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MEng Materials Science and Engineering with Polymers

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Multiphase Polymers & Nanocomposites

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS32402
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit provides comprehensive coverage of multiphase polymer systems, in particular blends, block copolymers and nanocomposites (larger-scale fibre reinforced composites are covered in MATS 31301). 


The unit aims to:

  • Provide the student with an understanding of the structure-property relationships of multiphase polymer systems, the theories that underpin their formation, structure and properties and how applications for these materials stem from their behaviour.

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

Blended learning programme: Including asynchronous activities (including video lectures, self-test quizzes, directed reading) and (live) synchronous activities (including Q&A sessions, quizzes and tutorials).

Blackboard – All asynchronous activities, lecture notes, questions sheets and handouts will be available electronically.  Synchronous activities will be recorded and will also be available electronically

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe the range of multiphase polymers and their advantages relative to single-phase polymers.
  • Explain the principles and theory of phase separation in polymer blends and block copolymers.
  • Evaluate the beneficial effects of nanoscale reinforcements.
  • Justify of the applications of multiphase polymers and explain their environmental issues.
  • Describe the types of nanoparticle fillers.
  • Understand the main factors determining the mechanical and functional properties of polymer nanocomposites.
  • Give examples of current applications of polymer nanocomposites.

Intellectual skills

  • Assess and interpret data from DMTA in order to determine polymer structure.
  • Apply simple models to predict the modulus of polymer blends and polymer nanocomposites.
  • Apply simple models to evaluate functional properties of polymer nanocomposites.
  • Evaluate X-Ray diffraction data, Scanning and Transmission
  • Electron Microscopy images to characterise the structural properties of polymer nanocomposites.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Solve problems utilising appropriate methods.
  • Assess results critically.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Feedback methods

Verbal and written

Recommended reading

  • "Polymer Alloys and Blends”, LA Utracki, Hanser Gardner, 1990.
  • “Polymer Blends and Alloys”, MJ Folkes and PS Hope, Springer, 2012
  • “Polymeric Multicomponent Materials”, LH Sperling, Wiley, 1997
  • “Thermoplastic Elastomers”, G Holden et al (Eds), Hanser, 1996.
  • “Polyurethane Elastomers”, CPE Scortanu, S Coseri, Springer, 2011.
  • “Polymer Nanocomposites”, Y-W Mai, Z-Z Yu, Woodhead 2006.
  • “Polymer-Clay nanocomposites”, TJ Pinnavaia and GW Beall (eds), Wiley, 2000.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 6
Tutorials 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 69

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Cristina Valles Unit coordinator

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