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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

CIVE5451M Constituent Materials of Concrete

30 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Professor Leon Black

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Bachelor's degree in civil engineering or approved prior learning (certified or experiential).

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module contributes to students' comprehensive understanding of the general principles of concrete technology and construction at an advanced level. Course content provides participants with an understanding of the fundamental principles underpinning the construction of high-quality, durable concrete civil engineering structures and is aimed at students and current construction professionals involved in production, use, quality control or learning activities associated with concrete construction.


The aim of the module is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the constituent materials of structural and non-structural concrete including material types and production; physical and chemical characteristics; coverage in codes and standards; and their impact on fresh and hardened concrete properties as well as contributions to carbon footprint and sustainability. In addition, it is aimed at developing in students the ability to appraise practical situations and match them with appropriate concretes and constituents of concrete.

Learning outcomes
Successful completion of the course will lead to the following learning outcomes:
• A comprehensive understanding of the underlying science behind the constituents of cement and concrete.
• Awareness of the latest research findings in the field of cement and concrete constituents, including new developments in binder technology or practice.
• Understanding as to how the fundamental properties of concrete constituents can be used to explain concrete performance and evaluate how this understanding can be exploited in engineering projects.
• Apply a fundamental knowledge of cementitious materials to new binder types.
• Awareness of the social and commercial issues surrounding the use of cement and concrete.
• Awareness of the environmental issues surrounding cement and concrete, and how appropriate use of materials may help to minimise concrete’s environmental footprint.
• Awareness of standards and codes surrounding cementitious binders and other concrete constituents, primarily, but not necessarily from a European perspective.

Transferable skills:
• Confidence to work independently or as part of a team to research, collate and synthesise information;
• Ability to derive solutions to engineering problems;
• Ability to reflectively evaluate one's own learning and personal development;
• Apply subject-specific knowledge to generic engineering challenges;
• Ability to collate complex information in a concise and effective manner in the form of a report.

Skills outcomes
Please see learning outcomes.


The module will cover the following topics: cements, additions, admixtures and aggregates, health and safety, test methods and equipment, quality control and sustainability aspects of the materials used in manufacture and use of cement and concrete.

By the end of the module, it would be expected that students will have covered the following aspects
• How to specify constituent materials, and material combinations, suitable for concrete for different civil engineering applications;
• The origins and/or manufacturing process associated with constituent materials;
• The composition and structure of the principal reaction products present in hardened concrete;
• How the properties of different constituent materials influence short- and long term concrete performance;
• The important physical and chemical characteristics of construction materials;
• The environmental conditions to which structures are exposed, and how different materials respond to such environments;
• The application of sustainability principles to concrete when selecting constituents for different practical situations.

As part of this module, the assessment will cover development of the following practical skills:
• Application of material’s understanding to a range of structural and non-structural concrete applications;
• Ability to trouble-shoot typical short- and long-term problems associated with concrete construction;
• Provision of project-specific guidance on the selection and specification of appropriate concrete constituent materials for civil engineering structures.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning20.250.50
Class tests, exams and assessment23.006.00
Group learning125.0025.00
Independent online learning hours170.00
Private study hours96.50
Total Contact hours33.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

This module will be delivered via distance learning and will involve no conventional lectures or seminars, but will be based on the concept of self-learning, coordinated by the programme leader and invited University tutors (as appropriate). The module will be introduced through four recorded lectures by the programme leader or industry experts.

The learning process will be achieved via the completion of group-based and individual assignments set by the programme leader, in consultation with University Tutors. These assignments will be based on reference text books made available to students specifically for this self-learning module, together with relevant online resource materials, as appropriate. Assignment topics will be both topical and challenging, designed to provide revision, updating and an advanced understanding of concrete technology against the module’s syllabus and learning objectives.

There will be an initial group assignment, with each member expected to contribute. Each assignment group will receive technical and moral support from an appointed academic member of staff or invited University tutor as appropriate. This assignment will be formative and the feedback provided will aid further learning. Assignment-specific discussion forums will also be created on Minerva to allow open communication between students and enable input/review by the module coordinator/ tutors. For the group assignment, the team leader will be responsible for organising the group’s work and posting the final report online and to deadline, via Minerva.

Following the group assignment, there will be two individual assignments. As for the group assignments, background material will be supplemented by input from an academic tutor and by a discussion board. Feedback on the first individual assignment will be returned before submission of the second, so that students can learn from their feedback.

The assignments will be complemented by online MCQs. These will be designed to test deeper level thinking than conventional MCQs, by introducing “assertion-reason” style questions, or enabling calculation based questions. The introduction of these MCQs has been considered so as to provide instant feedback to students and guide them through their learning and potential gaps in their knowledge.
Information required to contribute to group assignments will come from independent online learning and private study.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored via a number of routes. Firstly, students are encouraged to use each module’s online discussion board. Engagement is then followed by regular assessment through the semester, with an assessment timetable developed so as to offer regular feedback to students while also monitoring student engagement and progress. A typical timetable is given below:

Week 1 Group Assignment set
Week 3 Individual component submission of Group Assignment
Weeks 4-5 MCQ 1
Week 5 Feedback on Individual component of Group Assignment
Week 6 Individual Assignments set
Week 8 Group Assignment submission
Weeks 9-10 MCQ 2
Week 10 Feedback on Group Assignment
Week 11 Submission of Individual Assignment 1
Late December Feedback on Individual Assignment 1
Week 12 Submission of Individual Assignment 2
Late January Feedback on Individual Assignment 2

Note that the weeks are indicative of teaching weeks rather than calendar weeks, such that students also have the Christmas vacation to complete their individual assignments.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words40.00
Essay3,000 words40.00
Group Project5,000 words (formative)0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)80.00

Resit: Essay 50%; Essay 50%

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online MCQ0 hr 00 mins10.00
Online MCQ0 hr 00 mins10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)20.00

Resit: Essay 50%; Essay 50%

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/12/2021


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