Five quantum dots in different colours
Semiconducting nanocrystals ("quantum dots") luminescing in different colours depending on their size
(Image Credit: Argonne National Laboratory / Flickr)

MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care

About the course

The University of Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering (Department of Engineering Science) and the Department for Continuing Education, in collaboration with Begbroke Science Park, offer the part-time MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care. 

This advanced modular course is delivered by leading scientists and experts in this rapidly developing field and has been specifically designed for those who would value a part-time modular learning structure, for example those in full-time employment.

Nanomedicine is at the forefront of modern healthcare. Nanoparticles offer a new platform for drug delivery that can extend the 'patent life' of drugs, but also greatly increase the targeting and effectiveness of therapy. They can also enhance most of the medical imaging modalities, and in some cases offer a combined diagnostic and therapy, now called 'theranostics'.

Nanoparticle-based medicines are now becoming part of the mainstream approaches for diagnostics and therapy. A 2016 review identified 51 FDA-approved nanomedicines and 77 products undergoing clinical trials. By August 2018, 151 clinical trials using nanomaterials were completed or underway. Whilst most of these used fairly simple single-phase materials, there is a growing trend for more complex multi-functional nanomaterials and there are exciting possibilities ahead. 

Nanotechnology is providing the basis for many of the new regenerative medicine approaches that are based on artificial scaffold structures and it offers solutions for many of the new generation of point-of-care biosensors and some of the advanced gene sequencing instrumentation. There are already early indications of improved healthcare outcomes, and the creation of new business and industry.

The University of Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME), an Institute within the Department for Engineering Science, is a world-class interdisciplinary centre for biomedical engineering research, where engineers and clinicians collaborate to address unmet needs in the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of major diseases and conditions. The Institute’s core research missions are to develop novel medical devices, technology and systems capable of delivering substantial healthcare benefit, and to translate new engineering technologies into clinical practice.

The MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care draws on the world-class research and teaching in nanotechnology and nanomedicine at the University of Oxford and aims to provide you with the necessary training to enable you to understand the principles of nanotechnology and its application in medical research and clinical practice.

The programme will appeal to professionals working in the commercial or healthcare sectors who develop or use nanotechnology in their work, including:

  • biomedical engineers
  • materials scientists
  • biotech-entrepreneurs
  • medical practitioners and dentists
  • chemists and pharmacists
  • electrical engineers
  • project managers in related industries
  • patent agents and patent lawyers
  • legislators
  • clinical research fellows, graduates and other researchers in a related area of science.

Course structure

The course is taken part-time as a mixture of online and face-to-face modules, consisting of six modules and a research project and associated dissertation. The programme is normally completed in two to three years. Students are full members of the University of Oxford and are matriculated as members of an Oxford college.

The course uses a blend of individual study together with group work during live online tutorials, conventional lectures and discussions and also requires the student to submit a dissertation reporting an original piece of nanomedicine-based research. The group sessions with tutors are particularly valuable because they offer highly focused learning and assessment opportunities.

The course comprises:

  • three online modules giving a thorough introduction to the fundamental science of nanotechnology and the behaviour and characterisation of nanoscale materials;
  • three five-day residential modules taught face-to-face in Oxford explaining the scientific, regulatory, clinical and commercial aspects of the application of nanotechnology to medicine and healthcare; and
  • an original research project of approximately 18 weeks to be written up as a dissertation.

The three online modules can be taken from anywhere in the world with tutors who provide online support and electronically replicate the Oxford tutorial system, whereas the three face-to-face modules offer intense, focused lectures from Oxford academics from a range of disciplines with expertise in this field. Assessment throughout the modules ensures that students can monitor their progress.

It is recommended that students plan to spend at least 10-15 hours per week in private study in addition to time spent in classes or participating in on-line learning.

Programme modules:

  • The Wider Context of Nanotechnology
  • The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology
  • Fundamental Characterisation for Nanotechnology
  • Introduction to Bionanotechnology
  • Nanomedicine – Science and Applications
  • Clinical Translation and Commercialisation of Nanomedicine

Supervision

The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department of Engineering Science and/or the Department for Continuing Education, and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.

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.

Assessment

To qualify for the award of an MSc, you will need to:

  • Complete and pass six taught modules, submitting one or more written assignments with each module. All modules are compulsory. Modules 1-3 are taught online, Modules 4-6 in person in Oxford. You will also be expected to attend a Residential Weekend in Oxford at the end of Module 3.
  • Feedback will be provided for each submission when marks are released. Assessment is summative and weighted marks for each assignment will count towards your overall result for the MSc. Full details of the assessment structure are included in the Course Handbook provided to on-course students.
  • You will need to submit a research dissertation of up to 15,000 words. You will be expected to define your own dissertation topic in consultation with your allocated supervisor and the Course Director. You must submit your proposed title no later than the ninth term of study. You will have three terms to complete and submit the dissertation. Students normally begin work on their dissertation project in October with submissions due the following September.

Graduate destinations

Most students on this part-time course are already in full-time employment in related fields (commercial R&D, bio-entrepreneurship, academia, medicine) on commencement of their study. The course offers a contribution towards their professional development. In addition, several students who have recently completed their undergraduate course have used the MSc as a bridge to PhD studies.

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.

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 (including Covid-19), 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.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

All graduate courses in this area offered by the Department for Continuing Education

Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24

Proven and potential academic excellence

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 either a science or engineering discipline, or a medical degree.

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

Students who have previously completed the University of Oxford's PGCert in Nanotechnology to a high standard are also encouraged to apply and may be permitted to credit their completed PGCert modules towards the MSc.

Alternatively, students may show an equivalent level of demonstrable understanding and competence as a result of professional experience and other training.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally 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

Successful applicants will normally provide:

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

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

You must be able to demonstrate evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer’s commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and university events and modules.

You must also be able to demonstrate a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration).

Publications are not expected.

Further guidance

  • Those who have completed the PGCert in Nanotechnology may be eligible for exemption from modules which are also part of the MSc programme. In all cases, the award of the MSc will subsume the award of the PGCert and constitute a single award.
  • You are strongly discouraged from registering on any other award programme concurrently with this award programme.

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, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. 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.

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 your application.

A video interview will be arranged for all of those who are deemed 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:

  • establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study;
  • clarify any uncertainties about compliance with requirements;
  • gauge the consideration the applicant has given to the topic and organisation of their potential proposed research project; and
  • ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published 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.

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.

Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

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)

Students studying this course will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate in order to apply for a short term visa. Non-visa nationals will also require an ATAS certificate to show at Immigration Control.

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. Opening up possibilities for peer group interaction, students for the MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care are taught alongside those studying for other MSc and Post Graduate Diploma courses in the health sciences, as well as healthcare professionals undertaking the modules for continuing professional development.

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.

Funding

The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

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.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Costs

Modular course fees

The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay an annual course fee and an additional fee for each module studied. A minimum of two annual course fees are payable for this course. If this course includes a dissertation, three module fees will be charged for the dissertation.

The annual course fee differs depending on whether you enter the MSc directly, or whether you first complete the PGCert in Nanotechnology, as shown below. Please refer to the course page on the department’s website for further information about the fee structure (see under Further Information and Enquiries). 

Fees for the 2023-24 academic year (direct entry to MSc)

Fee status

Annual Course Fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

Home£4,500£2,340Please see the department’s website for further details
Overseas£4,500£2,340

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

Fees for the 2023-24 academic year (entry following PGCert in Nanotechnology)

Fee status

Annual Course Fee

Fee per module

Total estimated fees

Home£5,930£2,340Please see the department’s website for further details
Overseas£5,930£2,340

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

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.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees and Funding section of this website, which includes detailed fee status information.

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, 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 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

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.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). 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. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care:

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier. 

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.

Contacting the department

You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.

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. 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.

Referees:
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 your chosen programme of study. Referees should 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.

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 and research proposal:
Statement of a maximum of 500 words and proposal of a maximum of 500 words

You should combine your statement of purpose and research proposal into a single document with clear sub-headings for each item in order to upload this to your application.

Your statement of purpose should briefly explain your motivation for graduate study at Oxford. You should also submit an outlined proposal for a research study that is appropriate to the aims of the course, well-designed and feasible. Your proposal should identify your proposed research project and outline the scope and treatment of the project. 

There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although both your statement and proposal should be clearly legible and written in English.

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

This will be assessed for your reasons for applying to this particular programme of study; what relevant academic, research, or practical experience you have; and which areas of study within the subject especially interest you. Although not required at this stage, you are encouraged to outline some initial ideas for your proposed research project.

If you hold an undergraduate degree in biology, pharmacy or medicine, rather than a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, you should include a short statement about the level of your knowledge of mathematics and physics.

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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