Materials Engineering

Materials Engineering research is concentrated in the following focus areas:

  • Structural integrity
  • Energy materials
  • Advanced materials processing and joining
  • High temperature testing
  • Residual stress
  • Nanotechnology
  • Smart materials

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

We are partners in the EPSRC Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures programme (CDT NEF) with Imperial College London, Cambridge University, University of Bristol and Bangor University, offering a number of OU research projects in structural integrity, high temperature performance, materials processing and energy materials.

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.
  • 81 per cent of our research was assessed in REF2021 (Research Excellence Framework) as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in terms of its academic quality and rigour ranked as being of international quality.


Most of our full-time research students are based at our Milton Keynes campus; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.


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.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

Advanced materials processing and joining

Energy materials

High temperature testing

Residual stress

Structural integrity


Related topics

Consider linked topics from other research areas.

Applied mathematics and theoretical physics

Chemistry and materials