Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 26.1 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 47.7 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jun 30, 2024
6 place StudyQA ranking:1073 Duration:4 years

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The PhD programme is based on courses, practicals and projects in Year 1 before selection of an interdisciplinary PhD topic for research in Years 2-4 in a Nano group within Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Materials or another department. 

During the first year students study for the MRes degree by following a number of courses:

Science Courses

A highlight of scientific training at the NanoDTC is the Nano Self-Assembly course, which is unique in its scope as well as the way it is delivered. The Nano Self-Assembly course has been specifically developed for the NanoDTC, introducing flagship ideas and science related to the Centre’s theme.

Other Science Courses are offered jointly with the MPhil in Micro- & Nanotechnology Enterprise.

Business and Transferable Skills Courses

These include:

  • Science Communication in Media, Business and Research
  • Societal & Ethical Dimensions of Micro and Nanotechnology
  • Nurturing and Managing Innovation, focusing on commercialisation of early stage technologies

Transferable skills training is a vital part of the NanoDTC programme. Besides specific courses in this area we organise team building events, give students opportunities to get involved with public outreach, interact with our industrial partners.


Currently students perform more than 30 practicals over an 8 week period. These practicals are performed in small groups of 3 students providing opportunity for hands-on training in a diverse range of techniques.


Students complete 2 MiniProjects of 8 weeks duration and a longer 13 week MidiProject which may continue on into their PhD.

Years 2-4

After completing the first year of training students embark on the PhD research projects which they had a chance to define and develop in collaboration with future supervisors. Interactions with the NanoDTC continues through events such as:

  • NanoDTC industrial seminars
  • Social and Ethical Dimensions of Nanoscience workshops
  • seminars – internal and with invited guests
  • yearly Cambridge NanoShowcase
  • conferences
  • social events, and more….

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the PhD programme, students will have:

  • attended a minimum of 80 hours of lectures in degree-level topics to complement their own strengths and knowledge base upon entry, gaining a broad overview and specific knowledge of nano-science, shared across the whole cohort;
  • learned additional skills and disciplines outside of their first degree subject;
  • developed a full interdisciplinary PhD proposal they can defend in an oral examination and, if successful, embark on their second year at the CDT;
  • gained an understanding and command of laboratory methods and techniques relevant for research in the nano area; knowing the advantages and shortcomings of each method;
  • gained an understanding of the enterprise landscape relating to nano-innovation;
  • developed a good transferrable skills base, including science communication skills, as well as a sound grasp of safety and ethics in research;
  • learned to work effectively in teams as well as individually;
  • developed a full interdisciplinary PhD thesis they can defend in an oral examination and, if successful, graduate with a PhD.


In order to continue from the MRes to the PhD, a pass in the MRes is required together with:

  1. ‘satisfactory’ supervision reports in all three terms;
  2.  a satisfactory research proposal, including any corrections suggested in the oral;
  3.  the agreement of two participating Principal Investigators as the PhD Supervisors.

Progression is subject to the approval of the CDT Examination Committee and the CDT Management Committee.

In the MRes year, students will undertake:

  • core courses in collaboration with the existing MPhil in Micro & Nanotechnology Enterprise (MNTE) (two unseen written examination papers);
  • practicals (around 30, hands-on in small groups) to learn additional skills in disciplines outside their 1st degree, directly making and characterising nanomaterials and devices. Assessed based on attendance and combined supervisor’s partial marks;
  • Enterprise components delivered through the Maxwell Centre, which includes a business project with a Nano-related company or a venture capital firm interested in Nano;
  •  2x 2-month and 1x 3-month interdisciplinary mini-/midi-projects to broaden students’ experience and peer networks, and aid final PhD project selection. Assessed as a portfolio of project reports;
  • Science Communication courses (in business, media and research) and other transferrable skills training;
  • development of a collaborative, interdisciplinary PhD project proposal,  to be defended in the oral examination;
  • workshops, seminars and meetings.
One to one supervision

MRes: all students are assigned the Course Director as Principal Supervisor in their first year, who will oversee the allocation of supervision for individual students’ projects.

PhD: In years 2-4, the supervisory team consists of the Principal Supervisor (normally referred to as the Supervisor) and an Adviser. The Supervisor is the main person appointed to oversee and help with a student's programme of study in the specific subject area of their doctoral research and an Adviser is appointed to act as a second point of contact for academic advice.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.


Seminars & classes

MRes: 60 hours per year


MRes: 7 x 16 hour courses (over the Michaelmas and Lent Terms)


MRes: 30 x 3 hours in the Michaelmas Term

Small group teaching

MRes: Provided as necessary

Journal clubs

MRes: 1 per week in Michaelmas and Lent Terms


One each for PhD proposal, Midi Project and two mini projects


1 poster and minimum of 4 presentations


Opportunities for industrial mentorships and internships in a variety of nano-related partner companies.


MRes: Students receive feedback from the Teaching Fellow on all their mini and midi project reports and presentations, and from their lecturers / course leaders on other courses during their first year. Students also receive extensive support and feedback in preparation of their PhD proposals – this comes from their potential supervisors, academics on the CDT management committee, an external advisory board which evaluates preliminary PhD proposals, and also other CDT students working in related research areas. Students have the opportunity to provide feedback on any aspect of the course informally to the Teaching Fellow, and more formally via the students representatives on the CDT Management Committee. We also regularly collect student feedback on different aspects of the course to evaluate the effectiveness of those elements.

PhD: In years 2-4, Supervisors report termly on the progress of their students and these reports are available to the student.

Graduate students are represented on the Department's Graduate Student Consultative Committee, which normally meets five times a year, and consists of one or more student representatives from each of the research groups. The Committee exists to enable discussion of any issue affecting graduate students and students may approach any member of the Committee to suggest items for discussion.



The examination for the MRes degree shall include a portfolio of research reports on two Mini projects (up to 3,000 words each), one Midi project (up to 10,000 words) and a PhD proposal of not more than 20,000 words in total, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices.

The final PhD assessment will be of a submitted thesis not exceeding 60,000 words and subsequent viva voce examination.


The examination for the MRes degree shall include course-work (which may include written work, group work, and class participation).

Written examination

The examination for the MRes degree shall include two unseen written examination papers, which may cover the core topics prescribed in the syllabus; NB: these exam papers are shared with the MPhil in Micro- and Nanotechnology Enterprise.

Practical assessment

The examination for the MRes degree shall include attendance and pass mark on 85% of the practical sessions.


The end examination for the MRes degree shall include an oral examination on the work submitted by the candidate, including a PhD project proposal, and on the general field of knowledge within which such work falls.

  • Magistr (Master's Degree) at Pass level. Diploma Specialista (completed post-1991) with a minimum overall grade of good or 4/5 Bachelor's from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and other prestigious institutions with an overall grade of 4/5 Bologna Bachelor's from other institutions with an overall grade of 5/5, Excellent
  • Diploma Specialista (completed post-1991) with a minimum overall grade of Excellent or 5/5 Bachelor's from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and other prestigious institutions with an overall grade of 5/5
  • IELTS (Academic) 7.0
  • TOEFL Internet Score 100
  • £50 application fee
  • First Academic Reference
  • Second Academic Reference
  • Transcript
  • Personal Reference
  • Global Education
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarships
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