MEng Aerospace Engineering with Industrial Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Materials 1 (Aerospace)

Course unit fact file
Unit code MECH10002
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Every engineering application needs to have some appreciation of the materials that are employed to achieve functionality and durability requirements. This course serves as a starting point to develop an engineer’s ability to select a material based on cost and performance, understand limitations and how properties change in service and the ability to critically assess new materials for a given application.

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


To provide an introduction to materials engineering and materials science.
To introduce the primary classes of materials, and to develop an understanding of types of interatomic, crystal and molecular bonding in engineering materials and their influence on mechanical properties.
To develop an understanding of the modes of failure for different classes of materials.
To introduce brittle fracture, and to develop an understanding of the ways in which a flaw within a material can influence its response to loading.


Introduction to Materials (~ 3 lectures): Introduction to materials, the importance of understanding material behaviour, examples for which the performance of engineering systems is limited by the performance of materials. Mechanical properties of materials. Interatomic bonding in materials. Students should be able to understand: elasticity, plasticity and the difference between strength and toughness. Students should also be able to appreciate the main types of materials (metals, ceramics, polymers and composites) and the relationship between processing, structure, properties and performance.

Metals and Alloys (~ 9 lectures): Crystal structure in metals, phase diagrams, solidification, plasticity in metals, strengthening mechanisms in metals, the influence of temperature on mechanical properties, an introduction to steels, an introduction to aluminium alloys. Students should be able to relate the main crystal types and their geometry to properties, understand the effects on microstructure of metals with temperature using binary phase diagrams, and, be able to describe strengthening mechanisms in alloys. They should also be able to describe steel microstructure and properties, as well as the formation of metastable phases. For aluminium alloys, students should be able to understand strengthening mechanisms and ageing processes.

Degradation Mechanisms (~ 2 lectures): An introduction to fatigue and creep deformation. Mechanisms for the accumulation of fatigue and creep damage within a material. Introduction to residual stresses, the role that residual stresses can play in affecting fatigue life. Students should be able to define fatigue and the effects of a mean stress, and both the definition of what creep is and conditions where it becomes engineering concern.

Fracture Mechanics (~ 3 lectures): Geometric stress concentration, Griffith’s criterion for crack propagation, the importance of toughness in engineering design, the stress intensity factor, ductile-to-brittle transitions. Students should understand the difference between ductile and brittle transformation, the role of defects and how to calculate a critical crack length given a monotonic far-field load.

Polymer Materials (~ 3 lectures): Bonding in polymer materials, amorphous and crystalline polymers, viscoelasticity in polymers, the glass transition temperature, thermoplastics and thermosets. Students should be able to define the two different types of polymers and their properties, explain the concept of a glass transition temperature and how mechanical properties vary with loading rates.

Fibre Reinforced Composites (~ 2 lectures): General features of composite materials, classification of composites, anisotropy, failure modes in tension and compression, toughness in composite materials. Students should appreciate anisotropy of composite materials including identifying directions of max/min stiffness, failure modes for composite materials and how the toughness can be improved.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 5%
Written exam 80%
Report 15%

Other - online quiz

Feedback methods

Online quiz - Rubric, within 2 weeks

Report - Rubric, within 2 weeks

Exam - via script viewing

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 2
Lectures 20
Project supervision 5
Tutorials 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 68

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Matthew Roy Unit coordinator

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