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Foundations in Materials Science

Course Type
Postgraduate, Module

Module overview

The module is designed to introduce (or refresh) and apply fundamental principles of materials and materials science and progress to understand how central concepts relate to the clinical use of dental materials.
Topics will include:

  • Mechanical testing – tension, compression, shear, definition of properties.
  • The equations of deformation – stress, strain, Young’s modulus, Poisson ratio, shear and bulk modulus.
  • Griffith Criterion – critical stress, surface energy, size effect
  • Dynamic behaviour of materials – creep, fatigue.
  • Basic principles of mixing – powder-liquid systems, gauging and mixing volume, dilatancy.
  • Basic structure of polymers – addition, condensation reactions, viscosity, glass transition.
  • Rheology – Newtonian flow, viscoelastic behaviour, classification of flow behaviour, effects of fillers.
  • Surface properties – wetting, capillary action, chemical bonds, surfactants.

Laboratory-based experiments – practical aspects, data acquisition and analysis.


The module will be examined by:

1) Journal club presentations, and critical appraisal and presentation of relevant mechanical property testing review papers: This summative assessment is designed to help build skills in critical appraisal of the (scientific) dental literature, which skills are important for many aspects of science, whether in assessing the reliability of academic research or considering marketing literature for procurement of materials. Critical appraisal will help distinguish between flawed and reliable research, and everything in between. The student will prepare notes and a 10 minute presentation on the strengths and weaknesses of the paper (provided). The assessment will account for 40% of the total module mark.

*In case of online delivery only, students can either record their presentations or a podcast. If either is not feasible due to technical difficulties, then writing out the text that they wanted to say, can be accepted.

2) MCQ class quiz (20%)
*Rather than having an MCQ as part of the final exam, this can be sat in class as a canvas quiz. If this cannot be sat in class, then a time window will be allowed online.

3) a 2-hour examination (40%)
*If closed book exams are not possible, the exam will be an open book, (48hr to start, 2hr to complete once started), choosing 4 out of 6 short answer questions

An overall mark of 50% or above must be obtained to pass the module, with each individual assessment scoring not less than 40%.