About the course
The online Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Nanotechnology offers a nine-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 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 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.
The PGCert in Nanotechnology comprises three modules:
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.
The modules 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.
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.
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 and Adobe Connect, which are supported by a dedicated IT support helpdesk.
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.
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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 2019-20
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 a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, eg mathematics, materials science, physics, chemistry, or engineering. For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
Applicants with an undergraduate degree in biology, pharmacy, medicine or business must demonstrate at least A-level (or equivalent) knowledge in mathematics and physics.
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).
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.
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
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.
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 the applicant’s application.
A video 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.
Publications are not expected.
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.
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.
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 Begbroke Science Park and/or the Department for Continuing Education 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 Begbroke Science Park and/or Department for Continuing Education 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 Begbroke Science Park and 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.
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.
You are strongly discouraged from registering on any other award programme concurrently with this award programme.
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.
There are over 1,000 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.