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To the right of the page you will find lots of useful links to general admissions and study information about the University of Cambridge. Below there are a number of FAQs specific to studying Materials Science as part of the Natural Sciences Tripos. We hope you can find the information you need in one of the many sources available via this page.

The University has also issued a statement on first year teaching in the Natural Sciences in 2020-21: https://www.natsci.tripos.cam.ac.uk/news/Teaching

 

Q. How is the Materials Science course taught?

The Materials Science course is one of a range of options found within the Natural Sciences Tripos In the first year, students must choose 4 courses to study, followed by 3 courses in the second year. Students can then specialise in one subject in the third and fourth years.

The Materials Science course is delivered as an integrated system of lectures, practicals and supervisions that are supplemented by web-based learning.

For academic year 2020-2021, it is not year clear how the course will be delivered as a result of social distancing. The University is working hard to develop a comprehensive and coherent plan for delivering both lecture materials and practical classes to ensure academic standards are maintained going forward into 2020-2021 and beyond.

Q. Where is the Department of Materials Science? How do people travel to there?

The Department of Materials Science is on Charles Babbage Road on the West Cambridge site. It is a short bike ride (or walk if you are keen) from the centre of Cambridge and within a short walking distance of Eddington (where there is University accommodation and a supermarket). The Department is also served by the dedicated Universal bus, which stops outside the Department building. University card holders can access a reduced fare rate on this bus service.

Q. What facilities are available in and around the Department of Materials Science?

The Department of Materials Science has a Tea Room where staff and students socialise. Refreshments and pre-packed sandwiches are sold here. There is a computing suite, which can be used by Materials Science students, and a small library-come-resource room. The latter is also used by third and fourth year students as study space in between lectures.

Elsewhere on the West Cambridge site is West Café and on Wednesday there is a pop-up Food Park next door to the Department. The University Sports Centre is also just next door!

Please be aware that some of these facilities may not be fully operational due to social distancing measures during academic year 2020-2021.

Q. How many contact hours are there for Materials Science?

In the first two years of Materials Science in a typical week there are three hours of lectures and a similar amount of time spent in practical classes. Students will also have one hour of small group teaching known as a supervision. Third and fourth year are more variable as more flexible aspects of the course, such as research projects, become a major part of the course.

Q. What Materials Science topics might be covered?

Information about lecture topics covered within the Materials Science option in the current academic year are listed in our section on Undergraduate study - https://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate-study

Q. Do I get a choice of Materials Science lecture courses?

In the first three years there is no choice of lecture course within the Materials Science option of the Natural Sciences Tripos. However, in the third year you are able to choose from a selection of optional modules: computer programming, languages, education-based project. In the fourth year, i.e. during the integrated Masters year, you can choose from a selection of Materials Science courses during the Michaelmas and Lent Terms, allowing you to choose topics that complement your individual research project.

Q. Where will my Materials Science lecture courses be held?

The first and second year lecture courses are usually held within one of the larger centrally located lecture halls, due to the size of the year groups. In the third and fourth years, the lecture courses are held at the Department of Materials Science, on the West Cambridge site.

However, the University has decided that lectures will be delivered remotely in the academic year 2020-2021, unless social distancing measures change so that they can go ahead under normal conditions. Lectures will likely be pre-recorded, rather than live-streamed, and be made available to students to view at time convenient for them. There will be a suggested timeline that ties recorded lectures to the practicals and other aspects of the course.

Q. What subjects complement Materials Science? What is a typical first year (Part IA) choice?

Maths A-level and one of Physics or Chemistry A-level are required to study Materials Science in the first year; though the syllabus allows for students to be brought up to speed with the relevant parts of Physics or Chemistry required for the Materials Science courses if they have only studied one of of those previously. Other subjects that are popular alongside Materials Science are Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences, though many people enjoy a wide range of biological options alongside Materials Science too.

Q. Do I have to study Maths?

Maths is compulsory in the first year. It is a specialist module for scientists and underpins much of the science in the later years of the course.

Q. How many Materials Science practical classes will I have? What kind of practical classes will they be?

In first and second year Materials Scientists have a single session of around 2.5 to 3 hours each week. The practical class consists of some demonstrations or learning exercises as well as some experiments to build laboratory technique and analysis skills. Notes are maintained through the session and marked by a demonstrator. In third year there are fewer, more in depth exercises that more deeply explore a particular aspect of material science and use real research equipment; students still maintain a lab book, but choose one of these practicals to write up in a formal report. In the fourth year there are no organised practicals, rather students undertake an individual research project, applying their skills in an area of active research with one of the research groups in the Department of Materials Science.

It is currently planned to run the usual practical classes in 2020-2021, but with an adjusted timetable with smaller student numbers at any one time to allow social distancing.

Q. Where will my Materials Science practical classes be held?

Practical classes are held at the Department of Materials Science on the West Cambridge site in a purpose built teaching laboratory.  Some specialist equipment is need for a number of the practical activities in later years and students will make use of some the Department’s research facilities for that work.

Q. Do I get to do a Materials Science research project?

In the first and second years you complete a defined practical project over the course of a number of weeks. In the third year, there is an alloy design project as well as learning a variety of practical techniques through organised practicals. In the fourth year, you complete an individual research project where you are embedded within one of the Department of Materials Science’s research groups and work independently in an area of active research.

Q. Are there any Materials Science group/team work activities?

Students work in teams (between 2 and 6 people depending) for most of the practicals, though most of the write ups are independently done. In the third year there is an alloy design project where groups of students work together to design against a brief. This project, including the presentation of results, is done in a team.

Q. Is the Materials Science course accredited for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status?

If you choose to specialise in Materials Science for your third, and then fourth year, then your BA degree, and subsequent MSci degree, are accredited by the IOM3 in relation to Chartered Engineering status. For more specific details on the accreditation given for the BA and MSci degrees see the information on https://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/ug-study/part-ii and https://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/ug-study/part-iii-mast.