Materials Science is a topic that underpins much of modern society and industry. It is a truly interdisciplinary subject, spanning the physics and chemistry of matter, engineering applications and industrial and manufacturing processes. It is at the core of nanotechnology, the production of devices and materials at the molecular level, which is likely to drive the next technological revolution.
The Oxford Materials Science programme is a four-year course, designed to introduce students to novel advanced techniques and devices in the field. Probably the highlight of the Materials Science programme is the fourth year, when an individual research project is carried out for the duration of that year, based in one of the specialist research groups within the Department, or at another academic institute or industrial laboratory anywhere in the world.
The tutors understand that most applicants will not have studied Materials at A2 (or equivalent), but they will look for expertise in relevant areas: Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
In the first and second years of the programme the Materials Science tutorials are arranged by the Colleges. Queen’s joins forces with Mansfield and Corpus Christi Colleges and together we have five Tutorial Fellows in Materials Science, covering the breadth of topics taught during these years of the programme. The vast majority of the tutorials in the first and second years are therefore given by these five academics, meaning students benefit from great continuity in their teaching. This arrangement has been in place for a number of years, and we think it works well. In the third year, students specialise by taking options courses. Their associated classes are departmentally organised, and usually given by the course lecturer, a specialist in the relevant field. In the Materials Science programme, the fourth year consists entirely of research, which is supervised by an academic who is a specialist in that particular field.
Candidates are required to sit Mathematics and Physics tests in their schools in the November prior to interview. Two Materials Science interviews are given, one at each of two different Colleges. Each is usually conducted by two academics who will investigate a candidate’s motivation for studying Materials Science and the Physical Sciences more generally, their ability to solve mathematical and scientific problems and their ability to apply their knowledge of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Overall, we aim to determine a candidate’s potential for study on our programmes, and not just to assess their acquired knowledge.