Why study MSc(Eng) Aerospace Materials?

Landing gearIt's a fantastic time to be a specialist in aerospace materials, and there are many exciting and revolutionary technologies being developed in industry with many requiring new ways of thinking about materials. 

The UK has 17% of the world’s aerospace industry, second only to the USA, and Sheffield is in the heartland of the UK aerospace industry, meaning many international aerospace companies look to the Department to discover ways to improve both materials and processes for use in their products. 

This course is designed for students who wish to broaden their knowledge of materials used in the aerospace industry. 

Course breakdown

  • Duration: 1 year full time
  • Fees: It's important to find out how much the fees are for your course and get advice on funding your studies. We recommend using the University's fee lookup tool.
  • Entry requirements: good honours degree in materials, metallurgy, a physical science (chemistry or physics) or a related engineering subject. For equivalent qualifications in your country, click here.
  • English language requirements: overall IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent
  • Fully accredited by the IoM3upon graduating you will have the underpinning knowledge for later professional registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng)
  • Study locations: Sheffield campus.
  • Our campus and how we use it: We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.

Once you've made your decision and are ready to apply, follow our step by step guide. Apply now

Course structure

This course is specifically designed to give students both the breadth and depth in the fundamentals of aerospace materials and how they can be applied to industrial problems - giving you the skills of direct use to a range of employers.


Engineering Alloys

This unit covers engineering metallic alloys ranging from alloy steels, stainless steels, light alloys (i.e. aluminium alloys and titanium alloys) and high temperature metallic systems (intermetallics and nickel superalloys). The course centres on the physical metallurgy of such engineering alloys to demonstrate the effect of alloying and its implications for the processing, microstructure and performance of structural components in a range of industrial sectors, but predominantly the automotive and aerospace sectors.

Science of Materials

This module introduces key concepts involved in materials science to cover general aspects and applications of metallic, polymeric and inorganic materials. Topics covered include; chemical bonding; basic crystallography of crystalline materials; crystal defects; mechanical properties and strength of materials; phase diagrams and transformations; overviews of metals and alloys; polymers and inorganic solids. Lectures will be supplemented with laboratory exercises based on; construction of a binary phase diagram; crystallography; health and safety regulations in the work place.

This unit aims to give students:

  • Knowledge and understanding of bonding, structure, defects, phase transformations and applications of metals, polymers and inorganic solids;
  • Significant insight into the mechanical properties and strength of materials;
  • A sound grounding in the construction and application of equilibrium phase diagrams to materials science;
  • Knowledge and understanding regarding health and safety regulations in the work place.

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Have an understanding of the roles played by chemical bonding, crystal structure, defects and polymorphic transitions on the physical properties and applications of metals, polymers and inorganic solids
  • Demonstrate an understanding of equilibrium phase diagrams
  • Demonstrate an understanding of health and safety regulations in the work place

Materials Processing and Characterisation

This module introduces the processes and technologies involved in the production of metals, polymers, ceramics and composites and the experimental methods used to characterise these materials. Topics covered are broken into two areas:

  • Fabrication and processing of materials, e.g. powder, thermomechanical and polymer/composites.
  • Analysis of materials using a range of techniques, e.g. diffraction, spectroscopy, and thermal analysis

This unit aims to give students:

  • Knowledge and comprehension of the material fabrication technologies
  • Knowledge and comprehension of an extended range of analytical techniques and how they can used in the development of new materials

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the considerations, and implications when fabricating and processing materials, which method is best for which material type and how they can be used to design new materials. This is developed in further modules with extended applications
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the differing methods for analysis of materials, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can be applied in the development of materials
  • Critically evaluate the best methods for materials processing/fabrication coupled with the most appropriate method of analysis in materials design/fabrication

Practical, Modelling and Digital Skills

This module develops students’ skills in 3 linked areas:

  • materials characterisation laboratory skills including safe methods of working, completion of COSHH and risk assessments, and measurements using a range of practical techniques
  • the use of computers for data handling and analysis together with an introduction to modelling
  • the skills needed to search for scientific literature as well as technical skills for presenting data, including how to avoid plagiarism, referencing, formatting documents, drawing high quality graphs, critically reviewing literature and giving presentations.

This unit aims to prepare students to undertake practical and modelling based research in Materials Science and Engineering. To achieve this overall aim students will undertake:

  • a set of guided practical experiments exposing them to a) necessary health and safety protocols and b) a range of materials characterisation techniques
  • computer based data handling and modelling
  • literature based research and review
  • presentations

Course Objectives

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to:

  • Complete essential health and safety forms (COSHH, RACIE)
  • Safely undertake practical work in materials science and engineering
  • Analyse data obtained from practical and modelling experiments
  • Confidently use selected scientific computational software
  • Search and critically analyse scientific literature
  • Coherently present the results of their work verbally and written form

Deformation, Fracture and Fatigue

Deformation, fracture and fatigue are important mechanical phenomena in both metals processing and use. The role of dislocations in and the effects of microstructural features on the plastic deformation of metals is initially explored. Consideration of fracture starts with linear elastic fracture mechanics including the Griffith equation and Irwin stress intensity factors. The effects of plasticity effects on fracture in metals including plastic zones at crack tips and cyclical fatigue are considered in some detail. Both total lifetime approaches and damage tolerance approaches to fatigue are considered.

This unit aims to give students:

  • develop students’ understanding of the theoretical principles used to describe the deformation, fracture and fatigue of metals
  • enable students to undertake fracture mechanics based calculations utilising a stress intensity factor approach
  • enable students to undertake fatigue lifetime calculations based on both total lifetime approaches and damage tolerant approaches

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • explain the role of dislocations and their interactions with microstructural features in the deformation of metals
  • explain the role of cracks and crack like defects in fracture
  • undertake stress intensity factor calculations involving a range of crack geometries
  • estimate fatigue lifetimes

Design and Manufacture of Composites

This module is designed to provide students with an understanding of both the design and manufacture of composite materials and is presented in two sections. In the design of composites section, classical laminate theory is introduced followed by both hand and computer based calculations to design effective composite materials. In the manufacturing of composites section, the materials and manufacturing techniques are described, along with important practical issues such as repair, defects, testing and SMART materials.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand and implement classical laminate theory to design simple composite components for a specific end user requirement;
  • Use a modern laminate design computer package (ESAComp) to create and test more complicated composite components;
  • Select appropriate reinforcements and matrices for a given application;
  • Select appropriate composite manufacturing techniques for a given application and describe each process in detail including advantages and disadvantages;
  • Understand how issues such as manufacturing defects, machining, joining and repairing affect the properties of composite materials;
  • Understand testing of composites, including both destructive and non-destructive testing methods.

This industrially relevant course provides an understanding of the capabilities and limits of solid state modelling of metals. Students use commercially available packages to predict materials related problems.

Advanced Materials Manufacturing – Part I

This unit covers a range of advanced materials manufacturing techniques that are either widely used or emerging in industry. Techniques include Additive Layer Manufacturing, Electron Beam Welding, Superplastic Forming, lithium battery manufacturing and advanced machining approaches. In addition, non-destructive evaluation techniques to ensure high levels of manufacturing integrity will be described.

This unit aims to provide knowledge and experience of advanced manufacturing techniques that will underpin the UK’s future advanced materials manufacturing base. The unit will provide a technical insight into key techniques such as joining/welding, machining, sheet forming, battery manufacturing and NDE inspection methods which materials graduates will use on a daily basis. Emerging techniques such as additive layer manufacturing and electron beam welding are included.

This unit aims to give students:

  • an understanding the effect of such techniques on design, constraint, microstructure and properties;
  • an understanding of relative productivity rates;
  • an appreciation of the manufacturing landscape in the UK, including the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres.

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Identify the appropriate manufacturing technique for a particular material and its application;
  • Identify changes in microstructure and properties when such manufacturing techniques are applied and the impact it will have on inspection and in-service performance;
  • Identify the importance of advanced manufacturing techniques in providing a step change in economics of production;
  • Predict the implications of applying disruptive technologies into the supply chain.

Heat and Materials with Application

This module examines both the transfer of heat to/from materials and thermally activated processes that occur during the manufacture of materials due to the transfer of heat into materials. There is also some consideration of the effects of heat during use. Thus conduction, convection and radiative heat transfer, on their own and in combination are considered, followed by an examination of diffusion (Fick’s laws) and sintering (solid state, liquid phase and viscous glass sintering). Finally creep phenomena are considered.
The aims of the taught component of this unit are:

  • Significant insight into the importance of thermal phenomena in the manufacture of materials;
  • A sound grounding in and the ability to carry out relevant calculations in heat transfer related phenomena in the context of materials processing ;
  • A sound understanding of the processes of sintering in some areas of materials manufacture;
  • A sound understanding of the processes of creep that occur when materials are used at a significant fraction of their melting temperature.

The aims of the case study of this unit are to:

  • Develop and consolidate the students' knowledge and understanding of high temperature materials and particularly of creep;
  • Investigate, in small groups, a topic relating to the processing or use of high temperature materials (e.g. in a gas turbine engine); further experience of working in a team to gather information on the allocated topic and prepare a written report.

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of heat transfer in materials manufacturing and be able to undertake heat transfer calculations for a variety of simplified processing problems;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of diffusion based phenomena in materials manufacture and use and be able to undertake relevant calculations;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of sintering processes in materials manufacture;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of creep phenomena in materials in use;
  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the materials used in the application being studied and why they are selected;
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of one aspect of high temperature materials in the application being studied e.g. single crystal turbine blades for gas turbine engines;
  • Demonstrate experience of group work under time pressure

Research Project

Research project

You'll have the opportunity to base your dissertation on research projects with industrial partners.

How you'll learn

Working alongside students and staff from across the globe, you’ll tackle real-world projects, and attend lectures, seminars, laboratory practicals and masterclasses delivered by academic and industry experts, including those from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing.

You’ll be assessed by formal examinations, coursework assignments and a dissertation.

Students will gain a hands-on experience using our outstanding experimental state-of-the-art facilities, including:

  • Thermomechanical processing
  • Rapid solidification and additive manufacturing
  • Surface engineering facilities for the deposition of both functional and structural coatings

All of this is supported extensively through characterisation and world-leading microstructural facilities.

Click here for additional information.

Meet our students

Live the life of a Sheffield Engineer: watch Maria as she talks about her time as an Aerospace Materials student.

Funding your studies: we recognise that studying overseas is a major undertaking, both personally and financially. We aim to support international students, who require financial assistance, with scholarships. Here Abi share her experience of applying for funding.

MSc(Eng) Aerospace Materials student Abirami Priyadarshini Babu

Being an international student, applying for the India Merit Scholarship was a sound decision in managing the monetary problems of doing a masters abroad. It covers 50% of the tuition fee, a huge saving, and also fuelled my confidence in pursuing the course at the fullest. More than the amount of confidence, the dignity and reputation of being a scholarship student was a pretty satisfactory accomplishment.


Find out more about fees and funding

Academic support

Meet Professor Eric Palmiere, Course Director and Professor of Metallurgy

Our network of world leading academics, at the cutting edge of their research, inform our courses providing a stimulating, dynamic environment in which to study.

You'll receive support throughout your course, plus a dedicated Supervisor for your research project.

If you have any questions about the course, please contact Postgraduate Taught Courses Team.


Tensile testingOur graduates are working across manufacturing, research and development, technology and construction, and higher education sectors in such roles as:

  • Materials and processes engineer
  • Materials engineer
  • Program designer
  • Postdoctoral research

Employers include Astrium, Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery, Suzhong Zhongmenzi Technology.

Take a look at where our alumni are now working.  Meet our alumni

*The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers.In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.