Skip to main content

Lightweight Materials and Structures

This is a course module on the MSc in Sustainable Automotive Engineering. It is also a recommended elective module for MSc in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management.


Within the automotive industry there is an ongoing drive to reduce the overall weight of vehicles in order to reduce the carbon emissions being produced. Legislative pressure to achieve this goal is giving research and development within the area of lightweight materials and structures increased importance and urgency.

This module looks at the current technology strategies available to automotive engineers using metals, polymers, and composites to achieve this goal.

As a student, you will also evaluate the impact of end-of-life criteria and how this further informs material selection and design choices.


  • To introduce the key materials used in automotive manufacture; their properties, applications, environmental impact and the methods by which they are processed.
  • Explain the materials selection process for automotive applications
  • On completion, the participant will be able to generate systematic material and process selection data using technical, financial and life cycle criteria, and subsequently critically analyse the suitability of new
    materials and associated manufacturing processes for automotive applications.


  • Introduction to materials
  • General materials properties and testing procedures
  • Use of metals (steels, aluminium, magnesium, titanium) that can be used in lightweight structures
  • Polymers and composites in lightweight automotive assemblies – both structural and non-structural
  • Natural lightweight materials – does nature do it better?
  • Current and future trends in automotive industry in lightweighting
  • Use of CAE and materials selection. Combination with LCA and assessment of environmental metrics.
  • Case studies of how industry has implemented lightweighting


5 days full time

Consisting of lectures, seminars, workshops and practical classes, demonstrations, review

Method of Assessment

Post Module Assignment of c. 4000 words