University of Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus 2015 entry

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Materials Science

An MEng in 4 years

UCAS code: FJ22

Course statistics for 2013 entry

Interviewed: 82%

Successful: 46%

Intake: 33

Entrance 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

GCSE level Chemistry (or Double Science), or an equivalent, is also required. It is highly desirable to have Chemistry to A-level or equivalent, and if it is not studied to A-level or equivalent it is strongly recommended that it is studied to AS-level or equivalent. Most applicants are studying Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry to A-level or equivalent. Further Mathematics and Design and Technology (Resistant Materials) can be helpful to students in completing this degree programme but are not required for admission. For more details of our admissions policy and criteria see

How to apply (see page 118) [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

Tests: PAT on 5 November 2014

Written Work: None required

Tuition Fees for 2014

Home/EU: £9,000/year

No upfront costs: you can get a loan for the full amount

Grants, bursaries and scholarships available

More on student finance: p 120 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]

More Information

+44 (0) 1865 273651

Oxford Open days

2 and 3 July, and 19 September 2014

Department of Materials open days 18, 25 and 26 March 2014: Booking required: +44 (0)1865 273651

What is Materials Science?

Modern society is heavily dependent on advanced materials such as lightweight composites for transport applications, 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 to meet engineering specifications, and devise processes for manufacturing them. Current work in materials science is key to the practical application of nuclear fusion for power generation. There are links with medical sciences, for example through the development of bone replacement materials, novel sensors and drug delivery systems. Materials science is an interdisciplinary subject, spanning the physics and chemistry of matter, engineering applications and industrial manufacturing processes. It is at the core of nanotechnology, the production of machines and devices at molecular levels, which is likely to drive the next technological revolution. Such devices include those to enable quantum information processing: the key technology for a new generation of computers.

Materials Science at Oxford

This diverse course 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 course also offers opportunities to study entrepreneurship with the Saïd Business School (learning how to write a business plan, raise capital and start a company), the chance to learn a language (see p 176 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note]) and various industry placements.

The Oxford degree has the unique feature of an eight-month research project in the fourth year when students join the research teams of one of the strongest Departments of Materials in the UK, or sometimes work in a prestigious overseas university or an industrial laboratory. 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 many career paths and are valued highly by employers. Significant scientific publications sometimes result from these projects.

The MEng degree is accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) on behalf of the UK Engineering Council, towards the achievement of Chartered Engineer status.

Work placements/international opportunities

Students are encouraged to undertake a voluntary summer placement in industry or a research laboratory. Recent locations for summer placements have included Beijing, Tokyo, Boston and Santa Barbara.

A voluntary industrial tour to an overseas destination is organised in most Easter holidays. Recent destinations include Beijing, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Milan.

A typical weekly timetable

During years 1 and 2, the work is divided between lectures (about ten a week), tutorials/classes (about two a week), and practicals (two or three afternoons a week). Typically the work for each tutorial or class is expected to take six to eight hours. Year 3 starts with a two-week design project, and about eight lectures and two classes/ tutorials a week for the first two terms. The third term is set aside for revision. Year 4 consists of a full-time supervised research project.

What are tutors looking for?

For information about the selection criteria please see:

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.


Student profiles

Please see our course brochure at for comments by past and present students of the department and for information on career paths.


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. Some train as teachers. A significant proportion of graduates undertake research degrees in universities in the UK and abroad, and some of these then pursue a career in the university sector.

Katherine, who graduated in 2008, 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.

For more information about careers after Oxford, please see p 122 [Transcriber's Note: page number of the printed edition. End of note].

1st year


Directly examined

  • Structure of materials

  • Properties of materials

  • Transforming materials

  • Mathematics for materials and earth sciences

Continual assessment

  • Practical work

  • Crystallography classes

Additional elements

  • Engineering drawing and CAD classes

  • IT skills

  • Industrial visits

  • Career planning

  • Foreign language (optional)

  • Introduction to errors in measurement


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

2nd year


Directly examined

  • Structure and transformation of materials

  • Mechanical properties

  • Engineering applications of materials

  • Foreign language (optional)

  • Supplementary subject (optional)

Continual assessment

  • Practical work

  • Industrial visits

  • Entrepreneurship course

Additional elements

  • Mathematics

  • Experimental error analysis

  • Industrial talks

  • Communication skills

3rd year


Directly examined

  • Options courses in Materials

Continual assessment

  • Characterisation of Materials or Materials Modelling module, assessed by written report

  • Industrial visits

(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. A student opting to do this takes a smaller set of materials option lecture courses and carries out a literature-based research module.)


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

4th year (extended terms)


Research project (full-time)

Additional elements

  • Presentation skills

  • Project management skills

  • Industrial visits

  • Careers events

  • Information skills

  • Writing skills and IPR

  • Technology transfer

  • Reference management

  • Workshop skills

  • Lab VIEW

(Students are required to achieve 50% minimum in the Part I assessment in order to progress to Part II)


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

Student statement

This year I was lucky enough to get onto the trip to China. We went to Beijing for 10 days, and we looked at industry and research. John

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