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Module Descriptor

MECH2011 Materials & Design Studies

Code MECH2011
Alt. Code(s)
Title Materials & Design Studies
Level 2
UCL Credits/ECTs 0.5 / 7.5
Start September
Taught by
Dr Adam Wojcik (100%) Module Coordinator


Students considering registering for this course would normally be expected to have completed introductory courses in materials science and mechanics of materials, e.g. MECH1006.

This is a level 2 course and students are therefore expected to have a sound basis in materials science as applicable to engineering contexts. This entails an understanding of the structure-property relationship in materials and the way in which manufacturing methods affect the latter. A grasp of phase equilibria and basic metallography is expected, as is an understanding of the way in which mechanical properties are determined and how engineers utilize materials data to design with, and select, materials. Additionally, an understanding and knowledge of polymer types and processing, how materials can be strengthened, and how products and components are manufactured from materials, is of great utility to this course.

Course Aims

This course is somewhat unique in materials teaching in that it delivers the required aspects of standard materials theory for 2nd year engineers, but does so within a context of design and in particular, failure of design to deliver the desired effect. In this respect, the course aims to educate and inform by bitter experience as well as by the more conventional textbook approach.

Two main threads are explored in this course: Materials, and Failure of materials & how these aspects link into product design and manufacturing technology. The main aims are as follows:

  • To build upon the theory of materials given in Year 1 through a detailed examination of the principal alloy systems employed in engineering, their main characteristics, uses and heat treatments.
  • To deliver a basic understanding of the theory of other classes of material, including polymers, ceramics and composites, and their selection in engineering design.
  • To understand the modes and mechanisms by which materials and components fail in service and the engineering and manufacturing solutions available to combat such failure.
  • To relate all such information to the design of components and products and to illustrate the strong linkage between design and materials issues, and to the way in which components are manufactured.
  • To equip students with a sense that they have a responsibility to society to produce products that are fit for use, safe and long lasting, as well as cost effective and profitable for their employer.

Method of Instruction

The course is delivered using lectures, tutorials and weekly practical sessions which service a failure analysis case study (FACS).


The course is assessed via a conventional unseen written exam of 3 hours duration. This covers both major threads of the course. 75% of the credit for the course is predicated on this exam. The course work (remaining 25%) consists of one short coursework question sheet, plus a major piece of project work – the Failure Analysis Case Study (FACS). The FACS coursework is a highly novel aspect of the course. Students work on the FACS in groups and it provides an opportunity to deal with practical aspects of engineering that feed off the theoretical side of the course, within a group context – much as engineers conduct themselves in the “real” world.

Recommended Reading

  • Materials Science & Engineering. (8th ed, 2010 or 7th ed). W. D. Callister, D. G. Rethwisch. Wiley (hardback with good coverage of most topics, has either CD or web access).*
  • The Science and Engineering of Materials. (4th ed.) D. R. Askeland & P. P. Phule. Thompson/Brooks. (hardback, covers more than Callister in places + CD).*
  • Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers. (7th, 2009 or 6th ed). J. F. Shackelford. Pearson Education. (general text with emphasis on engineering applications, web access).
  • An additional bibliography covering detailed aspects such as corrosion and fracture is supplied to all students.


Steels, a complete review (the phase diagram, equilibrium structures, TTT/CCT diagrams, martensite & bainite, heat treatments, methods of hardening). Alloy steels (effect of alloying additions, types and stainless steels). Structure, properties and heat treatment of; cast irons, aluminium alloys, titanium alloys and copper alloys. Other important alloys and ceramics. Introduction to corrosion (principles, types). Design against corrosion. Basic introduction to failure of materials by fracture and fatigue. Concept of stress concentration, fracture toughness and fatigue life. Random loading in fatigue design. Designing for fracture resistance in metal components and structures (brittle and ductile fracture, fatigue and creep). Mechanics and fracture resistance of composite materials.

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