About the course
The Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Nanotechnology offers a ten-month introduction to the subject for those seeking a thorough grounding in the science and application of nanotechnology.
The PGCert in Nanotechnology is a unique, mainly online, part-time course aimed at professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds who wish to learn more about the foundations of nanotechnology, technological advances and the applications it enables.
The course has been developed to introduce fundamental material essential to the understanding of nanotechnology. Its content has been designed to enhance career development that is recognised and accepted within industry, and there are opportunities to access cutting-edge research and current practice in a wide range of nanotechnology topics.
The online components of this course can be taken from anywhere in the word by those seeking a solid foundation in nanotechnology. Its modular structure provides flexibility while a tutor-led approach lends cohesion and depth to the distance learning experience which has been tailored to enable busy people in full-time employment to study.
This flexible programme is delivered by Begbroke Science Park and the Department for Continuing Education. The online components are delivered through a bespoke virtual learning environment, Microsoft Teams and Adobe Connect, which are supported by a dedicated IT support helpdesk.
The PGCert in Nanotechnology comprises three modules which present difficult concepts in an engaging way and introduce the most commonly used and most important analytical, quantitative and experimental methods in nanotechnology. The content of each module contains up-to-the-minute thinking and reflects the University of Oxford's world-leading research in nanotechnology.
Each module lasts for seven to ten weeks, corresponding approximately to the University of Oxford's term calendar. The modules are taught through a blend of independent study of online learning materials and group work which takes place during discussions and research, as well as weekly live online tutorials. At the end of the third module you will attend a residential weekend in nanoscale materials characterisation based at the University of Oxford’s Begbroke Science Park.
The three modules are:
The Wider Context of Nanotechnology
This module introduces the core principles and background to nanotechnology, along with the social, environmental and regulatory contexts within which nanotechnology enterprises operate.
The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology
This module covers the essential core principles that determine the length-scale effects that constitute nanoscale phenomena.
Fundamental Characterisation for Nanotechnology
This module provides an introduction to the characterisation techniques that can be utilised to determine the properties and the successful production of materials and structures at the nanoscale, culminating in a weekend residential in Oxford.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Begbroke Science Park 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. MSc supervisors may be found outside the Begbroke Science Park and Department for Continuing Education.
To complete the PGCert in Nanotechnology students must:
- complete three mandatory modules;
- attend a compulsory visit to the Oxford facilities; and
- successfully complete a portfolio of assignments (written reports, problem sheets and presentations) for each of the modules.
Most part-time students on this course are already in full-time employment in related fields on commencement of their study.
The Department for Continuing Education regularly follows up with its alumni to find out what they have gone on to do after completing their course.
According to the latest Careers Service report, which covers the period 2009-12, 60% of PGCert in Nanotechnology alumni were in employment six months after completing the course, 30% were undertaking further study, and the final 10% were combining both work and study. Several of the course's alumni have gone on to undertake DPhil and masters' courses.
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.
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.
Courses suggested by the department
Entry requirements for entry in 2022-23
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, eg mathematics, materials science, physics, chemistry, or engineering.
Applicants with an undergraduate degree in biology, pharmacy, medicine or business must demonstrate at least A-level (or equivalent) knowledge in mathematics and physics.
Alternatively, students will have some practical experience in related fields. This experience would be demonstrated by publications or approximately five years of employment in a related field.
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;
- a clear and well-argued understanding of the benefits of the course to the applicant's current employment situation and future prospects;
Applicants will be expected to demonstrate an approach to their study which includes demonstrable skills of critical analysis, wide contextual knowledge and the ability to manage their own time.
Publications are not expected.
- Applications should include evidence of employer commitment in the form of a signed statement, from a named individual within the company, of willingness to release the employee for attendance at the programme.
- You are strongly discouraged from registering on any other award programme concurrently with this award programme.
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.
English language requirement
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.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*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.
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
Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.
Online interviews will be held after each deadline and periodically until the programme is closed to applications. They will be conducted by a minimum of two interviewers and will cover the applicant’s application.
An online interview will be arranged for all of those who appear to fulfil the basic requirements for entry to the course. All of an applicant's previous experience will be taken into account.
The purpose of the interview is to:
- ensure that you are fully informed of the standard of achievement and level of commitment required by the course of study; and
- establish your level of interest, motivation and potential to benefit from the course of study.
Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. The After you apply section of this website provides further information about the academic assessment of your application, including the potential outcomes. Please note that any offer of a place may be subject to academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions may vary depending upon your individual academic circumstances.
Students are considered for shortlisting and 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
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.
After an offer is made
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer letter will give full details of your offer and any academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will be required to meet the following requirements:
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. Further information can be found on our Student visa page.
The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals.
The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.
The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.
The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment.
Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.
The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students.
Remote access to the Bodleian Libraries’ electronic resources is provided for distance-learning students.
The course has a dedicated course director and administration team who specialise in supporting you and others undertaking distance learning and part-time courses.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2022-23. 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.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2022-23
Annual Course fees
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.
This course has residential sessions in Oxford so you will need to meet any travel and accommodation costs you may incur in attending these sessions.
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 2022-23 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,215 and £1,755 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 2022-23, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
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.
Matriculation confers membership of the University on students. Students who enrol on this course will not be matriculated and will not become a member of an Oxford college. Although not formally members of the University, non-matriculated students are expected to observe the same rules and regulations as matriculated students. Further information about matriculation is available on the Oxford Students website.
How to apply
You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
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:
A maximum of 500 words
Your statement should explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
There are no restrictions on font size or line spacing, although the document should be clearly legible and written in English.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Applicants with an undergraduate degree in biology, pharmacy, medicine or business, rather than a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, should include information about the level of their knowledge of mathematics and physics in their statement.
This will be assessed for your motivation for applying to this particular programme of study; your objectives in attending the course; your relevant academic, research, or practical experience; the areas of study within the subject that interest you.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Professional references are acceptable if these are relevant to the course.
Your references will support your academic ability and suitability for the programme. You should ask your referees to provide any other information they consider to be relevant to your application. If they have knowledge of your recent study, it would be helpful if they could indicate the standard attained.
Start or continue an application
Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.
Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.
Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and the deadline information in our Application Guide. Plan your time to submit your application well in advance - we recommend two or three weeks earlier.
Step 4: Check if you're eligible for an application fee waiver. Application fee waivers are available for:
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds who meet the eligibility criteria;
- residents in a country listed as low-income by the World Bank (refer to the eligibility criteria);
- current Oxford graduate taught students applying for readmission to an eligible course; and
- additional applications to selected research courses that are closely related to your first application.
Step 5: Start your application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, consult our Application Guide for advice at each stage. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.