MTE2547 - Structure-property relationships in materials - 2018

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

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Nick Birbilis


Dr Laurence Brassart

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


This unit deals with the formal description of physical properties of materials, and how these properties relate to the underlying microstructure. Mechanical, thermal and electrical properties will be investigated (elasticity, electrical permittivity, heat conduction...), including coupled effects (e.g. piezoelectricity, thermal expansion...). The fundamental concept of tensor will be introduced as the key mathematical object needed to describe anisotropic properties of materials. Material symmetry considerations will be used to determine the number of tensor coefficients that are needed to describe properties in single crystals, polycrystals and composites. Practical problems involving tensor properties of materials will be solved numerically using the Python programming language.


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

  1. Describe the anisotropic physical properties of materials using tensors.
  2. Determine the number of property coefficients needed to describe an anisotropic property based on material symmetry considerations for single crystals, polycrystals and composites.
  3. Illustrate with examples the mechanical, thermal and electrical properties of materials, including principal and coupled properties, and equilibrium and transport properties.
  4. Use structure-property relationships to select a material for a given application.
  5. Use the Python programming language to perform scientific computations.


Assignments: 40%

Project: 30%

Examination (2 hours): 30%

Students are required to achieve at least 45% in the total continuous assessment component and at least 45% in the final examination component and an overall mark of 50% to achieve a pass grade in the unit. Students failing to achieve this requirement will be given a maximum of 45% in the unit.

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures, one 2-hour tutorial/computer lab, and 8 hours of private study per week.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study