England.  Change location

Nanoscale engineering

Nanotechnology contributes solutions to previously inaccessible challenges – in sectors including communications, energy, environment, healthcare, personalised medicine, and security. Gain industry-relevant knowledge of nanoscale engineering, including manufacturing nanoscale structures and devices; the functionality of thin film coatings; energy harvesting and storage; biosensors; and nanotechnology use in medical diagnoses and treatments. You’ll learn how to characterise surfaces and nanomaterials and how to simulate the performance of nanoscale devices and processes.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code




  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.

Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

This module looks at three application areas associated with nanoscale engineering: structured technologies; energy and electronics; and health. Interactive software and practical activities within the OpenSTEM Labs support the module materials. Multiphysics simulations provide you with the opportunity to design systems and devices which utilise nanoscale engineering and model their performance.

This section introduces nanoscale engineering and briefly describes the technologies under consideration throughout the module, using examples of nature-inspired engineering which utilise nanostructures. The important roles played by thermal energy and intermolecular forces are explored and the rapidly evolving nature of nanotechnologies is emphasised.

Part 1: Structured technologies
In this part, you’ll learn about low adhesion surfaces, including self-cleaning glass, stain-resistant fabrics, and waterproofing. The role of surface modification in creating new functionality is described. Top-down and bottom-up methods will be explored, including vacuum systems, material deposition techniques, and surface characterisation. Devices including accelerometers, actuators, and detectors are considered.

Part 2: Energy and electronics
This part focuses on nanostructures and nanomaterials, exploring their enhanced properties conferred by scaling. The development of state-of-the-art and next-generation, low-power electronic devices is investigated. You’ll study the fabrication and characterisation of these devices, as well as the range of light/matter interactions that are exploited in nanotechnologies. Application areas include energy storage, energy harvesting, supercapacitors, and logic/memory technologies.

Part 3: Health
This part explores nanotechnology as utilised in healthcare and biochemical applications for early diagnosis and prevention, as well as for the treatment and monitoring of disease. Particular emphasis is placed on diagnostics, including advanced biosensors for health, drug delivery techniques, lab-on-a-chip and nano-robots. You’ll study microfluidic and nanofluidic devices and arrays of nanomaterials-based sensor technology.

Future prospects
You’ll explore the future prospects for nanotechnology, including molecular machines, as well as recently awarded Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Physics, which are expected to lead to functional engineered devices and products.

You will learn

The knowledge and skills developed in this module are applicable in various engineering roles. At the end of it you’ll be able to:

  • explain how the properties and behaviour of materials and structures differ at the microscale and the nanoscale when compared to the macroscale
  • describe how nanoscale engineering has been used to mimic the natural world
  • select and use appropriate mathematical, computational, and analytical techniques to determine the composition, structure, identity, and properties of nanomaterials
  • effectively and accurately deliver ideas, information and solutions to problems in engineering disciplines through a range of media
  • search and use relevant journal papers via the library website.

Vocational relevance

This module will help you to gain knowledge and skills that are essential for the practising engineer. It can help you to:

  • understand the role played by nanoscale engineering and nanomaterials in general engineering
  • articulate the fundamental scientific principles underlying complex concepts in micro- and nanoengineering to a variety of cross-disciplinary audiences, including peers and subject specialists
  • specify the characteristics of engineered nanomaterials required to achieve behaviour or responses suitable for their incorporation in a device or application
  • use surface characterisation tools to address quality control in microfabrication and nanofabrication.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students in dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Future availability

Nanoscale engineering (T366) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2028.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
3 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements.

However, previous degree-level study of science or engineering is recommended.

Are you ready for T366? is a diagnostic quiz to help you decide if you’re prepared to start studying T366.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an advisor.

Preparatory work

You should aim to be confident and fluent with the concepts covered in the Are you ready? quiz and follow the advice in the quiz.

You must be familiar with the following:

  • fundamental concepts of mechanics, dynamics, materials, chemistry of materials, and electricity
  • algebraic expressions, calculus notation and mathematical models in general
  • Windows and suitable word-processing and spreadsheet software.

We recommend you have one of the following:

  • passes in Engineering: maths, modelling, applications (T194), Core engineering A (T271), and Core engineering B (T272)
  • physics and mathematics knowledge equivalent to A-Level or above, and a basic understanding of chemistry.

For registered students, revision and preparation material will be available on the T366 ‘Discover Your Module’ page on the engineering subject advisory website.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £1818.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2028.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and, therefore, the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 19/06/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • access to third-party software
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to student and tutor group forums.

We’ll give you three printed module books, each covering one part of study. And you’ll have access to the OpenSTEM Labs.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying T366 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.