The University of Southampton
Engineering and the EnvironmentPostgraduate study

MSc Surface Engineering and Coatings (Advanced Mechanical Engineering Sciences) (1 year)

Surface engineering, coatings and tribology are all essential in understanding the science of interaction between the surface of a material and its environment in order to control its use, performance and operational lifetime. This course provides a thorough professional knowledge of surface engineering and coatings, which includes advanced understanding of tribology, wear, corrosion, electroplating, composite coatings, and vapour deposition.

Introducing your degree

Led by world-class experts from the National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS), this masters course provides a comprehensive and academically challenging exposure to modern issues ranging from the traditional concepts of friction and wear to the cutting edge developments in surface engineering.


This one-year industry-led course will explore cutting edge developments in tribology and surface engineering. You will develop an advanced understanding of wear, corrosion, electroplating, composite coatings and vapour deposition.

The course is led by world-class experts from the National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS), providing you with a professional insight into surface engineering.

The year is divided into two semesters. You will study core modules, as well as having the opportunity to select specialist modules, from Advanced Sensors and Condition Monitoring to Biomaterials.

Practical sessions form a large part of the course. You will design, operate and test tribological systems and assess the sustainability and limitations of machines. The last four months will be spent working on an industry-relevant research project. You will also benefit from nCATS state-of-the-art facilities and its many partnerships with industry.

The course is designed for those with a mechanical engineering or scientific background. Careers in surface engineering and coatings are available in a range of engineering industries; from automotive, aerospace and oil and gas, to marine and medical engineering.

View the specification document for this course

To Apply

You can apply for this course through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. For more background and detailed information, visit How to Apply.

The deadline for applications is the 30th June each year.


Engineering Council

The course has been accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements.

Programme Structure

Full-time study

The full-time MSc course lasts for 12 months. The first 8 months are spent mainly on the taught component, with lectures divided into two 12-week periods (semesters 1 and 2), and with exams at the end of each semester. The final 4 months are spent full-time on a research project, for which some preparation is done in semester 2.

Exit Points

The taught component of the MSc course is assessed independently of the research project component. The MSc award depends on passing the examinations and on successful completion of a dissertation on the project. The possible exit points are:

PG Certificate (60 Credit Points)
PG Diploma (120 Credit Points)
MSc (180 Credit Points)

We only accept applications to the 180 Credit MSc course. The PG Diploma and PG Certificate are exit points only and are not standalone qualifications.

Key Facts

The national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton is based at the University; providing the next generation of underpinning technology in mechanical engineering, microsystems and biomedical engineering.

National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)
National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)
Tribology: saving costs and improving safety across industries
Tribology: saving costs and improving safety across industries
Hip simulator
Hip simulator
Developing anti-fouling for boats
Developing anti-fouling for boats

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Honours Degree

Upper second class honours degree (2:1 or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University) in Engineering, Physical Sciences or a related subject. Those candidates with relevant employment experience will be considered if they do not meet the requirements. Applications are assessed individually, and any candidates who do not match the standard profile but who have appropriate academic qualifications and/or industry experience are encouraged to apply.

English Language Requirements

If your first language is not English, we need to ensure that your listening, written and spoken English skills would enable you to enjoy the full benefit of your studies. For entry onto our courses, you will need an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.

Selection process

Intake: 60 students per year (total 6 themes)

All individuals are selected and treated on their relative merits and abilities in line with the University's Equal Opportunities Policy. Disabled applicants will be treated according to the same procedures as any other applicant with the added involvement of the Disability Office to assess their needs. The courses may require adaptation for students with disabilities (e.g. hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties, dyslexia), particularly the practical laboratory sessions, and we will attempt to accommodate students wherever possible.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The modules have a common outcome namely the design, lubrication, operation, monitoring, testing and modelling of a tribological system. In addition to the taught element of the course you will undertake an individual research project studying the design, operation and testing of a chosen tribological system.

Year 1

The full-time MSc course lasts for 12 months. The first 8 months are spent mainly on the taught component, with lectures divided into two 12-week periods (semesters 1 and 2), with exams at the end of each semester. The final four months are spent full-time on a group design and research project, for which a considerable amount of preparation is undertaken in semester 2. A strict timetable of milestones for the starting in semester 2 ensures maximum time is devoted to the project as the manufacture, integration and testing of physical artefacts is involved.

Semester Two
SESM3028Credit: 15
SESG6045Credit: 15
MANG6318Credit: 15

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentDesign equipment and materials: Standard construction/modelling materials will be provided where appropriate, unless otherwise specified in a module profile. For customisation of designs/models calling for material other than standard construction/ modelling materials, students will bear the costs of such alternatives.
EquipmentField equipment and materials: A number of essential items will be provided to you e.g.: field notebook(s); compass-clinometer; geological hammer; steel tape measure; map case; pocket lens (x 10); safety helmet; safety goggles; bottle of dilute hydrochloric acid. However, you will need provide yourselves with a ruler; a pair of compasses; set squares; protractor; pencils (including coloured); eraser; calculator, penknife. These can be purchased from any source.
ClothingField course clothing: You will need to wear suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source.
Printing and copyingIn some cases, coursework and/or projects may be submitted electronically. Where it is not possible to submit electronically students will be liable for printing costs, which are detailed in the individual module profile.
OtherOptional visits: Some modules may include additional optional visits. You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Learning & Assessment

Study locations

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