Introduction to Bionanotechnology


The Introduction to Bionanotechnology course introduces physical scientists, engineers and non-scientists to biological systems and terminology relevant to nanotechnology, and showcases current applications and new developments in bionanotechnology. It is an intense five-day course taught face-to-face in Oxford, providing an introduction to the exciting and emerging field of bionanotechnology.

The first day of the course gives an introduction to cell biology providing an understanding of cellular components and how they may be used as a constituent of, or may interact with, bionanotechnologies. The following four days focus on - bioanalytical techniques; applied genomics and proteomics; nanoparticles, nanostructures and biomimetics; and the interaction of nanomaterials with biological systems.

The Introduction to Bionanotechnology course can be taken alone, with or without academic credit, or as part of the MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care.

The Introduction to Bionanotechnology course will offer students the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • How and why modern research is harnessing biological systems to further nanotechnological endeavour
  • How modern engineering is gaining guidance from natural systems that construct and control at the nanoscale
  • How general principles of structure and function within biological systems are used to construct functional devices within nanotechnology
  • The techniques that are available for characterising biological structures at the nanoscale
  • Current applications and state of the art within bionanotechnology
  • Practical skills in cell culture and synthesis of nanoparticles

Programme details

Introduction to Bionanotechnology is a five-day intensive course with online support and written assignments. Each of the five days has a dedicated theme and will start with an introductory lecture, followed by lectures, case studies and discussions led by subject specialists from the University of Oxford and guest lecturers from other universities, companies and organisations.

Module content:

Day 1: Introduction to cell biology and bionanotechnology

  • What is bionanotechnology? Challenges and opportunities
  • Introduction to nucleic acids
  • Introduction to proteins, lipids and sugars
  • Components of biological systems and cells
  • Introduction to cell culture

Day 2: Introduction to bioanalytical techniques

  • Imaging the science of life – optical microscopy in biology
  • Biological Electron Microscopy
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) of biological systems
  • Techniques for protein analysis
  • Techniques for DNA analysis and DNA sequencing

Day 3: Applied genomics and proteomics

  • Introduction to Proteomics
  • Protein expression systems
  • Clinical proteomics: How protein techniques help in evidence based medicine
  • Applications of genetic technologies and DNA sequencing
  • Forensic DNA analysis

Day 4: Nanoparticles, nanostructures and biomimetics

  • Natural and incidental nanoparticles
  • Engineered nanoparticles and their syntheses
  • Applications of nanoparticles
  • Biologically inspired nanostructures – introduction to biomimetics
  • Industrial applications of biologically inspired nanostructures and materials

Day 5: Interaction of nanomaterials with biological systems

  • Nanoparticle interactions at the cellular level
  • Nanoparticle interactions at a whole organism level – exposure routes, risks and benefits
  • Nanoparticles and their fate in the environment, health impact and risk assessment


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.

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


Description Costs
22-23 & earlier enrolled - MSc in Nanotechnology for M&HC £2475.00
Standalone fee for 2024-2025 £3175.00
Students enrolled on MSc in Nanotechnology for M&HC £2570.00


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


The course fee includes:

  • Tuition;
  • Course materials through our virtual learning environment (VLE);
  • Access to the Bodleian Libraries e-Resources;
  • Refreshments and lunch on each day of the course.

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

Please see the MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Health Care page for more information regarding fees when taking this course as a part of the MSc Programme.


Dr Christiane Norenberg

Deputy Course Director and Tutor

Christiane is the Nanotechnology Programme Manager at the University of Oxford's Begbroke Science Park. She received her DPhil in Materials Science from the University of Oxford in 1998 and continued with postdoctoral research. In 2001, Christiane was awarded the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship for her work on the growth and characterisation of nanostructures on semiconductor surfaces. After a period as a lecturer at the Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre at Swansea University, Christiane returned to Oxford in 2007 to take up her present post.

Her interests and expertise are in the areas of surface science, growth and characterisation of nanostructures on surfaces, and nanotechnology in general. Christiane also teaches nanoscience and materials science at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be based on submission of written assignments, totalling not more than 4,000 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 Introduction to Bionanotechnology course with academic credit need to satisfactorily complete the coursework assessments. Attendance of a minimum of 80% of the course is required. Students fulfilling these requirements are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.


Application deadline: three weeks before the commencement of the course.

This course requires you to complete the online application form (please press the 'Apply' button on the top right) including a brief statement of purpose explaining your motivation for attending this course (500 words maximum), and submit a copy of your CV as an attachment as part of your application.

If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also need to complete section two of the reference form and forward it to your referee for completion, to return to us at Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.

Selection criteria

To apply for this short course you should:

  • have a degree in a mathematical or physical sciences discipline, e.g. mathematics, materials science, physics, chemistry, or engineering; or
  • have a degree in biology, pharmacy, medicine or business and be able to demonstrate at least A-level (or equivalent) knowledge in mathematics and physics; or
  • have some practical experience in a related field; and
  • be able to demonstrate an interest in nanotechnology; and
  • be able to demonstrate a suitable level of English (if this is not your first language).



Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview 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.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system and online courseware. In order 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.