Materials Science | University of Oxford
Materials Science
An interior view of the JET vacuum vessel, with a superimposed image of an actual JET plasma taken with a visible light camera.
(Credit: EUROfusion)

Materials Science

mortar boardUCAS codeFJ22calendarDuration4 years (MEng)
pencilEntrance requirements

A*AA (with the A* in Maths, Physics or Chemistry)

HeadSubject requirements
  Maths and Physics
  Chemistry
  Further Maths, Design and Technology (Resistant Materials)
tickAdmissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/patcrossWritten workNone
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 74%
Successful: 23%
Intake: 35
*3-year average 2016-18

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 273682
Email Materials Science

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Materials Science is an interdisciplinary subject, spanning the physics and chemistry of matter, engineering applications and industrial manufacturing processes. Modern society is heavily dependent on advanced materials: lightweight composites for faster vehicles, optical fibres for telecommunications and silicon microchips for the information revolution. Materials scientists study the relationships between the structure and properties of a material and how it is made. They also develop new materials and devise processes for manufacturing them. Materials Science is vital for developments in nanotechnology, quantum computing and nuclear fusion, as well as medical technologies such as bone replacement materials.


This diverse programme spans the subject from its foundations in physics and chemistry to the mechanical, electrical, magnetic and optical properties of materials, and the design, manufacture and applications of metals, alloys, ceramics, polymers, composites and biomaterials. This work is supported by excellent laboratory and teaching facilities.

The programme also offers an opportunity to develop an introductory understanding of entrepreneurship (learning how to write a business plan, raise capital and start a company). There are also voluntary options to learn a language with the University's Language Centre.

The Oxford Materials degree includes in its fourth year the special feature of an eight-month full-time research project, where you will join a research team either here at Oxford in one of the strongest Departments of Materials in the UK or, occasionally, at an overseas university or in an industrial laboratory (additional costs may be associated with a project outside Oxford). You will learn how to break down a complex problem, design an experiment or model, manage a project and communicate your results. These research skills are transferable to many career paths and are valued highly by employers.

Work placements/international opportunities

Students are encouraged to undertake a voluntary summer project in industry or a research laboratory. Recent locations for overseas summer projects have included Beijing, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bochum, Krakow, Santa Barbara and Boston. A voluntary industrial tour to an overseas destination is organised in most Easter holidays. Recent destinations include France, China, Sweden, and Ontario.

 Student studying“Being a Materials Scientist is rather like being a chemist, physicist, engineer and mathematician all rolled into one: perfect for the all-round scientist! It is challenging, and requires a lot of effort and perseverance, but we get to carry out fun experiments involving orange jelly, molten metal and bubbles, so all the effort seems worth it. Practical classes are particularly good for developing a hands-on approach, and then we also have industrial visits where you get to see where all the work is leading you.

I would definitely recommend Oxford as a place to read Materials Science, as there are so many resources and the course is just so varied, with extra options such as languages or ‘Building a Business’. Everyone really gets to know each other, and personally I have made some amazing friends on the course.”
JODIE

A typical week

During Years 1 and 2, your work will be divided between lectures (about ten a week), tutorials/classes (about two a week) and practicals (two or three afternoons a week). Typically the work in preparation for each tutorial or class will be expected to take six to eight hours. Year 3 starts with a two-week team design project, and about eight lectures and two classes/tutorials a week for the first two terms, while most of the third term is set aside for revision. Year 4 consists of a supervised research project spanning three extended terms.

Lectures throughout Years 1-2 may be attended by the full year groups of around 40 undergraduate students; normally Materials Year 3 Options Courses lectures will be attended by a smaller number of undergraduates plus a small number of research students.  Some Year 1 classes, which support the lectures, are attended by the full year group of around 40.  Tutorials supporting the Year 1  and Year 2 Materials lecture courses are usually 2 to 4 students with a tutor.  The Year 1 and 2 Mathematics lectures are supported by small group tutorial classes, typically up to 6 students per group. The Year 3 Options lectures are supported by small group tutorial classes, typically 8-12 students per group.

The majority of tutorials and lectures are delivered by staff who are Professors or Associate Professors. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by post-doctoral researchers or postgraduate research students. To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1

COURSES

  • Structure of materials
  • Properties of materials
  • Transforming materials
  • Mathematics for materials science
  • Computing for materials science (MATLAB)
  • Crystallography
  • Practical work
  • Foreign language (optional)

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: four written papers; continual assessment components equivalent to a fifth paper

YEAR 2

COURSES

  • Structure and transformation of materials
  • Electronic properties of materials
  • Mechanical properties
  • Engineering applications of materials
  • Foreign language (optional)
  • Supplementary subject (optional)
  • Mathematics
  • Practical work
  • Industrial visits
  • Entrepreneurship module
  • Industrial talks
  • Communication skills
 
YEAR 3

COURSES

  • Materials options courses 1
  • Materials options courses 2
  • Team design project
  • Characterisation of materials or Materials modelling module 

Examples of current options courses are available on the Materials Science website.

At the start of Year 3 it is possible to transfer to a 3-year BA degree in Materials Science, graduating at the end of Year 3. See essential further information about this on the course website. The BA is not accredited.

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations, Part I: six written papers; continual assessment components equivalent to a further two papers

YEAR 4

RESEARCH

Research project (full-time). Additional elements include Project management, Presentation skills and an optional foreign language course. (Students are required to achieve 50% minimum in the Part I assessment in order to progress to Part II.)

Examples of project titles are available on the Materials Science website.

ASSESSMENT

Final University examinations, Part II (equivalent to 4 papers): project dissertation submitted and assessed; oral examination of project dissertation

For important additional detail on course content, progression and assessment, please visit the Materials Science website. This programme outline is for illustrative purposes and details may change from time to time. Years 1, 2 and 3 are currently under review - see the Materials Science website for the latest information.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements 

A-levels:A*AA (including Mathematics and Physics, with an A* in either Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry)
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB (with AA in Mathematics and Physics)
IB: 40 (including core points) with 766 at HL (including Mathematics and Physics, with 7 at HL in either Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry) 
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Essential:  Candidates must be studying Maths and Physics to A-level or equivalent. GCSE-level Chemistry, or an equivalent, is also required.
 Recommended: It is highly desirable to have Chemistry to A-level or equivalent, and if it is not studied to this level it is strongly recommended that it is studied to AS-level or equivalent.
 Helpful:Further Mathematics (FM) can be helpful to students completing this degree programme but is not required for admission. 

For candidates studying Maths, Physics, Chemistry and FM to A-level, normally our conditional offer will require A*AA in the first three (the A* in any of these) and an expectation that you continue to study FM; an analogous offer will apply if instead of FM you are studying a different A-level in addition to the first three.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Admissions test

Test: PAT
Test date:30 October 2019            
Registration deadline:                   6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                      

All candidates must take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for each test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for these tests. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, can be found on the PAT page

Updates to PAT: The test consists of maths and physics questions, which are mixed in sequence (there are not separate maths or physics sections). Formula sheets, tables and data books are not permitted. Calculators will be permitted from 2018. Guidelines about the use of calculators along with details of the syllabus and links to supporting materials which candidates are encouraged to look at for preparation are available on the PAT page

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

At interview, tutors are aware that students may not have encountered Materials Science at school or college. Tutors look for an ability to apply logical reasoning to problems in physical science, and an enthusiasm for thinking about new concepts in science and engineering. For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Materials Science website. 

Careers

Many of our graduates apply their technical knowledge in the manufacturing industry, both in management and in research and development positions. Others enter the financial, consultancy and IT sectors. A significant proportion of graduates undertake research degrees in universities in the UK and abroad.

Katherine says: ‘After leaving university I started work for Rolls-Royce (on aeroplanes, boats and power stations) as a graduate engineer, moving engineering roles within the company and around the globe every three months.’

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£34,678

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Materials Science

The fourth year is entirely devoted to research - a special feature of the Oxford MEng in Materials Science programme - consisting of a full-time individual research project under the supervision of a member staff. This final year has three extended terms of 12 to 13 weeks and is 37 weeks in total so you will need to budget for higher living costs in the final year, as you will be required to be in Oxford for longer than the standard terms. (See the likely range of living costs for an additional month in Oxford.) During the project you will learn how to break down a complex problem, design an experiment or model, manage your time and project, maintain systematic records, present your work orally and write a substantial report. These research skills are transferable to other career paths and are valued highly by employers. On occasion significant scientific publications result from these projects.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose

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