MSc(Eng)
2021 start

Polymers and Composites

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

We bring together expertise from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Chemistry to teach you advanced topics on polymer and composite science and engineering.
Image of postgraduate materials science and engineering student using equipment with mask

Course description

Polymers and polymer composites are increasingly important in our everyday life and can be found all around us. Recent advances include biodegradable plastics, 3D printing, plastic electronics, high-performance aerospace applications and many more.

Bringing together expertise from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Chemistry, and further supported by the Polymer Centre, the UK’s largest single-university academic network in the field of polymers, this course will provide you with a thorough understanding of advanced topics on polymer and composite science and engineering.

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Accreditation

Fully accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IoM3). Graduates will have the underpinning knowledge for later professional registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Modules

Core modules:

Fundamental Polymer Chemistry

This unit covers the fundamentals of polymer structure, polymer synthesis and the chemical behaviours of polymers, both natural and synthetic. Topics covered include polymer microstructure, chain-reaction and step-reaction routes to polymers, living polymerizations, copolymerization, molecular weight distributions, chemical reactions on polymers, and polymer degradation and stability.

15 credits
Polymer Characterization and Analysis

An optional unit covering major instrumental methods for identifying polymers and determining polymer molecular weight, molecular weight distribution, stereochemistry, sequence distribution in copolymers, transition temperatures, surface features, etc. The unit includes examples of the use of chemical analysis, colligative properties, chromatographic techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance, vibrational and electronic spectroscopy, microscopy, and thermal and dynamic mechanical methods.

15 credits
Polymer Laboratory

This unit covers the fundamentals of practical polymer construction and analysis. Topics covered include polymer synthesis via a number of methods (including chain- and step-reaction routes). A range of analytical techniques will also be introduced. These will include size-exclusion chromatography, viscosity analysis, and spectroscopy (IR and NMR). Experiments involving the modification and application of polymers will also be studied.

15 credits
The Physics of Polymers

The aim of the module is to introduce the general properties of thermoplastics: their molecular structures, their physical and mechanical properties, and how these properties can be modified by means e.g. of chemistry, additives and processing condition for engineering applications. The module also introduces the fundamentals of amorphous polymer solids and their behaviour under deformation. Topics covered include conformations of polymer chains, rubber elasticity, viscoelasticity, time-temperature superposition, glass-transition, yield, craze etc. After this module you are expected to understand the mechanical properties of typical polymers, as well as their dependence on temperature, time scale, and molecular structures.

15 credits
Polymer Materials Science and Engineering

The aim of the module is to demonstrate the relationship between chemical structure, molecular organisation, microstructure and physical properties of polymers in the solid state, to draw parallels between synthetic polymers and biopolymers, to introduce the types of high-strength high-modulus polymers, their processing, properties and application, and to introduce liquid crystals and LC polymers.

15 credits
Design and Manufacture of Composites

This module is designed to provide you with an understanding of both the design and manufacture of polymer composites and is presented in two sections. First, design of composites is taught via tutorials and practicals on classical laminate theory and ESAComp software. An extended series of worked examples provides you with the basic tools you need to design effective composite parts. Second, manufacture of composites is taught via lectures. You will learn multiple routes for making composite parts alongside practical issues such as defects, machining/joints, failure, testing and non destructive testing, repair and SMART composites. 

15 credits
Polymer Processing

This module provides you with a detailed description of advanced polymer processing as applied to modern industrial applications. The fundamental concepts behind polymer melt dynamics and solidification will be explored and will provide the theoretical basis for the forming processes. The manufacturing processes themselves will be described giving you ability to choose between them allowing informed decisions regarding commercial applications. The use of real world case studies and reverse engineering examples in dedicated problem classes will provide you with practical experience otherwise difficult to impart.

15 credits
Composite Materials and Micromechanics

This module is split into two halves, the first half deals with composite materials, the second half deals with composite micromechanics.

The composite materials part of the module starts with an introduction to composite materials, what are composites?, why are composites used?, and the distinction between man-made and natural composites. This is followed by looking at the different types of composites available. Next, the individual fibres are discussed (glass, carbon, polymeric) and the available matrices (thermoplastic, thermosetting). Manufacturing of composites is dealt with followed by a look at fibre architectures, failure mechanisms, impact failure and toughening.

The composite micromechanics part of the module describes multiple methods to predict the properties of composite materials, beginning with a look at fibre failure statistics using the Weibull method. This is followed by a treatment of classical laminate theory from a laminate compliance perspective and how to predict the properties of short fibre composites using shear lag theory. Finally, the strength of composites and composite fatigue are investigated. 

15 credits
Project

The research project and dissertation is supervised by one or, in some instances, two members of academic staff. Project supervisors are allocated based both on student choice and academic workload.The topic of the research project will be set in consultation with your project supervisor. Laboratory or modelling work on the project will formally be undertaken during the Second Semester (including the Spring vacation period) and during the summer vacation between about mid-June and mid-August.

60 credits

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. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

Working alongside students and staff from across the globe, you’ll tackle real-world projects, and attend lectures, seminars and laboratory classes.

Assessment

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

Duration

1 year full-time

Student profiles

Image of two postgraduate materials science and engineering students with masks and equipment

I came from Mexico to study my masters degree at the University of Sheffield because it has one of the best materials science departments in the UK. As the University is a member of the Russell Group, I also knew that employers everywhere in the world would recognise the quality of my degree.

Jorge Luis Vazquez Olavarrieta

MSc (Eng) Polymers and Polymer Composites Science and Engineering

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in materials, a physical science (chemistry or physics) or a related engineering subject. Some background in polymers or composites is desired.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Pre-Masters programmes

If you're an international student and don’t meet our entry requirements, we offer a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering programme through the University of Sheffield International College. The programme develops your knowledge of your chosen subject, introduces you to vital study skills and provides additional support to reach the English language level for the course, should you need it.

Once you complete your Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering and achieve the required grades, you can enter your chosen postgraduate degree at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

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Contact

mse.pgtadmissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 5941

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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