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MSc Polymer Materials Science and Engineering

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Principles of Polymers & Composites

Unit code MATS68301
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Materials
Available as a free choice unit? No


Fundamental concepts in polymer and polymer composite science will be covered with key topics 


This unit aims to introduce Polymer Materials Science and Engineering MSc students to the science underpinning the synthesis, characterisation and properties of polymers and composites.


Learning outcomes

A greater depth of the learning outcomes will be covered in the following sections:

Knowledge and understanding

Intellectual skills

Practical skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, group tutorials (problem sessions), recommended textbooks, web resources, past exam papers, electronic supporting information (Blackboard). 


Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe the basic structures, compositions, properties and uses of common polymers.
  • Describe common polymerisation methods, including synthesis of linear & non-linear polymers.
  • Describe the principles behind, and the uses of, common techniques used for polymer characterisation.
  • Describe the structure-property-performance relationships of a range of polymers and polymer composites.
  • Describe the principles behind, and the applications of, common polymer and polymer composites processing methods.

Intellectual skills

  • Explain the structure of polymers and discuss polymer synthesis reactions.
  • Apply simple models to predict and explain various properties of polymers and composites.
  • Explain how the properties of polymers and polymer composites depend upon their molecular and physical structures.
  • Identify appropriate techniques for the analysis of polymers.

Practical skills

  • Analyse the results from other polymer testing experiments and link them to their physical properties.
  • Explain why some polymers have unique physical properties. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Solve problems utilising appropriate numerical skills, chemical knowledge and algebraic methods.
  • Assess results critically and apply them in other areas of studies.
  • Interpret results reliably and effectively in their research work.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Feedback methods

Feedback given verbally and written.

Recommended reading

  • R.J. Young and P.A. Lovell, Introduction to Polymers: 3rd Edition, CRC Press, 2011 or 2nd Edition, CRC Press, 1991
  • G. Odian, Principles of Polymerisation, all editions
  • J.M.G. Cowie, Polymers: Chemistry and Physics of Modern Materials, all editions
  • M. Gilbert, Brydson's Plastics Materials, Eighth Edition
  • M.P. Stevens, Polymer Chemistry: An Introduction, all editions
  • L.H. Sperling, Introduction to Physical Polymer Science, all editions
  • Introduction to Composite Materials, D. Hull, T.W. Clyne. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.
  • Manufacturing Processes for Advanced Composites, F.C. Campbell, Elsevier, 2004.
  • Liquid Moulding Technologies, C.D. Rudd, Woodhead, 1997.
  • Processing of Composites R.S. Dave¿, A.C. Loos (editors), 2000.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Charles Darko Unit coordinator

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