Module code: ENGM103

Module Overview

This module describes popular methods for the microscopy and the bulk and surface analysis of advanced materials.

Module provider

Mechanical Engineering Sciences

Module Leader

WATTS JF Prof (Mech Eng Sci)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: J500

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The methods to be included are X-ray analysis in the electron microscope by energy dispersive and wavelength dispersive spectrometry (EDS and WDS); surface analysis by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES); together with the ion beam techniques of secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS). Structure determination by X-ray and electron diffraction (XRD and ED) will also be included.

The module is directed at scientists and engineers who require a grounding in these methods for trouble-shooting investigations or longer term research projects. The basic principles used for the physical characterisation of materials will be outlined; microscopy by light, electrons and scanned probes will be introduced and the readily available bulk characterisation methods such as diffraction, X-ray analysis and vibrational spectroscopies will be described. Surface analysis by electron and ion spectroscopies will also form and important part of the course. Particular emphasis will be paid to the use of a variety of methods in multi-technique approaches for the characterisation of advanced materials.                     

Overview of Physical Property Characterisation                   
Thermal Analysis                                                                   
X-Ray Diffraction – Basic Concepts                          
X-Ray Diffraction – Examples                                               
Infra-Red Spectroscopy
Light Microscopy
Image Acquisition Analysis and Processing
Electron Interactions
Scanning Electron Microscopy I & II
Chemical Analysis in Electron Microscopy
Transmission Electron Microscopy
Scanning Probe Microscopies
Auger Electron Spectroscopy and Microscopy
Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
Particulate Systems
Inorganic Thin Films and Coatings
Organic Coatings
X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate both a knowledge across the whole breadth of the module and a deeper cognitive/analytical ability alongside deeper knowledge in specified areas.

The short questions of the assessment package are able to test knowledge and understanding of a broad range of topics covered in the module. The long questions are aimed at assessing the knowledge of specific chosen topics and depth of understanding expected at this level.

Summative assessment and formative feedback

·         Q1 (4 x short answer) + Q2 (long answer question)

[Learning outcomes 1-5]        (45 hours)        Mon/Tues 2 weeks after end of course {40%}

·         Q3 (6 x short answer) + Q4 (long answer question)

[Learning outcomes 1-5]        (75 hours)        Mon/Tues 6 weeks after end of course {60%}

·         Formative verbal feedback is given in lectures and tutorials.

·         Written feedback is given on the first assessment coursework (Q1 & Q2), which is submitted in advance of the final summative assessment.

Module aims

  • provide a systematic understanding of the principles, equipment and practices of the most popular materials characterisation methods based on microscopy, chemical, physical and structural analysis and thermal techniques
  • Equip students with the knowledge of a broad range of characterisation techniques, such that they clearly understand the capabilities of such methods and their role in completing the process-structure-property relationship. 

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Have an understanding of the principles and a knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the different types of analysis covered in the course KC
2 Demonstrate an understanding of the underlying issues through the appropriate interpretation of assessment questions KC
3 Be able to recommend appropriate methods for particular problems and have a good understanding of the data obtained adhesive KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 121

Lecture Hours: 21

Tutorial Hours: 4

Laboratory Hours: 4

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Introduce the fundamental principles of the popular methods of microscopy and analysis.  This is achieved principally though lectures and laboratory demonstrations.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures [21 hours]
Tutorials [4 hours]
Demonstrations [4 hours]
Coursework [121 hours]

The teaching is delivered as a one-week intensive course.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Advanced Materials MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies EngD 1 Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 50% to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.