MSc Biomaterials

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Research Methods

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS64201
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 unit provides an overview of the design and realization of a research project, either lab-based or computational, the application of technical data analysis and visualisation methods, and how these can be applied to solve engineering problems.


The unit aims to:

  1. Introduce the theory of planning, managing, and executing a research project in science and engineering.
  2. Provide methods to assess, analyse and visualise technical data, with introduction to the design of experiments and industrial statistics, including the application of Taguchi methods.
  3. Provide training and practical examples to propose solutions for engineering challenges.
  4. Improve confidence in the use of transferable and interpersonal skills, team working, and the written & oral communication of scientific ideas.
  5. Reinforce the application of engineering knowledge and theory with concepts in the form of case studies and a subsequent individual research project.

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

    • Attentively watching pre-recorded (asynchronous) online lectures before participating in synchronous activities; undertaking asynchronous tasks; completing individual coursework assignments; working as a team on guided group case study and producing a poster & oral presentation on it; and reading recommended textbooks, web resources, and electronic supporting information on Blackboard.
    • PGT only: having one-to-one discussions with project supervisor about the individual MSc research project, then writing a critical literature review on the topic, designing a project plan and risk assessing the proposed research.
    • PGR only: having one-to-one discussions with PhD supervisor, then writing a critical literature review that identifies gaps in knowledge within the relevant area of research, and thereupon justify the proposed scope of work for the PhD research project.
    • Facilitated learning activities, including synchronous/pre-recorded lectures and case study workshops: 30 h
    • Independent learning activities, including individual/group work and private study: 120 h


Knowledge and understanding

  1. Understand the principles of engineering design and the role of materials selection in design projects
  2. Select an appropriate experimental design and suitable research methods to address a materials science problem
  3. Evaluate the importance of economic, legal, social, ethical and environmental context relevant to engineering practice

Intellectual skills

      a. Evaluate whether differences between measurements and analyses are statistically significant

    Practical skills

    1. Apply tools to design experiments and critically evaluate the resulting data
    2. Process and analyse experimental image data
    3. Create high-quality figures suitable for scientific publication
    4. Assess and mitigate risks of working in a research laboratory

    Transferable skills and personal qualities

    1. Plan, prioritise, deliver and assess a programme of work within a team
    2. Communicate a research project, its motivation, aims, management plan and outcomes to different audiences through an oral and a poster presentation
    3. Compose a high-level critical literature review

    Assessment methods

    Method Weight
    Other 25%
    Written assignment (inc essay) 40%
    Report 10%
    Portfolio 10%
    Oral assessment/presentation 15%
    Set exercise 10%

    Feedback methods

    Feedback given written and verbally.

    Recommended reading

    • W.D. Callister, D.G. Rethwisch, Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction, 9ed, Wiley, 2013.
    • M. Ashby, Materials and Design: The Art & Science of Material Selection in Product Design, 3ed, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2014.
    • R.K. Roy, Design of Experiments Using the Taguchi Approach: 16 Steps to Product and Process Improvement, John Wiley & Sons, 2001.
    • G.S. Peace, Taguchi methods A Hands-On Approach, ¿Addison-Wesley, 1992.
    • D.A. Porter, K.E. Easterling, M.Y. Sherif, Phase Transformations in Metals and Alloys, 3rd, Chapman and Hall, 2009.

    Initial reading about the topic of the individual research project will be provided by the supervisor. The student will perform an in-depth literature review using relevant books and articles from scientific journals, under the guidance of the supervisor.

    Study hours

    Scheduled activity hours
    Lectures 30
    Independent study hours
    Independent study 120

    Teaching staff

    Staff member Role
    Enrique Jimenez-Melero Unit coordinator

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