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Materials Engineering

An image to illustrate studying materials engineering with The Open University

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 School of Computing and Communications 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