Materials Science is the study of everything around us. There are millions of different materials – some natural, many others man-made – these materials make us who we are. The history of human civilisation is driven by the advances made through material discoveries such as those in the golden age, bronze age, iron age and more recently the silicon age. Advances in steel and glass have transformed our landscape and a plethora of other materials have modernised our lives, helped extend our lifespan and enabled exploration of space as well as the deep sea.
Technological developments are made possible because we utilise different processing methods to engineer the structure and properties of materials in order to enhance their performance. Advances in microscopy is enabling us to observe what is happening on micrometre and nanometre length scales in unprecedented ways. Innovative experimental approaches give us the ability to directly construct nanoscale objects with increasing control. New modelling techniques are bringing quantum mechanical and theoretical physics ideas away from single atoms and molecules into the nano-world.
By joining us, you will become part of an academic community focussed on finding solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
What is Materials Science?
What is Materials Science and Engineering?
All engineering structures and devices are made of materials – materials science and engineering is the interdisciplinary field which discovers, studies and designs new materials – it combines the fields of chemistry, physics and engineering to solve problems that would benefit our society – in sectors such as energy, environmental protection, transport, electronics, healthcare among many others.
What is Materials Science?
Suggested reads and activities:
- Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
- The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another by Ainissa Ramirez
- Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century by Philip Ball
- The New Science of Strong Materials by JE Gordon
- Nova's 'Making Stuff' series by David Pogue. This series looks at scientific innovations that are ushering in a new generation of materials that are stronger, smaller, cleaner and smarter. David explains more in this interview for PBS News Hour. You can also watch the whole series on Youtube or PBS Learning Media.
- The Royal Institution Channel on Youtube features a series of interesting lectures covering topics like 'Materials for a greener future'.
- TED - This is a list of lectures on Materials Science that you may find interesting. Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
- Top 100 Science Papers in Materials
Why study Materials at Imperial?
We're ranked 8th amongst the universities in the world, making an Imperial degree highly valued by employers across the globe.
The following four reasons are unique to Imperial Materials.
1. Engineering Practice I & II – Our students complete very hands-on practical modules, working in teams from day 1 of their degree course. Students in year 1 have to problem solve, design, manufacture, assemble and automate a solution to an engineering challenge. In year 2, they dismantle a given common product, characterise the materials and determine the production processes used and justify the economics behind the materials selection.
2. UROP – Our Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme is a flagship of Imperial.
Students from any year group can take-part in research projects that are based at Imperial, with many sponsored by our industrial partners. There were more than 50 research projects that took place over the summer in 2019. Visit our Undergraduate Placement Opportunities page to hear our students talk about their experience or read about some of the projects.
"‘The research experience completely surpassed my expectations. Firstly, it allowed me to link concepts taught in the lectures across different modules. For example, when matching XRD peaks to possible oxides, I utilised Ellingham diagrams to determine which oxides are thermodynamically stable - some of the peaks also overlap, hence there is a need to deconvolute the peaks, such as using Reitveld refinement. When learning about these in lectures, we seldom think how each concept relates to another, so this gives me a completely new perspective. Things I learnt make sense now’ "
3. Breadth of Materials – Our Materials courses cover a broad breadth of different classes of materials for different applications – with expert teaching from within faculty. This is showcased by the different research themes – Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Ceramics and Composites, Engineering Alloys, Functional Materials, Nano Technology and Nanoscale Characterisation and Theory and Simulation of Materials.
4. Centres of Excellence – Academic staff from the Materials Department are actively involved in many of the multidisciplinary Centres of Excellence. Examples are Energy Futures Lab, Grantham Institute – Climate change and the Environment, London Centre for Nanotechnology, Thomas Young Centre – The London Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials, The Centre for Nuclear Engineering and The Composites Centre among many others. Shell-Imperial Advanced Interfacial Materials Science (AIMS) Centre and the Rolls-Royce Nuclear University Technology Centre, BP International Centre for Advanced Materials are examples of strong industrial partnerships. There are many other good reasons for choosing Imperial Materials:
There are many other good reasons for choosing Imperial Materials:
- Reputation, Ranking and Accreditation
The Materials Department consistently ranks highly in the world. All our courses are accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as an Incorporated Engineer and partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.
- Teaching and Learning
The Teaching Excellence Framework is intended to ‘recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching’ in British universities. Imperial College London has been awarded the Gold award by the new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Imperial is the only Russell Group university in London to have received a Gold rating and the only non-specialist institution.
Imperial’s TEF Gold ranking was rationalised by four main reasons:
- Creation of an ‘exceptionally stimulating and stretching’ education that challenges students to fulfill their potential
- Development of a ‘range of ways in which students are exposed to and deeply engaged with research'
- Maintenance of an ‘outstanding learning environment that supports learning’
- Embedding a ‘culture of student engagement and active philosophy of students as partners’.
- Industry Partnership and Graduate Employability
The Department of Materials has a strong track record of collaboration with industry and external partners in a wide range of sectors - Shell-Imperial Advanced Interfacial Materials Science (AIMS) Centre, the Rolls-Royce Nuclear University Technology Centre, BP International Centre for Advanced Materials are just few of the examples.
Imperial is ranked top in the UK for Graduate Employability by the Guardian University Guide for 2020 and ranked 30th globally by the QS World University Ranking 2019.
The Department is at the forefront of materials research and innovation. Our staff are involved in a range of inter-disciplinary initiatives and Research Centres at Imperial. We have an history of commercialising our innovative ideas. Undergraduate students also have the opportunity to take part in world-leading research through completing a Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme. Many of our students have developed both personally and professionally from completing a UROP.
Based at South Kensington, in central London, we are at the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the world – you are surrounded by parks and museums; shopping, bars, restaurants and clubs. There are also festivals, street-food markets and historical landmarks which make London a unique city to explore. You can apply to live in one of our accomodation halls based in the center of London. Take a 360 tour of our accomodation halls.
- Tailor make your degree
In the third year, you will have the opportunity to select electives that map on to the Department’s research themes and give you the opportunity to study a particular class of material or underpinning principle in more detail. You will also broaden your educational experience by taking an I-explore module. If you are following the BEng Materials with Management programme, you will take additional core modules offered by Imperial College Business School.
In your 4th year, you will undertake an individual research project with one of the Department’s research groups, this may involve you working at an external facility such as Diamond in Oxfordshire or spending time in a laboratory overseas, e.g. at MIT in the US. Project students work alongside researchers, including world leading academics and PhD students, in areas from bone regeneration to aircraft landing gear and from solar cells to cement bonded refractories.
Imperial also offers a wide-range of courses to stimulate your personal, professional and intellectual growth via Imperial Horizons, Imperial’s flagship Centre for Languages, Culture & Communication.
For more information, please visit the Why Imperial? webpage.
Careers in Materials Science
With a degree in Materials Science and Engineering, you will find global opportunities in both established and newly developing industries. Imperial graduates pursue careers in industry, academia and as policymakers and scientific advisors to national governments, or in entrepreneurial roles. There will always be a need for materials scientists and engineers in traditional industries such as automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, oil and gas, telecommunication or the nuclear industry. There are also many roles for materials scientists as product developers, design engineers, process scientists and technical engineers
Want to find out more?
- Find out more about Career Prospects for Materials graduates.
- Read what Imperial Graduates do after graduation.
- Hear from some of our recent Alumni.
Ways to meet us
Ways to meet us
You can meet our Represenatives in the following ways:
- Attend an Undergraduate open day.
- Sign up for a student-led campus tour or Departmental tour
- Ask our to visit your school
- UCAS conventions
- Summer Schools
- Work experience (Year 12)
Please note: Most opportunities to meet us, including open days, are currently virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.