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    Nanomaterials and Materials Science

    Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

    Become an expert in materials science with nanotechnology specialisation.
    Image of two postgraduate materials science and engineering students with masks and equipment

    Course description

    Nanotechnology has had a revolutionary influence on the development of novel materials over the last 20 years, and many new types of materials are now available, such as nano-carbon, nano-silica, and nano-magnetics. These materials open new ways of designing advanced devices (sensors, electronics, data and energy storage) as well as improved structural and functional materials. 

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

    We provide a foundation semester in the general area of science and engineering of materials, followed by a nanoscience and nanotechnology-specific semester to give you comprehensive nanomaterials expertise. The course content reflects the highly interdisciplinary nature of this subject and allows students to specialise via options, and a major project.


    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).


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    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.

    15 credits
    Materials Processing and Characterisation

    This module introduces experimental methods used to characterise metals, polymers, ceramics and composites and the processes and technologies involved in the production of these materials.

    Topics covered are split into two areas:Characterisation: Analysis of materials using a range of techniques, e.g., diffraction, spectroscopy and thermal analysisProcessing: Manufacturing of materials and parts, e.g., powder, thermomechanical and moulding

    15 credits
    Practical, Modelling and Digital Skills

    This module develops your skills in three linked areas:

    (a) materials characterisation laboratory skills including safe methods of working, completion of COSHH and risk assessments, and measurements using a range of practical techniques

    (b) the use of computers for data handling and analysis (MATLAB) together with an introduction to finite element modelling (FEM) using ANSYS. 

    (c) 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.

    15 credits
    Nanoscale Magnetic Materials and Devices

    Assuming little or no prior knowledge of magnetic materials, it begins with an introduction to the different types of magnetism materials can exhibit and the physics that underlie these. It then focuses on technologically useful ferromagnetic materials and explores the basic magnetic energies that control their properties. These energies are then used to explore how both hard and soft bulk magnetic materials are optimised for applications, for example transformer cores and permanent magnets. We then turn our attention to the use of magnetic materials at the nanoscale, exploring how the properties of magnets change when fabricated into thin films and nanostructures, and how these unique properties can be harnessed in powerful information technology devices. Finally, we discuss how nanoscale magnetic materials are fabricated and characterised.

    15 credits
    Nanostructures and Nano-structuring

    This course aims to provide a combined introduction to important groups of nanostructured materials along with the key technologies of how to fabricate and characterise nanostructures. On the materials side, the focus is on  free-standing nanoobjects or assemblies of these, ranging from functional nanoparticles (semiconducting, oxidic, metallic), over carbon nanotubes to metallic and insulating nanowires, to conclude with nanoporous materials. On the methodology side, methods of nanopatterning, nanocharacterisation, nanomanipulation or nanometrology are presented, including Focused Ion Beam microscopy, Scanning Probe microscopy, and piezoelectric actuation. Examples of application fields presented include electronic circuit elements, field emission, solar cells, energy storage, biomedical usage, structural composites, photonic crystals, and environmental remediation.

    15 credits
    Functional Nano- and Bio-nanomaterials

    This module gives you a basic understanding and applications of selected types of nanomaterial.

    The core topics of the module comprise:

    (a) nanocomposite materials

    (b) 2D nanomaterials, including graphene and graphene-composites

    (c) nanocrystalline ceramics

    (d) bio-nanomaterials

    (e) thin films and deposition techniques

    (f) principles of nano-mechanics. 

    15 credits
    Heat and Materials with Application

    This module presents the underlying theory of heat transfer and diffusion, covering the derivation and solution to important and frequently encountered engineering problems. 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 chemical thermodynamics.  The course introduces analytical solutions to diffusion and heat transfer problems considering a range of boundary conditions and geometry. Spectral methods are covered briefly, with a focus on numerical solutions obtained using the finite difference method. The course is assessed through an exam and coursework. The exam assesses the background knowledge of heat transfer and diffusion, in addition to the ability to apply analytical solutions to solve industrial problems. A coursework assignment builds upon this knowledge to explore problems involving more complex boundary conditions and more detailed descriptions of material properties using the finite difference method. 

    15 credits

    Students undertake a project on a topic agreed with their allocated academic supervisor; supervisor allocation takes into accounts students' specific interests. The project is an original research investigation carried out within a research group in the Department; to develop students' abilities to interact within a research group a defined piece of group work is undertaken early in the project. All projects include a literature survey involving students reading original papers and review articles from the scientific and technical literature. Most projects involve extensive laboratory work although some may be based primarily on a survey of the published literature or computational studies. The assessment of the project includes assessment of the group work, an interim report and final report along with a presentation on the work to staff and other students and an oral examination. Conduct throughout the project is also assessed.

    60 credits

    Optional modules:

    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, the design of composites is taught via tutorials on classical laminate theory. An extended series of worked examples provides you with the basic tools you need to design effective composite parts. Second, the 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
    Structural and Physical Properties of Dental and Bio-materials.

    The bulk and surface properties of biomaterials 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 Biomaterials but also view it as a process between the implanted materials and the host environment. It is important to understand these specific properties of biomaterials prior to any medical or dental applications. This module will provide students with knowledge of Structural and Physical Properties in relation with Dental Materials and Biomaterials, enabling them to understand links between biomaterials, regenerative medicine, dentistry and engineering. In addition, it will help them in understanding the hard and soft materials, chemical properties, mechanical properties, thermal properties, including surface modification and their characterisation. The module will provide an understanding of how these elements play a vital role in the success of regenerative medicine and clinical dentistry.

    15 credits
    Solid State Chemistry

    This unit aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the main groups of functional inorganic materials, their synthesis, structure, properties and uses for a wide variety of specific applications.

    Inorganic solids have many applications as both functional and structural materials because of their ability to exhibit a complete spectrum of electrical, magnetic, optical, thermal and multifunctional properties.

    This course follows on from the introductory courses MAT6664 and MAT6665. It extends structural chemistry to cover the most important crystal structures of inorganic materials, such as spinels, perovskites, fluorites and silicates and the various diffraction and spectroscopic techniques that may be used to characterise materials. Use and interpretation of phase diagrams is extended to cover ternary systems and phase transitions are introduced. Inorganic solids can have variable composition by ion substitutions and the strategies that are used to dope materials and modify their properties will be presented.

    Structure-composition-property relations for a range of inorganic materials will be discussed and an overview given of their electrical, magnetic and optical properties. Examples include:

    solid electrolytes, especially β-alumina and yttria-stabilised zirconia, their structures, electrical properties and applications 

    15 credits
    Sustainable Materials Manufacturing

    Materials production technologies are often energy intensive resulting in high CO2 emissions as well as other environmental impacts. Many of these materials are also essential in enabling the green transition. This module will examine methods for carbon reduction across a range of the materials industries including steelmaking, bulk glass production and cement manufacture. The development of new production technologies and/or alternative compositions will be examined. This will be supported by a consideration of life cycle assessment and the potential for industrial symbiosis approaches for minimising the overall environmental impact of materials manufacturing processes. 

    The overall aims of the module are to develop your knowledge and understanding of a) the environmental impacts of a range of current and novel materials production processes and b) potential approaches, and their technological limitations, to the decarbonisation of a range of materials production processes, c) the use of life cycle analysis in assessing the environmental impacts of materials processing routes.

    15 credits
    Energy Generation and Storage

    Decarbonisation of society through electrification of transport and industry requires a large-scale switch to nuclear and renewable energy generation associated with non-fossil fuel based energy storage and recovery methods.

    The aims of this module are to develop your knowledge and understanding of the materials challenges inherent in

    a) the next generation of nuclear reactors including fusion reactors; b) the hydrogen economy;

    c) current and novel battery technologies and d) novel energy recovery technologies.

    15 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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    1 year full-time


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


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


    Department of Materials Science and Engineering

    Materials science and engineering is an extraordinarily interdisciplinary subject that underpins so many aspects of our society and has a huge impact in pretty much all engineering sectors from aerospace, to automotive, to the biomedical sciences, the energy sector and beyond.

    Sheffield has long been a centre of materials innovation. With a history of research excellence that can be traced back more than 135 years, this department was one of the foundation stones of the University.

    Being at the centre of such a diverse subject area, our researchers at Sheffield are solving some of the most pressing challenges faced by society.

    Our work covers solutions across all sustainability challenges from biodegradable polymers, to clean energy, to recyclability and decarbonisation within the foundation industries, to novel low-energy methods for the manufacture of materials for energy. For example we are champions of atomic energy leading the way towards effective solutions for nuclear waste immobilisation as well as designing the materials to enable atomic fusion thus providing solutions to green energy.

    We strive to give you a valuable and unforgettable university experience. By accessing state-of-the-art multidisciplinary engineering laboratories, direct contact with industrial partners, and excellent learning resources, you will be given the opportunity and support to develop the skills you need to succeed at university and flourish in your career once you graduate.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in materials, a physical science (chemistry or physics) or a related engineering subject.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

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

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

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

    Fees and funding

    Scholarships of up to £3000 are available on the basis of academic excellence and Access and Participation criteria. UK students only.


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

    Apply now


    +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.