Skip to main content

Compound Semiconductor Electronics (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This course has been designed to deliver thorough training and practical experience in compound semiconductor theory, fabrication and applications, and integration with silicon technology.


Industry connections

Our unique position at the forefront of compound semiconductor technology provides opportunities for you to gain experience and build contacts with a range of leading organisations.


Emerging employment opportunities

This course will help you to develop the skills necessary to take advantage of emerging employment opportunities within the growing compound semiconductor sector.


Specialist modules

You can tailor this course to the particular industry or areas that interest you with a range of specialist modules. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with students on related courses, gain exposure to new fields, and even develop new business opportunities through our Commercialising Innovation module.


Interdisciplinary learning

We encourage a research group atmosphere where you can work across disciplines to enhance your learning and be a vital part of our thriving, international scientific community.


Translational Research Hub

The Institute for Compound Semiconductors is based in our new Translational Research Hub, a multi-million-pound Cardiff University innovation hub where industry and scientists work together to solve commercial challenges.

This course is delivered by the School of Engineering in collaboration with the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) and benefits from the knowledge and expertise of all of these areas. 

The ICS is a unique facility in the UK,which aims to create a global hub for compound semiconductor technology research, development and innovation. The Institute includes companies such as IQE plc, SPTS and Newport Wafer Fab and aims to capitalise on the existing expertise at Cardiff University, moving academic research to a point where it can be introduced reliably and quickly into the production environment. 

Our flexible curriculum includes the latest results and innovations and is designed to incorporate the most effective teaching and learning techniques. There course includes a robust and diverse set of modules including a range of cutting-edge optional modules for you to choose from. 

As part of the course you will undertake a three month summer project, which can be based either in the School of Engineering, within the ICS, or as part of a placement with one of our industrial partners.  We have strong, long-established industrial links with leading companies and are able to offer a portfolio of theoretical, practical, fabrication and applications-centred projects in both academic and industrial environments. 

As a graduate of this course, you will have the training, skills and hands-on experience you need to succeed in the dynamic and highly competitive field of compound semiconductors.

Where you'll study

School of Engineering

Study in one of the UK's leading engineering Schools for the quality of research and teaching.

  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 0050
  • Marker5 The Parade, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 3AA

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant degree subject such as communication engineering, communication technology, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, physics, or wireless engineering, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional industrial experience. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement, including the ability to travel to outside of the UK or to undertake a placement/studies outside of Cardiff University
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

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.

Important notice about elective modules: MSc Compound Semiconductor Electronics is also the first stage of the CDT Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing.  For students undertaking the MSc Compound Semiconductor Electronics as a standalone degree the list of elective modules above is fully available.  For CDT students, a number of the elective modules are treated as required, please see for more information.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

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.

Additional module information

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.

Learning and assessment

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 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 is expected of me?

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.

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.  

What are the learning outcomes of this course/programme?

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £11,700 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £28,200 £2,500

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

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

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.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Careers and placements

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.


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.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2023 dates.

Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


Learn more about our truly global university.

Discover more

Related searches: Engineering

HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.