Sports and Materials Science - Course Summary

Sports and Materials Sciences is an integrated programme combining a study of human physiology and exercise with the science of materials as applied to sports equipment and facilities, and is taught jointly by the school of Sports and Exercise sciences, and Metallurgy and Materials in the School of Engineering.

There has recently been a huge advance in sports equipment and facilities. In athletics, obvious examples are running shoes and artificial track surfaces. In racket sports, the rackets themselves are almost unrecognisable from 20 years ago. In climbing and skiing the ropes, skis and boots have also improved dramatically. This has been made possible through advances in materials science, which have provided many new materials and composites plus novel ways of using established materials. This application of materials science extends to sports clothing, for protection and comfort, fashion and performance.

The development of modern sports and facilities requires an understanding of sport, the demands which exercise makes upon the human body, the performance required of equipment, and the ways of exploiting new designs and materials. Most of the modules in the programme are studied by a combination of lectures, case studies and practical classes.

Case studies are an important component of this course. Students study the different types of materials that are used in sports equipment along with their properties and processing in lectures and laboratories. Our materials case studies provide the opportunity for students to consider specific items of sports equipment and consider the attributes required by the athletes and hence the materials characteristics necessary to meet those requirements. The case studies involve the in depth analysis of components in sports equipment (directed learning) and independent research (open research) to extend knowledge.