Advanced Materials MSc

Our Advanced Materials MSc is a broad-based, flexible modular programme, giving you a thorough understanding of advanced engineering materials and the techniques used for their characterisation.

Why Surrey?

This MSc has led to career development, new employment opportunities, PhDs and EngDs. It is excellent for continuing education, and many part-time students are funded by employers.

Programme overview

Offered as part of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme.

The aim of the Advanced Materials MSc is to: 

  • Increase and update the knowledge of those with some years’ experience in materials 
  • Be a conversion course for graduates in other subjects who are moving into materials 
  • Equip graduates with a thorough understanding of a wide range of advanced engineering materials and the techniques used for their characterisation 

Full-time and part-time students study seven lecture theatre and laboratory-based modules (from 13 currently available) which are taught as one-week short-course modules. These cover metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, nanomaterials, bonding, surfaces, corrosion, fracture, fatigue, analytical techniques and general research methods. Each module is followed by an open book assessment of approximately 120 hours. Generally, the assessment is to be completed within six weeks of the end of the short-course by full-time students and over several months by part-time students.

In addition to the modules mentioned above, there is also a materials-based research Project, which is divided into a Research Project Planning module and the Project; the assessment for these is by a report relevant to planning the Project and by a dissertation, respectively. There are no formal written examinations for the programme.

Module overview

Of the short-course modules that make up the MSc in Advanced Materials, the modules Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering, and Research Methods are compulsory (Research Project Planning is also compulsory for students taking the Project; part-time students unable to carry out a Project complete extra modules and an Independent Study). In addition, a further three from the following five modules are chosen: Characterisation of Advanced Materials; Introduction to Physical Metallurgy; Ceramics and Ceramic Coatings; Polymers: Science, Engineering and Applications; and Introduction to Composite Materials.

Additional modules are taken from the module list to make up the 180 credits required for the MSc degree.  Brief descriptions of all the modules (compulsory and optional) are provided below.

All of the modules are taught by experts from the University and almost all of the modules also include lectures and presentations from users of the technology in industry and research organisations. Most modules include practical demonstrations or laboratory work, as well as tutorial sessions. Some also include site visits to see processes in operation. Modules usually start on Monday morning and finish at Friday lunchtime.

The project and dissertation, approximately 18 weeks of work, are undertaken in the Faculty laboratories by full-time students and in their place of work by part-time students working on a project which is part of their normal work. As mentioned above, part-time students who do not have access to experimental facilities may take an independent study option and write a dissertation which is a theoretical piece of work. This carries less credits than an experimentally based project, so the student takes two additional short-course modules.

Module descriptions (please note that modules marked with an asterisk run in alternate years and are not available in the academic year 2016/17)

Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering (compulsory for all students)

This module provides a general introduction to the field of materials science and engineering. You will learn about the structure, processing routes and key properties of the main classes of materials, their key properties and principal application areas.

Research Methods (compulsory for all students)

This module is concerned with an overview of the key skills and knowledge needed to undertake a first major piece of independent research.

Research Project Planning (compulsory for full-time students; optional for part-time students)

This module enables students to implement, in a guided fashion, the skills learnt in the Research Methods module with regard to planning the student’s individual research project. 

Project (compulsory for full-time students; optional for part-time students)

This module focuses on the application of theoretical knowledge and practical techniques to address an engineering issue, or problem, in advanced materials through a research project carried out, in a guided way, by the student and the production of a dissertation. The Project includes a literature review, experimental work, analysis, synthesis, and information processing in varying proportions consistent with the topic being addressed.

Please note that the dissertation is charged at the same rate as the other modules.

Programme structure

Typically, the entire programme will be made up of 210 contact hours and 1,590 hours of self-study. Each module carries 15 credits, except for the Project (60 credits) or Independent Study (45 credits). The MSc degree is awarded on the attainment of 180 credits, the Postgraduate Diploma at 120 credits and the Postgraduate Certificate at 60 credits.

Optional modules

Characterisation of Advanced Materials

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

Introduction to Physical Metallurgy

This module provides a systematic overview of the major principles of physical metallurgy. The intention is to provide a critical awareness of how these principles relate to current issues in exploiting structural alloys in engineering applications.

Ceramics and Ceramic Coatings

Ceramics are used in bulk form or as coating materials in a wide variety of applications. The processing, properties and key uses of ceramics both as bulk and coating materials will be covered.

Polymers: Science, Engineering and Applications

This module provides an introduction and up-to-date overview of developments in polymer materials, polymer processing and applications. By the end of the module you will gain an awareness of how polymers are used in engineering, from processing-structure-properties to implementation.

Introduction to Composite Materials

This module is concerned with essential concepts and uses of engineering composite materials. Emphasis is put on developing a critical understanding of concepts, rather than a detailed review of current practice.


This module provides an introduction to the synthesis, behaviour and application of materials that are available at the nanometre scale or can be synthesised with features consistent with this length scale.

Surface Analysis: XPS, Auger and SIMS

This module is an introduction to the surface chemical analysis of materials by electron spectroscopies (specifically X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Auger electron spectroscopy) and secondary ion mass spectrometry.

Materials Under Stress: An Introduction to Fracture Mechanics and Fatigue*

This module covers the main concepts of fracture mechanics and fatigue, with emphasis on practical applications for metals, ceramics, polymers and composites.

Composite Materials Technology

The intention of this course is to present an overview of many important design, manufacture and performance issues relevant to the use of composite materials in a wide range of applications, including an introduction to the use of finite-element analysis for composites, the importance of product standards, recycling and green issues.

Corrosion Engineering*

This module provides a comprehensive overview of the many corrosion processes occurring for different materials in various environments, including the three generic forms of corrosion: uniform, local and galvanic. Methods for studying corrosion mechanisms and processes are also discussed.

The Science and Technology of Adhesive Bonding*

This module deals with the interfacial chemistry of adhesion and adhesion pre-treatments and the design of structural adhesive joints, together with testing and modelling of adhesive joint performance.

Independent Study (optional for part-time students)

This module is taken by part-time students who are unable to undertake an experimentally-based project due to the nature of their employment.  It involves a demanding individual study, providing the opportunity to demonstrate independent critical thought through the writing of a dissertation, within the overall context of advanced materials. 

Programme aims and objectives

We aim to provide you with a broad knowledge of the properties, manufacture, selection, characterisation, design, usage and economics of materials in science and engineering applications. We will equip you with a thorough understanding of the major classes of advanced materials and the means by which they are selected, characterised and utilised.

The Advanced Materials MSc is accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) when a Project is undertaken. Students completing the MSc programme in this way will have fulfilled the Masters-level requirements for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status awarded through either of these institutions.

Teaching and assessment

Short courses are the main building blocks of this MSc programme. Each short course has its own assessment package which requires an in-depth study of the material of the module (including use of available research literature, when appropriate). It is expected that 120 hours of study is required to answer the questions within the assessment package.

Full-time students undertake their projects within the Faculty laboratories. For part-time students, the project is normally undertaken in the student’s place of work. An independent study module may be taken by part-time students who are unable to undertake a project. The independent study consists of a 10,000-word dissertation on a materials topic of current interest.

As indicated above, a number of the short courses run in alternate years and therefore are not all available to full-time students who attend for twelve months.

When the assessment package for a module has been marked, the mark is given, subject to confirmation by the statutory university bodies. The official awarding of credits is made subsequently by the appropriate university body with information from the MSc Board of Examiners.

The credit system is in line with that initiated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA). The intention is that credits are transferable between institutions using the Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

Teaching hours

Each module corresponds to 150 hours of work, which includes about 30 hours of lectures/tutorial/practical classes within a one-week short course.

Facilities and equipment

The laboratories employed for teaching on the MSc programme are well equipped and maintained. The facilities span the activities of fabrication, characterisation, testing, design and modelling. Some of these laboratories are used for practical classes and demonstrations during the modules, and all of the laboratories are available for student project work.

We are particularly well equipped for materials characterisation. We are home to one of Europe’s largest surface analysis laboratory, including small-area XPS, time-of-flight SIMS, Auger microscopy and scanning probe microscopy instrumentation, and an electron microscopy facility comprising four electron microscopes, plus associated analytical techniques. Other facilities include: XRD, optical microscopy, particle-size analysis, thermal analysis (DSC, TGA), non-destructive analytical techniques (acoustic emission, X-radiography, ultrasonics) and dilatometry.

For mechanical testing, the facilities include a full range of quasi-static and fatigue testing instruments, which have recently been upgraded with state-of-the-art software, and standard and micro-hardness testing machines. Design and modelling activities primarily employ the finite element analysis software ANSYS and ABAQUS, and this is installed on the Faculty’s dedicated computing suite.

All students are enrolled as student members of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).

Professional recognition

The MSc in Advanced Materials is accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) when a Project is undertaken.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Professor Robert Dorey

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

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Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 60 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

A minimum 2.2 honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in an appropriate science or engineering subject. Alternatively a combination of academic qualifications, training and several years of relevant experience may also be considered to be a suitable background for the programme.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £1,500 * £1,900 *

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

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GREAT Surrey Scholarships India

For for all postgraduate taught courses starting in February 2017 within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the University is offering graduates from India the opportunity to apply for one of three scholarships worth £5,000 through the GREAT Scholarships - India programme. 

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Admissions Information

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Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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