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MEng Mechanical Engineering with Industrial Experience

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Composites and Polymers

Unit code MACE40102
Credit rating 15
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Division (L5)
Available as a free choice unit? No


Composite materials are finding increasing application in various engineering fields due to its advantages over conventional structure materials.  This unit covers a wide range of topics on composite materials and polymers, including materials, manufacturing techniques and mechanics of composite materials and structures.  The intended learning outcomes are focussed on the basic knowledge of composites and understanding of the design and analysis of composite structures and manufacturing.

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates


For students to:

  1. Describe the concept of composites and their applications in engineering;
  2. Use basic principles and means for design and analysis of simple structures made of composites;

Familiarise with a range of typical manufacture processing techniques.


       1. Introduction to composite materials

Describes what are composite materials, their characteristics, advantages/disadvantages and applications.

  1. Anisotropic elasticity

Explains the material behaviour of composites:  stress-strain relationship, elastic engineering constants, stiffness transformation between different coordinate systems, mechanics of lamina.

  1. Classical laminate theory

Derive the constitutive law for composite laminate, discuss the stiffness of composite laminate, explain how to perform stress analysis of laminate. Reveal how the fibre orientation angle and ply stacking sequence affect the laminate stiffness and strength.

  1. Failure theories

Introduce two widely used failure criteria for composites: Maximum stress and Tsai-wu criteria, explain how to apply them to failure analysis of composites.

  1. Buckling of laminated composite structures

Derive governing equation for laminate buckling, solve some examples,

  1. Micromechanics

Explain how to predict the effective material properties of composites based on its constituents, discuss the failure mechanisms of composites.

  1. Composite laminate design

Introduce the general design rules, how to use Carpet Plot method and perform laminate design via an example. 

  1. Materials

Introduce the concept of polymer, classification, major thermo-physical properties. Discuss processing technologies; classify the types of fibres/mats/reinforcements (glass, carbon, graphene, kevlar, natural fibres, etc.)

  1. Manufacturing processes of polymer matrix composites.

Introduce major technological processes and their advantages and limitations, discuss process parameters and mechanisms and how to optimise these processes; explain some mathematical models to simulate and optimise these technological processes.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Report 30%

Feedback methods

Collective feedback in class

Comments on report

Feedback form

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Project supervision 9
Tutorials 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 105

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Zhenmin Zou Unit coordinator

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