MTE4593 - Materials and sustainability - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Professor Terry Turney

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit provides an introduction to the political, social and environmental background to materials usage. Major technologies relating to the production, sustainable use and recycling of metals, plastics, glass, electronics, paper and ceramic materials are discussed. Various options involving materials substitution, reclamation, energy recovery and disposal are critically evaluated. The unit considers the economics of materials production, as well as 'cradle-to-grave' analyses of materials, including products and byproducts of the nuclear fuel cycle. In particular, it looks at various life-cycle analysis techniques. We will examine the impact of population, affluence and technology changes on population and ecological footprints with the arrival of the current "Anthropocene Era".


At the successful completion of this unit you will be able to:

  1. Interpret the economic, social and political aspects of materials flow.
  2. Appraise an ecosystem approach to materials usage.
  3. Appraise the capacity to undertake life-cycle analysis of products or services.
  4. Describe technical knowledge in the main areas of materials extraction, use and recycling.


Two written assignments: 40%

Tests: 10%

Examination (2 hours): 50%

Workload requirements

3 hours lectures/tutorials and 9 hours private study per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)