Why study MSc Nanomaterials and Materials Science?

Carbon nanotube, nano manipulationThis MSc replaces the previous MSc Nanomaterials for Nanoengineering which ran successfully since 2006. 

The course is designed to equip students with the know-how and skills for becoming an expert in materials science with nanotechnology specialisation.

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: a good honours degree in materials, 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
  • 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

Students will experience the unique combination of a foundation semester in the general area of science and engineering of materials, followed by a nanoscience and nanotechnology specific semester to result in an unrivaled comprehensive nanomaterials expertise.

Core Modules

Nanoscale Magnetic Materials and Devices

This course forms part of an MSc programme on Nanoscale Science and Technology. We start with an introduction to magnetism for the non-specialist, and proceed to the magnetic parameters which are influenced when length scales approach the nanometer range. Bulk, thin film and heterogeneous materials are considered. There is a discussion of probes for studying nanomagnetic materials. The role of nanostructure on exchange interactions and remanence enhancement, surfaces and interfaces on anisotropy and magnetoelasticity and nanofabrication on magnetotransport are introduced. Micromagnetic modelling is introduced. A range of applications including magnetic memory, nanostructured magnets, spin-electronics and microelectromechanical devices are outlined.

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.

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

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

Nanostructures and Nanostructuring

This course introduces nanostructures (free-standing nanoobjects or assemblies of these, or nanopores in porous materials), and methods of nanopatterning and nanocharacterisation (nanometrology, nanomechanical testing). There is particular emphasis on nanoparticles, nanotubes, composite nanotubes, nanowires and belts. Also considered are 3-D framework nanostructures, including zeolitic nanoporous and mesoporous materials, and opal and inverse opal structures, and composite nanomaterials generated from these porous materials. The nanopatterning methods introduced concentrate on focused ion beam and, focused electron beam technology. Mechanical imprint methods are also covered.

Functional Nano- and Bio-nanomaterials

This module gives students an overview over concepts in the basic understanding and applications of selected types of nanomaterials, complementing sister modules MAT6720, and MAT6390: The core topics of the module comprise: (i) nanocomposite materials, (ii) 2D nanomaterials, including graphene and graphene-composites, (iii) nanocrystalline ceramics, (iv) bio-nanomaterials, as well as the overarching topics of (v) thin films and deposition techniques, and (vi) principles of nano-mechanics.

This module aims to:

  • give students up-to-date training in the field of nanomaterials, an important branch of nanotechnology, such as to turn them into highly sought-after candidates for both further academic studies and industrial recruitment (MSc) and to prepare them for nanomaterials research in an academic environment.
  • complement introductory knowledge in nanomaterials provided by the sister-modules with a selection of more advanced and more specialised topics.
  • provide transferable skills ranging from literature searching to essay writing and the preparation of PowerPoint presentations.

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

Optional Modules

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.

Structural and Physical Properties of Dental and Bio-materials

The bulk and surface properties of materials used for regenerative medicine and dental applications directly influence and control the dynamic interactions at the interfacial level. Therefore, it is not only important to understand Structural and Physical Properties of Materials but also view it as a process between the implanted materials and the host environment.

It is important to understand these specific properties of materials prior to any medical or dental applications. This module will provide students with knowledge of Structural and Physical Properties relationship with Materials enabling them to understand links between materials, engineering, dentistry and regenerative medicine. In addition, it will help them in understanding the hard and soft materials, physical properties, including surface modification and their characterisation, and mechanical properties explaining how these elements play a vital role in the success of clinical dentistry and regenerative medicine.

The unit aims to provide a wide and in-depth knowledge of Structural and Physical Properties relationship with Materials. Furthermore, students will learn about the bulk and surface properties of materials, mechanical properties of materials, finite element analysis, degradation of materials, and characterisation of materials. The module will allow students to relate properties of materials to clinical and dental applications.

Materials for Energy Applications

This module aims to develop students’ understanding of materials (ferrous and non ferrous alloys, ceramics, films) used for energy generation, storage and utilisation.

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

  • Understand the importance of materials for energy generation;
  • Understand the advantages and limitations of different materials for different applications;
  • Understand issues related to sustainability and Life Cycle Analysis;
  • Write a popular-science article.

Research Project

Research project

The course content reflects the highly interdisciplinary nature of the subject of nanomaterials and allows students to specialise via choice of the research project.

The project will provide the opportunity to join a materials-related research group of your choice for one third of the total course.

How you'll learn

Students will be taught through a variety of teaching styles including:

  • Scientific Lectures and Skills-based Lectures
  • Problem classes, Tutorial classes, and Computational classes
  • Scientific writing and oral presentations
  • Departmental seminars by invited speakers from outside the University
  • Small Tutor groups
  • Personal project supervision
  • Independent study

Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for sample preparation, synthesis and material characterisation and testing, as well as computational tools; examples of our lab-equipment include:

  • Metallurgical and ceramic materials fabrication/sintering, including Additive Manufacturing
  • Materials synthesis for Energy applications
  • Glass melting and processing laboratory
  • Surface Engineering and Coatings
  • Nanoparticle processing and characterisation
  • Spectroscopic techniques
  • Electron and optical microscopes, x-ray diffraction

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

Click here for additional information.

Academic support

Meet Dr Günter Möbus, Course Director and Reader in Electron Microscopy and Materials Science

Dr Gunter Moebus

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.


The nanomaterials covered in this course are commercially used in a variety of industrial applications including:

  • Catalyst systems involving functional nanoparticles and nanoporous supportstructures
  • Magnetic nanostructures for data storage and data read-write
  • Energy: Fuel cell components, solar energy device components, novel battery electrodes
  • Consumer healthcare and cosmetics: sunscreens, dental care, cleaning products
  • Functional materials (magnetic data storage, biomedical applications, and sensors)
  • Nanocomposite materials, e.g. for aerospace applications
  • Architecture, civil and mechanical engineering: Self-cleaning glass, coatings on tools and structural surfaces.

NanomaterialsThe course provides a combination of subject-specific and transferable skills of wide-spread use to a range of employers, not just for the nanomaterials industry but for any advanced technology-focused company.

Our graduates work across the globe in a variety of roles including:

  • Graduate engineer
  • Research scientist
  • PhD researcher
  • Software engineer

We are very proud of our alumni and their achievements, with many now working for employers such as: e2v; European Thermodynamics Ltd; Max-Planck-Institutes; ABB of Sweden; AGR Automation. 

Juan Leonardo MartinezAs CEO I aim to take research technology to the next level: from laboratory to market and commercialisation.


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.