Topic outline

  • Objectives

    This course exposes students to state-of-the-art developments in some specific engineering materials, or processes related to engineering materials, and examines the technological, societal, and historical context in which materials research and development occur.

    During the course, the students will learn to locate and read scientific literature in their field, to critically evaluate it, and they will become familiar with the format and style of scientific literature and conference presentations. 

    For doctoral students, there is a strong emphasis on providing constructive criticism of the papers for which you are assigned as a co-author.

    Course staff

    Professor Sven Bossuyt <>

    Course assistant Maria Santos Silva <>


    Enrolment in Oodi or through Unite!.


    Compulsory prerequisites are a basic course on materials science like the COE-C2004 or KJR-C2004 courses at Aalto, or permission from the teacher.


    The course consists of minimal lecturing, independent reading on a topic chosen by each student or team of students, online collaboration, and a student-led seminar where students present a paper they wrote about their topic. 

    Each student shall propose a specific material or material class, a specifically demanding use case for a material, or a specific process related to materials, and between 3 and 7 references from the scientific literature --such as journal papers, textbooks or patents-- about this topic, for approval. Additionally, some perspectives on the topic from local or national media or from government or non-governmental organisations, preferably in the local language, should be discussed. Ideally, but not necessarily, this would be a topic that the student already has a strong interest in and is already knowledgeable about. Based on this literature, the student will then write a concise but thorough paper about their topic, in a format appropriate for a paper submitted to a scientific conference. Alternatively, they may team up with one or more students from different partner universities, to collaborate on their paper and presentation. 

    These papers will be critically reviewed by the course staff and other students, and each student will write evaluation reports for three other students’ papers in the format of the peer review of a scientific paper. Finally, the students will have time to revise their papers taking into account this peer review, and to prepare a brief presentation about their topic for the seminar. 

    The course is organised entirely online, and is taking part in the UNITE! project exploring benefits of a multilingual and multicultural future for universities in the European Education Area.


    You will pass the course if you meet the deadlines in the conference management system, with submissions that meet the minimal standards described there, actively participate in the collaboration with your co-authors, present your topic at the seminar, and at the end of the course submit the final version of your paper as well as your evaluation of the peer review your paper received.

    Evaluation and examination

    The abstract and initial version of your paper are graded as pass/fail. The course grade is based on the peer review evaluation reports, the revised paper, and participation in the seminar, which are each graded on a 0 to 5 -scale. Aside from the seminar, there is no exam. For doctoral students, more weight is given to the assessment of the peer review given to other students.


    kick-off meeting Tuesday April 20th, online at 2-4 in Microsoft Teams meeting

    • Ideally, you prepare one or more ideas for your topic (i.e. find suitable topic on the field of materials science —new materials innovation, new research finding or similar— and prepare the preliminary title and description of your topic) and be able to discuss the topic (what the topic means, why it is relevant, how much you already know about it, etc.) at this kick-off meeting.
    • Answering the pre-questionnaire will help us assign suitable co-authors.
    • Attendance isn't necessary if you know what to do and have an abstract ready.
    Topic proposals Apr 22nd
    Co-authors assigned Apr 23rd
    EasyChair abstract submission April 30th
    Progress checks April 30th, May 7th, and May 12th
    Initial EasyChair submission deadline May 17th
    EasyChair peer review deadline May 24th
    EasyChair revised paper deadline May 31st
    Seminar Tuesday June 1st, at 8-11 Microsoft Teams meeting
    Final paper submission and evaluation of peer review deadline June 4th

    Contact hours

    kick-off meeting on April 20th

    office hours by appointment

    final seminar on June 1st