KD7028 - Soft and Nanomaterials

What will I learn on this module?

This module is aimed at equipping students with subject specialist knowledge at the forefront of research in soft and nano-materials. The module has a particular focus on developing professional skills linked to understanding and critically appraising the current landscape of research in soft condensed matter.

The content of the module is informed by research within the Faculty of Engineering and Environment including soft and biological matter physics and the application of quantum mechanics. Soft and biological matter physics involves concepts in fluid dynamics and statistical physics underpinning fluid dynamical systems at small scales including super-hydrophobic surfaces, microscopic motility and colloidal systems. The application of quantum mechanics is explored through nanostructures such as quantum dots, nanocrystals, nanowires, core-shell nanostructures. Furthermore, students are introduced to a range of techniques used to produce these nanostructures as well as characterization techniques.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered using a substantial amount of directed independent learning supported by lectures and seminars. Lectures are used to introduce advanced concepts in physics include the relevant mathematical formalism. Plenary discussion around topics is highly encouraged as students explore the boundaries of frontier subjects in physics. This provides a basis for seminars which provide an opportunity to deepen students understanding through further discussion and problem solving.

Seminars are also used to provide feedback to students both from the academic staff but also from their peer group. This module provides a collegial environment for active scientific discussion and engagement, thus strengthening students’ employability through knowledge and critical thinking about the current physics research landscape. Problem sets will be made available to students prior to seminars and wherever possible, practical demonstrations may occur in the Faculty’s laboratories.

Summative assessment is via two coursework assignments (50%, 50%) with one relating to soft-materials and one relating to nano-materials, covering aspects of soft matter, low Reynolds number hydrodynamics or principles, fabrication and characterization, and applications of nanomaterials.

Independent study is supported by further technology-enhanced resources provided via the e-learning portal, including lecture notes, source open-access journal papers, and examples of past assignments.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

In addition to direct contact with the module team during lectures and seminars, students are encouraged to develop their curiosity by making direct contact with the module team either via email or the open door policy operated throughout the programme. Students will also be regularly referred to supporting resources including relevant texts and multimedia relevant to soft matter and nanomaterials. References to these resources will be made available through the e-learning portal and in lectures and seminars.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1.Explain how the laws of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, fluid dynamics and quantum mechanics jointly determine the behaviour of soft and nanomaterials
2.Combine concepts to formulate and solve problems relating to soft and condensed matter systems

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3.Analyse the underlying physical mechanisms governing the equilibrium and dynamical properties of model soft and condensed matter systems
4.Critically evaluate the underpinning physical mechanisms for the design of existing or novel soft and nanomaterials

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5.Assess the role of soft and nanomaterials in improving quality of life and sustainability

How will I be assessed?

Assessment will be through two coursework assignments (50%, 50%) with one relating to soft-materials and one relating to nano-materials. One coursework will be critical literature review (maximum 1400 words/14 pages) along with a 15 minute oral presentation and the second coursework will be a critical review with problem-based application (maximum 2000 words/20 pages)

1. Coursework (50%, critical literature review with presentation) – MLOs 1,3,4,5
2. Coursework (50%, critical review with problem based application) – MLOs 1,2,3,4

1. Seminars MLOs 1,2,3,4,5

Feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort have common issues.
Written feedback will be provided on coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during seminars.





Module abstract

Physics-informed research is increasingly shaping the development of cutting-edge technologies, including quantum-devices, smart materials and biologically inspired systems. This module is aimed at equipping you with subject-specialist knowledge at the forefront of research in soft and nano-materials. The module has a particular focus on developing professional skills linked to understanding and critically appraising the current landscape of research in soft condensed matter. Formal learning will occur through a combination of lectures and seminars, and supported via technology-enhanced resources through highly specialised computational and lab demonstrations. Assessment will be through two coursework (50%, 50%) with each relating to soft-materials and nano-materials parts of the module. This module will provide you with specialist knowledge, a comprehensive grasp and critical view of the current research landscape in soft and condensed matter physics thus strengthening your skills-base for future study and employability.

Course info

UCAS Code F301

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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