Module ICL-1015:
Engineering Materials

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Overall aims and purpose

At the end of this module, learners will be able to analyse materials at the molecular level, make appropriate decisions about material selections for products and the interaction and manipulation of materials when being processed.

Course content

Indicative content includes:

Materials in products

  • Have a general understanding of the uses and limitations of common engineering materials and the different materials processing methods used, including: metals, ceramics, polymers and composites.
  • Understand the main interactions between process and material in design and process selection, for each of the main classes of material.
  • Understand the factors which control the microstructure of different metal component forming (e.g. casting, pressing, forging etc.) and their consequences on final properties
  • Know the main classes of ceramics, polymers and composites, and understand the processing and design considerations in selecting these for a given component
  • Know the microstructural characteristics of wrought alloys, and the reasons for alloying and heat treatment to improve properties such as hardening and plasticity
  • Understand the processes and issues in the manufacture of powder metallurgy and ceramic products
  • Understand the importance of surface treatments and joining technologies for different materials, and know the main factors to consider in process selection
  • Be able to apply their knowledge of materials processing, microstructure evolution, and the mechanisms of material degradation to analyse and predict failures and to improve product design
  • Make appropriate choices of materials and manufacturing processes in a business context
  • Relate materials choices to product and process design requirements

Material behaviour under various processes

  • Understand plastic deformation processes
  • Know the main classes of polymers and composites, and understand the processing considerations for a given manufactured product.
  • Understand the importance of surface treatments and joining technologies, and know the main factors to consider in process selection
  • Understand the processes and issues in the manufacture of powder metallurgy and ceramic products
  • Apply knowledge of materials processing methods and of the mechanisms of materials degradation and failure to inform and improve product design
  • Be aware of future trends in manufacturing and materials
  • Be aware of common techniques for destructive and non-destructive testing and how to apply these


  • Understand the different behaviours of solids, liquids and gases, and mixtures thereof, including phase transitions.
  • Be familiar with a range of commonly used chemicals and their properties.
  • Understand the fundamental principles of atomic structure and the periodic table
  • Understand bonding and molecular orbital theory
  • Understand the basic chemistry and chemical mechanisms involved in the broad range of materials
  • Understand the relationship between atomic/molecular structure and chemical/physical properties.
  • Understand the basics of IR and NMR spectroscopy.
  • Understand reaction chemistry, the concepts of fuels and oxidisers, oxygen balance, energy, heat flow and energy release.

Assessment Criteria


Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.


Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.


Equivalent to 40%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.

Learning outcomes

  1. Relate the properties of various materials to their suitability for given engineering tasks.

  2. Describe the changes in behaviour, appearance, etc. of materials when manipulated by engineering processes.

  3. Extend chemical and physics theory to understand the properties of materials.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Practical covering engineering processes and changes in materials.

EXAM Controlled Practical

Time-limited practical under controlled conditions.


Assessed practical tasks coverial materials and their properties.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Practical classes and workshops

A series of interactive lectures, seminars, workshops, web-based learning, problem solving exercises, individual and group activities and linked tutorials. Consideration of case study materials, journals and guest speakers will form an important part of the delivery illustrating the application of themes to real-world situations.

Private study

Tutor-directed private study, including revision and preparation.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Apply an understanding and appreciation of continuous improvement techniques
  • Apply underpinning concepts and ideas of engineering;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions, especially ones that include embedded microprocessors
  • Formulate and analyse requirements and practical constraints of products, processes and services, place them in an engineering context and manage their implementation;
  • Solve problems logically and systematically;
  • Assess and choose optimal methods and approaches for the specification, design, implementation and evaluation of engineering solutions.
  • Systematically review factors affecting the implementation of a project, including safety and sustainability;
  • Appreciate the importance of designing products with due regard to good laboratory practice, health and safety considerations and ethical issues.
  • Access and synthesize information and literature sources;
  • Use both verbal and written communication skills to different target audiences;
  • Communicate proposals persuasively and respond positively to feedback;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with relevant subject specific and general computer software packages.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of current advances and contemporary approaches in the discipline and have strategies for keeping that awareness current;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the need to work safely and comply within relevant legislative and regulatory frameworks;


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Ashby, M. 1998. Engineering Materials 1: An introduction to their properties and Applications, 2nd edition. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ashby, M. 1998. Engineering Materials 2: An introduction to Microstructures, Processing and Design, 2nd edition. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Courses including this module