Research course

Materials Engineering

Open University · Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Entry requirements

PhD: The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or master's degree, relevant to the proposed area of study, from a recognised higher education institution in the UK. You should also have experience of academic research in the previous four years, normally in the form of either a master's degree in research methods, an undergraduate degree with a research element in the final year, or work-related experience with evidence through research reports. If you're not sure if you meet the entry requirements, please contact us ( MPhil: Applicants should normally hold, or be expecting to obtain, a bachelors degree with at least first or upper-second class honours, or an equivalent qualification. However, entry requirements differ between academic areas, and sometimes a taught masters degree is also required. The research topic pages (in the menu on the right of our Research areas page) give details of specific entry requirements, and provide contact details to discuss your suitability for the MPhil with a member of academic staff.

Fabrication; High temperature; Residual stress

Months of entry


Course content

Materials Engineering research is concentrated in five focus areas:

  • Advanced Materials Processing
  • Stress Engineering
  • High Temperature Performance
  • Smart Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Matter

The group has a thriving research student community, with access to excellent research facilities and internationally leading expertise.

We are partners in the Imperial College, Cambridge and The Open University ICO Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy offering a number of OU research projects mainly in Energy materials. We also offer OU PhD degree research opportunities associated with the National Structural Integrity Centre (NSIRC) based at TWI. Following longstanding collaboration, we are working with the ISIS Facility to establish a national Stress Engineering Centre on the Harwell Campus with associated PhD degree projects. Internationally, we have collaborations with research groups and laboratories in Europe, Australia, China and India.

PhD research projects in Materials Engineering at the OU are usually sponsored by industry. We have a strong track record of working collaboratively with engineering companies in the aerospace and nuclear power sectors (e.g. Airbus, Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, AREVA and TWI). The impact of our research is attested by the success of our business unit StressMap which draws upon our world-leading research in residual stress measurement using particle beam diffraction and the contour method.

Key facts
  • Strong links with industry
  • High rate of completion of student projects and 100 per cent record of employment of students on completion of their PhD
  • 90 per cent of our research ranked as being of international quality
  • Large research group of 40 students, researchers and academics
  • Excellent opportunities for work at international facilities

Our research is supported by well-equipped, state-of-the-art mechanical testing facilities, analytical facilities for electron and optical microscopy (SEM, TEM, EBSD, FIB etc.), elemental analysis, thermal analysis, mechanical and X-ray stress analysis and heat treatment. We have specialist facilities for contour method measurements, creep testing and digital image correlation (DIC) and laboratories for electropulse processing and diffusion bonding.

The computing department at The Open University maintains a high-performance IMPACT computing cluster running a range of finite element and analytical packages. Our group is an intensive user of national and international neutron and synchrotron X-ray facilities.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months
distance learning
variable months

Course contact details

John Bouchard, Professor of Materials for Energy
+44 (0)1908 655799