Module information on this degree can be found below, separated by year of study.

The module information below applies for the current academic year. The academic year runs from August to July; the 'current year' switches over at the end of July.

Students select optional courses subject to rules specified in the Mechanical Engineering Student Handbook,  for example at most three Design and Business courses. Please note that numbers are limited on some optional courses and selection criteria will apply.

Tribology B

Module aims

The overall aim of the Tribology module is to provide students with a general and useful introduction to the main concepts and principles of Tribology (friction, lubrication and wear), with particular emphasis on lubricated systems. It is recognised that the field of Tribology is very large and multidisciplinary and that it is thus impossible to cover all aspects of the subject adequately. Instead the Tribology module focuses on those areas of Tribology particularly relevant to the design and performance of lubricated machine components. The module covers the underlying principles and provides an extensive set of handout notes and references aimed at assisting students comprehend and address tribological problems that they may meet in their future engineering careers, even those outside the areas directly covered by the module. This is a level 7 version of the level 6 Tribology module and students cannot take both for credit towards their final degree.

ECTS units:  5    

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Discuss - making appropriate use of technical terminology - the main laws and concepts of tribology and their historical development

2. Explain the origins and characteristics of the main lubrication regimes and the machine components and conditions in which each is likely to be prevalent

3. Describe the main materials used in plain bearings, rolling element bearings and gears and the reasons for the materials being used and the composition, specification and performance of liquid lubricants

4. Identify the main types of tribologically-induced surface damage from photographs

5. Describe the mechanisms and origins of the main forms of tribological damage, and of current ways of predicting the onset or accumulation of such damage

6. Solve problems concerning the pressure, temperature, contact area and friction between rough and smooth bearing surfaces in machine components

7. Derive the Reynolds equation, and list and explain the main assumptions underlying this equation and its subsequent approximations

8. Solve problems concerning the hydrodynamic film thickness and friction of plain thrust and journal bearings and other lubricated conformal contacts, the elastohydrodynamic film thickness in rolling element bearings and other lubricated non-conformal contacts and problems concerning prediction of the wear and fatigue life of bearings

9. Assess and interpret various tribological data and make recommendations with justifications

Module syllabus

The science and technology of rubbing surfaces
Contact mechanics
Regimes of lubrication
Nature and properties of rubbing materials
Types, mechanisms and prevention of tribological damage

Teaching methods

Students will be introduced to the main topics through lectures, supported by technology (PowerPoint, Panapto and Blackboard). Students will be provided with assessed problem sheets and should complete these as part of your independent study. Tutorials sessions will provide an opportunity for interaction with teaching staff where you can discuss specific problems. 

Summary of student timetabled hours







Study groups/Tutorials

Tutorials are not normally timetabled for ME3/4 Options.  The Course Leader may arrange them according to staff and student numbers; they will not exceed one hour per two lecture hours.


27 (assuming 6 tutorials attended)

Expected private study time

3-4 hrs per week, plus exam revision



Assessment details        
      Pass mark   
Grading method Numeric   40%
Assessment type Assessment description Weighting Pass mark Must pass?
Examination 3 Hour exam 70% 50% N
Coursework Worked solution of five out of six tutorial sheets 20% 50% N
  Short report based on assessing and interpreting experimental data 10% 50%  

Module leaders

Dr Janet Wong