The University of Southampton

SESM6033 Tribological Engineering and Engine Tribology

Module Overview

This module covers the aspects of surface engineering, to develop fundamental understanding and the role of materials to allow surface selection for mechanical contacts and their surrounding environmental conditions. The module will explore a range of surface treatments and advanced coatings that are designed minimise wear, friction and surface oxidation / corrosion. Applications and economics of surface treatments will be addressed by means of industrial case studies.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Give the student an insight into stresses at surfaces, electrochemical activity so that suitable surface treatments that can be used to enhance performance of components and extend equipment life.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • To provide students with an understanding of how tribology fits in the overall narrative of the programme.
  • Establish a fundamental understanding of tribological engineering by balancing both, theoretical and practical aspects of tribology


Topics to be covered will include: - Smooth/rough surfaces in contact, solid friction - Uses of Reynolds equation and Lubrication regimes - Tribological components (gears, bearings) geometry, design and parameters calculation - Lubricants: types, composition, properties, testing and specifications, condition monitoring, health, safety and environment - Damage and failure of lubricated contacts - Selection of rubbing materials - Engine tribology: lubrication of components, tribological testing, advanced materials The lectures will draw on examples from applications within the automotive, marine, aerospace, oil and gas and power generation sectors. Emphasis will be placed on achieving low wear and friction and gaining sustainability and fuel efficiency through design of components and selection and condition monitoring of materials and lubricants.

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods to be employed in the delivery of this module include: •36 lectures (three 45 minute sessions per week) which develop the themes described in this module. Skeleton notes are given out at the start of the course, which means you only have to note down the key points during the lecture, but still have a full set of notes to work from; these will also be made available on Blackboard. • Industrial guest lecture. • Additional research review papers are provided to give an overview of the themes of the course. • Formative online assignments on Blackboard. • Solutions to assigned problems. • Demonstrations and video materials where and when appropriate. The learning activities include: • Individual reading of background materials and course texts, plus work on examples. • Example sheets and solutions.

Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Cameron, A (1966). Principles of Lubrication. 

Williams, J.A., (2005). Engineering Tribology. 

Rahnejat, H., (2010). Tribology and dynamics of engine and powertrain:Fundamentals, applications and future trends. 

Zhang, X. and Changlin, G (2004). An Intelligent System for Tribology Design in Engines. 

Petroleum products and Lubricants. 

Taylor, C.M (1993). Engine Tribology, Tribology Series. 

SAE, Sp-539 (1983). Studies of Engine Bearings and Lubrication. 

R. Lewis and R.S. Dwyer-Joyce (2002). Automotive engine valve recession. 

Stachowiak G.H. (2005). Engineering Tribology. 

Mortier, R.M. and Orsulik, S.T., (1997). Chemistry and Technology of Lubricants. 

Copies of Textbook. to be made available by the lecture team.

Neale, M.J. and Gee, M (2000). Guide to wear problems and testing for industry. 

Briant, J., Denis, J., Parc, G (1989). Rheological Properties of Lubricants, Chap 8. 

Haycock R. E, Hillier J.E.,. Automotive Lubricants Reference Book. 


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 10%
Assignment 10%
Exam  (120 minutes) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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