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Materials Engineering

An image to illustrate studying materials engineering with The Open University

The Materials Engineering Group’s research is based around three areas: residual stress measurement using advanced experimental techniques; materials characterisation for novel materials and for structural integrity assessments; and high-temperature materials behaviour and performance.

We are world leaders in the development and application of methods for measuring residual stress in materials using particle beam diffraction and the contour method. This expertise underpins our newly formed StressMap business unit.
We work closely with partners in industry, particularly in the aerospace and nuclear power sectors (Airbus, Rolls-Royce, British Energy, EDF, AREVA and TWI) and with numerous national international laboratories worldwide.
The Materials Engineering Group forms part of larger consortia both within the University and beyond. For example, we are part of The Open University’s energy research community known as OU Energy, launched in November 2013. We are also partners in the Imperial College, Cambridge and Open University ICO Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy, where we are currently offering a number of research projects mainly in the Energy materials research area.
The group has a thriving research student community, with access to excellent research facilities and internationally leading expertise.

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 equipment for 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.

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

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

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.


Research publications by Open University staff are available through Open Research Online (ORO), the university's repository of research publications and other research outputs. ORO can be searched or browsed by staff name or subject.

The following list, generated from ORO, provides a flavour of the most recently published work in Materials Engineering

We aim to update this site regularly, but cannot guarantee its accuracy at any given time. We cannot accept responsibility or liability for any of the material contained on any third party web page.