What is materials science and engineering?

To make any engineered device, structure or product, you need the right materials. Materials science teaches us what things are made of and why they behave as they do. Materials engineering shows us how to apply knowledge to make better things and to make things better.


Materials science and engineering drives innovation in both research and industry in everything from aerospace to medicine. It is fundamental to all other science and engineering disciplines.

As materials scientists and engineers, we integrate chemistry, physics, maths and biology with engineering to address global challenges relevant to technology, society and the environment, including:

  • the environment and climate change
  • advanced manufacturing
  • renewable and sustainable energy
  • materials efficiency
  • healthcare
  • biotechnology
  • aerospace and transport
  • communications and information technology

Learning about materials

As our students learn more about materials science and engineering, their enthusiasm for the subject grows.

Throughout their course, they produce pieces of work to demonstrate their understanding, and these can be presented in a number of ways. Here we share some examples of their work.

Harsha Anand produced a number of podcasts, under the title Miscellaneous Materials, where he talks about different aspects of materials science, from a general description of materials to applications like Lab on a Chip.

Listen to Harsha's podcasts.

Stephan Kyle created a series of blogs about the history of steel making - The Steel Story - from the formation of the elements that make up the earth and go into forming all the materials we know, through to modern-day steel making. 

Take a look at Stephan's blog.

What you can study

Our courses will transform you from a student into a professional scientist or engineer. You'll study from the atomic scale through to large manufactured parts, understanding the scientific properties and engineering process of materials, and materials processing. Understanding the interaction of these three aspects trains you to improve existing materials and discover or create new materials. 

If you have a particular interest in a specific area of Materials, you could choose specialised modules in your later years with a more focused degree such as Metallurgy or Materials Science with Nuclear Engineering, or find out more about a career in research.

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.