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Materials Science and Engineering BEng

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry. 2022-23 entry is also available.

Key details

Course description

Students working on the Global Engineering Challenge

In our core undergraduate degree, you'll discover the underlying principles of materials science, and how these are applied across materials engineering situations. You can keep your course general or tailor your degree with optional materials modules.

As well as lectures and tutorials, you'll learn through experiencing real-world engineering situations with extensive practical work in important manufacturing processes and using the latest investigative equipment.

In the first year, you'll take the Global Engineering Challenge. Working with students from other engineering courses, you'll have to find creative solutions to problems. The project looks at challenges faced by communities throughout the world. It's designed to develop you as a professional engineer and get you thinking about sustainable solutions.

BEng or MEng

It is possible to switch between many of our courses and between the BEng and MEng (based on performance on the exams in the course) at end of the second year.

This course is fully accredited by the IOM3, meaning it counts towards later professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).


The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

Title: Materials Science and Engineering BEng course structure
UCAS code: JH51
Years: 2021, 2022

Core modules:

Introduction to Materials Chemistry

This module begins with the electronic structure of atoms and uses this to introduce the chemistry of the periodic table. Crystal chemistry and crystal structures are then considered, starting with simple metals and then moving to ionic bonding and structures before considering glasses. The second half of the module introduces organic and polymer chemistry. Functional group chemistry and molecular shape are discussed using simple models of bonding. We emphasise the importance of macromolecules, together with the larger-scale shape of polymers. We discuss polymer synthesis and its relation to polymer properties some selected cases. This includes discussion of natural and biopolymers.

20 credits
Introduction to Mechanical Properties and Structural Materials

The basic concepts of stress, strain and moduli are introduced. The links between atomic bonding and the mechanical properties of all the main classes of materials (ceramics, metals, polymers, natural materials and composites) are then explored. Modes of failure ¿ stress concentrations, dislocations, ductility and creep are also covered. The linkages between materials properties and microstructures of materials are investigated with a particular emphasis on metallic crystal structures, defects and dislocations, grain boundaries. 

20 credits
Mathematics (Materials)

This module aims to reinforce students' previous knowledge and to develop new basic mathematical techniques needed to support the engineering subjects taken at levels 1 and 2. It also provides a foundation for the level 2 mathematics courses in the appropriate engineering department.

20 credits
Biomaterials I

This module introduces the human body from an engineering perspective; looking at it as a structure, a mechanism and a sensor. It then introduces both natural and replacement biomaterials discussing properties in relation to function using Ashby charts. Finally, the module discusses lessons that can be learnt from biomaterials by materials engineers in general (biomimetics). 

10 credits
Cradle to ?: Materials and the Environment

The production of all manufactured goods involves the use of materials and will have some environmental impact. For example energy is used at all stages from extraction of the raw materials through to final manufacture of the product and possibly during use of the product. Through specific materials based examples this course will introduce students to the energy requirements of different processing routes and products along with some of the complex issues involved in the recycling and re-processing of materials and life-cycle analysis.

10 credits
Digital Skills for Materials

The course is designed to teach students to interpret, analyse and present data using modern computational tools (though packages such as Excel, powerpoint, word, CES and MATLAB). The students will learn how to use such packages for data analysis and then work through different data sets to determine how the software can be used to perform the necessary mathematical functions on the this data and to clearly show trends and conclusions that can be drawn from the data. 

10 credits
Introduction to Materials Properties

This unit considers materials properties as the link between what is done to a material and how the material responds and hence discusses linking properties to devices and structures. In particular: i) Magnetic Materials: Basics of magnetism; effect of magnetic fields on materials. Classification of magnetic materials (dia-, para-, ferro-, antiferro- and ferri-magnetic). ii) Electrical Materials: Conductors, insulators, field gradient, resistivity. Insulators, semi-conductors, metals, mixed conductors and solid electrolytes. iii) Optical Materials: Optical absorption & emission. Bulbs, fluorescent lamps & phosphors. Optical fibres for light, UV, IR. Transparent & translucent materials.

10 credits
Introduction to Nanoscience and Nanomaterials

This module will begin by considering scaling relations in the macro and nano worlds. Examples of nanomaterials, including nanoparticles, nanotubes and nanocomposite bulk materials will be discussed. The use of nanomaterials in novel systems and devices arising from the development of nanomaterials and technology will be considered. Ethical, societal and environmental issues will be discussed.

10 credits
Kinetics, Thermodynamics and Phase Diagrams

This module introduces basic ideas of thermodynamics and kinetics and their respective roles in determining the behaviour of gases, liquids and solids. Empirical gas laws are introduced leading to the concept of the ideal gas and the ideal gas equation of state and progressing to more realistic gas equations of state. Basic thermodynamic concepts are covered such as work, heat, internal energy, specific heat, enthalpy, entropy and free energy. Rate laws, rate constants, reaction orders and the effects of temperature on reaction rates are discussed. Equilibrium binary phase diagrams of important metals are introduced.

10 credits
Global Engineering Challenge Week

The Faculty-wide Global Engineering Challenge Week is a compulsory part of the first-year programme. The project has been designed to develop student academic, transferable and employability skills as well as widen their horizons as global citizens. Working in multi-disciplinary groups of 5-6, for a full week, all students in the Faculty choose from a number of projects arranged under a range of themes including Water, Waste Management, Energy and Digital with scenarios set in an overseas location facing economic challenge. Some projects are based on the Engineers Without Borders Engineering for people design challenge*.

*The EWB challenge provides students with the opportunity to learn about design, teamwork and communication through real, inspiring, sustainable and cross-cultural development projects identified by EWB with its community-based partner organisations.

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.

Learning and assessment


You'll learn through lectures, labs, tutorials and problem classes. We take a 'learn by doing' approach to our courses, so that you develop transferable, industry-relevant skills and use equipment found in the workplace.

Much of your time will be spent in The Diamond, the University’s dedicated engineering teaching facility. Here, you’ll find lecture theatres, seminar rooms, open plan learning spaces, library services and a number of specialist engineering laboratories. In the Sir Robert Hadfield Building, you will find lecture theatres and other laboratory facilities, including the unique Quarrell Lab where you will do glass melting and metal casting experiments.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours


You will be assessed by a combination of exams and tests, coursework and practical work throughout your degree. The proportions for each will vary depending on the modules you choose.

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry

A Levels + additional qualifications | ABB, including two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry + A in a relevant EPQ ABB, including two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry + A in a relevant EPQ

International Baccalaureate | 34, 6,5 in two of Higher Level Maths, Physics or Chemistry 34 inc 5 in two of Higher Level Maths, Physics or Chemistry

BTEC | DDD in Engineering or Applied Science + grade A in A Level Maths DDD in Engineering or Applied Science + B in A Level Maths

Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers | AAABB + AB in two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry AABBB + AB in two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AA from two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry B + AB, including two of Maths, Physics or Chemistry

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject with 45 at Level 3 including 36 credits at Distinctions 9 at and Merit Level 3 units in two of Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry required. Applicants are considered individually. 60 credits overall in a relevant subject with 45 at Level 3 including 30 credits at Distinctions 15 at and Merit Level 3 units in two of Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry required. Applicants are considered individually.

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

Other requirements
  • GCSE grade 4 or grade C or equivalent in the other listed subject, GCSE grade 6 or grade B or equivalent in Maths

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.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Let our students tell you about what they like about studying Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

Take a look around you. Materials are everywhere. Used for different applications, for different reasons. Without materials scientists and engineers, aeroplanes wouldn't fly, buildings wouldn't stand up, mobile phones wouldn't work, healthcare wouldn't be the same.

Materials science and engineering is a subject that is integral to all other engineering disciplines. It brings together physics, chemistry, engineering, maths, and in some cases, biology, and puts these subjects into real-life situations.

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.

Our academics are leading experts in their fields with international reputations, and their research shapes and inspires what you are taught.

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.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering are mainly based in The Diamond, the University's dedicated engineering teaching facility. Here, you'll find lecture theatres, seminar rooms, open plan learning spaces, library services and a number of specialist engineering laboratories. You'll also have lectures and use laboratories in the Sir Robert Hadfield Building.


Not only do you get to use the materials lab, packed full of research grade equipment, but because materials science and engineering is integrated into all other types of engineering, our students get to experience working in multiple laboratories in the Diamond, such as the electronics lab and the clean room. There are also social spaces and a cafe where you can take a well earned break from studying.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Number 1 in the UK for Graduate Prospects

Materials Technology, Complete University Guide 2021 and Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

Number 1 in the Russell Group for Overall Course Satisfaction

Guardian University Guide 2021

Graduate careers

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Employers are increasingly looking for evidence of practical work experience as it demonstrates a genuine interest and means you will have the practical skills to work in a real industrial environment.

Studying for a degree in materials science gives you a strong set of transferable skills valued by employers across a wide range of industries, including:

  • analytical and problem-solving skills
  • time management, planning and organisation
  • research and report writing
  • team working
  • numerical skills

Our courses are designed to include a significant portion of practical work, allowing students to get hands-on experience of important processes and the latest investigative equipment. There are frequent occasions when we will ask you to work in the same way as professional engineers, with opportunities to work in industry or on projects of direct industrial interest.

Over the past five years, more than 90% of Sheffield materials graduates had secured employment or were in further study, six months after graduation.

Our graduates have the skills, experience and contacts they need to tackle society's most pressing  materials challenges.  No matter where your future lies, as a Sheffied materials graduate you'll be in demand.

Fees and funding


Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

Additional funding

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've made an application to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

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The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

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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