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Subject Summary: Part II Materials Science

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 and builds on the basics provided in the IA and IB Materials Science courses.


The aim of the course is to complete basic instruction in Materials Science by providing a core set of lectures supplemented by examples classes and practical work. In addition to a course on business, management and patent issues, students choose either language classes, teaching experience, or a computing course. The Part II course also involves project work and a literature review. The projects provide an introduction to sophisticated analytical tools (e.g. transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and thermal analysis) and computational techniques (finite element analysis and molecular simulation). Industrial visits and invited lectures from industrialists trained originally in Materials Science will also enable students to set the subject in a wider context. Students are strongly encouraged to gain industrial experience in materials science and technology. Help in finding jobs or projects during the summer is available through the Department for all students. The Part II Materials Science course is an accredited qualification towards Chartered Engineer (CEng) and Chartered Scientist (CSci) status.


Programme Specification: Part II Materials Science

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


Part II Materials Science is aimed at developing a thorough understanding and knowledge across all aspects of Materials Science as well as developing practical skills, working in small teams and using industrially relevant equipment. The course also aims to develop transferable skills which have use beyond the study of science and technology. The aiming to train interdisciplinary scientists with a range of theoretical and applied skills who will be well prepared to move on either to one of wide range of careers, or to continue further study at Masters level.


Learning Outcomes

At the end of the Part II Materials Science course, students will be expected to have:

  1. acquired deep understanding and knowledge of a wide range of materials and how their properties can be experimentally determined or theoretically modelled;
  2. designed, performed and analysed experiments to characterise materials and devices;
  3. developed practical laboratory skills, together with thorough knowledge of health and safety;
  4. developed significant skills in the areas of quantitative analysis, scientific reasoning and communication;
  5. obtained experience of independent investigation through reading and through experimentation;
  6. carried out an in-depth investigation into an area of Materials research;
  7. gained expertise in a characterisation or computational technique via completion of a team project;
  8. developed transferable skills in the areas of computing, education or languages;
  9. gained awareness of the landscape for future opportunities in training or employment beyond Part II.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, examples classes, revision clinics, practical experiments, a techniques project, a literature review, industrial visits and presentations.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations, based on lecture material;
  • write-ups of practical work performed, including one in-depth practical report;
  • a literature review;
  • a poster and viva on a group techniques project performed;
  • assessed work for the business course and the transferable skills (language, education or computing) courses.


Courses of Preparation

Highly Desirable: NST Part IB Materials Science. Transfers from other Triposes and/or participation by other students are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.