Sports and Materials Science Joint Honours BSc

Undergraduate degree programme Sports and Materials Science Joint Honours BSc CF62:

Please note this programme is not available for 2018 entry.

Materials scientists are at the forefront of new technology, pushing forward the boundaries of science and engineering with designers and engineers of every discipline. Research and development produce new materials to meet the demands of modern technology. For instance, metals grown from single crystals for advanced engines are making air travel safer. More durable plastic and glass components for mobile 'phones, make them thinner and lighter. Team GB won 7 out of 10 golds in cycling at the 2012 Olympics using bicycles made from advanced carbon fibre materials.

Our School and the Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Materials Processing together make up the largest centre for materials research in the UK. We work on a diverse range of projects in the aerospace, automotive, biomedical, sport and sustainable development fields.  Join us, and become part of an academic elite designing a safer, more sustainable and brighter future!

Complete University Guide top ten - Materials Technology


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Success in all sports is increasingly dependent on athletes selecting the best equipment for the conditions. This three-year Joint Honours programme, taught by the School of Metallurgy and Materials and the School of Sport and Exercise Science, gives you an understanding of design and materials in sports equipment in relation to the athlete’s behaviour during sport and exercise that is essential to peak performance.

Course structure
The course offers a modular programme of study which normally leads to the award of Bachelor of Science (BSc) in three years .

First and second years

A careful mix of lectures, practicals and case studies during the first two years, develops your understanding of the effects of exercise on the human body, through subjects including:

  • Psychology
  • Physiology 
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomechanics

In parallel, the properties, selection and processing of metals, polymers and composites are covered using a range of sports equipment examples including shoes, bicycles, rackets and balls. Case studies develop teamwork, communication and IT skills, whilst interaction with the sports industry emphasises the practical importance of your skills.

Third year

In the third year you can specialise in topics that most interest you in Sports Science, whilst expanding into areas such as advanced materials, and design and failure analysis in Materials Technology. These topics lead to your final-year materials-related research project, which will be at the forefront of equipment development – from artificial pitches to Formula 1.

Generic skills-training, focusing on transferable skills and employability, is embedded throughout the course from the outset, and will ensure that you are equipped with the ICT, presentation, team-working and problem–solving skills which will enhance your employability on graduation

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Why study this course

  • The School of Metallurgy and Materials at Birmingham is a major research centre with world class facilities, and is consistently rated in the top three of research centres of its kind in the UK. Success in joint research with industry has been recognised by the award of the Secretary of State for Industry’s University/Industry Partnership Prize.
  • Successful Metallurgy and Materials graduates are creative, numerate, good communicators and skilled at solving problems and delivering results. With these qualities our graduates not only develop careers as high-quality practising scientists and engineers, but are sought after by top companies for their potential in management, finance, consulting and other senior professional positions.
  • The  School of Sport and Exercise Sciences  occupies a modern £16.4 million building that houses teaching and research laboratories for physiology, biochemistry, biomechanics, psychology, motor skills, functional anatomy, muscle mechanics and the neurophysiology of movement.
  • Our students enjoy exceptionally high employment prospects

If you like the idea of joining our team, please don't hesitate to come and talk to us. 

What our students say:

“It’s absolutely brilliant – the course is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to combine physical science and sport. I love the case studies; for example we did one on tennis rackets and not only did we look at the materials in the racket but also all the marketing aspects of the product.”
– Ruth Deaville

“The most enjoyable aspect of my degree programme is that I get to enjoy the benefits of the two different departments. I also know that I’m on a unique programme that I’ll be able to use fully when I leave”
– Sian Halliwell

“Having joined the course through my interest in sports science, I found myself increasingly involved in the materials side of the degree. The support and guidance from the staff in the department is second to none, and I ended up doing aerospace research for my dissertation with BAE Systems. I found the experience so rewarding, I stayed on in the department for postgraduate study on the MRES course”
– Malcolm McCardle

"The Sports and Material Science course at the University of Birmingham seemed perfect for me. I had always been interested in sport but also enjoyed studying science at school. After doing my A Levels in PE, maths and physics the course at Birmingham felt like a good way to continue learning in these subjects but in relation to sport and sports equipment design.I thoroughly enjoyed my three years at Birmingham and can honestly say that a large part of that was down to the course.

In my year, there was around thirty students on 'Sportsmat', as its called, and so it was a very personal and interactive type of learning.Not only did the lecturers within the department know everyone on the course but you all get to know each other very well too. I met some of my best friends on that first daunting day in lectures! The course is divided between the metallurgy and materials department and sports science so you get the best of both worlds, the first year is quite general with everyone getting to the same level in all areas but after that options are available.

The materials modules aim to teach the basics of materials technology and the content is strongly linked to sports materials throughout the course, e.g. skis, tennis and formula 1 cars to name but a few. This brings the subject to life. The final year then allows you to specialise and independently research areas which interest you. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone."
- Katharine Mill


Course structure

The degree programme is split equally between the Schools of Metallurgy and Materials and Sport and Exercise Sciences. The course is structured to enable students to grasp the fundamentals of both halves of the course and subsequently integrate their knowledge through the study of sports equipment case studies in both the design and biomechanics modules of the degree.

The academic year is split into two teaching semesters and an examination session. Semester one is in the autumn and Semester two is in the spring. Exams are held in May. The academic content of the degree is divided into modules, each consisting of a range of components typically including:

  • Lectures
  • Laboratory sessions
  • Class tutorials
  • Case studies.

The laboratory sessions, class tutorials and case studies usually form the continuous assessment component of the module, which typically consists of 20 to 30% of the overall module mark.

The course is structured to enable the fundamentals of each half of the course to be introduced in the first year (level 1) and be subsequently developed in later years.

Module outline

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Title CreditsSemester
Fundamentals of Materials Science: Shaping   10 Semester 2
Materials Design and Professional Skills A   10 Semester 1
Materials Design and Professional Skills B   10 Semester 2
Mechanics and Materials in Sports   10 Semester 1
Polymers, Composites and Ceramics   10 Semester 2
Properties and Applications of Materials   10 Semester 1

Choose 60 credits from:

Module Title CreditsSemester
Anatomy and Biomechanics in Sport   20 Full Term
Human Physiology   20 Semester 1
LC Biochemistry and Cell Physiology   20 Semester 2
LC Psychological Foundations: Sport & Exercise   20 Semester 1

Year 2 compulsory modules

Module Title CreditsSemester
Fracture, Fatigue and Corrosion   10 Semester 1
Materials Engineering Design   20 Full Term
Polymer Engineering and Composites   10 Semester 2
Polymer Science with Materials Case Studies   20 Full Term

Choose 60 credits from:

Module Title CreditsSemester
LI Applications of Sport Psychology   20 Full Term
LI Exercise Metabolism   20 Full Term
LI Exercise Physiology   20 Semester 1
LI Sensorimotor neuroscience: the structure and function of the brain systems that control movement   20 Semester 2

Year 3 compulsory modules

Module Title CreditsSemester
Advanced Materials in Sports Equipment   10 Semester 2
Materials Characterisation and Design for Manufacture   10 Semester 1
Materials Research Project   40 Full Term

Choose 60 credits from the following. 40 credits from Materials and 20 credits from Sports

Module Title CreditsSemester
Neuroplasticity and Neurorehabilitation   20 Full Term
Applied Motor Control   20 Semester 1
Exercise and Behavioural Immunology   20 Semester 1
LH Behavioural Medicine   20 Full Term
LH Environmental Physiology   20 Full Term
LH Exercise Psychology   20 Full Term
LH Human Cardiovascular and Respiratory Control in Exercise   20 Semester 2
LH Mechanisms of Adaptation to Training   20 Full Term
LH Motivation in Sport and Exercise Settings   20 Semester 2
LH Techniques in Neuroscience   20 Full Term
Skill Acquisition & Motor Learning   20 Semester 2
Sport Psychophysiology   20 Semester 1
Sports Nutrition   20 Semester 2
The Psychology of Lifestyle Physical Activity   20 Semester 1

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2017. We aim to publish any changes to compulsory modules and programme structure for 2018 entry by 1 September 2017 and recommend you refer back to this page shortly after that date for any changes. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:
£9,250 (UK/EU)
£20,790 (International)
Funding opportunities are available.

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250.Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Metallurgy and Materials Scholarships

Please view scholarships and awards offered by the School of Metallurgy and Materials.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
A levels: one of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Design and Technology. You must also pass the practical element of any reformed science A levels which include Biology, Chemistry and Physics taught from 2015.

General Studies not accepted, but a good performance may be taken into account if you fail to meet the conditions of the offer.

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 at Higher Level, including Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry or Design Technology, with a minimum of 32 points overall. 

BTEC only considered when combined with other qualifications.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

Standard English language requirements apply, learn more about international entry requirements.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at  
Learn more about applying

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and postgraduates, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the School of Metallurgy and Materials where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we'll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

What you can expect
You can expect an average of about 20-25 hours of contact time per week, comprising approximately 5 hours of laboratory based activity, 14 hours of lectures and 4 hours of small-group teaching (tutorials). As you progress through the programme, an increasing amount of time will be devoted to project-based learning

Personal Tutor
At the start of your degree, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor who will remain with you throughout your studies to help you in three important areas: supporting your academic progress, developing transferable skills and dealing with any welfare issues.

Delivery of the course
In your first and second years, the course is delivered as lectures, small group workshops, laboratories, computer-based activities, enquiry-based learning and tutorials.  A strong emphasis is placed on design and research project work in your third and fourth years respectively.

Laboratory-based practical work forms an integral part of the School's degree programmes. Laboratory classes are embedded within a module and used, not only to develop your experimental practical skills, but also to reinforce concepts introduced in lectures or to explore a particular phenomenon.  First year practical sessions, typically, last two hours and increase in length in subsequent years to allow for more advanced experiments.

Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside the lecture course, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate the lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.

Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) provides an environment where your learning process is driven by enquiry and the lecturer's role is purely as a facilitator. EBL is typically a group activity.

This requires working in a team and you can be assessed in a variety of ways: in either a group or individually, by written reports and/or oral presentations. EBL will give you a research-orientated approach to a problem, and has a synergy within research-led institutions like the University of Birmingham.

Project work: A strong emphasis is placed on project work in your final year. The range of projects includes practical work in the laboratory, or computer-based projects. You can choose the topic of your project from a pool of titles and work with your project supervisor to tailor the project to your particular research interests.

Assessment methods

The course modules are taught through lectures, tutorial problem classes, case studies, laboratory and/or project work. You will be assessed through a mixture of written examinations and continually assessed coursework.  Examinations are taken in May and June.

Assessment methods used include end-of-year examinations, written assignments, and oral presentations, computer-based tests, laboratory and project reports. Each module is assessed independently and most contain some components of continuous assessment, which usually account for 15% to 40% of the marks. Some modules are completely assessed by either examination or coursework.

We place strong emphasis on providing prompt and informative feedback on all pieces of work that you submit during your studies. Feedback comes in a variety of forms, including written feedback on pieces of assessment, class feedback sessions and one-on-one discussions with your tutors. In all cases, the feedback will highlight the good points as well as those areas that require more attention. 

As your degree progresses, you will attend fewer lectures and perform more independent studies and practical work in preparation for your final year project.

During your first year the University will require you to undergo a formal 'transition' review, mentioned above, to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in the School and can help with any academic issue you encounter. Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre?s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for your particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build upon what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survy 2015/16 shows that 96% of our graduates are in graduate-level employment or further study six months after graduation.

Preparing for your future career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university.  As one of our Materials students, exciting career choices will open up to you when you graduate with an accredited degree such as this. You could pursue a career in one of the automotive, aerospace or energy sectors; one of the manufacturing industries; or you could work in other areas of science and technology, such as materials testing or failure analysis. Other areas that favour the problem-solving skills you will acquire are finance, law and marketing as well as teaching and/or research.

Superb opportunities exist for you to gain industrial experience before you graduate. You will gain relevant work experience, and earn money putting into practice the skills and knowledge gained from your degree.  Students on placement get involved in serious projects which ask difficult questions that require good engineering answers - and which often lead to sponsorship and/or the offer of a graduate job.

Another option is to join our MEng programme with industrial experience and spend up to six months with one of our industrial partners; usually between your third and fourth study years.

A rich vein of expertise will be available for you to tap into, not only through the University's dedicated Careers Network, but from the School's own industrial liaison officer. From these careers professionals you will gain the skills to help you secure a range of placements from vacation jobs to, eventually, your graduate job.

At School-level, you can opt to add a year to your programme, whatever the course you are studying, and spend this time on placement in industry. You will gain relevant work experience, and earn money putting into practice the skills and knowledge gained from your degree.  Students on placement get involved in serious projects which ask searching questions that require good engineering answers - and which often lead to sponsorship and/or the offer of a graduate job.  On successful completion of a placement in industry organised by the School, and success in your studies, you will be awarded the Certificate in Industrial Studies to add to your degree and improve your employability prospects.

At University-level, our unique careers guidance service is tailored to academic subject areas, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team sources exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Whichever of the above forms of careers guidance, or combination of such, you select you will find your prospects for employment after graduation considerably enhanced.  If you make the most of the wide range of careers advice we can offer, you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Career destinations of previous graduates include:

  • Rolls Royce,
  • AeroEngine Controls,
  • Jaguar Land Rover,
  • BMW Group,
  • BP,
  • Tata Steel,
  • Schlumberger,
  • Doncasters Limited,
  • Sandvik,
  • BAe Systems

"BAE SYSTEMS has collaborated with several Sports and Materials Science students through final year projects. We have consistently been impressed by the quality of their work and these projects have been very useful in opening up new avenues of research to us".
– Deborah Price, Principal Scientist, The Advanced Technology Centre, BAE Systems

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Visit the careers section of the University website for further information.

Professional accreditation

Accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) towards CEng status.

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Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

The Materials Society is the society for the School of Metallurgy and Materials, you may also be interested in the Nuclear Society.


Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

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Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.