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Postgraduate Admissions


During the MRes year students complete the following elements:

  1. Science Courses: These prepare students for interdisciplinary research in nanoscience and nanotechnology and cover a wide range of topics including Characterization techniques, Nanofabrication techniques, Nano self-assembly, Physics at the nanometre-scale, Bionanotechnology, Nanochemistry, Nanoelectrochemistry, Nanomaterials and others. Many of these are offered jointly with the MPhil in Micro- & Nanotechnology Enterprise.

  2. Practicals, Projects and PhD Proposal: The practicals held during the first term give students hands-on experience on a range of techniques (see here for topics). The practicals are complemented by three short research projects in different areas – these projects give students an experience of working in different research groups across the University before developing a PhD proposal that they want to pursue further.

  3. Innovation and Professional Skills Training: Training students for integrating new nano materials and devices into systems and commercialising early-stage technologies is a vital part of the NanoDTC programme. In the MRes year this training is delivered through a bespoke course on Nurturing and Managing Innovation in Science, a hands-on prototyping course on Nanointegration, and interaction with industrial partners. These are complemented by Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) training and a course on Science Communication in Media, Business and Research.

During the PhD phase, in addition to the core PhD project, a range of activities are organised for continued skills training and maintaining the vibrancy of the programme. Examples from recent years include student-led conferences, research seminars, onsite and offsite research and career development workshops led by internal and external experts, science communication (school visits, science festivals, social media). During the PhD phase there will be specific focus on further training on:

  • Computing and Data Analysis, including curating, analysing and interpreting data, machine learning and using simulation tools to make theory-experiment links

  • Enhanced exposure to innovation and entrepreneurship, through innovation seminars, opportunities for advanced innovation training through the Impulse Programme at the Maxwell Centre and a chance to bridge ongoing research with commercial applications through the Translational Prize scheme.

One to one supervision

MRes in Physical Sciences (Nanoscience and Nanotechnology): All students are assigned the course director as a principal supervisor in their first year, who will oversee the allocation of supervision for individual students’ projects.

PhD: In years two through four, 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 separate annual Codes of Practice which set out the University’s expectations regarding supervision for MRes students and PhD students.

Seminars & classes

MRes: 60 hours per year.


MRes: Seven 16-hour courses (over the Michaelmas and Lent terms).


MRes: 30 three-hour sessions in the Michaelmas term.

Small group teaching

MRes: Provided as necessary.

Journal clubs

MRes: One per week in Michaelmas and Lent terms.

Literature Reviews

One each for PhD proposal, midi-project and two mini-projects.

Posters and Presentations

One poster and a minimum of four presentations.


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


During the MRes year students receive feedback from supervisors and independent assessors on their mini- and midi-project reports, and from their lecturers or course leaders on other courses. They also receive broader feedback from the CDT Director and Deputy Director on different aspects of their work - this includes formal feedback via supervisors reports, as well as informal feedback. 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. 

During the PhD years, supervisors report termly on the progress of their students and these reports are
available to the student. Annual review meetings are also held with the CDT, at which feedback is provided.
Students have the opportunity to provide feedback on any aspect of the course informally to the Director and Deputy Director, and more formally via the student 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.

Postgraduate students in all departments associated with the CDT are normally represented on the department's postgraduate student consultative committee, which provides opportunities for feedback and discussion during the PhD stage.


Thesis / Dissertation

The examination for the MRes degree in Physical Sciences (Nanoscience and Nanotechnology) shall include a portfolio of research reports on two mini-projects, one midi-project and a PhD proposal.

The final PhD assessment will be of a submitted thesis and subsequent viva voce examination. The length and format of the thesis will be determined by the requirements of the department in which the student is registered for the PhD.


The examination for the MRes degree shall include coursework (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 satisfactory attendance at 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.

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Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Department of Physics This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2022

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
May 16, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 6, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.

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