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Masters Degrees (Biomimetic)

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The Nanoscale Engineering master is a two-year program corresponding to 120 ECTS credits. Students receive a universal and profound training in physics, materials science and electronics at the nanoscale, but also in nanobiotechnology. Read more
The Nanoscale Engineering master is a two-year program corresponding to 120 ECTS credits. Students receive a universal and profound training in physics, materials science and electronics at the nanoscale, but also in nanobiotechnology.

Elective courses can be followed by the students in their desired area of specialization and/or to broaden their horizons. The entire curriculum is taught in English.

A key educational concept of the program is that each student is immersed in a high-quality research environment for at least half of the time in the curriculum. Throughout the academic year, lab practicals and projects are carried out in research institutions that participate in the program, and thesis projects are undertaken in research laboratories or in nanotechnology companies.

In addition to the scientific and technological aspects, ethical issues and the societal impact of nanotechnology, as well as business considerations, are addressed in specialized seminars and courses.

Structure of the Curriculum

First Year (60 ECTS)

The major part of semester 1 is dedicated to lectures: The students follow 7 courses from the core modules and 2 elective modules. Laboratory practicals and mini-projects ensure a smooth transition into semester 2 with its four-month internship in a research group. This internship is prepared in semester 1 already with a dedicated literature survey. Seminars of speakers from both academia and industry complement the educational program throughout the entire first year.

Second Year (60 ECTS)

Semester 3 is again dedicated to lectures, featuring 5 slots for core modules and 3 for electives, as well as some ancillary courses. The entirety of semester 4 is taken up by the six-month Master thesis project, which can be conducted in a research laboratory or in a company, in France or abroad. As in the first year, seminars of speakers from both academia and industry complement the educational program.

Modules and Courses

Core Modules

These courses impart the fundamental knowledge in the nanotechnology field applied to physics, electronics, optics, materials science and biotechnology. Students are required to follow at least twelve core module courses during the two-year program.

Core modules in the first year There are four obligatory core modules in the first year:

Introduction to Nanoscale Engineering
Micro- and Nanofabrication, part 1
Characterization Tools for Nanostructures
Quantum Engineering

Furthermore, there is a remedial physics course to which students are assigned based on the results of a physics test at the beginning of semester 1:

Basics of Physics

Finally, students have to select a minimum of three courses from the following list for their first year:

Solid State Physics at the Nanoscale
Continuum Mechanics
Physics of Semiconductors, part 1
Physical Chemistry and Molecular Interactions
Biomolecules, Cells, and Biomimetic Systems

Core modules in the second year Students have to choose at least four courses from the following selection for their second year:

Nano-Optics and Biophotonics
Surface-Analysis Techniques
Physics of Semiconductors, part 2
Micro- and Nanofluidics
Micro- and Nanofabrication, part 2
Biosensors and Biochips
Computer Modeling of Nanoscale Systems

Elective Modules

These courses cover a wide range of nanotechnology-related disciplines and thus allow the students to specialize according to their preferences as well as to broaden their expertise. Elective modules in the first year Three courses from the following list have to be chosen for the first year:

Introduction to System Design
Drug-Delivery Systems

Elective modules in the second year Students follow a minimum of three courses from the following selection in the second year:

Multi-Domain System Integration
Solar Cells and Photovoltaics
Nanomagnetism and Spintronics
Tissue and Cell Engineering

Experimental Modules

Students conduct lab practicals that are integrated into the various courses, during which they familiarize themselves hands-on with all standard techniques for fabrication and characterization of nanostructures. They furthermore have the opportunity to work more independently on individual or group projects.

Ancillary Courses and Seminars

This module deals with complementary know-how, relevant both for academia and in an industrial environment. Students follow a course on intellectual-property issues. Ethical aspects and the societal impact of nanotechnology are covered in specialized seminars, which also allow for networking with national and international nanotechnology companies and research laboratories. Communication skills are likewise developed through written and oral presentations of all experimental work that is carried out during the Master program.


In the second semester, students conduct two-month internships in two of the research laboratories participating in the program. The students choose their projects and come into contact with their host laboratories earlier in the academic year already, by spending some time in these laboratories to carry out an extensive literature survey and to prepare their research projects under the guidance of their supervisors.

Master Thesis Project

The final six-month period of the program is devoted to the master project, which can be carried out either in an academic research laboratory or in an industrial environment. Students have the option to conduct their thesis project anywhere in France or abroad.

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Are you dismayed, disturbed and totally disenchanted with what is happening to the only real planetary home we have? So are we. But are you also excited by the opportunities and prospects this opens up for us to create a better, brighter and more beautiful world? So are we. Read more

Are you dismayed, disturbed and totally disenchanted with what is happening to the only real planetary home we have? So are we.

But are you also excited by the opportunities and prospects this opens up for us to create a better, brighter and more beautiful world? So are we.

Then join us in this innovative new postgraduate programme from Schumacher College in collaboration with the School of Architecture, Design and Environment at Plymouth University, the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University, the Dartington Hall Trust and surrounding communities.

Ecological Design Thinking

Never has there been a more important time for a new approach for engaging with the challenging situations we face from the local to the global levels. In a rapidly changing dynamic situation, solutions rarely remain optimal for very long and continuous active participation is a necessary ingredient for success. Growing resilience in individuals and communities is the way to keep going despite the continuous change around us.

Our programme in Ecological Design Thinking embraces and explores this complex world of interactions with lively engagement and an optimistic approach. It offers powerful, practical and ecology-centred skills and knowledge to apply to a diverse range of practices from design, education and business to the more specific roles of leadership, management and consultancy.

The Ecological Design Thinking programme is trans-disciplinary, insightful and universal in its application; pragmatic and integrative in its operation. It brings together theoretical and practical discourses on ecologically inspired design, with methods of design thinking that are merged with the latest developments in anthropology, psychology and socio- political economics. It aims to create a novel ground for change makers at the forefront of our transition to sustainable societies.

Ecologically inspired design includes the study of ecological worldviews, systems dynamics and applied complexity theory alongside the philosophies and practices of permaculture and biomimetic design.

Design thinking is a well-established participatory technique grounded in the empathic understanding of the feelings, experiences and emotions of others. It engages people in lively conversations, visually stimulated interactions and playful prototyping. It frames problems as opportunities, forms insights and generates creative and collaborative solutions in complex situations.

The Ecological Design thinking programme aims to provide a nourishing environment for participants by incorporating short-courses led by internationally recognised thinkers, place-making projects in collaboration with the Dartington Hall Trust, the home of Schumacher College, and short placements offered by external partner organisations.

This programme is the fourth radical postgraduate programme developed at Schumacher College and contributes to and enhance the College’s ongoing collaborative inquiry into sustainable living – a live and networked inquiry of practice underway around the world by the College’s 20,000 alumni and others.

Who is this course for?

We would be delighted to receive your application whether you are coming directly from an undergraduate degree, taking time-out to study mid-career or wanting an opportunity to develop your understanding of a practice that is of great importance to all of our futures. We encourage applications from community practitioners and activists as well as planners, educators, architects, politicians and policy makers. You do not necessarily need a first degree in design to apply for this course. You only need to be enthusiastic, resilient and committed.

We are looking for enthusiastic agents of change who are ready to co-design new approaches to the way we live that are socially just and ecologically sustainable. We are looking for those prepared to take risks and stand on the cutting-edge of new practices in this area.

Schumacher College welcomes students from all over the world in a diverse mix of cultural experience and age that allows for rich peer- to- peer learning.

You Will Learn

  • The foundation of an ecological worldview through subjects such as ecology, deep ecology, systems thinking, complexity science and Gaia theory.
  • Living systems principles through the philosophy and practice of permaculture design, biophilia and biomimicry.
  • Creative and process-focused problem solving techniques by applying the methods and principles of design thinking
  • A multi-perspective appreciation of ethical issues and their implications for the future consequences of redesigning existing systems and creating new ones.
  • To apply ecological design thinking knowledge and skills to the design of social systems as a part of an emerging new economics
  • Personal and group enquiry practices to raise awareness of the interdependent relationship between the individual, society and nature and between theory and practice
  • Co-creative participatory practices and theoretical principles for new approaches to the ecological design process that include a range of stakeholders in the full lifecycle of projects, and you will apply these both in the studio, on the Dartington Hall Estate and in short placements on live projects

Special Features

An interdisciplinary programme integrating design methods with those of ecology and the social sciences.

An integrative design programme rooted in deep ecological understanding and practice and informed by cutting edge thinking in new economic approaches and social dynamics.

A balanced distribution of time and resources on skill-based and cognitive-based knowledge and between practice and theory.

Access to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in design, Gaia theory, complexity, climate science, systems thinking, new economics and social change.

Short courses led by internationally recognised thinkers and researchers.

Short practical placements with a range of partner organisations operating at the leading edge of social innovation.

An immersive, integrative and transformational teaching and learning approach rooted in the principles established by Schumacher College and Dartington Hall, and engaged in a living and working community on and around the Dartington Estate in Devon.

Where you will go?

Ecological Design Thinking can be applied to a wide range of contexts, from the personal to the societal. This programme aims to create a new generation of designers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, educators, researchers, consultants and activists. Graduates will have the skills and knowledge to work for sustainable change in the public and private sectors as well as in civil society, or to set up their own projects or organisations that will contribute to the transformation of society.

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The Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour (IPAB) focuses on how to link computational perception, representation, transformation and generation processes to external worlds, in theory and in practice. Read more

The Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour (IPAB) focuses on how to link computational perception, representation, transformation and generation processes to external worlds, in theory and in practice.

This covers domains such as visual perception, dynamic control of robot systems, active sensing and decision making, biomimetic robotics, computer-based generation of external phenomena, such as images, music or actions, and agent-based interaction within computer games and animation.

Supported by the dynamic research culture of IPAB, you can develop robots that learn their own motor control, mimic animal behaviours, or produce autonomous and coordinated team actions. Or you can work with systems that interpret real images and video, or generate complex behaviour in animated characters.

We aim to link strong theoretical perspectives with practical hands-on construction, and provide the hardware and software support to realise this vision.

Training and support

You carry out your research within a research group under the guidance of a supervisor. You will be expected to attend seminars and meetings of relevant research groups and may also attend lectures that are relevant to your research topic. Periodic reviews of your progress will be conducted to assist with research planning.

A programme of transferable skills courses facilitates broader professional development in a wide range of topics, from writing and presentation skills to entrepreneurship and career strategies.

The School of Informatics holds a Silver Athena SWAN award, in recognition of our commitment to advance the representation of women in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The School is deploying a range of strategies to help female staff and students of all stages in their careers and we seek regular feedback from our research community on our performance.


Our robotics labs contain a range of mobile platforms, robot manipulators, humanoid robots, and custom-built sensor and actuation systems that attract continuous interest from funders, industry and members of the public.

Recent developments include the UK's only NASA Valkyrie robot platform, application of robotic hardware to prosthetics and assisted living, and a team that competes in the international robot soccer league.

Our new Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (ECR) brings collaboration with Heriot-Watt University to expand the range of facilities and applications we can explore, and to fund research training.

The machine vision lab has facilities for 3D range data capture, motion capture and high-resolution and high-speed video, and the high performance computing needed for graphics is well supported, including hardware partnerships with companies such as NVIDIA.

Career opportunities

While many of our graduates go on to highly successful academic careers, others find their niche in commercial research labs, putting their knowledge and skills to use in an industry setting.

Several of our recent graduates have set up or joined spin-out robotics companies. Our graphics researchers have strong connections to the media and games industries.

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