Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What entry qualifications do you need to study Materials Science and Engineering at UNSW?

On our HSC Subject Selection page you will find a fill list of assumed and recommended knowledge for entry into our degree programs. HSC Mathematics Extension 1 and Physics are assumed knowledge to enter our courses and we recommend Chemistry. If you have not satisfied these at school, you can undertake a bridging program over summer before starting University. Full details are given in the UAC guide. The ATAR cut-off for the Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering) at UNSW varies each year. Details of the ATAR cut-off for last year's intake can be found here.

More information regarding admission to university can be found here.

Q: How do I find out information about entry and applications if I’m from overseas?

Entry requirements and application procedures for overseas students can be obtained from UNSW International.

Q: What if I haven’t studied maths, chemistry or physics at school?

Students who have not studied sufficient levels of maths, chemistry or physics are required to complete a bridging program prior to commencing university study. Information about bridging programs is available from the Admissions Office (phone: 02 9385 3156/3646). Chemistry and physics can also be taken at introductory level in first year study.

Q: Are there opportunities for innovation as well as work in established industries?

Yes. Saul Griffith a graduate of our School won the prestigious US$30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for innovation. News of his prize-winning invention – a low-cost device that makes prescription glasses within 10 minutes – made headlines in the US, particularly in business media outlets. Griffith said his training in metallurgical engineering was the perfect launch pad for his inventiveness: “Materials and metallurgy science at the University of New South Wales is an amazing degree. It’s like the arts degree of engineering: if you know your materials science it’s pretty easy to pick up the rest of the engineering disciplines. It’s a powerful background.”

Saul’s story is one of many as our graduates move around the world into research and development in materials engineering and other multidisciplinary groups using their investigative and engineering skills to create solutions and products many of us have not yet dreamed of. Even within well established industries as the drive for sustainable processing of materials increases, it is Materials Engineers who have the skills and knowledge necessary to transform these industries.

Q: What areas can I specialise in within Materials Engineering?

Materials graduates are equipped to participate in a wide range of multidisciplinary development groups as well as specialised teams. Areas of interest may include: the development of environmentally sustainable materials and processes, engineering of new materials for application in super-computers or nano-devices; development of biomedical materials for drug delivery or prostheses; processing of extremely high purity materials eliminating impurities on a scale of part per billion; analysis of catastrophic failure of materials as a consultant or expert witness; engineering of thin-films only nanometers thick to create seemingly frictionless surfaces; fabrication of smart composite materials that detect their own failure; development of materials for use in deep space and the demanding entry and exit of the earth’s atmosphere.

These areas of interest are only the tip of the iceberg as new developments continually evolve in materials engineering. Our programs offers four broad areas of specialisation at an undergraduate level: Ceramics, Materials, Physical Metallurgy or Process Metallurgy.

Ceramic Engineering is concerned with the application of scientific and engineering principles to the development, production and use of specialised technical ceramics (superconductors, bio-materials or piezoelectics), as well as everyday ceramic materials (glass, concrete, bricks or porcelain).

Materials Engineers develop new monolithic and composite materials, combining metals, ceramics and polymers on the microscopic scale. Materials can be designed to exhibit sought-after mechanical, chemical, thermal or electrical qualities. Performance in unique environments, from deep space to within the human body, can be optimized through materials design.

Metallurgical Engineering (Process or Physical) is concerned with the production and development of metallic materials, components and processing technologies for sustainability and commercial applications. The use of alloying and novel processing routes for tailor-made components with desired and exceptional properties is a skill sought after in today’s high tech environment. Metals are the most widely used materials in sophisticated engineering applications.

Q: What subjects will I be studying?

Our Program Guides provide a complete list of subject and course requirements for all of our degree programs.

Throughout the program, learning involves both lecture material and practical laboratory projects. First year lays a strong foundation in mathematics, chemistry and physics. Second year moves deeper into the realm of materials science through courses in the fundamental properties and structures of materials as well as aspects of engineering design, application and selection of materials.

In third and fourth year, the broad foundational study of materials properties and practical evaluation allows greater specialisation through technical and professional electives. Electives include material processing and fabrication methods as well as detailed investigation of electrical, thermal, chemical and physical properties, and the application and failure of materials. Electives vary with the selected study plan: metallurgy, ceramics or materials engineering. For students in the fourth year of the Bachelor of Engineering program, there is a great opportunity to concentrate on a research project sharpening experimental and analytical skills. The engineering program also includes components of professional communication, management, aspects of business and industrial training.

Q: Can I study a combined degree with Materials Engineering?

The Bachelor of Materials Engineering can also be combined with a Bachelor of Commerce (3136). This is a five and a half year full time program. 

The Bachelor of Materials Engineering can also be combined with a Bachelor of Engineering Science (3132). This is a five year program. 

The Bachelor of Materials Engineering can presently be combined with a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering (3133). This is a five year program. 

More information about each of our combined degree programs can be found in the UNSW Handbook.

Materials Science is also offered as a major within a Bachelor of Science. Whilst this course provides less specialisation and accreditation it does provide greater flexibility. Any program available as a combined degree with a BSc will allow you to study some materials engineering subjects. Some of the combined programs available with a BSc are: engineering, arts, social science and law.

Q: Are scholarships available for the combined degree programs?

Industry sponsored scholarships are normally available only for those studying a Bachelor of Materials Engineering. In special circumstances there may be some industry sponsored scholarships available for the combined program with Biomedical Engineering. School Scholarships valued at $1500 – $2000 p.a. are available for all BE programs, including  combined with Biomedical Engineering or Commerce. However, the School Scholarship will only be paid for the first four years of the combined degree.

Q: Can I study overseas as part of my degree in Materials Engineering?

Yes! Students in their third year of study have the option to spend 6 months or a full year studying overseas. UNSW has a well established exchange program and partners with many universities around the world. In recent years Materials Engineering Students have been on exchange to Canada, Germany, Sweden, Korea and Taiwan. View our Exchange page for more information and tales from some of our previous exchange students.

Q: What support is there as I start University?

UNSW is committed to making the experience of all its students as positive and rewarding as possible. In line with this commitment, the School has introduced a peer mentor program for students. Peer mentoring involves more experienced students passing on their tips and hints to new students. While studying at UNSW is exciting, we also realise that it can be challenging. The purpose of the program is to help you successfully rise to this challenge.

We have many students from the School of Materials Science and Engineering keen to be mentors. As a ‘mentee’, you will be placed in a small group with other first year students and an experienced mentor student. This person will be available to you to respond to any questions or concerns you may have (e.g. “Where’s the Clancy auditorium?” “Where do I get a copy of the textbook I need? Where is the free MATSOC barbecue being held?).

Each student in first year within our School is also assigned an academic adviser. The academic adviser can assist with difficulties with the program, give advice about subjects and course requirements and answer other questions regarding enrolment, academic standing or student exchange.

As well as support within the School the University offers an introductory program before session starts called Uniprep and O-week. This program encompasses tours of the campus by upper year students, lectures about how to study at university, the content of various courses and other practical issues.

Student Services is also a great source of information during your time at UNSW.

Q: What are the sizes of the classes like?

The School of Materials Science and Engineering graduates around 50 students per year. This means that our class sizes are small (except when subjects are taken with students from other Schools). You learn in an intimate and friendly group with all undergraduates working alongside postgraduates and lecturers in a hands-on, practical environment. We know each other by name and regular social events are held for the whole School.

Q: What sort of accommodation is available at UNSW?

There are six residential colleges situated on, or adjacent to, the University’s Kensington campus. The colleges provide tutors and resident staff who are available to assist residents. All of the colleges provide a wide range of cultural, sporting and social activities. Each offers all-inclusive services including three catered meals per day, housekeeping, and computer labs. There are also four UNSW apartment complexes, located either on or off campus. These are designed for independent living for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

More information about UNSW accommodation options can be found on the Residential Communities website, or you can contact UNSW Residential Communities at UNSW on (02) 9385 4346.

Q: What transport is available to and from University?

Public transport buses service the UNSW Kensington Campus and leave from two primary locations in central Sydney: Central Railway Station and Circular Quay. There are express and/or regular buses 7 days a week to the campus. Full time students receive transport concessions. See Transport Infoline for details.

Q: How much will it cost me to study Materials Science and Engineering at UNSW?

For Domestic Students, the cost of the Materials Science and Engineering course comes under the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). HECS is a charge imposed by the Federal Government, which all students are liable to pay towards the cost of their study. Differential HECS contributions apply to students commencing a new course of study. The amount of HECS you pay will be based on the units of study you undertake.

Information about HECS and fees for International Students can be found at the University's Fees Homepage.

Q: Where can I find out more information?

Browsing around our website, you will find loads of useful information about the School, such as degree programs offered, scholarships, exchange, current student resources, an introduction to our academic staff and recent research conducted in the School. If you need more information or have questions you can't find the answer to, send us an email. We'll be glad to help!