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Course Overview


Year 1:

The first year will provide top-quality advanced-level training prior to the selection of preferred PhD research projects. At the end of the first year, successful students will be awarded an MRes degree. The following key components have been identified for the overall development of the cohort:

  • Induction camp to facilitate a strong, mutually supporting team of young researchers;
  • Five taught technical courses by leading academics and industrial researchers. Weekly Advanced Technology Lectures covering fundamentals, technologies and applications of graphene, related layered materials and hybrid systems, nanofabrication, physics, photonics and renewable energy;
  • A wide range of hands-on experimental training and workshops by academics and industry experts on materials production, device fabrication, integration and characterization equipment for engineers, chemists, physicists, or materials scientists, enabling the cohort to integrate with a number of engineering, science, manufacturing and technology disciplines;
  • Business and entrepreneurship skills outside core scientific training, relevant to the rapidly evolving graphene technology, innovation and application landscape. Gaining the confidence to pitch scientific ideas and know-how to establish or partner and understand critical pathways to build high-tech spin-offs;
  • Personalized skills analysis, professional development and public outreach activities;
  • Two (3-4 months) short projects led by academic and/or industrial partners spanning different disciplines, to broaden students’ experience and peer networks, aiding final PhD project selection.


The contact hours as a percentage of total time in the first year has strong emphasis in research, which will form the scientific and technical expertise of the students in the field of Nanotechnology and Engineering in general, and Graphene Technology in particular. This will be well supported by the taught course modules. Coupled with these, business skills and tailored professional development significantly extend the training component. The students will have a clear view of various research areas and be equipped with the necessary skills and experimental techniques in Graphene technology before selecting their PhDs at the end of the year, enabling them to use their next 3 years efficiently, rapidly achieving high impact research and independence.


Taught Courses:

Five mandatory courses to support the central application-driven research theme of the Graphene CDT. They will cover various aspects of fundamental and advanced practices on materials production, characterization, integration and application development. Selected sections will be taught by leading industry experts, offering aspects of cutting edge industrial research in Graphene and related materials. Relevant technological and commercial perspectives will also be given through short lectures and workshops by industrial researchers.


Research Skills Training: A set of research skills training and workshops conducted by university and industrial researchers complements the coursework. This includes 30 carefully selected practical modules in the area of nanomaterial/thin film production, deposition, material characterization, device integration and measurement. Research staff from industry will conduct some of these sessions. This will also include interactive workshops on Intellectual Property (IP) and IP strategies, commercial scale production and relevant health & safety, technology and market analysis etc. The cohorts will also receive tailored training in national laboratory facilities.


Short projects: A major role of the short projects is to expose students to potential PhD topics in areas bridging subject boundaries and giving them experience of different research cultures in academia and industry. By providing students in the first year with 2 different short projects (each 3-4 months long) in which there is no imperative for traditional “success” to contribute to their written PhD thesis, the opportunity for risk-taking and expansion of disciplinary boundaries is greatly amplified. All such projects will have two supervisors, either from different departments within the university or from industry, and will be chosen to maximize the impact of multidisciplinary approaches to graphene technology.


Entrepreneurial component: Cambridge Engineering has an unparalleled record of translating its original research to industrial and business practice through collaboration, patenting/licensing and entrepreneurship. The Graphene CDT will integrate this process by fostering creativity, successfully executing knowledge transfer and capturing best practice for the students. Business and entrepreneurial components will include:

  • Bespoke course for the CDT students by the Judge Business school;
  • A tailored, market-oriented project within the scope of Graphene Technology CDT;
  • Access to entrepreneurial resources and workshops, such as the Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club (CUTEC).


Personal and Professional Development:

  • Access to personal and professional development options facilitated by the University Careers Service;
  • University administered courses on effective research, presentation skills and solving research problems creatively;
  • Residential course at the end of year 1 to understand and absorb creative approach in all aspects of research, such as influencing, managing, writing, presenting, networking and team working. This is an ideal initiation of creativity before embarking on a PhD project.


Public Outreach:

  • Public Outreach and Science Communication training;
  • Participation in public outreach, particularly targeted at young adults;
  • Active participation in large, university-coordinated outreach events, such as Cambridge Science Festival.


Years 2-4: After successful completion of the first year of training, the students will be awarded a MRes and will progress to PhD. The students will have the opportunity to develop and define their PhD topics in collaboration with their supervisors.

The students will be closely interacting with each other through:

  • Weekly Advanced Technology Lectures;
  • Tailored industry driven workshops that will run throughout the years with other CDT cohorts;
  • Workshops on various aspects of research e.g. ethical aspects of commercialization and application of technologies;
  • Internal student-led conferences involving other CDTs within the university;
  • Student-run brown-bag lunch meetings to discuss issues they choose of relevance for the Graphene CDT, mentored by one of the academic/industrial supervisors.