The module descriptors for our undergraduate courses can be found below:

  • Four year Aeronautical Engineering degree (H401)
  • Four year Aeronautical Engineering with a Year Abroad stream (H410)

Students on our H420 programme follow the same programme as the H401 spending fourth year in industry.

The descriptors for all programmes are the same (including H411).


Materials 2

Module aims

The course builds on the principles of aerospace materials, taught in first year, and expands and discusses these principles to engineering materials, particularly those employed in the aircraft industry. The course will equip you with sufficient knowledge to evaluate the balance of engineering properties required in relation to an application and to select appropriate metallic and composite materials. You will also be made aware of the motivation for studying materials and knowledge of emerging materials for future aerospace applications

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

1. demonstrate understanding of the mechanical behaviour of metallic and non-metallic aerospace materials under different loading conditions, including deformation and failure.

2. describe the properties of the variety of materials used in the aerospace and associated industries (such as aluminium and titanium alloys) and their inter-relationships.  

3. explain yielding, fatigue, fracture, creep, oxidation and corrosion failure modes in metallic and non-metallic aerospace materials, and apply them to the examination of failure mechanisms in these materials and the conditions under which they occur in the context of aerospace components and their service conditions.  

4. discuss sustainability of materials and material life cycles. 

5. identify the methods for materials selection for products and relate to product performance, manufacturability, reliability, cost and other requirements to available materials.  

6. demonstrate awareness of emerging technologies such as nanomaterials, natural materials and multifunctional materials for aerospace application. 

7. experiment with microscopy of microstructures of aerospace materials, analyse and interpret data obtained empirically.


Module syllabus

Introduction to Materials and Materials Selection: brief overview of materials from Materials 1 and motivations; CES software, selection methodologies, including effect of shape.  

Metals and Metal Structures: equilibrium constitution and phase diagrams, case studies. Driving force for structural change. Kinetics of structural change; diffusive transformations, nucleation and displacive transformations. Case studies.  

Steels and Alloys: steels for shafts, gears and undercarriages. Types, heat treatment and properties. Case studies in steels.  

Light Alloys: Aluminium Alloys; wrought aluminium alloys. 2xxx and 7xxx series and Li containing alloys, heat treatment and properties. Titanium and Magnesium Alloys; types, properties and applications.  

Polymers: their mechanical properties

Composites: their architectures and mechanical properties, particularly strength (WWFE) and toughness, including overview of mode 1 (DCB) test.  

Ceramics: Sensitivity to defects and Weibull analysis.  

Nanomaterials: Introduction to Nano materials, including processing, manufacture and application.  

Fatigue: HCF, LCF and crack growth Paris lax, stages of development of fatigue cracks including persistent slip bands, striations and features of fatigue failures, S-N curves - Basquin’s, Goodman’s and Miner’s laws, crack initiation and growth, LCF – Coffin-Manson law, effect of mean stress, stress concentration, stress rate, cumulative damage.  

Creep: nature of creep deformation and fracture, relation between stress, creep rate and temperature, correlation of creep data by Larson-Miller parameter. Nickel alloys – blades and discs.  

Oxidation and Corrosion: electrochemical principles of oxidation and corrosion, anode and cathode reactions. Corrosion in metals and alloys.  

Natural and multifunctional materials: overview of natural materials, using wood as a case study. Overview of multifunctional materials, including smart, morphing and structural power.


Teaching methods

The module will be delivered primarily through large-class lectures introducing the key concepts and methods, supported by a variety of delivery methods combining the traditional and the technological. The content is presented via a combination of slides, whiteboard and visualiser.

Learning will be reinforced through tutorial question sheets and laboratory exercises, featuring analytical, computational and experimental tasks representative of those carried out by practising engineers.


This module presents opportunities for both formative and summative assessment.  

This module presents opportunities for both formative and summative assessment.  
You will be formatively assessed through progress tests and tutorial sessions. 
You will have additional opportunities to self-assess your learning via tutorial problem sheets. 
You will be summatively assessed by a written closed-book examination at the end of the module as well as through practical laboratory assessments.
Assessment type Assessment description Weighting Pass mark
Examination Written examination 90% 40%
Practical Coursework 10% 40%
You will receive feedback both during the laboratory sessions and following the coursework submission.
You will receive feedback on examinations in the form of an examination feedback report on the performance of the entire cohort.
You will receive feedback on your performance whilst undertaking tutorial exercises, during which you will also receive instruction on the correct solution to tutorial problems.
Further individual feedback will be available to you on request via this module’s online feedback forum, through staff office hours and discussions with tutors. 

Reading list