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The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology

Key facts

TypesOnline and Distance Learning
Professional Development
Short Courses
DatesMon 12 Jan to Sun 22 Mar 2015
Subject area(s)Nanotechnology
CATS points25
FeesFrom £2400.00
Application statusApplications being accepted
Course codeO14C521F2Y
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email nano@conted.ox.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1865 286954.


Particles and structures at the nanoscale demonstrate phenomena not seen at other length scales. This online course is designed to cover the science behind the phenomena that arise when considering materials at the nanoscale and will appeal to those requiring a solid introduction to the subject. It provides a good grounding in the scientific equations and principles that an understanding of nanotechnologies requires.

In this course we also consider some of the common nanostructures that are currently being developed and used in nanotechnology applications such as quantum dots, nanotubes and fullerenes, together with their applications including quantum computing.

The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology online course can be taken alone, with or without academic credit, or as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology.

Please send me an email about future The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology courses.


Module 2 Image

The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology is a part-time online course which introduces the fundamental science behind the phenomena that result from the nanometre scale. Such behaviour encompasses effects, structures, properties and processes that are quite different to those observed in bulk systems. In particular, the course examines the theoretical foundations of these phenomena and their applications by exploring:

  • The mathematical description of these nanoscale phenomena;
  • Common nanoscale structures, their fabrication, properties and applications, such as: quantum wires, quantum dots, carbon nanostructures and quantum computing;
  • The effect of the collective oscillation of electrons in metal nanoparticles.

It is evident that using the behaviours that arise from nanoscale structures have great potential for improving many existing applications. The course gives a foundation in the science and understanding of the principles that underlie nanoscale behaviour which are essential to optimising these desired effects.

Programme details

Nanotechnology Programme Brochure Cover

The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology course begins in January and runs for ten weeks. The course is divided into ten units, each of which is designed to take approximately one week to study:

  • An introduction to the mathematical tools that will be required and common nanostructures;
  • The transport effects that are affected by the nanometre length scale;
  • The important mechanical effects that are modified at the nanometre length scale;
  • The effect of the nanometre length scale on various optical effects;
  • An introduction to quantum wires and dots, their structure and properties;
  • An overview of the applications in which quantum dots can be used;
  • The structure, variety, production and application of carbon and inorganic nanotubes;
  • The scattering effects that are observed with nanoparticles;
  • An explanation of the combined oscillation of electrons in metal nanoparticles;
  • A final module summary.
There will also be live online tutorials, normally once each week.

What to expect

Overall the course has been designed so that students can study it in the way that works for them. However you want to study, we are aware that this is easiest to do if you are given some idea of how to get the most out of the course. We advise that:

  • Most students should expect to spend between 10 and 15 hours each week on independent study in addition to the timetabled tutorials, including all reading, writing and thinking about the course;
  • Each unit should take approximately a week to study. The units will make the most sense if studied in the order in which they are presented but can be studied in any order;
  • There are a series of review questions designed to let students know whether they have understood a unit, whilst other activities make them draw their learning together;
  • Students should work on the module level activities in parallel with studying the main materials.


  • The course is taken part-time so students can complete it whilst continuing to work full-time;
  • The course is taught online and can be taken from anywhere in the world;
  • An induction course site helps to ease students into the course and familiarise themselves with the online learning environment, with the added benefit of enabling them to introduce themselves to other participants;
  • Tutors provide online support and replicate electronically the famed Oxford tutorial system;
  • The course has a dedicated tutor, course director and administration team accustomed to supporting students undertaking distance learning courses;
  • Students have access to staff at the University of Oxford’s Begbroke Science Park, particularly the Course Director, Dr Christiane Norenberg;
  • Throughout the course, students can use the University of Oxford’s unrivalled electronic library resources to enable them to complete the assignment tasks.



Dr Christiane Norenberg

Role: Director & Tutor

Christiane is the Nanotechnology HEIF Manager at the University of Oxford's Begbroke Science Park. She received her DPhil in Materials Science...more

Dr Victor Burlakov

Role: Tutor

Victor Burlakov is a Senior Research Fellow at Linacre College, Oxford, conducting research in applied mathematics at the Mathematical Institute....more

Professor Peter J Dobson OBE

Role: Tutor

Former Director of Oxford University’s Begbroke Science Park

After careers at Imperial College and Philips Research laboratories,...more

Course aims

The overall purpose of the course is to:

  • Apply basic mathematical operations to nanoscale phenomena in order to solve practical problems;
  • Acquire a basic understanding of the principles underpinning phenomena that result from nanoscale structures;
  • Explain the collective effects that occur in nanostructures;
  • Explain the optical effects that occur with nanoparticles;
  • Highlight the major applications of nanoscale phenomena and structures.


Sample certificate PDF document.

Short course participants who do not wish to undertake the assessed work required for academic credit but who do satisfy the course participation requirements will receive a certificate of completion. The pdf sample above is an illustration only, and the wording will reflect the course and dates of study.

Those successfully completing the couse with academic credit can apply to receive a CATS point transcript.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on submission of written assignments, including a short essay and two written reports, totalling not more than 6,000 words in length. The assignments are submitted online.

Academic credit

Those wishing to may apply to take the course with accreditation. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for the course.

Students wishing to complete The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology course with academic credit will satisfactorily complete the coursework assessments. Attendance of a minimum of 70% of the live online tutorials is required. Students also need to actively participate in the online conversations via the course forums to the satisfaction of the course director. Students fulfilling these requirements are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 25 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system and online courseware. In order to participate in the course, and to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.


The course fee includes:

  • Tuition;
  • Full online course materials through our bespoke virtual learning environment (VLE);
  • Access to the Bodleian Libraries e-Resources.

Before making your application for this short course, please ensure that you have read the terms and conditions which can be found towards the bottom of this page.

Please see the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology page for more information regarding fees when taking this course as a part of the PGCert Programme.


Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our financial assistance page.

Fee options

Programme Fee
Short course in nanotechnology: £2400.00

Apply for this course

The Fundamental Science of Nanotechnology course can be taken:

How to apply

This course is part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology. If you would like to apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology please visit the Programme page.

To apply for a module as a short course please use the documents below.

Application deadline: 15 December 2014

Places on the course are limited, so early application is strongly recommended. Your application will require a copy of your CV, and if you wish to take the course for credit, a reference. Once we have received your completed application it will be considered by the admissions panel.

Application form

You can apply for this course in the following ways:

Apply by post, email or fax
Download a PDF application form PDF document.

Short Course Terms and Conditions (important: please read before applying) PDF document.
PGCert Terms and Conditions (important: please read before applying) PDF document.

Programmes including this module

This module can be studied as part of these programmes:

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