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

PGCert in Nanotechnology

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 world 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.

Course structure

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.

Supervision

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.

Assessment

To complete the PGCert in Nanotechnology students must:

  • Complete and pass three taught modules, completing a portfolio of assessments for each module (written reports, problem sheets and presentations). All modules are compulsory.
  • Modules are taught online. You will also be expected to attend a Residential Weekend in Oxford at the end of Module 3.
  • Feedback will be provided for each written assignment submission when marks are released. Assessment is summative and weighted marks for each assignment will  count towards your overall result for the PG Cert.

Full details of the assessment structure are included in the Course Handbook provided to on-course students

Graduate destinations

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.

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.

Courses suggested by the department

Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care DPhil
Materials DPhil
Materials MSc by Research
Engineering Science DPhil
Engineering Science MSc by Research

All mathematical, physical and life sciences graduate courses offered by this department

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 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.

Further guidance

  • 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.

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.

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.

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. Wi-Fi 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 department's 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.

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.

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

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home£10,255
Overseas£10,255

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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:
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.

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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