CHEMMAT 121 : Materials Science


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Introduction to materials science starting with the fundamentals of atomic structure and bonding and how this builds up a microstructure to create a solid. Metals, polymers, ceramics, electronic materials, composite and biomaterials will be covered and the properties, advantages and disadvantages of each discussed. Considerations such as corrosion, degradation and failure will be studied with a focus on improving design and creating new materials for our future world.

Course Overview

Lecture Programme:

Deformation and structure of solids
Stress and strain, ductility, brittleness, the tensile test, Young's modulus, yield strength, UTS, grains, dislocations,theoretical vs actual strength, concept of slip, plasticity crystal structure, planes, directions, slip systems, elasticity, Poisson's ratio.

Microstructure and mechanical properties
Solidification, metallography, grain boundaries, deformation, annealing, recrystallisation, recovery, grain growth,diffusion, point defects Arrhenius equation, metal processing and production technology, electrical properties of metals.

Phase diagrams and Alloying

Concept of a phase, solid solubility, binary systems, eutectic and eutectoid alloy systems.

Strengthening mechanisms
Strengthening mechanisms; solid solution, dispersion and eutectic strengthening, age-hardening of aluminium alloys, heat treatment of steels to optimize mechanical properties.

Engineering ceramics and glasses
Relationship between structure and mechanical properties, modern processing techniques, the glassy state, glass transition temperature, glasses, toughening of glasses, thermal shock.


Polymer structure, polymerisation mechanisms, amorphous and semi-crystalline polymers, thermoplastics, thermosets, elastomers, time/temperature, viscoelasticity and mechanical properties.

Failure of materials
Ductile and brittle fracture, fracture mechanics, toughness, ductile-brittle transition temperature, fatigue, creep.

Corrosion of metals
Principles of corrosion, influence of environment, control and prevention of corrosion in engineering situations,stainless steels, corrosion and stress. of corrosion in engineering situations, stainless steels, corrosion and stress.

Engineering composites
Mechanical properties of composite materials: simple laminates, rule of mixtures, continuous versus discontinuous fibre composites, interface mechanics, critical length, shear stress transfer, failure mechanisms, toughness, wood.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Introduce deformation and structure of solids: Students will be able to describe, sketch, compare and explain the relevance of crystal structures to mechanical properties such as yield, slip and work-hardening They will be able to meaningfully define, describe, analyse and evaluate mechanical property data (Capability 3.1 and 3.2)
  2. Have a basic understanding of phase diagrams and alloying: Students will be able to describe, classify, sketch and analyse phase diagrams. (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1)
  3. Have a basic understanding of strengthening mechanisms: Students will be able to understand how the Al-Cu phase diagram and manipulation by heat treatment can produce high strength aluminium-based alloys. They will be able to understand how the Fe-C phase diagram and manipulation by heat treatment can produce a range of steels relevant to engineering applications. (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1)
  4. Have a basic understanding of the relationship between microstructure and mechanical properties: understanding the process of annealing by being able to describe the 3 stages and how each relates to structural changes influencing mechanical property changes. Will be able to show how grains relate to crystallography and how grains change their morphology with deformation and annealing. Able to prove that they understand microstructure by being able to explain how it influences bulk mechanical properties. Able to explain the work hardening process in terms of dislocations and plastic flow. Electrical properties of metals. (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1)
  5. Identify and describe engineering ceramics: Students will be able to describe the structures of common engineering ceramics and their modes of production and be able to relate structure to mechanical and thermal properties. (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1)
  6. Have a basic understanding of engineering polymers: Students will be able to understand the structural basis of thermoplastics, thermosets and elastomers; to be able to predict thermal, mechanical and other physical properties from an understanding of structure. (Capability 3.1 and 3.2)
  7. Have a basic understanding of engineering composites: Students will be able to describe simple composite structures; solve isostress and isostrain problems for simple aligned fibre-reinforced composites; understand structural basis of composite failure and toughness. (Capability 3.1 and 3.2)
  8. Recognise and interpret the failure of materials: Students will be able to understand the concepts of ductile, brittle and fast fracture in relation to structure; be able to predict the susceptibility of a material to failure, to carry out simple fracture mechanics analysis in terms of crack size; to understand modes of failure associated with fatigue and creep loading. (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 54% Individual Examination
Test (s) 16% Individual Test
Assignments 20% Individual Coursework
Laboratories 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Final Exam
Test (s)

The exam must be attempted, but to pass the course an overall coursework mark of 50 or more is the requirement to pass the course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 42 hours of lectures (4 Lec/wk) ,  6hrs of lab activities, 52 hours of reading and revision of the content and 50 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs to receive credit for components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings.
Attendance on campus is required for the test(s).
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

A coursebook will be available from the UBIQ bookshop on campus and as a downloadable file on Canvas.
This coursebook has sections to be completed during lectures, so is essential to have.
Ed Discussion (or another forum tool) will be set up to ask and answer questions on course material.
Lab activities and will complement the lecture content.

Health & Safety

Students are expected to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Health and Safety section of the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.
In person lab activities require students to wear shoes that completely cover their feet.
Lab coats and safety glasses will be provided, but students can also bring their own.
A lab (MDLS) safety module on the Chemmat 121 Canvas site must be completed before attending the first lab.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

 The course has been evaluating different assessments in 2023 and reviewing the comments around inclusion for 2024.

Student feedback has allowed us to improve the accessibility in some of the quiz questions.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

The Engineering  Student Development and Engagement team provides support to help our students have the best possible experience at the University:
Please contact them too if you need to discuss issues that may be impacting your studies.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 03/11/2023 10:03 a.m.