Compound Semiconductor Electronics (MSc)

The MSc Compound Semiconductor Electronics has been designed to deliver thorough training and practical experience in compound semiconductor theory, fabrication and applications, and integration with silicon technology.

The MSc in Compound Semiconductor Electronics has been designed to provide you with advanced level knowledge and skills in compound semiconductor engineering, fabrication and applications, and to develop related skills, enhancing your engineering competency and employability.

This programme is jointly delivered with the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS). The ICS is an exciting new development at the cutting edge of compound semiconductor technology. The Institute has been established in partnership with IQE plc, to capitalise on the existing expertise at Cardiff University and to move academic research to a point where it can be introduced reliably and quickly into the production environment. It is unique facility in the UK, and aims to create a global hub for compound semiconductor technology research, development and innovation.

As a student on this programme, you will have the opportunity to undertake a 3-month summer project which will be based either within the Institute for Compound Semiconductors, or in placement with one of our industrial partners. We have strong, long-established industrial links with companies such as National Instruments and Mesuro and are therefore able to offer a portfolio of theoretical, practical, fabrication and applications-centred projects in both academic and industrial placement environments.

Our flexible curriculum contains a robust set of required modules and a number of elective modules which include the latest results, innovations and techniques and are designed to incorporate the most effective teaching and learning techniques.

Upon graduation, you will have the training, skillsets and hands-on experience you need to succeed in the dynamic and highly competitive fields of compound semiconductors and advanced communications systems. Given the University’s unique position at the forefront of compound semiconductor technology, you will have a distinct advantage when applying for PhD studentships or employment in industry. 

Distinctive features

  • Cardiff University’s unique position at the forefront of compound semiconductor technology will provide you with the opportunity to develop experience and build contacts with a range of leading companies and organisations
  • This programme will provide you with the skillsets necessary to take advantage of emerging employment opportunities within the growing national and international compound semiconductor sector.
  • We offer a range of specialist modules that give you the opportunity to tailor the programme to the particular industry or sector of interest to you. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with students on other related programmes, gain exposure to new fields, and even develop new business opportunities through our Commercialising Innovation module. 
  • We encourage a “research group” atmosphere within which you’ll be given the opportunity to work together, across disciplines, to enhance each other’s learning and be a vital part of our thriving, international scientific community.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2018
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

1. BEng Electronic Engineering (2:1 minimum) OR

2. BEng Electrical Engineering (2:1 minimum) OR

3. BSc Physics (2:1 minimum).

If you have a 2:2 bachelor’s degree in the above subjects, a related physical science, mathematics, engineering degree or relevant industrial experience, your application will be given individual consideration.  In such circumstances, you may be required to attend a formal interview with the admissions tutor before an offer can be made.

For 2:2 holders, the likelihood of being offered a place on the course is highest if your overall marks lie close to the 2:1/:2:2 boundary.

For those applying solely or partially on the basis of relevant industrial experience, the likelihood of being offered a place on the course is highest for research and development experience in the field of microwave engineering or silicon / compound semiconductors, but experience will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements for non-UK applicants

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to pass IELTS exams. The minimum requirement is an IELTS score of 6.5

Will this course be ATAS registered?

We expect to have a HESA code starting in H6, therefore ATAS certification will not be required.

Duration of Programme (normal length of registration)  

Full-time    1 year

Mode of Study (face-to-face, distance learning, blended learning) 

This is a face to face Programme over one year full time.

Programme Start/End dates – please see http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/regis/sfs/dates/ for the exact start and end dates

September to September 

Programme Accrediting Body

Institution of Engineering and Technology (Accreditation to be applied for once running)

Accreditation Note

Once achieved, accredits the programme as Further Learning for the purpose of meeting the requirements for registration as a Chartered Engineer

The MSc in Compound Semiconductor Electronics is a two-stage programme delivered over three semesters (autumn, spring, and summer) for a total of 180 credits.

Stage 1: Autumn/Spring terms (120 credits, taught)

You will undertake required modules totaling 70 credits, covering essential skills.

You will additionally have the choice of 50 credits of optional modules from a total of 100 credits, with each module covering specialist skills.

You must successfully complete the 120 credits of the taught component of the course before you will be permitted to progress to the research project component.

Stage 2: Summer term (60 credits, dissertation/research project)

The summer semester consists of a single 60 credit research project module of 3 months’ duration. You will be required to produce a research dissertation to the required standard in order to complete this module. Students completing Stages 1 and 2 will qualify for the award of the MSc degree.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

You will have two weeks at the beginning of the autumn term to attend any elective modules you are interested in so that you can finalise your choice for that term.  You will need to make your final selections for the spring term before the Christmas recess.  You will be supported in generating and negotiating a research project proposal during the spring term in order to prepare for your summer research project.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

A wide range of teaching styles will be used to deliver the diverse material forming the curriculum.

Lectures can take a variety of forms depending on the subject material being taught. Generally, lectures are used to convey concepts, contextualise research activities in the School and to demonstrate key theoretical, conceptual and mathematical methods.

You will practice and develop critique, reflective, analytical and presentational skills by participating in diverse learning activities such as research group meetings, seminars and open group discussions. At all times you will be encouraged to reflect on what you have learned and how it can be combined with other techniques and concepts to tackle novel problems.

In the practical laboratory sessions, you will put the breadth of your knowledge and skills to use, whether that be using your coding skills to automate a laboratory experiment, designing components for a large piece of equipment or troubleshooting research hardware. The emphasis on the MSc in Compound Semiconductor Electronics is squarely on acquiring and demonstrating practical skills which will be of use in a research environment and hence highly sought-after by employers.

When working on your dissertation you will be allocated a supervisor from among our teaching staff. Dissertation topics are typically chosen from a range of project titles proposed by academic staff, usually in areas of current research interest, although students are encouraged to put forward their own project ideas. Projects may also come forward from potential employers and industrial partners who may be able to offer work-based placements for the duration of the project work.

How will I be supported?

Your MSc Tutor will usually also act as your Personal Tutor. They will help you reflect on your performance and advise you on research and study techniques, module selection and career planning (in conjunction with the University’s Career Service). They will also provide a first point of contact if you experience any difficulties.

MSc students are invited to all postgraduate events including the Postgraduate Lecture Series and Postgraduate Research Conferences.  At these events, you can meet and talk with PhD students, researchers and attend key lectures covering the School’s research activities, best practice and safety.

All of our modules make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including recordings of lectures (where available), links to related materials, lecture slides, assessment scripts, model solutions and examples of student work from previous years.

When you undertake the summer research project you will be assigned an academic supervisor whose responsibility it will be to keep you properly advised and supported throughout your research project.  They will be your first point of contact during the research project and it is usual that your supervisor will be the lead researcher in any group / sub-group that you join as part of your project.

This programme is designed to foster a strong community spirit within the MSc cohort.  You will often work together in pairs, in groups and as a cohort.  MSc groups will generally meet weekly at which point you will report progress, discuss problems and suggest solutions.  This strong peer-support and peer-learning/teaching has proven extremely powerful in enhancing our students’ learning.

How will I be assessed?

Multiple assessment methods are used in order to enhance learning and accurately reflect your performance on the course.  In the required modules, a mixture of problem-based learning, in-lab assessment, written assignment, simulation exercises, written and oral examinations and group-based case study work will be used.

Feedback provided by your MSc Tutor, Module Leaders and for some modules, your fellow students will allow you to make incremental improvements to the development of your core skillset.

The methods used on the optional modules vary depending on the most appropriate assessment method for each module, but typically include written and/or practical assignments together with a written and/or oral examination.

What skills will I practise and develop?

As a result of engaging fully with this course, you will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both discipline-specific and more generic ‘employability skills’. 

Knowledge & Understanding:

Students completing the Programme will:

  • Demonstrate a sophisticated level of knowledge and understanding of the engineering methodologies and tools in the field of compound semiconductor electronics; 

  • Undertake a leading role in design and development activity, including an up-to-date knowledge of the academic literature, the major companies and market pressures in the industry, the wider compound semiconductor context, and relevant legal and safety issues; 

  • Understand the essential elements within complex issues, and understand how these may be solved in a systematic and creative manner to tackle real-world problems.

Intellectual Skills:

Students completing the Programme will:

  • Show originality, competence and confidence in tackling both familiar and unfamiliar problems
  • understand the application of Compound Semiconductor Electronics to the design, implementation and management of systems that are able to collect, manipulate, interpret, synthesise, present and report data
  • contribute to the continuing development of engineering practice and research based upon a critical evaluation of existing methods.

Professional Practical Skills:

Students completing the Programme will be able to:

  • Efficiently and effectively integrate into a research group environment, including concisely reporting progress, negotiating activities and timescales, supporting colleagues and working in a team;
  • Plan, propose and execute a sophisticated research project with realistic goals, deliverables and contingency plans;
  • Undertake detailed device level characterisation of semiconductor components and application design based upon an in-depth understanding of the major issues surrounding architecture and structures;
  • Appreciate the stages involved in the realisation of compound semiconductor devices as well as the advanced communications systems that employ them, including characterisation and measurement, modelling, computer aided design, optimisation, fabrication and test.

Transferable/Key Skills:

Students completing the Programme will demonstrate:

  • Effective communication skills, including literature reviews, literature critiques, academic article writing, long report writing and formal scientific presentations 

  • Effective and efficient group and team working skills, including negotiation, compromise, contingency planning, time management and record-keeping; 

  • Engagement, liaison and collaboration with expert academic and industrial research scientists and the ability to transfer concepts, methodologies and modes of presentation between both environments; 

  • Capability of assuming a high level role within an organisation, including being prepared for higher-level research studies.  

An MSc in Compound Semiconductor Electronics will open up opportunities in the following areas:

  • Technical, research, development and engineering positions in industrial compound semiconductors, silicon semiconductors and advanced communication systems; 

  • Theoretical, experimental and instrumentational doctoral research; 

  • Numerate, technical, research, development and engineering positions in related scientific fields; 

  • Physics, mathematics and general science education.

Cardiff University’s unique position at the forefront of compound semiconductor technology will provide you with the opportunity to develop experience and build contacts with a range of leading companies and organisations.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

EU students entering in 2018/19 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2019/20 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£8,950None

More information about tuition fees, including for part-time and continuing students.

Students from outside the EU (2018/19)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£19,950£1,000

Additional costs

If students are required to travel to/from an industrial placement during a summer research project, then there are student mobility bursaries available to cover these costs, which will be considered on a case-by- case basis. 

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

What the student should provide:

The University will provide all equipment necessary to undertake the degree programme, but it is strongly recommended that you bring a relatively modern laptop computer in order to be able to make progress on activities while away from the University facilities. 

What the University will provide:

  • Computer labs, practical laboratories and equipment for the entire cohort’s activities during the required modules;
  • Access to the University’s research-grade cleanroom facilities and electronic labs for practical instruction in the taught component of the course and a number of the summer research projects;
  • Access to the Trevithick and other University libraries, where textbooks and recommended reading for the required and optional modules can be accessed.
  • Where required, access to key computer aided design software tool licences to allow students to progress their activities while away from the University facilities.

There will be a number of industrial placements each year for the summer research project module, which will either be hosted at the Institute for Compound Semiconductors or at the industrial partner’s facilities. The number and nature of these projects will vary from year to year and will be assigned based on performance in formal assessments.