Learn Fundamentals of Material Science with this online course

Online course on Fundamentals of Material Science


Why does ice float? What is dry ice ‘dry' and why it never gets wet? Why don't all metals rust like iron? And how can there be ‘liquid' crystals? The answers to all of these questions start with an understanding of structure at the atomic scale. During this course, the candidate will build up an understanding of how connectivity and disorder arise in crystal structures, and how these together lead to exploitable properties of materials.

Aims of the course:

  • To develop an understanding of how matter is structured at the atomic scale.
  • To learn about a variety of different structures and structure types.
  • To see how these differences in structure lead to a variety of useful and interesting materials properties.


Throughout this course, the candidate will be making links between atomic-scale structure and macroscopic properties. It is often implicitly assumed that the structures of materials are perfectly scaled-up from their atomic-level building blocks.

In many cases, the technological properties of materials cannot be understood without a good description of their atomic scale order and disorder, and the candidate will find out about glasses, polymers and metals in order to learn more about this phenomenon, seeing how the principles that candidates have learned can be related to technological practice. the course will concentrate on the mechanical properties of materials strength and toughness. Liquid crystals, on the other hand, are less immediately accessible despite their now ubiquitous use in display technology, and we will complete the course by discussing how the molecular organisation of these structures is dynamically adjusted to produce the vibrant.

Weekly topics:

  • Earth, Air, Fire and Water: changes of state
  • Giving and taking: electrons and atomic bonding
  • From molehills to mountains: structures small and large
  • When things don't go to plan: disorder and defects
  • The real world: structure property relationships in technology


7 weeks

Course fee:



  • Orientation Week: 15-21 September, 2014
  • Teaching Weeks: 22 September-26 October 2014
  • Feedback Week: 27 October-2 November 2014

In order to get enrolled, click here.

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