Schools Outreach Events


Outreach School Visit

The Department of Materials Science has a very active access and outreach team.

Each year there are numerous events and activities for a range of students including: 

  • Taster days
  • Masterclasses and Workshops
  • School Visits
  • Residential Course
  • and our Making Materials Matter Teachers Conference.

This year, due to the pandemic, our usual programme of events has been somewhat different and we have developed some Virtual Outreach resources in lieu of being able to offer face-to-face events. Please see below for details and updates about specific events.

Annual events for schools and young people

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A one week residential course to give an insight into the subject of Materials Science, or Materials Engineering.

Materials Science is a vast interdisciplinary subject, which frequently unites researchers from different physical and engineering sciences but can also involve the Life and Medical Sciences. Essentially, Materials Scientists bring together and utilise the science developed by physicists, chemists and engineers, making it possible to improve and develop new materials for everything we use in our lives, from prosthetics to buildings, from transport to communications, from sport to defence."


More information about Headstart "Focus on Materials" Residential Course for Year 12/S5 Students

(Please note that for 2021 there will be no in person Headstart Residential Course. Please see the above website for details about this year's virtual course and information about future residentials)

UNIQ "Materials Science" Summer School

Testing Chocolate

UNIQ began in 2010 as a summer school with the aim of raising the aspirations of students studying at UK state schools and colleges regarding their higher education choices. UNIQ will help almost 2000 students each year from low socio-economic status backgrounds and/or from areas with low progression to higher education, by offering spring and summer schools, residential conferences and digital learning platform.

Find out more about UNIQ "Materials Science" Summer School 

Note that UNIQ applications for 2021 have closed and the summer school will be taking place online.


Materials Building

Materials Reception

Materials Science will not be open for physical visitors but will be part of Oxford University Virtual Open Days on Wednesday 30th June, Thursday 1st July, and Friday 17th September 2021.

Normally we would be delighted to offer the following programme: 

  •  Materials Science Taster Lecture (speakers to be confirmed)
  •  Department tours (~20mins. Last tour at 10:40)
  •  Materials Science at Oxford Talk 
  •  Refreshments with Tutors and students

Also see Oxford University Open Days and this video about open days: 


Workshops to Schools 

The schools liaison team regularly run workshops for schools.
If you are interested in a visit out to your school, please email

Tensile Testing

Tensile Testing

Tensile Testing 
Student number: 20
Yr 11(High ability)-Yr12 Physics
Time; 1-1.5 hours

Students will work in groups of 4 to measure the tensile strength of different materials using a simple tensile tester kit. Each group will plot stress/strain graphs for the material and use these to determine Young’s Modulus. Values for Young’s modulus will be compared to standard values and the experiment evaluated.






Solar Cells Workshop

Solar Cells Workshop

Solar Cells
Student number: 20 -30
Yr 10-12 
Time: 1-1.5hours

Students will work in pairs to construct a dye sensitised solar cell using a range of dye sources. The students will measure the voltage of their cells at different intensities of light and compare results for different dyes. Results will be discussed and the science behind the solar cell explained. Students will be asked to put forward ideas for further research in this field and their ideas will be linked to current research on solar cells in the department and in other HEIs.




Electrifying Experience

Electrifying Experience

An Electrifying Experience
Student number: 20 -30
Time: 1-1.5hours

Students find out about the very invention that marked the birth of a new branch of chemistry, called electrochemistry: the “voltaic pile”. Students will build their own voltaic pile and investigate the effect of the number of cells on the voltage of the battery. Research in this area will be introduced and discussed.





Chocolate Workshop

Chocolate Workshop

Investigating Materials using Chocolate
Student number 20

Students investigate the properties of materials to include hardness, density and fracture energy using different chocolate. Students put forward ideas to make an ultimate chocolate bar and this is related to microstructure of materials and the effect of alloying.

Please note that due to the pandemic this project is currently paused.

Oxford Materials will be welcoming 90 Y8 students from 9 state comprehensive schools across London and Sheffield to the University of Oxford to present their research findings from their extended Materials science project at the 2019 MMM Student Conference.

This project is run in collaboration with the Materials department from the University of CambridgeUniversity of Sheffield and Imperial College London.

The MMM Student Conference is kindly supported by St John’s College, OxfordThe Ashmolean MuseumSt Anne’s College and  Mansfield College.

For more information on the MMM project please see



The Physics and Materials Science Departments collaborate on day workshops aimed at Y12 students. This is a fun-filled yet instructive Activity Day hosted by the Departments of Physics and Materials at Oxford University. Participants will be given the opportunity to carry out experiments in both departments and will learn more about these exciting subjects. If you are studying maths and physics at A level (or equivalent) and interested in Materials Science and Physics come along to Oxford University to find out more! Bookings will be limited to 8 students per school. Priority will be given to schools with little or no history of sending students to Oxford.

The  PDF Draft Programme for 10 December 2019 gives an outline of the days activities. Since these events are very popular we ask you to limit the number of students from a single school to eight. If you are wanting to bring more students please contact the Schools Liaison Officer

This event is open to high-achieving Year 12 students from UK schools who are studying Maths and Physics A-levels (or equivalent). This event is intended for students who enjoy science and would like to find out more about Physics and Materials Science at university.

Due to the pandemic, this event did not run in 2020. Details for the 2021 Y12 Materials & Physics Day will be confirmed soon.

Admissions Interviewee hospitality - December 2021

Interviews for undergraduate admissions to the Department of Materials are normally held in December and take place in our associated colleges. Most applicants will have interviews at their first choice college and one other. We hope that applicants will find the information below helpful. Interviews for undergraduate admissions are normally spread over three days, Monday - Wednesday, in the third week of December. Interviewees are warmly invited to visit the Department while they are in Oxford for their interviews. Just come to reception in the Hume-Rothery building and a member of the access and outreach team will show you round or just feed you tea and biscuits.

Please note that all undergraduate interviews will again be held online in 2021. You can find more guidance and advice specifically for online interviews here

Oxford Interviews 2019

In preparation for admissions interviews we suggest you download and read the booklet, Your guide to Oxford interviews, from  publications produced by Oxford University Admissions. Tutors carrying out interviews really want to find out how applicants can cope with questions about stuff they DON'T know. (All the stuff applicants do know is already covered in their personal statement, references and exam grades/predictions.) Important things to get across during an interview are an interest in the subject, academic and mathematical ability and an ability to solve problems. Do not be afraid to ask for help when stuck. See the interview if possible as a mock tutorial where the applicant works with the tutor/interviewer to come to an understanding of a difficult problem. There is lots of advice on the various university websites, and a number of links to a selection of helpful information are given below.

There may be extra information on the college websites as well.


Testing Chocolate

You will learn how physicists at Oxford gaze into the far reaches of the cosmos, address pressing questions about the Earth's climate and explore the strange world of quantum mechanics. There will be particular emphasis on ‘What is Material Science?’, showing how the interdisciplinary subject spans the physics and chemistry of matter, and explores the fascinating world of materials and their real world applications.

The day will highlight key ideas in both subjects areas with practical demonstrations including an investigation of materials used in aircraft design and using diffraction glasses which reveal a world of hidden rainbows.

To end the day we give an overview of the course at Oxford and discuss how to apply. We will also touch upon the many career options available to those with a degree in either subject.

Come along to find out more about studying the science of "stuff", both the fundamental and the applied, on scales ranging from the breadth of the universe to the most fundamental particles and everything in between!

This event is open to high-achieving Year 10 students from UK schools who are considering studying Maths and Physics at A-level (or equivalent). Students should be on course to receive a minimum of 777 in triple award science/7-7 in double award science at GCSE, plus at least a 7 in Maths.

We request, where possible, that the gender split is 50:50.

Due to the pandemic, this event did not take place in 2021. Details for the 2022 Y10 Materials & Physics Day will be confirmed soon.

The PDF Draft Programme  gives an outline of the days activities. Since these events are very popular we ask you to limit the number of students from a single school to eight on any one day. If you are wanting to bring more students please contact the Schools Liaison Officer

Example Event Image

Transmission Electron Microscope

The event is aimed at prospective students in Year 11 and Year 12. Places are limited so booking is essential, and we ask you to limit the number of students from a single school to six on any one day. However, please contact us if you want to bring more students. As the event normally takes place during term-time for schools, we ask that all bookings are sent by the school to ensure their agreement. The format of the day varies depending upon the commitments of staff but a typical programme would have the following elements:

  • A welcome to the department and a brief introduction to Materials Science as a subject.
  • A talk from a senior lecturer about their work, often relating to cutting-edge research.
  • A tour of the department giving an idea of our facilities and showing the variety of on-going research activities.
  • A brief tour of one of the colleges.
  • A workshop looking at a variety of aspects of materials science that relate to the Science Curriculum.
  • Advice on how to apply to study Materials Science.

Priority will be given to students from schools with little or no history of applications to Oxford.

Please note that these taster days did not take place in 2021 due to the pandemic. We will update this page with more information about the 2022 Materials Taster Days soon.

PDF Draft Programme : PDF Taster Day Poster : PDF Registration Form

Sign up to our Teachers mailling list to receive an alert about this, and other events we offer, as details are released.

Travel Instructions are available to help you plan your visit.

Last year there were presentations from Materials Science at the following student conferences:

  • Aintree – 16 March 2020
  • Newcastle – 17 March 2020
  • Lisburn, NI – 19 March 2020
  • Glasgow – 20 March 2020
  • Swansea – 23 March 2020
  • Birmingham – 24 March 2020
  • Epsom - 25 March 2020
  • Epsom - 26 March 2020

In 2021, the regional conferences took place online - you can find more information here.

We will update this page with more information about the 2022 conferences as soon as details are released.

Primary Science

Primary Science - Smile!

A day of exciting science workshop including hands-on activities for Year 5-6 students.

The day will conclude with a Chemistry Demonstration lecture.

Please note that this event did not take place in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic.

We will update this page with more information about the 2022 Primary Science Day as soon as we have details.