Materials science & engineering

Work on the development of new and better materials for the next generation of engineering

Students learning in the Science facilities at the UNSW Kensington campus

Study the underlying science of high-performance materials

Everything in the world is made of materials. However, only a small number of these materials occur naturally, with the rest having been microscopically engineered by nature or, increasingly, by materials scientists and engineers. The field of materials science and engineering plays a vital role in our lives, offering innovative new materials and processes for improving society in the 21st century.

Examples include the novel materials needed for future long-life rechargeable batteries, the creation of entirely new products from seemingly waste materials, and the development of medical implants and artificial organs that enhance and extend our lives.

UNSW is the top choice for students wanting to develop expertise in Materials Science and Engineering, we're ranked 1st in Australia for Materials Science and Engineering^. In our undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs, you will study the underlying science and engineering needed for the development of high-performance metallic, ceramic, polymeric, composite, nano-structured, and bio- & nature-inspired materials, as well as the design of sustainable processes and products. You will learn about the incredible positive impact these materials and processes have on our environment, health, standard of living, productivity of vital resources, national security, and economic prosperity.  

At the undergraduate level, we offer a specialised bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering, which can be combined with commerce, chemical engineering or biomedical engineering. Alternatively, materials science is also offered as a major in our Bachelor of Science degree programs. At the postgraduate level, we offer a range of coursework and research options, including our Master of Materials Technology program.

^2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.

Develop in-demand interdisciplinary skills 

Materials science and engineering is a multidisciplinary field that combines principles from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, data analytics, and engineering. It is a dynamic and rapidly evolving field that underpins technological advancements by providing the foundation for the development of new materials and technologies with improved performance, functionality, and sustainability. As a result, materials scientists and engineers are highly employable. Along with a solid scientific and technical foundation, you'll be equipped with skills in professional communication, time management, data analytics, computing, and project management.


Prepare for professional practice

UNSW is ranked equal 30th in the world and 1st in Australia for Materials Science.* Our graduates are highly sought after by employers, both in Australia and internationally, and they enjoy fulfilling careers in diverse fields. For example, as a materials scientist or engineer, you may be involved in: 

  • creating environmentally sustainable materials and processes;
  • engineering new materials for application in supercomputers or nano-devices;
  • developing biomedical materials for drug delivery, artificial organs, implants, or prostheses;
  • manufacturing extremely ultra-high purity materials for electronic devices;
  • analysing catastrophic failures of materials as a consultant or expert witness;
  • engineering of nanometre-thick films to create seemingly frictionless surfaces;
  • fabricating smart composite materials that detect their own failure;
  • creating highly functional materials and devices for space exploration, and
  • designing extreme materials for nuclear energy and defence applications.

These areas of interest are only the tip of the iceberg, as the field of materials science and engineering is constantly evolving to meet a wide range of societal and environmental demands.


Our undergraduate degree options

At the undergraduate level, you can study our specialised Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Materials Science & Engineering) degree, or you can study materials science as a major within a broader science degree. If you're interested in studying materials science and engineering, but you aren't sure whether the engineering degree or science major is your best option, we've highlighted the key differences between the two below. 

Degree (Bachelor of Engineering) Major (Bachelor of Science)
Four-year degree (if taken as a single degree) Usually completed as part of a three-year program^
Professionally accredited engineering degree Smaller in terms of core courses
Structured degree Coursework is flexible
Compulsory 12 weeks Industry Training component Optional Work Integrated Learning (WIL)


Integrated honours

Honours is a core part of the program that is done concurrently with coursework study



Optional honours

Honours is taken full-time over the course of one year



Ideal for students who want to work as a professional materials engineer or pursue a research career - this degree is fully accredited by Engineers Australia



Ideal for students who want to work in industry as a scientist or technologist or, following the completion of an honours year, pursue a research career


Our programs 

*QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024

^The Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) is a four-year degree.