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Advanced Materials MSc/MTech/PgDip/PgCert


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Industry needs materials experts. Developments in the design of aircraft, cars, electronic equipment, domestic appliances, etc., depend critically upon the availability of novel materials. Of equal importance is an understanding of both advanced processing techniques and the latest computer based design procedures, essential for product commercialisation from the concept phase. Technological, economic and environmental pressures will ensure that the demand for materials experts will increase in the future.

This course is suitable for graduates with science, applied science, engineering or related degrees keen to pursue careers in the development or exploitation of materials; or graduates currently working in industry keen to extend their qualifications; or individuals with other qualifications who possess considerable relevant experience.

  • Course overview

    The MSc course comprises eight assessed modules, a group project and an individual research project. The modules include lectures and tutorials, and are assessed through practical work, written examinations, case studies, essays, presentations and tests. These provide the 'tools' required for the group and individual projects.

  • Group project

    The group project experience is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. Teams of students work to solve an industrial problem. The project applies technical knowledge and provides training in teamwork and the opportunity to develop non-technical aspects of the taught programme. Part-time students can prepare a dissertation on an agreed topic in place of the group project.

    Industrially orientated, our team projects have support from external organisations. These include: 3M Health Care, ABSL Space Products, APROSYS, Airbus, Aston Martin, BAE Systems, BT, Chubb Security, Cranfield Impact Centre, DSGi, Ford Motor Company, GEC, GlaxoSmithKline, Hallmark Cards UK, IBM, Jaguar, Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey & Company, Motorola, Pfizer, Philips, Rolls-Royce and Unilever. As a result of external engagement Cranfield students enjoy a higher degree of success when it comes to securing employment. Prospective employers value the student experience where team working to find solutions to industrially based problems are concerned.

    See our Manufacturing Group Projects from 2012/2013

    See our Manufacturing Group Projects from 2013/2014

    Watch video: Paul Ewers, Visteon Engineering Services, talks about his involvement in the Manufacturing Group Project at Cranfield University.

    Watch video: Manufacturing MSc students talk about their experience of the Manufacturing Group Projects at Cranfield University. 

  • Individual project

    Students select the individual project in consultation with the Course Director. The individual project provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research, think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and overcome genuine problems.

  • Modules

    The modules include lectures and tutorials and are assessed through written examinations and assignments. Covering both the technical aspects and training in technology management and transferable skills, they provide the tools required for the group and individual projects.


    • Introduction to Materials Engineering
      Module LeaderDr Paul Colegrove - Senior Lecturer

      The aim of this module is to enable the student to understand the structure and properties of materials, to understand how fabrication processes such as welding affect structure and properties, and to apply this knowledge to the use of materials used in welding.

      • Introduction to materials: atomic structure, crystal structure, imperfections, diffusion, mechanical properties, dislocations and strengthening mechanisms, phase diagrams, phase transformations, solidification, corrosion
      • Introduction to materials in offshore structures: to materials usage in offshore engineering in fixed and floating structures, jack-ups, pipelines, and in topside and process equipment
      • Structural steels – C-Mn ferrite-pearlite structural steels, specifications and influence of composition, heat treatment and microstructure on mechanical properties. Fracture, weldability and the influence of welding on mechanical properties
      • Pipeline steels – effect of processing grain refinement, thermomechanical treatment and accelerated cooled steels (TMCP) - effect of composition, inclusions, grain size and production route on mechanical properties
      • Corrosion resistant materials – stainless steels - austenitic, ferritic, martensitic and duplex stainless steels - compositions, microstructures and properties
      • Weld metal and heat affected zones – the effect of the heat input on the thermal profile, and its subsequent effect on the microstructure of both the weld metal and heat affected zones
      • Weld cracking – hydrogen, solidification, reheat cracking and lamellar tearing – causes and remedies
      • Non-metallic materials – polymers and composites
      • Offshore failures – case studies.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the delegate will be able to:

      • Understand the basic principles of material structures on a micro and macro scale, and be able to relate microstructure to mechanical performance
      • Understand how the chemical composition, microstructure and processing route for steels and non-ferrous alloys influence the resulting mechanical properties
      • Relate fracture, corrosion and welding behaviour to particular alloy specifications.
      • Understand the basis of selection of specific materials (steels, stainless steels, polymers, composites, and corrosion resistant alloys) for different applications offshore
      • Apply design codes, and their relevance to specification of materials in offshore applications.
      • Understand the specifications, composition, structure and properties of the various steels and non-ferrous alloy.
    • Machining Moulding and Metrology
      Module LeaderDr Isidro Durazo-Cardenas - Research Fellow in Precision Engineering

      To provide the student with an understanding of the principles behind some of the most recent developments in the processing of high value added components. There is a strong emphasis on high efficiency and reduced cost in the manufacture of high volume and/or high value added parts using the latest technology based around advanced machining processes and micro moulding techniques. The module will cover the physical principles, operating characteristics and practical applications of the processes.

      • Metrology and tolerancing
      • Metal cutting processes and practice
      • Abrasive machining processes and practice
      • Non conventional machining
      • Micro machining and micro moulding.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Describe recent developments in machining processes for the production of engineering components and identify their main areas of application and limitations
      • Propose methods to determine the size, geometry and surface topography of manufactured parts
      • Identify the relationships between material properties, processing conditions and component service performance
      • Discuss how the physical principles behind the operation of these processes can be used to monitor process capability and performance
      • Apply fabrication and design rules to the manufacture of micro components
      • Propose routes for the high volume manufacture of micro components.
    • Composites Manufacturing for High Performance Products
      Module LeaderMr Andrew Mills - Principal Research Fellow Composites Manufacturing

      To provide an overview/awareness of modern methods of composites manufacturing.

      • Introduction
      • Background to thermosetting and thermoplastic polymer matrix composites
      • Practical demonstrations – lab work
      • Overview of established manufacturing processes
      • Developing processes
      • Automation
      • Machining
      • Future process developments (including tufting, nanoparticle modified resins, hybridised materials, TTR)
      • Assembly and cost
      • Applications  - case studies from aerospace, automotive, marine and energy sectors; DVD demonstrations of all processing routes – as self-study.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Discuss the causes of processing differences between thermoplastic and thermosetting polymer composites
      • Demonstrate awareness of the range of modern composites manufacturing techniques
      • Select an appropriate manufacturing technique for a given composite component/use
      • Demonstrate practical exposure to handling of prepregs, range of fibre forms and resins
      • Describe current areas of development and industrialisation in composites processing, including post-processing
      • Discuss performance-cost balance implications of process choice and of the methods needed to establish them.
    • Failure of Materials and Structures
      Module LeaderProfessor Philip Irving - CAA Professor of Damage Tolerance

      To provide an understanding of why materials and structures fail and how failure conditions can be predicted in metallic and non metallic components and structures.

      • Overview of failure behaviour of cracked bodies; crack size influence, brittle and ductile behaviour; influence of material properties; cyclic loading and chemical environment. Thermodynamic criteria and energy balance- Griffith approach, modifications by Orowan. Strain energy release rate, compliance, applications to fibre composites
      • Linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) and crack tip stress fields, stress concentration, stress intensity, plane stress and plane strain; fracture toughness in metallic materials; fracture toughness testing; calculations of critical defect sizes and failure stress. Crack tip plastic zones, the HRR field; CTOD, J; elastic- plastic failure criteria; defect assessment failure assessment diagrams
      • Fracture of rigid polymers and standard tests for fracture resistance of polymers. Delamination fatigue tests. Emerging CEN/ISO standards, current ESIS test procedures. Crack extension under cyclic loading; regimes of fatigue crack growth; influence of material properties and crack tip plastic zones; calculation of crack growth life and defect assessment in fatigue; crack closure and variable amplitude loading; short cracks and the limits of LEFM; software design tools for fatigue crack growth. Static loading-stress corrosion cracking; corrosion fatigue.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will:

      • Be familiar with the different regimes and processes of failure of cracked bodies and understand the factors controlling them and the boundaries and limits between them
      • Know and understand the principles of linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) and their application to cracks in brittle, ductile and fibre composite materials through calculation of static failure conditions
      • Calculate the limits of applicability of LEFM and apply modified predictive tools such as elastic-plastic fracture mechanics and failure assessment diagrams for calculation of failure
      • Know how to apply fracture mechanics to failure of cracked bodies under cyclic loads and under aggressive chemical environments to predict service lives
      • Generate laboratory fracture mechanics data; to be able to critically assess its validity for application to particular engineering situations.
    • General Management
      Module LeaderDr Yuchun Xu - Lecturer in Cost Engineering

      To give an introduction to some of the key general management, personal management and project management skills needed to influence and implement change.

      • Management accounting principles and systems
      • Personal style and team contribution, interpersonal dynamics, leadership, human and cultural diversity
      • Sustainability in an industrial context and Strategic Innovation Management
      • Project Management.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Understand the objectives, principles, terminology and systems of management accounting
      • Have an appreciation of inter-relationships between functional responsibilities in a company
      • Have a practical understanding of different management styles, team roles, different cultures, and how the management of human diversity can impact organisational performance
      • Have an understanding of key concepts and principles of Strategic Innovation Management
      • Understand Sustainability from an industrial context, including impacts upon industry and potential responses of industry
      • Understand a formal process for structuring and running projects to ensure a successful completion.
    • Finite Element Analysis and Materials Modelling
      Module LeaderDr Alex Skordos - Lecturer

      This module introduces the principles and practice of Finite Element analysis and the modelling of materials in numerical analysis.

      • Introduction: general overview of the technique, pre-processing, solution and post-processing, basic terminology, range of applications, basic introduction to materials modelling.  Pre-processing: Introduction to IDEAS, introduction to MSC.Patran, connectivity between different packages.
      • FE for linear elasticity: element types (bars, beams, 2D, 3D, shell elements), one- and multi-dimensional analysis, meshing, symmetry, model development in MSC.Patran, application of boundary conditions, solution in MSC.Nastran/Marc.
      • FE for field problems: analysis of heat transfer problems, equivalence with other field problems, convergence, boundary conditions, model development and solution for field problems in MSC.Patran/Nastran/Marc.
      • FE for advanced analysis: geometric non-linearity, material non-linearity, contact problems, FE for dynamic problems, explicit solution using PAMCRASH, non-linear modelling using MSC.Patran/Nastran/Marc.  
      • Materials modelling: Ab initio modeling, Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulation, phase diagrams, diffusion-kinetics-microstructure.
      • Application of finite element analysis to design: optimisation using FE, model uncertainty, variability and Monte Carlo simulation. Typical application areas include aerospace, automotive, impact, composites.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will:

      • Have a basic understanding of Finite Element analysis and its use
      • Be aware of the considerations required for applying the method to the modelling of components, and the limitations associated with the use of Finite Element modelling
      • Have a basic knowledge of how to interpret results obtained from Finite Element analysis
      • Operate a standard Finite Element analysis package to solve linear elastic stress analysis, non-linear stress analysis and field problems
      • Be aware of the range of commercial Finite Element analysis codes available
      • Have an understanding of the role of finite element analysis in component design/optimisation; be aware of possibilities offered by materials modelling and its potential uses.
    • Materials Selection

      The aim of this module is to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to enable them to carry out the selection of appropriate materials for a wide-range of engineering and other applications. The module also encourages the use of knowledge of a range of material properties and skills acquired during other modules on the course.

      • Principles of materials selection: Materials selection procedures. Check lists. Elementary stressing calculations. Choice of fabrication techniques. Case studies. Data sources. Material selection group exercise. Material selection individual exercise
      • Specific polymers and composites- the structure, properties, processing characteristics and applications for the commercially important polymers. General classes of polymers: commodity, engineering and speciality thermoplastics, thermosetting resins, rubbers. Variation in behaviour within families of polymers: crystallinity, rubber toughened grades; reinforced and filled polymers
      • Specific metals, alloys- The metallurgy, properties, applications and potentialities of metals and alloys in a wide variety of engineering environments. Specific metals and alloys both for general use and for more demanding applications. Titanium, nickel and magnesium based alloy, intermetallics, steels. The design of alloys, current developments in the field of light alloys, steels, high temperature materials. Development of current aerospace aluminium alloys: precipitation hardening, effect of precipitates on mechanical properties, designation of aluminium alloys, alloys based on Al-Cu, alloys based on Al-Zn
      • Introduction to engineering ceramics: introduction to particulate engineering, thermodynamic and kinetic requirements for powder processing, Interparticle forces
      • Ceramic forming techniques, Sintering and densification, Processing related properties of ceramics: structural and functional.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will have:

      • An introduction to a wide range of materials that will enable them to undertake materials selection effectively, using appropriate reference sources (books, data sheets, computer databases etc)
      • Familiarity with the chemical names and/or compositions of metals and alloys
      • An understanding of the ranges of properties and processing characteristics exhibited by the above materials, including the variations within a single family and the differences between families of materials
      • An introduction to logical approaches to the selection of material(s) to meet the requirements of a component design brief
      • An understanding of the importance of consideration of component manufacturing method as part of the materials selection exercise
      • Experience in carrying out the selection of material and manufacturing method for selected example components
      • The ability to make informed decisions about materials and process selection, including cases where possible materials come from different material classes
      • The ability to make effective oral or written presentations to justify their selection.
    • Surface Science and Engineering
      Module LeaderProfessor John Nicholls - Professor of Coatings Technology
      AimTo provide an understanding of the role that surfaces play in materials behaviour; concentrating on corrosion and wear processes. To introduce the concepts of surface engineering and how surface engineering may be used to optimise a component’s performance. To introduce suitable analytical techniques used to evaluate and characterise surfaces and thin samples.
      • Philosophy of surface engineering, general applications and requirements
      • Basic principles of electrochemistry and aqueous corrosion processes. Corrosion problems in the aerospace industry. General corrosion, pitting corrosion, crevice corrosion, influence of deposits and anaerobic conditions. Exfoliation corrosion. Corrosion control. High temperature oxidation and hot corrosion. Corrosion/mechanical property interactions. Friction and Wear: abrasive, erosive and sliding wear. The interaction between wear and corrosion
      • Analytical Techniques:  X-ray diffraction, TEM, SEM and EDX, WDX analysis, surface analysis by AES, XPS and SIMS, overview of other techniques. Data interpretation and approaches to materials analysis
      • Surface engineering as part of a manufacturing process. Integrating coating systems into the design process. Coating manufacturing processes. Electro deposition. Flame Spraying. Plasma spray. Physical vapour deposition. Chemical vapour deposition. HIP surface treatments
      • Coating systems for corrosion and wear protection. Coating systems for gas turbines. New coating concepts including multi-layer structures, functionally gradient materials, intermetallic barrier coatings and thermal barrier coatings.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      At the end of the module students should:

      • Have an understanding of the concepts of surface engineering
      • Have a good knowledge of the principles of aqueous corrosion and the factors that affect its rate of propagation
      • Be able to describe oxidation and high temperature corrosion processes, including the factors that control the rates of corrosion at high temperatures
      • Recognise the main types of corrosion damage and be aware of the conditions under which they occur
      • Select appropriate methods of corrosion control
      • Have a good knowledge of friction and wear, including abrasive, erosive and sliding wear
      • Be aware of possible interactions between corrosion and wear processes
      • Have an appreciation of the microstructural characteristics used to describe materials
      • Be able to recommend techniques to characterise surfaces and describe principals of operation
      • Have an appreciation of surface engineering as part of the manufacturing process, and how to introduce coating systems as part of component design
      • Be able to design for wear resistance, including the selection of suitable coating systems
      • Be able to select appropriate coating manufacturing processes, giving examples of their applications
      • Have an appreciation of new coating concepts, including multilayered structures and functionally gradient materials.
  • Assessment

    Taught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%.

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: Full-time: October. Part-time: throughout the year.

    Duration: One year full-time, two-five years part-time.

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    There are numerous benefits associated with undertaking a postgraduate programme of study within the Materials Department at Cranfield University, including:

    • Study in a postgraduate-only environment where Masters' graduates can secure positions in full-time employment in their chosen field, or undertake academic research
    • Teaching by leading academics as well as industrial practitioners
    • Work alongside a strong research team within the Manufacturing and Materials Department
    • Dedicated support including extensive information resources managed by Cranfield University's library
    • Consultancy to companies supporting their employees on part-time programmes, through group and individual projects.

    *conditions apply, details on application

  • Accreditation and partnerships

    This course is accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) on behalf of the UK Engineering Council as meeting the academic requirements for Chartered Engineer status (CEng MIMMM).

  • Informed by industry

    Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

    • Bombardier
    • Babcock
    • P R Ganguly
    • Machan Consulting
    • SAP
    • Holsim Energy
    • BAe Systems
    • Tata Steel
    • SAS (EUR)
    • Visteon Engineering Services
    • Redmantle
    • Volvo
    • Subsea 7
    • Tulip UK Ltd & Independent Lean Manufacturing Specialist
    • Atos Origin
    • Rolls-Royce
    • Alamo Group Europe Limited (USA)
    • Say One Media
    • Saipem
    • Ford
    • Bernard Matthews
    • Factura
    • BT
    • Price Systems.

    Students who have excelled have their performances recognised through course awards. The awards are provided by high profile organisations and individuals, and are often sponsored by our industrial partners. Awards are presented on Graduation Day. View the 2014 Prize Winners booklet.

  • Your teaching team

    You will be taught by a wide range of enthusiastic and internationally reputed experts from the academic staff at Cranfield:

    Dr Paul Colegrove
    Professor Phil Irving
    Dr Alex Skordos
    Dr Yuchun Xu
    Dr Mike Robinson
    Dr Konstantinos Salonitis
    Professor John Nicholls

  • Facilities and resources

    The School of Applied Sciences operates facilities and associated equipment which are often unique to Cranfield. Students on the Advanced Materials course benefit from our infrastructure which is designed to support both our students and industrial partners. We have facilities in relation to:

    • Composites manufacturing
    • Structural integrity and impact testing
    • Microsystems and nanotechnology
    • Precision engineering
    • Welding engineering

    In addition, we operate exceptional materials preparation and characterisation equipment. This includes focused ion beam (FIB), analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM), environmental and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), scanning probe microscopy, hot stage nanoindentation, surface analysis and mechanical testing across a wide range of applications.

    Our National High Temperature Surface Engineering Centre has extensive facilities for physical vapour deposition (PVD), chemical vapour deposition (CVD) and plasma spray (LVPS) coating of high temperature components. We offer the only university facilities in Europe for depositing electron beam PVD thermal barrier coatings onto blades, and the most comprehensive high temperature coating test facilities within a university worldwide.

    Recent investments include the development of composite and impact facilities. These incorporate a state-of-the-art sled for impact testing competition vehicles within the internationally renowned, FIA sanctioned Cranfield Impact Centre. The leading UK facility for carbon fibre composites is located within the School of Applied Sciences. These facilities permit structural integrity testing and the numerical simulation of composite materials' structural behaviour.

    All in all an impressive suite of facilities which underpin the development of our students' expertise in relation to materials.

  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates must possess, or be expected to achieve, a 1st or 2nd class UK Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered. The Pre-Master’s Course in Engineering is available for students whose prior qualifications do not reach the standard entry requirements for a Masters programme. Successful completion results in registration for this Cranfield MSc.

    English language

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification.  The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    TOEIC - 800 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    Cambridge English: Advanced - C

    Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test.  We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score if too low.

    We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

    Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements.  The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

    ATAS Certificate

    Students requiring a Tier 4 General Student visa to study in the UK may need to apply for an ATAS certificate to study this course.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £6,800


    The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,080 per module is also payable.

    MSc Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgDip Full-time - £5,000

    PgDip Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgCert Full-time - £2,500

    PgCert Part-time - £1,070 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £16,250

    MSc Part-time - £8,500

    PgDip Full-time - £12,000

    PgDip Part-time - £6,250

    PgCert Full-time - £6,000

    PgCert Part-time - £4,500

    Fee notes:

    • Fees are payable annually for each year of study unless otherwise indicated.
    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the annual tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay international fees.
  • Funding

    Funding opportunities exist, including industrial sponsorship, School bursaries and a number of general external schemes.  For the majority of part-time students sponsorship is organised by their employers. We recommend you discuss this with your company in the first instance.

    Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme - Course List

    Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme - List of eligible courses available to study at Cranfield University.

  • Application process

    Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

  • Career opportunities

    Takes you on to a wide range of careers involving materials, with responsibilities in research, development, design, engineering, consultancy and management in industries including aerospace, automotive, medical, sports, food and drink processing, chemical processing and power generation.  

  • Quentin Huck

    Advanced Materials student Quentin Huck attributes the course links to industry, and reputation in aeronautics as a major incentive to study at Cranfield.