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Graduate Diploma and Master of Science Online Degree Programs in Plasma and Vacuum Technology
Home > Graduate Diploma and Master of Science Online Degree Programs in Plasma and Vacuum Technology

Graduate Diploma and Master of Science Online Degree Programs in Plasma and Vacuum Technology

(Also available and offered as individual certificated courses)

Run jointly by Queen's University of Belfast and Dublin City University

List of relevant links used in this document:

Entry Requirements
Application Form
Program Fees
Frequently Asked Questions
PVT 1: Fundamentals of Industrial Plasmas
PVT 3: Plasma Applications
PVT 5: Plasma Sources
PVT 7: Plasma and Process Sensors
PVT 9: MSc Degree Research Project
Application Procedure
Program Structure
Equipment and Software Requirements
PVT 0: Introduction to Plasma and Vacuum
PVT 2: Fundamentals of Vacuum Technology
PVT 4: Advanced Vacuum Technology
PVT 6: Surface Interactions and Analysis
PVT 8: Graduate Diploma Research Project

Program Overview

These web-based programs are designed to provide high-quality and industry-relevant courses which are responsive to the needs of those working with plasmas and/or vacuum technology. The graduates will have the specialized knowledge needed to maintain and improve existing industrial processes as well as the ability to introduce new ideas and techniques.

By applying to a program or an individual certificate course through Semizone (see the Application Procedure and Application Form), you also qualify for 25% enrollment discount in Semizone courses and curriculum programs during the entire term of your studies (contingent upon your admission and enrollment in at least a module or a program)

The program courses are offered through innovative web-based techniques (see the Equipment and Software Requirements for a description of the computer and Internet access requirements). Attendance by students at either University (Queen's University of Belfast or Dublin City University) is not required. The courses are designed to maximize their accessibility for prospective students in full-time employment and create a collaborative and supportive learning environment. They encourage students to develop the self-directed learning skills required to maintain and develop their expertise in the rapidly changing modern industrial environment. Communication skills are developed through assignment reports and participation in on-line discussions, combined with quick and detailed feedback.

Each course or project module can be taken on its own or used as credit to qualify for either a Graduate Diploma or Master of Science degree in Plasma and Vacuum Technology (to review the course of studies leading to the MSc degree or Graduate Diploma, see the Program Structure). The courses are taught at the level of a general science or engineering graduate course. There is no prerequisite qualification required to study an individual course, however, entry onto the Masters course requires a good Bachelors degree, or the equivalent, in a physical science or engineering discipline (see the Entry Requirements for relevant details). Those without such a qualification will be considered for entry into the Diploma program on a case by case basis. The award of either qualification requires the successful completion of four compulsory courses, two advanced courses, and a project. The assessment method makes use of a final examination, assignments, quizzes, and the quality of the online participation of the student. Review the Frequently Asked Questions document for additional information regarding the application procedures as well as the modules and programs.

Each course is delivered over a 12 week period. It is expected that a student will spend a total of 80 hours an each course, 40 hours on directed study, i.e., reading of course material, taking quizzes, and participating in tutorial discussion and a further 40 hours of independent study.

The School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University of Belfast and the School of Physical Sciences have a high profile in research in plasma and vacuum science and experience in delivering short courses to industrial companies. Amongst those teaching the course are Dr. Ken Dunn, Dr. Bert Ellingboe, Prof Bill Graham, and Prof. Miles Turner.

Brief Course Descriptions

PVT0: Introduction to Plasma and Vacuum Technology

Present some of the fundamental principles of plasma and vacuum technology. To take non-specialists and introduce them to main concepts in a non-mathematical way. Upon completing this module the participant should: (i) understand the basic principles of plasmas and vacuum; and (ii) have an overview of plasma and vacuum technology.

PVT 1: Fundamentals of Industrial Plasmas

The fundamental principles behind the creation and sustaining of plasmas are introduced. This provides an understanding of the nature of plasmas, the unique properties that make them distinct from other forms of matter, and how these properties form the basis of their technological application.

PVT 2: Fundamentals of Vacuum Technology

The fundamental principles of vacuum technology are explained from a gas kinetics view point. The working principles and operating regimes of a wide range of different vacuum pumps and vacuum sensors are discussed, along with basic vacuum system design and troubleshooting.

PVT 3: Plasma Applications

This course deals in detail with plasma chemistry and plasma-surface interactions as a basis for providing an awareness and appreciation of the broad applicability of plasmas. Some specific applications are covered in detail.

PVT 4: Advanced Vacuum Technology

This course is a more detailed study of the principles of vacuum pump operation, vacuum system design and troubleshooting. It is designed to allow the student to make informed decisions on pump and vacuum system specification and purchases.

PVT 5: Plasma Sources

Here an overview of the fundamental principles of operation of commercially important plasma sources is presented. This is aimed at developing an understanding of the criteria for choosing plasma sources for different applications and in evaluating source performance.

PVT 6: Surface Interactions and Analysis

This course introduces the fundamental concepts of surface structure, processes and chemistry. It features the working principles of current and emerging surface analysis techniques providing an awareness of the capabilities of these techniques to investigate process related problems.

PVT 7: Plasma and Process Sensors

Here the most important plasma and process diagnostic sensors used in process development and plasma reactor monitoring are examined. This provides an awareness of the important plasma parameters, their expected values in plasma applications and how they can be measured.

PVT 8: Diploma Research Project and PVT9: MSc Research Project

These are long term literature-based (PVT8) or experimental (PVT 9) projects, normally of direct relevance to the student's employment or interests. They are designed to equip students with the research skills needed to acquire and evaluate the type of information and data required to define and understand specific plasma applications. They also develop report writing and presentation skills.

Who should enrol in these courses or participate in these programs:

Those employed in industries which utilize plasma and vacuum technology. These may include scientists, engineers, technicians and other professionals.

Science and engineering graduates who wish to specialize and obtain a formal graduate qualification in plasma and vacuum technology.

Individuals and companies who wish to use individual courses as a basis for continuing professional development and training.

Graduate students working on projects which require background knowledge of industrial plasma or vacuum systems. Individual courses may be taken to obtain the relevant knowledge and skills.


The courses run for 12 weeks, starting in October and February each year. The closing date for applications for courses starting in the second semester (February) of the academic year is in January. Applications for courses starting in the following academic year can be submitted now. Full details of application procedures are given in the Application Procedure document. The individual module and full program fees are listed in Program Fees.