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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


MECHGM03 Materials and Fatigue / Fracture Analysis

MECHGM03 Materials and Fatigue / Fracture Analysis

To build upon a basic theory of materials as would be given in the first years of an undergraduate programme and to examine specific areas of materials science which are not normally taught as part of a basic materials curriculum. The course also aims to cover the fundamentals of fracture mechanics, and the theory of fatigue failure in engineering materials, principally from an analytical perspective.
The course is common to 4th year Mechanical Engineering students and MSc students taken from several postgraduate programmes including those with an emphasis on Marine engineering. Accordingly, several of the topics covered will also refer to materials used in marine environments and attempts will be made to link into this area of engineering. Given the wide range of backgrounds of the students who attend this course, the first few lectures given cover the basics of materials science and may well be revision for some students but totally new for others.

Alt. Codes(s) MECHGR03, MECHM004
Title Materials and Fatigue/Fracture Analysis
Level MSc / MEng
Start September
End May
Taught by Dr Adam Wojcik (50%) Module Coordinator
Dr Jie Huang (50%)



This is a level 4 course and students are therefore expected to have a sound basis in materials science as applicable to engineering contexts. This entails an understanding of the structure-property relationship in materials and the way in which manufacturing methods affect the latter. A grasp of phase equilibria and basic metallography is expected, as is an understanding of the way in which mechanical properties are determined and how engineers utilize materials data to design with, and select, materials. Additionally, an understanding and knowledge of polymer types and processing, how materials can be strengthened, and how products and components are manufactured from materials, is of great utility to this course. An understanding of the influence upon strength of defects within material, such as cracks, and porosity is helpful.

Method of Instruction

The course is delivered using lectures, tutorials and one piece of coursework.


The course is assessed via a conventional unseen written exam of 2 hours duration. This covers both major threads of the course – materials theory and failure through fatigue and fracture. 65% of the credit for the course is predicated on this exam. The paper is split into two equal sections, with three questions to be answered in time available, and no more than two from either section. The course work (remaining 35%) consists of a materials orientated report/case study, covering current aspects relevant to advanced materials science in an engineering context.

Recommended Reading

General books on all materials (given below) are useful for providing basic background information that allows students with insufficient materials backgrounds to bolster their knowledge. An additional bibliography covering detailed aspects such as corrosion, fatigue and fracture is supplied to all students.

  • Materials Science & Engineering. (8th ed, 2010 or 7th ed). W. D. Callister, D. G. Rethwisch. Wiley (hardback with good coverage of most topics, has either CD or web access).*
  • The Science and Engineering of Materials. (4th ed.) D. R. Askeland & P. P. Phule. Thompson/Brooks. (hardback, covers more than Callister in places + CD).*
  • Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers. (7th, 2009 or 6th ed). J. F. Shackelford. Pearson Education. (general text with emphasis on engineering applications, web access).

Additional Information

This structure of the course is designed to divide into two distinct sections, which nevertheless cross over at certain points. Students should treat each half as independent and note that in the end of year exam, the paper is divided into two sections – each one mirroring the two way split of the course

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