Materials Technology

Learn to manage the selection and use of different materials, including metals, plastics, ceramics and others for the creation and repair of a wide variety of products. 100 hour online course.

Course CodeVSS202
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn about the selection and use of different materials, including

  • metals, plastics, ceramics and others
  • for the creation and repair of a wide variety of products.
Materials that are commonly used can be classified into different groups. The most basic classification is metals and non-metals. You could also classify them as metals, ceramics and organic materials. Another system of classification includes the main groups of metals, ceramics, polymers and composites.  All the materials that you may think of such as glass, resins, rubber, wood, fibres, carbon, concrete, and minerals fit into these main groups. This course builds your understanding of all of these materials and the characteristics of different materials within each group. 

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Properties & Classification of Materials
    • Properties of Materials
    • Mechanical Properties
    • Thermal Properties
    • Electrical Properties
    • Environmental Properties
    • Manufacturing Properties
    • Economic Properties
    • Classification of Materials
    • Metals
    • Ceramics
    • Polymers
    • Composites
    • Minerals
    • Silicates
    • Non Silicate Minerals
  2. Metals and Their Uses
    • Ferrous Materials -pig iron, wrought iron, grey iron etc
    • Non Ferrous Metals
    • Aluminium
    • Copper
    • Lead
    • Zinc
    • Tin
    • Nickel
    • Rare Earth Elements
    • Lanthanides
    • Properties and Uses of Rare Earth Elements
    • Other Metals -Titanium, Gold, Silver, Chromium, Tungsten, Antimony
  3. Metal Alloys and Their Uses
    • Malleability
    • Ductility
    • Strength
    • Benefits of Alloys
    • Ferrous Alloys
    • Cast Irons
    • Steels
    • Steel Grading
    • Non Ferrous Alloys: White metal, Nickel-Silver, etc
    • Tin Alloys
    • Copper Alloys
    • Aluminium Alloys
    • Titanium Alloys
    • Titanium, Gold and Silver Alloys
    • Rare Earth Alloys
  4. Working with Metals
    • Metal work
    • Gauges/Sizing
    • Grades
    • Bulk Forming - forging, rolling extrusion, cold sizing, bending, coining, spinning, stamping etc.
    • Casting Metals - expandable and non expandable
    • Cutting Metals - machining, hand cutting, burning
    • Finishing
    • Joining Metals - soldering, welding, brazing, riveting
  5. Non-metals and Their Uses
    • Porcelain
    • Earthenware
    • Glass
    • Brick
    • Polymers
    • Plastics
    • Plant Fibres
    • Resins
    • Rubber
    • Composites - concrete, ceramic matrix composites, weed composites, metal matrix composites
    • Polymer Matrix Composites - fibreglass, carbon fibre
  6. Working with Ceramics (and Glass)
    • Making Pottery
    • Kneading and wedging
    • Shaping - hand building, using a potters wheel, injection moulding, jiggering, jolleying etc
    • Glazing - vitreous enamel, overglaze, underglaze, salt glazing
    • Decorating
    • Firing
    • Making Glass - hot end, cold end etc
    • Glass Sheet
    • Working with Glass - Cutting, fixing, joining, blowing
  7. Working with Polymers & Composites
    • Synthetic Polymers
    • Plastic manufacturing
    • Joining Plastics
    • Plastic welding techniques
    • Polymer Clay
    • Natural Polymers -working rubber
    • Composites - working fibreglass
  8. Safe and Sustainable Handling of Materials
    • Safe Use of Materials
    • Case Studies
    • Sustainable Use of Materials
    • Recycling
    • Major PBL Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain important properties of materials used to make things and how they are classified.
  • Differentiate different pure metals and their uses.
  • Explain different metal alloys and their uses.
  • Explain how to work with metals; cutting, shaping and fixing.
  • Explain the main groups of non-metals and their use in making things.
  • Explain how to work with ceramics; cutting, shaping and fixing.
  • Explain how glass is made.
  • Explain how to work with different polymers and composites, including cutting, shaping and fixing.
  • Determine appropriate, safe, and sustainable choices in the use of materials for different applications.

Things may be manufactured at one extreme on a large scale (producing very large numbers of identical products in a factory), or at the other extreme they may be manufactured on a bespoke scale for a specific customer or job (one item at a time in a small workshop). 

We choose to make things out of one type of material rather than another because of its properties, and there may be a whole range of physical properties to consider e.g. chemical, electrical and mechanical properties. These are then balanced against each other to help decide which material to choose. Understanding materials begins with understanding their properties. For construction materials, the following are some of the important considerations but bear in mind we are mostly concerned with solids (although liquids and gases may be used to manufacture certain materials). 

This course provides a foundation for manufacturing and/or construction of anything; small or large.


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