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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MECH5390M Tribology and Surface Engineering

15 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Dr Liuquan Yang

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Undergraduate degree in Physical or Engineering Sciences

Module replaces

MECH 5410M Surface EngineeringMECH 5570M Introduction to TribologyMECH 5650M Biotribology

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Car engines need advanced lubricants and coatings to save fuel and reduce emissions. Wind turbines rely on healthy bearings and gearboxes. Railway tracks wear out and fatigue cracks form. The aging population needs prosthetic joints that will last a longer.Tribology is the science behind how things move and slide over each other. An engineering component usually fails when its surface cannot adequately withstand the external forces or environment to which it is subjected. Hence understanding of Tribology and Surface Engineering is fundamental to the modern industry and society.


Provide a broad based introduction to the interdisciplinary scientific disciplines of tribology, biotribology and surface engineering such that the students should gain an appreciation of how these engineering disciplines impact on the design and operation of mechanisms and the means of optimisation.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will have learned how to:
1. Understand the concept of tribology, biotribology and surface engineering
2. Develop an understanding of the influence of material interfaces on the performance of engineering devices;
3. Understand how design of interfaces can be optimised to mitigate tribological failure
4. Understand the role of tribology in the degeneration of natural tissues;
Upon successful completion of this module the following UK-SPEC learning outcome descriptors are satisfied:

A comprehensive understanding of the relevant scientific principles of the specialisation (SM1m, SM7M)
Knowledge and understanding of mathematical and statistical methods necessary to underpin their education in their engineering discipline and to enable them to apply a range of mathematical and statistical methods, tools and notations proficiently and critically in the analysis and solution of engineering problems (SM2m)
Awareness of developing technologies related to mechanical engineering (SM4m)
Understanding of engineering principles and the ability to apply them to undertake critical analysis of key engineering processes (EA1m)
Ability both to apply appropriate engineering analysis methods for solving complex problems in engineering and to assess their limitations (EA6m, EA6M)
Awareness that engineers need to take account of the commercial and social contexts in which they operate (EL2, EL9M)
Advanced level knowledge and understanding of a wide range of engineering materials and components (P2m, P12M)
Understanding of the use of technical literature and other information sources (P4)
Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others, and the effective use of general IT facilities (G1)


- Introduction to tribology and real surfaces
- Friction and wear of surfaces
- Lubricants and lubrication
- Biotribology and biotribocorrosion
- Soft tribology (e.g. biological tissue, cartilage, skin)
- Introduction to surface engineering
- Mass transfer media
- The boronising response of materials
- Physical and chemical vapour deposition technologies
- Corrosion-wear of surface engineered materials
- Ceramics
- Thermal Stress in coatings

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment31.003.00
Private study hours110.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

- Preparation and completion of summative assignments (group case study and seminar presentation) 30 hours
- Preparation for formative assignments (3x MCQ test) 12 hours
- Background reading of recommended literature cited in module notes: 20 hours
- Revision for final exam: 48 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Three multiple choice in-class tests.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group ProjectGroup Case Study and Seminar Presentation30.00
In-course MCQ3 X MCQ0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

An August resit exam will be offered which will cover the learning outcomes of the module.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 31/10/2022


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