Module code: ENGM099

Module Overview

The module provides a systematic overview of the central principles of physical metallurgy. Students successfully completing the module will have a critical awareness of the key principles of metallurgy relevant to exploiting structural alloys in engineering applications.


Module provider

Mechanical Engineering Sciences

Module Leader

WHITING Mark (Mech Eng Sci)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 120

Tutorial Hours: 30

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content: the course includes lectures and tutorials on:

  • The thermodynamic basis of phase diagrams

  • Binary equilibrium phase diagrams and their use in predicting alloy constitution and microstructure

  • Isothermal and continuous cooling transformation diagrams and their use in predicting microstructure

  • Characterisation of microstructures

  • Solid-state diffusion

  • The liquid to solid transformation

  • Precipitation in the solid state

  • The classification of phase transformations as diffusional and displacive

  • The pearlitic, bainitic and martensitic transformations

  • Microstructure, processing and property relationships (with an emphasis on ambient temperature strengthening mechanisms)

  • Point, line and planar lattice defects

  • Micro and macro defects

  • Cold work, recovery, recrystallisation and grain growth

  • The role of dislocations in strengthening mechanisms

  • An introduction to the physical metallurgy of high-strength wrought aluminium alloys

  • An overview of titanium alloys

  • An introduction to martensitic, stainless and maraging steels.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy:

Set of short questions covering the entire syllabus which require demonstration of an understanding of the underlying issues relevant to a wide range of issues in, and aspects of, physical metallurgy. The long questions require extensive research to identify and integrate information on an issue central to the understanding and use of alloys in an engineering context. The research is based on information from self-determined sources and an understanding of the core principles covered in the taught material.

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

  • The centrality of the concepts of thermodynamics and kinetics in physical metallurgy and phase transformations
  • Binary equilibrium phase diagrams as a tool in understanding the thermodynamics of alloy systems
  • The use of transformation (isothermal and continuous cooling) diagrams as a tool in following (i) the kinetics of phase transformations and (ii) the development of alloy microstructure
  • The most common phase transformations that occur in commercial alloys
  • The principles of thermodynamics and kinetics, and their application, to a representative selection of real alloy systems
  • The nature of defects in metallic systems and their role in determining engineering properties
  • The concept of microstructure and its relationship to processing and properties of alloys.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Describe and comment on the basic principles of the thermodynamics and kinetics of phase transformations. KC
2 Demonstrate an understanding of how phase transformations determine microstructure. KC
3 Demonstrate an understanding of how specific principles of thermodynamics and kinetics underpin materials ‘problems'. KC
4 Demonstrate an understanding of the underlying issues through the appropriate interpretation of assessment questions. KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to introduce the fundamentals of physical metallurgy through a variety of course materials, tutorials (including worked example classes), and guided self-study. This is delivered through lectures and tutorial classes.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 25 hours of supported self-study, using lecture notes, lecture capture, selected reading, digital content, and guided reading.

  • 5 hours tutorial classes (small group)

  • 120 hours coursework

The teaching is focused around 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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENGM099

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Advanced Materials MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies EngD 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required 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 2019/0 academic year.