MEng Materials Science and Engineering with Textiles Technology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Mechanical Behaviour

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS16102
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Materials
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit provides an introductory level, overview, of the mechanical behaviour of engineering materials, including how different types of mechanical behaviour are defined and the mechanisms that control them, in relation to their structures; illustrated with examples from all material classes.


The unit aims to:

  1. Provide an overview of the different  types of mechanical behaviour of all material classes for design purposes and predicting in-service life,
  2. Introduce the continuum solid mechanics approach to describe stress states and mechanical loading of materials.
  3. Introduce the mechanisms that control the mechanical behaviour of materials and how they are affected by its structure at different length scales.

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

Pre-recorded materials and written lecture notes (available on Blackboard), face-to-face activities and revision sessions, small group tutorials (problem sessions), on-line self-assessment quizzes, recommended textbooks, web resources, past exam papers, peer-assisted study sessions (PASS).

Knowledge and understanding

  • Compare and discuss the mechanical behaviour of different materials classes.
  • Define the stress tensor and the (small) strain tensor.
  • Define volumetric and deviatoric strains and hydrostatic and deviatoric stresses.
  • Understand the relationship between stress and strain in isotropic elasticity.
  • Define stiffness and compliance, Young’s modulus, Shear modulus, Bulk Modulus, Poisson’s ratio.
  • Understand the tensile test and how to use it to obtain material properties.
  • Define the Von Mises and Tresca yield criteria.
  • Understand the slab model of composite mechanics and define upper (Voigt) and lower (Reuss) bounds for composite stiffness. 
  • Describe the mechanisms of plastic deformation and strengthening of crystalline materials in terms of simple dislocation concepts.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of fracture toughness and the different fracture behaviours of materials.
  • Be aware of the factors that affect fatigue and creep in materials.
  • Describe and show an understanding of the effect of the glass transition temperature on the properties of polymers and their viscoelastic behaviour.
  • Be able to link a materials structure to its properties, in general terms.

Intellectual skills

  • Show improved logical reasoning, problem solving and ability in applied mathematics. 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the effect of changing the chemistry and microstructure/architecture of a material on its properties.

Practical skills

  • Perform continuum mechanics calculations: obtain stress from (elastic) strains, and vice-versa, calculate deviatoric components, equivalent stresses. Calculate the stiffness of single composite lamina
  • Perform simple calculations of material properties and safe design limits; e;g; the critical stress for fast fracture.
  • Carry out, and analyse the results from, tensile and impact fracture tests on materials

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Convert word problems into equations and numerical answers.
  • Develop techniques for estimating the results from calculations.
  • Work effectively in a group to solve problems.
  • Compose simple technical reports on laboratory tests.

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

Feedback given (written)

Recommended reading

  • Materials Science and Engineering”, W. D. Callister, and D. G. Rethwisch, Pub. Wiley, 10th edition, 2020.
  • Materials engineering, science, processing and design”, M.F. Ashby H.R. Shercliff and D. Cebon, Butterworth-Heinemann, 3rd edition, 2013.
  • Engineering materials 1: An introduction to properties, applications and design”, M. F. Ashby, D. R. H. Jones, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2nd  edition, 1996.
  • Introduction to dislocations”, D. Hull and D.J. Bacon, Butterworth-Heinemann 5th edition, 2011.
  • Introduction to Polymers”, R.J. Young, P.A. Lovell Taylor & Francis Group, 3rd edition, 2011.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Enrique Jimenez-Melero Unit coordinator

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