MEng Materials Science and Engineering with Textiles Technology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Functional Materials & Devices

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS31501
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 6
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Materials
Available as a free choice unit? No


Functional materials are at the heart of a wide range of consumer and industrial electronic systems, including communications, sensors, control and energy management. The microstructural and compositional variation in these materials has a dramatic impact on their electrical and mechanical properties. 


The course unit aims to:

  • Explain the principles underlying the operation of oxide-based functional ceramics in the form of bulk, thin-film, particulate and composite materials;
  • Discuss the relationships between chemical composition, crystal structure, microstructure and functional properties;
  • Identify the material characteristics required for a variety of applications and environments.
  • Devise strategies to optimise the performance of functional ceramics. Correlate different types of functional properties with the underlying mechanisms and processing methods.


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 video lectures,
  • Live online lectures,
  • Formative assessment in the form of online quizzes,
  • Recommended textbooks and scientific papers,
  • Past exam papers,
  • Coursework/tutorials,
  • Electronic supporting information (Blackboard).



Knowledge and understanding

  • K1: demonstrate an understanding of the composition-structure-property relationships in polycrystalline ferroelectrics.
  • K2: describe the main groups of conventional piezoelectric ceramics; identify emerging single-phase and composite materials and their characteristic properties.
  •  K3: explain how structural phase transformations in ferroelectrics can be exploited in the development of new and improved materials.
  • K4: Discuss principles of operation of solid oxide fuel cells and ceramic sensors (Thermistors, Varistors and Gas sensors). In this context, describe the effect of chemical composition, crystal structure and microstructure on their functional properties.
  •  K5: Apply the above knowledge of fuel cells and ceramic sensors to estimate their basic operational parameters.
  • K6: Evaluate factors limiting the performance of a particular fuel cell or ceramic sensor and suggest measures of performance optimisation.

Intellectual skills

  • I1: devise strategies to optimise the performance of functional ceramics with respect to specific applications.
  • I2: correlate different types of functional properties with the underlying mechanisms and processing methods.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  •  T1: analytical capability
  • T2: problem-solving skills

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

Written and verbal

Recommended reading

  • Electroceramics: Materials, properties, applications, 2nd edition, A. J. Moulson and J.M. Herbert, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2003.
  • Electrical properties of materials, 8th edition, L. Solymar and D. Walsh, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009.
  • Semiconductor devices: Physics and technology, 3rd edition, S. M. Sze and M.-K. Lee, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2012.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 6
Tutorials 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 66

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Hall Unit coordinator

Return to course details