The fourth year of the degree in Materials Science is devoted to a full-time research project, starting in September and finishing in seventh week of Trinity Term, lasting about 8 months. This is a unique feature of the MS degree at Oxford, providing an excellent opportunity to acquire the skills needed for research in a world-class research environment. Part II projects may lead to published work and occasionally even a patent. There is a Part II Project Organiser who is responsible for allocating and monitoring all current Part II projects. The Part II Project Organiser is a member of the Faculty of Materials.
The selection of Part II projects is made in the second half of Hilary Term of the third year. Early in Hilary Term a list of available Part II projects for the following year is posted on the Departmental web pages. The list consists primarily of projects offered by supervisors within the Department. It is possible for projects to be arranged overseas provided that satisfactory supervision can be made. No more than two terms can be spent away from Oxford. It is also possible to select a project offered by industry. Further guidance about external projects is available in briefing notes and the Part II Project Organiser holds a briefing in Michaelmas term if there is sufficient interest. Finally, students may arrange their own Part II projects at any recognised academic institution or company, provided their college tutor is satisfied that the project is sound and provided they can find a supervisor within the Department who will closely monitor progress of the project. It is a University requirement that all Part II students are in Oxford for the whole of Trinity Full Term.
A Part II induction course is held at the beginning of the Michaelmas extended term in September. Attendance at this course is normally mandatory for all Part II students (undertaking their projects in Oxford).
A project management scheme was introduced in 1994. Before all projects begin the supervisor completes a Supervisors Form to ensure that the project is ready for the students arrival in September. Each Part II project is mapped out by the supervisor and student in a Project Description Form at the beginning of Michaelmas Term. Progress is reviewed towards the end of Michaelmas and Hilary terms by the student and supervisor in the 1st Project Analysis Form and 2nd Project Analysis Form. The Part II thesis includes a final mandatory chapter comprising a reflective account of project management.
In early Trinity Full Term all Part II students give a short talk on their work. All members of the department are invited to attend these Part II talks. The talks are attended by representatives from The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, who award a £450 prize and a medal for the best talk. The talks do not form part of the assessment of the Part II. They are arranged solely to give students experience in oral presentations. A course on presentation skills is available to Postgraduate and Part II students during Hilary Term, and all Part II students are strongly advised to attend.
The Part II Project is written up in a thesis, and there is an oral examination in 9th or 10th week of Trinity Term. The Part II accounts for 400 of the total 1200 marks (one third) for the degree. The Armourers' and Brasiers' award a prize of £250 and a medal for the best Part II project.