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The University of Southampton

SESG6034 Surface Engineering

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:

  • Fundamentals of tribology and related contact mechanics.
  • Principles of coating deposition methods
  • Fundamental coating properties and their relationship.
  • Introduction to corrosion and corrosion protection.
  • Pros and cons of different approaches in surface engineering.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Search and critically review technical literature.
  • Analyse advantages and limitations of surface engineering methods
  • Compare different coating technologies from various perspectives.
  • Write an essay on a technical topic.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think, observe, communicate, evaluate information and data, analyse and solve problems
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Possess the basic skills to work in surface engineering and related industry or the government.


In this module, the emphasis will be on the performance of surface engineered materials and matching these to service conditions. Topics to be covered will include: • Tribologically induced stress, Hertz, dynamic Hertz, residual stresses, etc. • Stress field and wear interactions. • Measurement of surface / coating properties. • Wear mechanisms, including lubricated wear, wear-corrosion and erosion. Surface engineering processes. (1) Erosion resistant coatings deposited by Chemical Vapour Deposition, Physical Vapour Deposition, High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (thermal spray), and weld overlay. (2) Plating and nano-composite coatings/surfaces. (3) Corrosion resistant surfaces/high temperature. (4) Surface modification: induction hardening, ion- implantation, carburising, carbo-nitriding, nitriding and nitro-carburising. The lectures will draw on examples from applications within the marine, oil and gas, power generation, aerospace and biomedical sectors. Emphasis will be placed on gaining sustainability through correct surface engineering technology. Engineering assessment of each failure problem is described and the associated micromechanical failure modes. The economics of surface selection will be discussed for various examples, e.g. machine tool coatings, thermal barrier coatings and hard chromium replacement for aerospace.

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. • Additional research review papers are provided to give an overview of the themes of the course. • Formative online quizzes 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.

Follow-up work30
Completion of assessment task30
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Wider reading or practice10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

B. Bhushan, B.K. Gupta (1991). Handbook of Tribology: Materials, Coatings and Surface Treatments. 

I.M. Hutchings. Tribology: Friction and Wear of Engineering Materia ls. 

Other Materials. Copies of reference textbooks and dvds of surface engineering processes to be made available by the lecture team

W.D. Callister (2003). Materials Science and Engineering, an Introduction. 

M. Cartier (2003). Handbook of Surface Treatments and Coatings. 

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

K.L. Johnson (1996). Contact Mechanics. 

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

B.G. Mellor (ed.), (2006). Surface Coatings for Protection against Wear. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 10%
Assignment 10%
Examination  (2 hours) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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