganic materials relevant to the future prosperity of the manufacturing sector. The course covers all aspects of the utilisation of raw materials, process chemistry and product delivery, and substantive projects spanning the breadth of inorganic chemistry and materials science.

The course has been designed in collaboration with 19 industrial partners representing a range of business sizes and technological expertise, in order to provide a holistic understanding of all aspects of the advanced materials manufacturing process.

The IMAT programme uses a cohort-based training model, allied to training incorporating faculty, industry and peer-led components, to deliver scientists with:

  • a broad spectrum training across the interface between inorganic materials and manufacturing; and
  • in-depth expertise in one specific stream (raw materials, process or product).

Students are trained in a single cohort initially (in the first six months) through a series of taught courses covering a wide range of topics in inorganic materials, and a short industrial internship. From the second half of year one, you will focus primarily on your substantive research project, which you will have chosen prior to the start of your course. During all four years of the course you will receive a tailored programme designed to broaden your research and professional skills.

The course expects to have strong engagement with industry, with regular visits and interactions with industrial partners.

A tailored introductory programme will cover periodic trends in chemistry and materials. Details of the modules are listed below.

Core Technical Modules

  1. Raw Materials:
    • Raw Materials distribution, ethics, circularity
    • Bottom up/top down synthesis
  2. Process
    • Characterisation tools in chemistry and materials
    • Processing to manipulate materials properties
    • Computational methods, AI, Digitisation, Data analytics
    • Interface and Surface Chemistry
  3. Product
    • Product design for circularity and end use
    • Teamwork design module

Industrial Immersion Modules

This part of the training programme focusses on awareness of:

  • RRI + Ethical, regulatory and compliance issues
  • Communicating science to different audiences
  • IP, Research Translation & Entrepreneurship
  • Advanced industrial workshops

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Materials 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 also be found outside the Department of Chemistry and Department of Materials.

Students can typically expect to meet with their supervisor or a senior member of the research team on a weekly basis.

Assessment

All modules during the taught course component involve some aspect of formal assessment, including written reports, problem solving, and group and individual presentations.

Throughout the project component of the course, a termly report on your progress is usually submitted by both you and your supervisor.

You will be admitted as a Probationary Research Student and, at an appropriate stage (normally after six terms), you must pass the Transfer of Status assessment, to ensure you have the potential to gain a doctorate, in line with the University's graduate student progression guidelines. This assessment is made by independent assessors on the basis of overall performance in the taught course component, together with a project report, a short presentation and an oral examination. Assuming that you satisfactorily transfer to DPhil status, your research proceeds with quarterly reporting throughout the rest of your course.

You must apply for Confirmation of Status by the end of your ninth term, to ensure that you are on track to complete the thesis within a reasonable time. You will be expected to submit a DPhil thesis within, at most, four years from the date of admission. The thesis will usually be read by two examiners, one of whom is normally from Oxford and one from elsewhere, and assessment will be via the thesis and an oral (viva voce) examination. The examiners will judge, along with other requirements, whether you have made a significant and substantial contribution to a particular field of learning.

Graduate destinations

This is a new programme and there are no alumni yet. Graduates of the DPhil programmes in chemistry and materials have gone on to work for a wide range of employers, including universities, high-tech start-up companies, and industry. There is a wide variety of potential destinations that may include scientific writing, patent attorneys, government and civil service, or financial and business services. The Departments of Chemistry and Materials run an annual careers event for graduate students, and the University's Careers Service offers specialist support.

It is expected the departments will host a number of visits from prospective employers, where students can find more information. 

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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 illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25

Proven and potential academic excellence

The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.

Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying. 

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a subject relevant to the proposed research.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent. 

The above qualification(s) should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:

  • chemistry
  • materials science
  • physics
  • biochemistry
  • chemical engineering

A previous master's degree (either an integrated master's degree or standalone) is preferred but not required. Substantial professional experience or a graduate qualification may be a substitute for a lower grade at undergraduate level. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed is likely to advantage an application. 
  • Publications demonstrating previous research success in a relevant field is likely to advantage an application.
  • It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor and have an understanding of the background to their proposed area of study.

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

References

You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process. They are normally held online and expected to take place in February and March. Additional interviews later in the year may be considered if spaces remain available.

Shortlisted candidates will normally be given one 45-minute technical panel interview with at least two academics from the course, together with 25-minute meetings with potential supervisors from your selected projects.

Typically, the panel interview will consist of two brief presentations. One will be on a topic for you to research and present, and one will be a scientific paper that will be provided beforehand. Questions from the panel can be expected on the topics that you present and on general technical concepts and applications in inorganic materials.

During the panel interviews, you will be evaluated both on your ability to present and communicate research as well as your technical knowledge. Performance at the panel interviews will be used to create a ranking of candidates, while the meetings with potential supervisors are intended to assess your suitability for the relevant project.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.

References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

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

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.

Resources

The Inorganic Materials for Advanced Manufacturing cohort-based training programme is based in the Departments of Chemistry and Materials. The majority of the taught courses during the first year will be held in the newly repurposed Doctoral Training Suite in the Rodney Porter Building. There is a dedicated student office, with individual desk areas and allocated computers.

Students are supervised by some of the country’s leading research chemists, many of whom have world-class reputations. You will work in an environment which encourages and inspires you to acquire and develop a wide range of communication, study, and research skills.

Workspace will be related to individual circumstances. If undertaking experimental work, you will be provided with space in a laboratory with access to all the required equipment. If undertaking theoretical research, you will have shared office space.

You will have access to the departmental IT support staff, to the Radcliffe Science Library and other university libraries, and centrally provided electronic resources and technical workshops.

Experimental facilities are available as appropriate to the research topic. The provision of other resources specific to your project should be agreed upon with your supervisor as a part of the planning stages of the agreed project.

In the event of the need for pastoral care, support is available in your college, from the project supervisor, the course management team and the Associate Director for Student Experience.

Departments offering this course

This course is offered jointly by the following departments:

Department of Chemistry

Oxford is one of the leading chemistry research departments in the world, with around 80 academic staff carrying out international level research and an annual research income of around £15 million.

In the most recent national assessment of research (REF 2021) 66% of our research output was judged world-leading, and 32% was judged internationally excellent. The department has a number of research themes, including:

  • catalysis
  • synthesis
  • chemistry at the interface with biology and medicine
  • sustainable energy chemistry
  • kinetics, dynamics and mechanism
  • advanced functional materials and interfaces
  • innovative measurement and photon science
  • theory and modelling of complex systems.

The facilities at Oxford for research and teaching are among the best available in the UK, with a wide range of the latest instrumentation and a huge computational resource networked throughout the University and beyond to national computing centres. Among the facilities available are the latest in automated X-ray diffractometers, electron microscopes, scanning tunnelling microscopes, mass spectrometers, high-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers and specialised instruments for the study of solids.

For 2024 entry and beyond, the Department of Chemistry will offer the DPhil in Chemistry and MSc by Research in Chemistry courses, which amalgamate the previous research degrees offered in Chemical Biology, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physical & Theoretical Chemistry.

Department of Materials

As a student on one of Oxford's research degree programmes in materials, you will be part of one of the top-ranked materials departments in the world (QS World University Rankings 2023).

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment of research excellence in UK universities, research from the University's Department of Materials and Department of Engineering Science was jointly submitted to REF Unit of Assessment (UOA) 12 - Engineering (there is not a specific REF UOA for Materials). The results for this submission show that:

  • 71% of the research activity of the two departments was judged to be in the highest category of excellence, Grade 4* ('World-leading');
  • a further 26% of the research activity of the two departments was judged as Grade 3* ('Internationally Excellent'); and
  • 90% of research impact was judged to be ‘World-leading’.

The department's high rating for research is evidence of its excellence in a wide range of materials research.

The department's vibrant materials research community consists of around 33 academic staff, 13 Senior Research Fellows, and around 240 DPhil students and 80 postdoctoral researchers. Research students are of many nationalities and come to the department from diverse scientific backgrounds.

Leading-edge research is carried out across a wide range of materials science, ranging from atomic-scale characterization, through state-of-the-art materials modelling, to pilot industrial-scale processing. 

Research students in the Department of Materials are also members of the University's MPLS Graduate School, which provides a wide range of support and training in addition to that offered by the department.

Funding

We expect that the majority of applicants who are offered a place on this course will also be offered a fully-funded scholarship specific to this course, covering course fees for the duration of their course and a living stipend.

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2024-25

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£9,500
Overseas£31,480

Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Information about course fees

Course 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 course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Continuation 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.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees (or, after fee liability ends, continuation charges) 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 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. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

College preference

Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs). 

If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.

The following colleges accept students on the Inorganic Materials for Advanced Manufacturing programme:

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.

If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide.

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.

Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students

If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.

Application fee waivers for eligible associated courses

If you apply to this course and up to two eligible associated courses from our predefined list during the same cycle, you can request an application fee waiver so that you only need to pay one application fee.

The list of eligible associated courses may be updated as new courses are opened. Please check the list regularly, especially if you are applying to a course that has recently opened to accept applications.

Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?

You may wish to make contact with the IMAT team before you apply in order to work out whether this is the right course for you, and the likely availability of funding. You should do so via the contact details provided on this page.

Before you apply, you should consult the project list on the department’s website to identify up to three advertised projects that you would like to be considered for. You are also encouraged to make informal enquiries to prospective project supervisors prior to applying.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.

For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.

If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Proposed field and title of research project

You are required to list and rank up to three projects selected from the project list on the department’s website under 'Field and title of research project'. You should quote the Project ID for each of your chosen projects.

You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal or statement of purpose. You will be able to upload your supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).

Proposed supervisor

You are not required to list any potential supervisors under 'Proposed supervisor'. You can leave this field blank. Please ensure that you list your three preferred projects under 'Field and title of research project' and in your statement of purpose.

Referees:
Three overall, academic preferred

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.

References should generally be academic, although a maximum of one professional reference is acceptable where you have completed an industrial placement or worked in a full-time position.

Your references will support;

  • intellectual ability,
  • academic achievement,
  • motivation and interest in the course and subject area,
  • and your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently.

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.

Statement of purpose:
A maximum of 1,000 words

Rather than a research proposal, you should provide a statement of purpose.

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the IMAT programme at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you.

You should also include your 1-2-3 choices of substantive research projects taken from the list of projects advertised on the department's website.

Your statement should focus on your academic achievements and interests rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations. 

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

The word count does not include bibliography, brief footnotes, captions, titles or legends that are applied to images, tables or charts.

This will be assessed for:

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

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide Apply

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