BSc Materials Science and Engineering

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Preliminary Physics

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS16661
Credit rating 0
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Materials
Available as a free choice unit? No


This online unit covers a range of topics in Physics at A-level standard.  It targets students who have not previously studied A-level, or equivalent, physics.  



The unit aims to provide essential knowledge of physics for the study of materials science at undergraduate degree level.



Learning outcomes

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

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Intellectual skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills and personal qualities

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures incorporating problem solving activities and two workshop sessions



Knowledge and understanding

  • Explain conceptually the differences between solids, liquids and gases in terms of bonding and motion of atoms/molecules.
  • Differentiate between the macroscopic (pressure, temperature) and the microscopic (kinetic energy of atoms/molecules) properties of a gas.
  •  Demonstrate an understanding of heat transfer in solids.
  •  Describe different forms of energy and conservation of energy.
  •  Calculate complex forces using vectors, moments and torque.
  •  Explain the differences between different wave motion and types.
  • Explain how interference and diffraction occur and use relevant equations to calculate wavelengths or grating separations.
  • Describe the concepts of capacitance and resistance and how these properties are affected in DC and AC circuits.
  • Understand the link between basic physics concepts and application to materials science.

Intellectual skills

  • Manipulation of physical equations with relevance to the field of materials science
  • Understanding of how key concepts in physcs undelie physical properties of materials and characterisation techniques. 

Practical skills

  • Solve mathmetical problems analytically
  • Apply physical principles to Materials Science and Engineering

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Working in small groups and working collaboratively.

Feedback methods

Feedback is provided within the interactive problems classes.

Recommended reading

Tom Duncan, Advanced Physics, John Murray (2000).  Nelkon and Parker, Advanced Level PhysicsTom Duncan, Advanced Physics, John Murray (2000).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Thomas Unit coordinator

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