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This programme covers a wide range of topics in applied polymer chemistry and will be a valuable resource to researchers working in the polymer, coating, materials, composites and foam industries.

This course will cover an introduction to polymer chemistry, traditional and advanced method for polymer synthesis, properties of polymers and considerations in material selection, network polymers and thermoset materials, formulating polymers for performance, functional monomers, modern applications of functional polymers and more.

The course will be delivered in 2-hour teaching blocks over a 10-week period including lectures, workshops and problem-solving sessions.

Delivery Dates:

Week 1
30th January 2020

Week 2
6th February 2020

Week 3
13th February 2020 

Week 4 
20th February 2020

Week 5
27th February 2020

Week 6
5th March 2020

Week 7
12th March 2020

Week 8
16th March 2020
19th March 2020

Week 9
23rd March 2020
26th March 2020

Week 10
20th April 2020
23rd April 2020

Course Information

Award Type Certificate of Attendance

Mode of Study
Part Time

Northumbria University, City Campus

Start 30th January 2020

2-hour teaching blocks over a 10-week period

Engineering and Manufacturing


The course is designed and delivered by Dr. Matt Unthank (Senior Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry) who will draw on over 10 years experience in the fine chemicals, polymer and coating industries to ensure this course in applied polymer chemistry is both current and relevant to industrial polymer research. Delivered as an integrated component within the wider RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) accredited chemistry degree program at Northumbria University you will have the opportunity to learn applied polymer chemistry alongside the full-time final year chemistry degree students. Northumbria University has a has a long track record in delivering Continued Professional Development to local industry ensuring a high-quality learning experience for all.  

This course is based at our City Campus where you will have access to cutting-edge facilities with technology embedded through all aspects of your short programme. In addition you will also have access to the university’s excellent library resources which includes access to extended journals.

Northumbria University has a has a long track record in delivering Continued Professional Development to local industry ensuring a high-quality learning experience for all.

Dr. Matt Unthank (Senior Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry, Northumbria) has over 10 years’ experience in the fine chemicals, polymer and coating industries.

Week 1 

An Introduction to Polymeric Materials

  • Founders of Polymer Science
  • Classification of polymers (structure and composition)
  • Structure property relationships of polymers
  • Thermoset and Thermoplastic materials
  • Molecular weight distributions
  • Workshop style examples

Week 2/3

Polymerisation Processes: Step-growth polymerisation

  • Principles of step-growth polymerisation
  • Important commercial examples
  • Predicting molecular weight (Carothers Equation)
  • Polyesters: Design and Synthesis
  • Condensation polymers: laboratory and manufacturing scale
  • Linear vs branched polymers
  • Workshop style examples

Week 4/5

Polymeric Materials: Synthesis, Structure and Uses

  • Covering a range of commercially important polymer technologies
  • Includes Synthesis methods, material properties, chemical origin of properties and commercial uses
  • Covers polyesters, polyamides, polycarbonates, polysilicones and polyurethanes (including foams)

Week 6/7

Polymerisation Processes: Chain-growth polymerisation

  • Principles of chain-growth polymerisation
  • Important commercial examples
  • Chemistry of (random) radical polymerisation
  • Advances in polymer synthesis: Controlled and 'living' radical polymerisation processes
  • Functional acrylic polymers
  • Workshop style examples

Week 6/7

Alternative Polymerisation Processes

  • Anionic and Cationic polymerisation: Monomer suitability and mechanism
  • Zeigler-Natta polymerisation: Mechanism and control
  • Ring opening metathesis polymerisation and other examples

Week 7/8

Network Polymers and Thermoset Materials

  • The design and synthesis of functional polymers
  • The use of functional polymers in thermoset materials
  • Principles of Complementary Reactivity
  • Design of network polymers: Gelation Theory and Polymer Maths
  • Workshop style examples

Week 9/10

Characterisation of Polymers

  • Chromatographic, Thermal and Mechanical characterisation of polymeric materials
  • Visco-Elastic behaviour of polymers
  • Covers techniques including: Size Exclusion Chromatography, Viscosity measurements, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis (DMTA), Tensile Testing, Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA)
  • Workshop style examples

Week 10

Durability of Polymeric Materials

  • Exterior durability
  • Oxidative degradation processes and mechanisms
  • Designing materials for durability



Open to all applicants, however the course is designed for final year BSc chemistry level knowledge so either a BSc in chemistry (or related discipline) or equivalent level of practical experience in applied polymer chemistry gained through industrial research positions would be beneficial.


Please register your interest for this course and we will be in touch once we have confirmed dates.

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