MSc Biomaterials

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Materials Science

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS64101
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


The development and use of new materials has enabled our modern way of living. Whether it has been through the use of silicon chips in our mobile phones and computers, advanced alloys in aircraft jet engines, or the polymers that package our food, we find that materials technologies are at the centre of nearly everything we come into contact with.  


The unit aims to:

  1. Give students an introduction to core topics that any materials scientist should have a good grasp of.
  2. Develop further introductory knowledge in degree-specific area (specifically, knowledge related to production materials selection for a given application).
  3. Develop communication and teamwork skills through group assignments. 
  4. Familiarise students (particularly overseas students) with the style of teaching at Manchester. 


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 will be used to introduce fundamental concepts and topics in materials science and materials characterisation.  Owing to the COVID-19 situation, normal lecture content will be delivered through online videos that can be accessed at any time (this is called ‘asynchronous’ content’).  One-hour tutorial sessions will then be held each day for further explanations/discussions/questions and feedback (this live content is referred to as ‘synchronous’ content). Workshops will be used for group learning activities, in which small groups of students will be asked to select materials for a particular application relevant to their subject stream. The results of the materials selection will be communicated through a short presentation, which will be prepared and presented by the group, as well as through an individual written report. Formative feedback will be provided in the team workshop sessions by academic staff and teaching assistants, and will also be available through the completion of an online Blackboard quiz, which will take the same form as the final electronic exam.



Knowledge and understanding

1.       Discuss the differences in the atomic structures of key material groups (e.g., metals, glasses and polymers)

2.       Describe the ways in which thermodynamic and kinetic considerations determine the formation of structures in materials. 

3.       Give examples of ways in which the atomic and micro-scale structure of materials determines their macroscopic properties.

4.       Identify appropriate characterisation methods to measure particular physical properties in materials.

Intellectual skills

5.       Use simple relationships (e.g., Bragg’s law) to determine the physical properties of materials from measurement data.

6.        Interpret an open-ended problem you are given and determine a list of actions in response (specifically, this will relate to materials selection for a given application).

Practical skills

7.       Create informative presentations using computer software packages (e.g., Powerpoint). 

8.       Search for information on a particular topic and combine the information obtained from different sources in an effective manner.

9.        Use CES EduPack to select materials for a particular application.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

10.       Work in teams to complete a task given to you.

11.       Communicate the results of a project effectively to an audience using an electronic presentation (e.g., Powerpoint).

12.      Write a report that effectively communicates the methodology and results of a problem solving investigation.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 70%
Report 20%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

Examination (Electronic)

Feedback methods

Feedback given written and verbally.

Recommended reading

Full reading list, including electronic resources, provided at start of lecture notes.  Also see Blackboard for supplementary material. 

  • Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction, W.D. Callister and D.G. Rethwisch, Wiley (latest is 9th edition (2013), but earlier are also fine). ¿
  • Basic Solid State Chemistry, A.R. West, Wiley, 2nd edition (1999). ¿
  • The Basics of Crystallography and Crystallography, C. Hammond, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition (2009). ¿
  • Introduction to Polymers, R.J. Young and P.A. Lovell, CRC Press, 2nd (1991) or 3rd (2011) editions. ¿
  • Engineering Materials : An Introduction to their Properties and Applications, M.F. Ashby and D.R.H. Jones, Pergamon, 2nd edition (1996). ¿
  • Phase Transformations in Metals and Alloys, D.A. Porter, K.E. Easterling and Mohamed Sherif, CRC Press, 3rd edition (2009, revised reprint). ¿
  • Diffusion in Solids, P. Shewmon, TMS, 2nd edition (1989). ¿
  • Introduction to Dislocations, D. Hull and D.J. Bacon, Butterworth-Heinemann, 5th ¿edition (2011). ¿
  • Mechanical Behaviour of Materials, W.F. Hosford, Cambridge University Press, (2010). ¿
  • Mechanical Metallurgy, G.E. Dieter, McGraw-Hill, SI Metric edition (1988). ¿
  • Electroceramics: Materials, Properties, Applications, A.J. Moulson and J.M. Herbert, Wiley, 2nd edition (2010). ¿
  • Introduction to Composite Materials, D. Hull and T.W. Clyne, Cambridge University Press, (1996). ¿
  • Structural Biomaterials, J. Vincent, Princeton U P, revised edition (1991). ¿
  • Elements of X-ray Diffraction, B.D. Cullity and S.R. Stock, Pearson, 3rd edition (2014). ¿Transmission Electron Microscopy: A Text for Materials Science, D.B. Williams and C.B. Carter, Springer, 2nd edition (2011).


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Edward Pickering Unit coordinator

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