Materials Science at Oxford University

Information about the Department of Materials at Oxford University and links to find out more about undergraduate and postgraduate study, applications, research, etc.

Our aim here is to give you some idea about Materials Science at Oxford University and to help you to decide if this is the degree subject you want to study. The best starting point is the "Studying Materials at Oxford University" brochure which can be read online, downloaded or ordered as a paper copy from the Department website. The information given here should be supplemented by the undergraduate prospectus, the Oxford University Undergraduate Admissions web-site and information that is updated from time to time on this and other University web-sites. A summary of useful web-site addresses is given at the bottom of this page.

Materials research is increasingly important world-wide as an engine for economic prosperity, and the development and application of new or improved materials are key factors enabling the UK to remain internationally competitive. Industry depends critically on employing graduates with the right skills and on innovations developed in collaboration with universities. As well as carrying out world class fundamental and 'blue skies' research, Oxford Materials has developed strategic industrial alliances to meet industry's R&D, employment and continuing education needs.

The knowledge gained from these activities informs our teaching, helping to make graduates from this Department highly employable. The skills developed during our degree courses produce Materials graduates sought after by a wide range of employers, including the business and financial sectors as well as science & engineering. The following selection of a few of the 'hot topics' in current materials research will give you a flavour of how wide and varied the subject is.

Materials scientists are:

  • developing ceramic components to operate at 1,500C in the next generation of jet engines
  • improving the biocompatibility of prosthetic implants by growing artificial bone and developing sophisticated surface coatings for these implants
  • creating new semiconducting composite materials with individual layers a millionth of a centimetre thick that turn out to have some very unexpected properties
  • modelling and measuring the way surfaces interact - including the atomic scale visualisation and control of friction processes
  • at the forefront of the development of quantum computing
  • designing the next generation of high performance packaging materials for everything from integrated circuits to food

Materials Science is such a wide-ranging and cross-disciplinary subject that we could not possibly give a comprehensive overview here. Instead it is suggested that you research the subject in more depth for yourself by browsing materials web sites, reading scientific magazines and books, attending Open Days and asking questions of teachers, industrialists and academics. Useful introductory books include: Ivan Amato, 'Stuff' (Basic Books, 1997); Ken Easterling, 'Tomorrow's Materials', 2nd edn. (Institute of Materials, 1990); J.E. Gordon, 'Structures' (Penguin, 1978). For more suggestions see our booklist. The professional institute for materials scientists, the Institute of Materials, Minerals ∧ Mining, has some useful links via its web-site, - look under 'careers' and select 'careers in materials' from the drop-down menu. There are several other relevant sources of information, and you are urged to explore these too. Sources include the Oxford Undergraduate Prospectus, the Oxford Colleges Admissions Office web-site and the web-sites of the individual Colleges. Perhaps one of the best ways to discover more is to attend one of our Open Days and speak directly with lecturers and students about the degree courses and career opportunities. At Easter, we host three open days solely for Materials courses: these are the principal events for Materials Science in the year. In addition, there are two days in the summer that provide opportunities to visit more than one science department, including Materials, together with some colleges, all on the same day. Please note that booking is required to attend at Easter, but not in the summer. Booking information is available from the Events section of this web-site. We hope that you find this information to be helpful. Your feedback, preferably by e-mail to our Schools Liaison Officer, would be most welcome and will help us to keep this information relevant and up-to-date.

"Studying Materials at Oxford University" brochure

Oxford Materials Admissions information

Visiting the Department

Oxford University Admissions