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Course overview

This course provides a deep understanding of the processing, nature and properties of a broad range of engineering materials. Only by understanding these can materials be truly designed for purpose. The course seeks to integrate materials behaviour and materials processing relevant to a wide range of industrial sectors, providing students with specific skills suitable for a wide range of careers in UK and international organisations involved in materials and product development. It also provides a firm foundation for a research path in Materials Engineering.

You will study the core principals of advanced materials over two semesters, alongside modules in materials categorisation and the mechanisms of failure of materials. This will provide you with a depth of  knowledge and skills allowing you to make informed choices concerning applications, selection and design of advanced materials. Our teaching aims to produce graduates able to think and function in an integrated manner across all areas of materials engineering.

We offer a good degree of flexibility by combining compulsory modules with a range of electives – this means you can create a programme of study that reflects your individual interests, such as sustainability or knowledge management

Why choose this course?

Top 100

global university

QS World Rankings 2020

UK Top 15th Department

for Mechanical Engineering

TEF Gold

standard of teaching

Teaching Excellence Framework Awards

Course content

This MSc in Advanced Materials programme is a full- time degree studied over a period of one calendar year commencing in late September. Each year of study is divided into two semesters of teaching, while the major individual project is undertaken in the summer session. The basic structure of each taught semester is 11 weeks of teaching followed by a period for revision and examinations.

The taught subject programme consists of modules totalling 120 credits, which comprise five compulsory modules and nine optional modules. Students must take 70 credits of optional modules.


Core modules

Advanced Materials Characterisation (autumn) 20 credits

This module adopts a broad approach, covering the principles underpinning a wide range of materials characterisation techniques, for imaging, structural characterisation and chemical analysis.

Emphasis is given to the process, structure, property interrelationship, backed up by appropriate case studies taken from the areas of structural materials, functional materials, biomaterials and nanomaterials.

Detailed content underpinning the module includes particle / material interactions and wave / material interactions; the experimental process; crystallography; defects; reciprocal space and diffraction.

Consideration is given to instrumentation, vacuum systems, electron sources and detectors etc and described with reference to the techniques of SEM, TEM, XRD, XRF and XPS.

An overview of related surface analysis techniques and ion beam techniques is provided. Aspects of sample preparation, including FIB milling are also covered.

Advanced Materials Research and Communication (autumn) 10 credits

This module requires personal engagement in the classes and there is no examination. In this way this module is like the Individual Project. It has three cycles each comprising students individually preparing a talk, and report, on a topic within a theme and with a title that has been negotiated with the Advanced Materials Teachers (Professor AB Seddon, Dr X Hou and Dr I Ahmed) straight after the teachers have delivered an introductory lecture on that theme.

The point of the module is to improve oral presentation and engineering report-writing skills using advanced materials as a vehicle. The classes are seminars, where good practice is openly discussed and materials' advantages and disadvantages are openly debated. Not to attend classes is not an option or failure of the module at the end is very likely to ensue.

This module is designed to deal with a wide range of materials (including advanced metallic, ceramic, glass, composite and polymeric-based materials) for a wide range of applications. Also it considers materials' themes such as: aerospace materials, medical materials, coatings, carbon-based materials and so on.

The module deals with the underlying principles behind the suitability of material properties for the targeted applications, the processing of these materials, the effects of processing on their subsequent structure and properties and ultimate performance.

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Seminar 12 weeks 2 weeks 2 hours

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 30.00 Case study 1, 2000 word report and oral/visual presentation
Coursework 2 35.00 Case study 2, 2000 word report and oral/visual presentation
Coursework 3 35.00 Case study 3, 2000 word report and oral/visual presentation
Advanced Engineering Research Project Organisation and Design (spring) 10 credits

A project-oriented module involving a review of publications and views on a topic allied to the chosen specialist subject. The module will also involve organisation and design of the main project. Skills will be acquired through workshops and seminars that will include:

  • Further programming in MATLAB and /or MSExcel Macros
  • Project planning and use of Microsoft Project
  • Measurement and error analysis
  • Development of laboratory skills including safety and risk assessment

Students will select a further set of specialist seminars from, e.g.:

  • Meshing for computational engineering applications
  • Modelling using CAE packages
  • Use of CES Selector software
  • Specific laboratory familiarisation
  • Use of MSVisio software for process flow
  • Use of HYSYS process modelling software
  • Use of PSpice to simulate analogue and digital circuits

The specialist seminars will be organised within the individual MSc courses.


Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Seminar 12 weeks 1 week 3 hours

Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 40.00 Project planning
Coursework 2 20.00 Literature review
Coursework 3 20.00 Experimental Design
In-Class Test 20.00 Stats test
Health and Safety test   Pass required.
Materials Design Against Failure (spring) 10 credits

This module focuses on understanding and manipulating of material's microstructure to avoid failure. It addresses the main areas of mechanical failure using specific material system examples to illustrate how materials design is used to develop better materials for particular applications. 

The four areas are:

  • Design for strength – metallic alloys, ceramics
  • Design for toughness – metallic alloys (including discussion of strength/toughness balance for Al alloys)
  • Design for creep resistance - metallic alloys
  • Design for fatigue resistance
Individual Postgraduate Project (summer) 60 credits

This project involves students undertaking an original, independent, research study into an engineering or industrial topic appropriate to their specific MSc programme. The project should be carried out in a professional manner and may be undertaken on any topic which is relevant to the MSc programme, as agreed by the relevant Course Director and module convenor.

The project has several aims, beyond reinforcing information and methodology presented in the taught modules; the student is expected to develop skills in research, investigation, planning, evaluation and oral and written communication.

Final reporting will take the form of a written account including a literature review and an account of the student's contribution. A presentation will be made to academic staff towards the end of the project.

Method and Frequency of Class:

There will be a one hour introductory session/session via Moodle . All other activities are arranged on an individual basis between the student and the project supervisor.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Interim Report (Marked by project supervisor)
Coursework 2 15.00 Supervisor assessment of student input and professionalism (marked by project supervisor)
Coursework 3 10.00 15 minute oral presentation (peer marked and with 1 staff)
Coursework 4 65.00 Dissertation (10,000 word limit)

The project area is flexible and will be supervised by an academic member of staff

Optional modules

Engineering Sustainability – Energy, Materials and Manufacture (autumn) 20 credits

The module aims to provide students with knowledge of key environmental and sustainability issues of relevance to energy supply and use, materials consumption, and product design/manufacture.

Topics include:

  1. Drivers for sustainability, including patterns of energy use, material consumption, waste generation, and associated environmental impacts in UK and globally.
  2. Factors influencing the availability of non-renewable and renewable energy and material resources.
  3. Principles for the efficient use of energy resources including energy use in buildings, heat and power generation, and heat recovery systems.
  4. Life cycle assessment of engineering activities, with focus on greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, their impacts, and mitigation measures.
  5. Economic analysis of investments in energy savings, material substitution, product design, and value recovery from end-of-life products; Cost-benefit analysis incorporating environmental externalities; and the role of government regulations in influencing business decisions.


Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 2 weeks 2 hours

Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 10.00 Technical report including calculation (approx. 4 pages in length)
Exam 90.00 2 hour exam
Biomedical Applications of Biomaterials (autumn) 20 credits

This module is concerned with the biomedical application of materials. It addresses three key areas: 

  1. The clinical need for materials in medicine. An outline of cases where disease and trauma can be treated using materials and the tissues involved. 
  2. The biological responses to materials in the body. Specifically the effect of the biological environment on materials and the effect of implantation of materials on the body. 
  3. The application of materials in medicine. The material requirements, surgical procedures and expected biological performance of biomaterials. The advantages and disadvantages of using different types of materials and the importance of the design of medical implants.


Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Practicum 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours


Assessment method

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 20.00 Laboratory report
Coursework 2 20.00 Clinical observation report
Exam 1 60.00 Closed book exam. 2 hours.
Polymer Engineering (autumn) 10 credits

A broad-based module covering the chemistry, material properties and manufacturing methods relevant to polymers.

Topics include:

  • Polymer chemistry and structure
  • Routes to synthesis, polymerisation techniques, practical aspects of industrial production
  • Viscoelasticity, time-temperature equivalence
  • Rheology of polymer melts, heat transfer in melts, entanglements
  • Properties of solid polymers, yield and fracture, crazing
  • Manufacturing with polymers, extrusion, injection-moulding
  • Design/ processing interactions for plastic products

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Seminar 11 weeks 1 week 1 hour

 Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Report on multidisciplinary design exercise covering the chemistry, processing and properties of a polymeric product
Exam 1 75.00 2 hour exam
Fibre Reinforced Composites Engineering (spring) 10 credits

An introductory module on the design, manufacture and performance of fibre-reinforced composite materials. 

Constituent materials including fibres, resins and additives are described. Processing techniques and the relationships between process and design are highlighted. Design methodologies and computer-aided engineering techniques are demonstrated for component design. Case studies from a variety of industries including automotive and aerospace are presented.

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 1 week 2 hours

 Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Exam 1 100.00 2 hour exam
Introduction to Transport Materials
Joining Technology (spring) 10 credits

This module examines, in-depth, the processes used for joining metallic (e.g. steel, aluminium and titanium alloys) and non-metallic (e.g. polymers and fibre reinforced composites) materials. 

Topics covered include:

  • mechanical joining
  • adhesive bonding
  • soldering and brazing
  • solid state joining (friction welding and diffusion bonding)
  • fusion welding (arc welding and the many classes thereof, resistance, electron beam and laser welding)

The fundamental characteristics of the various processes are examined along with procedures for practical applications. The origins of defects within joints and methods needed to control or eliminate them are also considered. The mechanical behaviour of joints is analysed, as is the effect of joining on the microstructural characteristics and mechanical properties of the base materials. Other features such as residual stress and distortion are addressed. Attention is also given to appropriate design for manufacture in a modern manufacturing context.

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 1 week 2 hours

 Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Case study review
Exam 1 75.00 1 hour 30 minute unseen written exam
Technologies for the Hydrogen Economy
Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing (spring)

This module will cover design, processing and material aspects of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies, as well as the current and potential applications of the technology in a wide variety of sectors. Topics include commercial and experimental systems, material requirements, design for additive manufacturing, software and systems, as well as case studies in industry and society.

Method and Frequency of Class:

Activity Number of Weeks Number of sessions Duration of a session
Computing 1 week 1 week 2 hours
Lecture 9 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Lecture 1 week 1 week 1 hour
Workshop 2 weeks 1 week 2 hours

Method of Assessment:

Assessment Type Weight Requirements
Coursework 1 30.00 Individual Assignment - maximum 4 page report
Exam 1 70.00 1.5 hour exam
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Tuesday 17 November 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We are preparing your tutorials, laboratory classes, workshops and seminars so that you can study and discuss your subjects with your tutors and fellow students in stimulating and enjoyable ways. While we will keep some elements of online course delivery, particularly while Covid-19 restrictions remain in place or where this enhances course delivery, teaching is being planned to take place in-person wherever possible. This will be subject to government guidance remaining unchanged.

We will use the best of digital technologies to support both your in-person and online teaching. We will provide live, interactive online sessions, alongside pre-recorded teaching materials so that you can work through them at your own pace. While the mix of in-person and digital teaching will vary by course, we aim to increase the proportion of in-person teaching in the spring term.

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Project work

How you will be assessed

All assessments in the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online unless there is a professional accreditation requirement or a specific need for on-campus delivery and in-person invigilation.

  • Exams
  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Dissertation

Contact time and study hours

A 10-credit module represents approximately 100 hours of student learning, teaching and assessment.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.


Undergraduate degreeA high 2:2 in a relevant subject


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £10,500
International £25,000

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, there are no additional costs for your budget, apart from your tuition fees and living expenses. Lab and safety equipment is provided for free by the Department.

You should be able to access all of the books you’ll need through our libraries and it is not usual for students to buy their own copies. Any field trips are also funded by the Department. Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Career progression

92.3% of postgraduates from the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £28,000, with the highest being £32,000.

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Tuesday 17 November 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.