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Materials Science

Programme Specification: Part IA Materials Science

This course is taught by the Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.


  1. to introduce the basic concepts concerning the materials in the world about us and to explain the structure and properties of crystalline and non-crystalline materials, the symmetry and defects of crystal structures, their chemical stability, physical properties, mechanical properties and changes in structure;
  2. to explain the experimental approaches and technologies which have led to our understanding of materials' structure and properties;
  3. to provide practical classes which are designed to help develop and clarify concepts introduced in lectures and to allow students to experience the experimental methods which have led to our understanding of materials;
  4. to provide sufficient background material to enable students to continue with more specialised courses in Part IB, such as Materials Science and other physical science subjects.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the students should

  1. have acquired an understanding of the main concepts related to the structure and properties of materials and the experimental approaches used to reveal these concepts;
  2. be able to understand the three-dimensional nature of crystalline and non-crystalline materials and to calculate values relevant to their structure, physical properties and chemical stability;
  3. be able to do simple experiments using laboratory equipment to demonstrate concepts lectured in the course;
  4. be able to continue with Part IB courses which utilize many aspects of the science and understanding of materials.

Teaching and learning methods

These include lectures, practicals and demonstrations, supervisions and extensive use of dedicated software packages.


Assessment for this course is through

  • a number of assessed practicals and a mini-project based on material from the lectures (for aims 1-4 and learning outcomes 1-4);
  • one unseen written examination based on material given in lectures and practicals throughout the year (for aims 1, 2 & 4 and learning outcomes 1, 2 & 4).

Courses of Preparation

Highly Desirable: A Level Physics or Chemistry and Mathematics. No previous subject knowledge is necessary.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.