MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications | University of Oxford
Computer chip between tweezers
Computer chip between tweezers
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MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communications

About the course

This part-time MSc is primarily a conversion course for those with a mathematics and physics background. The course provides a strong foundation in microelectronics, optoelectronics and communications, encouraging the development of a range of capabilities and allowing you to acquire essential skills and analytical abilities required to embark on a career in a relevant engineering sector.

The structure of the course has been tailored for busy people in employment who wish to minimise time away from the workplace to study. It is targeted at students who are already working in an engineering context, have a mathematics or physics undergraduate degree, and who have been encouraged by their employers to gain up-to-date knowledge and skills in three key electrical engineering sectors: microelectronics, optoelectronics and communications. This part-time course is also applicable to graduates from other disciplines in engineering.

Course modules are expected to include:

  • Fundamentals of Microelectronics and Communications
  • Advanced Microelectronics
  • Wireless Communications
  • Fundamentals of Optoelectronic Devices and Applied Optics
  • Optical Communications
  • Organic Electronics and Nanotechnology for Optoelectronic Devices, or Engineering in Society.

The first year consists of the Microelectronics and Communications units, which includes the principles, theories and methodologies underpinning the design of both analogue and digital electronic systems. For the Wireless Communications unit, you will learn about technologies used in the wireless communications industry and gain a critical awareness of their limitations and the new insights gained by looking at the forefront of current research.

The second year of the course will focus on the Optoelectronics units, which will cover the fundamentals of applied optics and semiconductor physics that are required to understand the performance and design of optoelectronic components and devices. You will then have the option of choosing the Organic Electronics and Nanotechnology course or the Engineering in Society unit before embarking on a dissertation.

Each of the six units includes an intensive residential week in Oxford that includes lectures, tutorials, classes and, in some cases, practical work. For each unit, these residential weeks are supplemented by the online learning environment that consists of additional course material and examples to support the distance learning and assessment.

Units are assessed through practicals, problem sets, written reports and assignments. Practicals are assessed when students are in Oxford. Students are provided with written feedback as well as verbal feedback from the course tutors.   

For their dissertation, students normally conduct their project in their home institution or company, with the aid of supervisors from the Department of Engineering Science. 

Graduate destinations

This course aims to provide students who have a prior undergraduate degree in physics, mathematics or another discipline in engineering, with skills and knowledge commonly needed to become an engineer in an area related to microelectronics, optoelectronics or communications.

There are also opportunities to continue studying at doctoral level, either via a DPhil or DEng (a professional doctorate where students undertake much of their research within an organisation).

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 2018-19

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 mathematics, physics or engineering.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally 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. They are normally conducted via Skype with video by at least two interviewers, usually two academics associated with the course.  The interviews will normally take up to 30 minutes.

Shortlisted candidates will have a good degree in physics or mathematics, or another discipline in engineering. They will have maintained a high competency in mathematics and be able to demonstrate their motivation for graduate study in the relevant areas of microelectronics, optoelectronics and communications. No more than 30 candidates will be shortlisted for interview.

The interviews will normally take place four to six weeks after the application deadline and by mid-July at the latest.


Publications are not expected.

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 Department of Engineering Science 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 Engineering Science 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 Department of Engineering Science and/or the 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.


Teaching in Oxford normally takes place within the Department of Engineering Science which is well supported by experienced teams of technical, computing, and administrative staff. The department has well-equipped research areas and workshops, which together with offices, lecture theatres, study areas, a common room, stores, reprographics and other facilities, and occupies approximately 16,000 square metres.

Students will also have access to the graduate school room and library at the Department for Continuing Education and are welcome to request overnight accommodation.


There are over 1,100 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.


Annual fees for entry in 2018-19

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

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).

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

Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses such as travel 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 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 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.


The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Microelectronics, Optoelectronics and Communication:

How to apply

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

However, If you wish to contact an academic member of staff, please email the Programme Administrator who will forward your email to the relevant person.

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.

Personal statement:
500 to 1,000 words

In your statement please describe and, where possible, give evidence of your motivation for understanding of and commitment to the subject. The personal statement must be written in English.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying; 
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the subject;
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English;
  • the feasibility of successfully completing the course in the time available;
  • 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, 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.

Your references will support your intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.

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