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Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology

Key facts

Sorry, this course is currently unavailable. Please use the course enquiry form to be kept informed of future runs of this course.

TypesOnline and Distance Learning
Oxford Qualification - Part-time
Professional Development
DatesSun 12 Oct 2014 to Fri 31 Jul 2015
Subject area(s)Materials Science
FeesClick here for fee information.
Application statusClosed to new applications
Application deadlineFri 27 June 2014
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email nano@conted.ox.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1865 286954.


The University of Oxford’s online Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology is a quality online 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 enabled by nanotechnology. There are opportunities to access cutting-edge research and current practice in a wide range of nanotechnology topics.

The course provides relevant, meaningful and up-to-date learning to enhance career development that is recognised and accepted within industry. A modular structure allows a flexible approach to learning and each module may be taken as an individual short course. The tutor-led approach lends cohesion to the distance learning experience which is tailored for busy people in full-time employment who wish to minimise time away from the workplace to study.

Applications for October 2014 are no longer being accepted. Applications for October 2015 will be accepted from 1 September 2014. In the meantime you may be interested in applying for one of the modules from the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology as a short course in the 2014-15 academic year.

Please keep me informed about the Nanotechnology programme.


Download the latest Nanotechnology programme brochure PDF document.

Nano Brochure

Nanotechnology is the production and application of devices and systems at the nanometer scale, which is of the order of one billionth of a meter. Developments in this area of technology are now coming to fruition, and increasingly impacting our daily lives. However it is recognised that there is a need for more people to understand the basics about this technology.

The University of Oxford's online Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology offers a nine-month introduction to the subject. The course is taken part-time and online meaning that it can be taken from anywhere in the world by those seeking a solid foundation in nanotechnology, whilst having the option of working full-time. The course uses a blend of individual study of online learning materials, together with group work during live online tutorials, discussions and research. The group sessions with tutors are particularly valuable because they offer highly authentic learning and assessment opportunities.


Students study the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology over three modules that introduce the most commonly used and most important analytical, quantitative and experimental methods in nanotechnology. The course has the following features:

  • A unique online, part-time University of Oxford qualification aimed at industry;
  • The course comprises three modules giving a thorough introduction to nanotechnology and the behaviour and characterisation of nanoparticles;
  • 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;
  • Tutors provide online support and replicate electronically the famed Oxford tutorial system;
  • Assessment throughout the modules ensures that students can monitor their progress;
  • The course has a dedicated 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, and Professor Peter J Dobson, the RCUK strategic advisor for nanotechnology;
  • Throughout the course, students can use the University of Oxford’s unrivalled electronic library resources to enable them to complete the assignment tasks.

Who is it for?

The Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology is a unique part-time, online course leading to a postgraduate qualification at the University of Oxford. The course is designed for students wishing to study part-time. It will appeal to those working in the commercial or healthcare sectors, who use, or expect to use, nanotechnology in their work. Previous students include electrical engineers, materials scientists, project managers, patent agents, chemists, medical practitioners, plastic surgeons and food technologists as well as those involved in manufacturing, research and legislation.

What do students say about the course?

"I really enjoyed the module; in my academic and professional career to date I have had little exposure to the ethical and social science considerations of technology and so it was the first occasion I have had the time and opportunity to focus on the other aspects of technology development. The module content gave a good overview of the social, ethical, environmental and business considerations.".
Dr Lorraine Byrne, Hewlett Packard

"Although my background is in physics by education and electronics by career, by taking this course it has been instrumental in me obtaining a research post at the National Institute for Nanotechnology, Canada."
Professor Richard Hull, UCLan

"The Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology most certainly helped me making a start in the field and I was even invited to write an article for the Royal Society 350th Anniversary Year incorporating aspects of nanotechnology for drug delivery applications. I would have not been able to make such a contribution to the field without the training received in the course!"
Dr Sofia Pascu, University of Bath

Programme details

The Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology begins in October and runs for nine months. Students take three online nanotechnology modules. At the end of the third module, students are required to attend a residential weekend in nanoscale materials characterisation based in Oxford. This takes place at the University of Oxford's Begbroke Science Park on 4-5 July 2015.

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 has a different focus:

Each module lasts for 10 weeks corresponding approximately to the University of Oxford's term calendar. Within each module, there are weekly live online tutorials lasting for one hour as well as assignments and problem sheets. Most students should expect to spend an average of between 10 and 15 hours per week on independent study in addition to the timetabled tutorials.

Academic credit

Successful completion of Module 1 is equivalent to 10 CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points at postgraduate level. Successful completion of Modules 2 and 3 is equivalent to 25 CATS points at this level for each. The CATS points system is recognised by many UK higher education institutions as a method of quantifying credit for a particular course.

Each module can also be studied independently as a short course, with or without academic credit. It is possible to successfully complete one module (maximum) as a short course with academic credit and, upon successful application to the University of Oxford's Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology to start in the following year, then apply to be made exempt from needing to complete that module again.

The Basics of Nanotechnology

In partnership with the University of Oxford's Begbroke Science Park, we have developed an interactive multimedia resource to introduce the terminology, concepts and current debates surrounding this rapidly developing science and discussing its potential applications. The Basics of Nanotechnology gives a brief insight into nanotechnology: the basic concepts and terminology involved; the scientific background; some potential applications; and an overview of the wider considerations.

Selection criteria

There may be specific subject requirements for your course, so do check the selection criteria below. These will be used by the University in assessing your application.

Read full selection criteria



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

Dr Frank Dillon

Role: Tutor

Frank Dillon graduated in Chemistry from the National University of Ireland, Cork in 2002. He obtained an Innovation Partnership Grant from...more

Dr Keith Simons

Role: Tutor

Dr Keith Simons, a chemist by training is an independent innovation consultant who works as an interim manager in business development and...more

Dr Neil Young

Role: Tutor

Neil is a senior research scientist and faculty member in the Department of of Materials. He manages the Departments teaching and training...more

Dr Christiane Norenberg

Role: Director & Tutor

Christiane is the Nanotechnology HEIF Manager at Oxford University Begbroke Science Park. She received her DPhil in Materials Science from the...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

By the end of the Postgraduate Certificate students will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the physical principles, mathematical methods and techniques appropriate for solving nanotechnology problems and be able to apply them to industrial problems through a critical comprehension of the relative advantages and disadvantages of these methods;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the most common applications of nanoscale phenomena and how these relate to the solution of nanotechnology problems in industry;
  • Manage their learning and research and conduct independent and effective study;
  • Apply skills gained in analytical techniques from across the physical sciences.

Assessment methods

To qualify for the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology students must complete one face-to-face weekend course. Attendance of a minimum of 70% of the live online tutorials is required. Students must actively participate in the online modules to the satisfaction of the course director.

For each module, students must satisfactorily complete the coursework assessment. Assessed work will be a portfolio of assignments, including written reports, problem sheets and presentations, for each of the modules, totalling not more than 2500 words in length for Module 1, and not more than 6000 words for each of Modules 2 and 3. Assessment is based on individual research and group discussions, and is designed to consolidate the studied materials, and challenge and review questions, to encourage a deeper understanding and application of the materials. Assignments are submitted online.

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.


Rewley House Accommodation

Accommodation for the residential weekend is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms are rated 4-star, and come with free high-speed internet access and TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme.


Fees must be paid in accordance with the 'Contractual and financial information' [see below] for this programme. All amounts are in pounds sterling.

The course fees for the academic year 2014-15 are £7,205.00.

Students registered on the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology are entitled to free membership of the Institute of Nanotechnology.


Oxford Graduate Scholarships, supported by HEFCE

Over 100 new Oxford Graduate Scholarships, supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and other donors, will be awarded to UK and EU postgraduate students who start their course at Oxford in 2014-15. The new scholarships will support the progression of students into a wide range of courses at the University of Oxford, including the Postgraduate Certificate in Nanotechnology.

Applications to the PGCert must have been completed before 24 January 2014 in order to be considered for a scholarship. Successful applicants will be invited to apply for a scholarship after their application has been assessed.

To check whether you are eligible to be considered for a scholarship, or for more information, please visit the following page of the University's website: Oxford Graduate Scholarships, supported by HEFCE.

Other sources of funding

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

Apply for this course

Applications for this course should be made online via the University of Oxford Graduate Admissions website. Please see the Graduate Course Guide and the Application Guide for more information on how to apply.

Applications will be considered at each of the following gathered field deadlines:

  • 24 January 2014*
  • 14 March 2014

If places are still available after the University's main 14 March 2014 deadline, we will consider applications until 27 June 2014. All supporting materials, including references, need to have been received by this date.

*Eligible applications completed before 24 January 2014 will automatically be considered for an Oxford Graduate Scholarship, supported by HEFCE.

Help us to help you. Apply early - if you submit your application early, the Graduate Admissions team will be able to let you know if any items are missing. Applications must have been fully completed by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered, so please ensure that you have gathered your supporting materials in advance and have given your referees plenty of time to prepare their references before the deadline. Click here for a recommended timeline for applications.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to telephone interview.

Please read our 'Contractual and financial information' before submitting your application.

If you would like to discuss the programme please contact:

Tel: +44 (0)1865 286954 - Email: nano@conted.ox.ac.uk

Contractual and financial information (important: please read before applying) PDF document.

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