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Materials Science is increasingly recognised as a key discipline in the modern world, spanning both physical and biological sciences and also involving various branches of engineering. Recent technological developments in areas as diverse as medicine, sports goods, forensics, energy generation, electronics, communications and transport have all been largely dependent on improvements in the performance limits of constituent materials, rather than on advances related to physical principles or engineering design. People with an understanding of how the properties and performance of a material are determined, and might be improved, are therefore in great demand throughout the world, across a wide range of organisations. This understanding cannot be obtained solely by studying courses such as Physics, Chemistry or Engineering, since it relies on familiarity with various subtleties and interplays in the processing-microstructure-property relationships. The Materials Science course covers these relationships for all of the main types of material. It builds on the basics provided in the IA and IB Materials courses, although students who have missed one or both of them might nevertheless be able to take it. There are around 20 lecture courses in addition to practical and project work. Students also attend a business module comprising a careers day (talks and networking with alumni working in a variety of roles), an intellectual property course (delivered by a professional working in that area) and an industrial visit. The course leads to the BA degree.

The BA degree course has been accredited as meeting the academic requirements for CEng with Further Learning, for intake years up to and including 2028, by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).

  • Informal prospective study enquiries may be made to the Director of Undergraduate Teaching (  
  • Information for current students is found on the relevant Moodle course.

This page is for external visitors and gives general information on the lectures and course activities which are available during the 2023-2024 academic year. Please be aware that the lectures and activities offered can change from one year to the next, as may the lecturers who deliver them.  

Lecture courses

  • C1: Introduction to Materials Modelling

    Prof J A Elliott

    This course aims to give a basic introduction to some of the main techniques for physical and numerical modelling of materials properties, suitable for those with a physical sciences background but no prior programming experience. Using a combination...Read more

  • C2: Electrochemical Materials

    Prof R C Evans

    Electrochemical materials play critical roles in diverse fields of healthcare, energy, environmental protection, security and consumer electronics. They are typically used in electrochemical devices that either generate electrical energy from a...Read more

  • C3: Electronic and Optical Properties of Materials

    Prof C Ducati

    This module is designed to cover the basic concepts behind the electronic and optical properties of materials, from the classical description used for metals and insulators, to the quantum mechanical approach used for semiconductors. Examples of...Read more

  • C4: Applications of Tensors

    Prof N D Mathur

    This course builds on the IB "Mechanics of Materials and Structures", which provided an introduction to tensor manipulation, mainly in the context of stresses and strains (both of which are second rank tensors). The present course is a short one (3...Read more

  • C5: Magnetic Properties of Materials

    Prof J J W A Robinson

    Magnetism has been known and applied since ancient times, and it lies at the heart of modern technology, enabling the generation, control and transmission of electricity, data storage in computing, and countless other applications.

    A detailed...Read more

  • C6: Crystallography

    Prof P A Midgley

    The aim of this course on crystallography is to take students from an elementary understanding of crystals, to a stage where they become confident about single and polycrystals, the crystallography of phase transformations, characterisation methods,...Read more

  • C7: Materials Processing

    Dr P Chen

    In this course we will consider how materials can be processed to create components with relatively complex geometries. We shall build upon the understanding of solidification gained during Part IB and extend it by considering the factors that affect...Read more

  • C8: Chemical Stability and High Temperature Oxidation

    Prof  H J Stone

    High temperature corrosion limits component life in a range of important industrial and commercial applications from the petrochemical industry to energy production and transport. In this course, the thermodynamics and principles behind high...Read more

  • C9: Alloys

    Dr E R Wallach

    The course deals with the design and use of metallic alloys with a focus on the development and control of microstructure, the relationships between microstructure and properties, and applications. The major metallic alloy systems are covered. In...Read more

  • C10: Polymers

    Prof J A Elliott

    The course covers the physical properties of polymers, including simple models for predicting behaviour and their origin in terms of molecular structure. The relationship between chemical structure, chain conformation, crystal structure and...Read more

  • C11: Thermal Analysis

    Prof J H Gwynne

    Thermal Analysis describes a set of techniques which are widely used in both academic research and industry. These techniques are generally straightforward to use and are able to characterise a wide range of materials and materials properties.

    ...Read more

  • C12: Plasticity and Deformation Processing

    Dr K M Knowles

    In this course, attention will be focused on a description and analysis of yield criteria for the plastic flow of materials, together with simplified analyses of plastic deformation in the context of materials deformation, particularly with regards to...Read more

  • C13: Ceramics

    Prof S M Best

    Ceramics are the group of materials most widely used by man. They include the cheapest materials, such as brick, concrete and glass, and the most expensive, such as diamond. Unlike metals, they have an extraordinary range and combination of properties...Read more

  • C14: X-ray and Neutron Diffraction

    Dr P Chen

    In this course, we will look at the characteristics of X-ray and neutron radiation, the ways in which they can be produced and how they interact with crystalline materials. We shall then explore the theory of diffraction and consider the factors that...Read more

  • C15: Fracture and Fatigue

    N Church

    This course examines the use of Fracture Mechanics in the prediction of mechanical failure. We explore the range of macroscopic static failure modes and extend these principles to fatigue failure.

    The first part of the course (Fracture)...Read more

  • C16: Composite Materials

    Dr R P Thompson

    This course covers various aspects of the performance and usage of composite materials. It is primarily oriented towards “conventional” composites, which comprise long fibres (usually of glass or carbon) in a polymeric matrix. However, there is some...Read more

  • C17: Heat and Mass Transfer

    Prof X Moya

    In this course, concepts concerning the rate of heat transfer and the mode by which such a transfer takes place will be discussed. Both analytical and empirical equations and models governing heat transfer will be evaluated and applied to selected...Read more

  • C18: Biomedical Materials

    Prof S M Best

    In this course, we will begin by considering the various categories of medical device and how their function influences the testing that is relevant to their application. We then move on to considering the biological tissues that we might wish to...Read more

  • C19: Electron Microscopy

    Prof C Ducati

    Electron microscopy (EM) is one of the primary characterization tools for materials science, and essential to the study of microstructure, crystallography and composition at high spatial resolution. The purpose of this course is to explore the main EM...Read more

  • C20: Atomic Force Microscopy

    Prof R A Oliver

    Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is one of the key techniques of nanoscience and nanotechnology, providing relatively straightforward access to nanoscale surface structure for a vast range of materials: both conductors and insulators, soft and hard...Read more

  • E1: Mathematical Methods

    Prof B Monserrat

    The aim of this course is revision of mathematics. The course booklet contains a comprehensive handout for the course. It is assumed that you have a working knowledge of trigonometry, and of the basic principles and practice of differentiation and...Read more