Only showing posts tagged with 'undergraduate research' Show all blog posts

Undergraduate Research

by YPU Admin on February 21, 2014, Comments. Tags: material science and undergraduate research

Our ‘Undergraduate Research’ section will provide an insight into research conducted at an undergraduate level and feature case studies of undergraduate researchers at the University of Manchester.


Hi, my name is Rhys Archer and I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2013. I studied Materials Science and specialised in Textile Science and Technology, and had to undertake around 4 research projects a year based on lab work or industry examples. My 20,000 word final year project was in the form of an extended lab report and looked at the UV degradation of sail cloth material.

My research

I became interested in Textile Science and Technology (TST) as I have always had an interest in both Textile manufacture and Maths and Physics. I decided to study TST at university as I had worked at the government Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) in the materials engineering department as part of my work experience and had used laboratory methods to find faults in materials that had caused fatal accidents. These reports were then used in court as evidence for neglectful practice. I enjoyed the practical side to science, as well applying scientific knowledge to real world situations.

 Before my final year project, I undertook research in areas such as carbon fibre braiding, the use of Kevlar and other specialised materials in space material engineering, the structure and construction of body armour and the use of carbon fibre for the new Airbus design. I decided to concentrate on sail cloth material for my final project as I enjoy sailing, and have always been interested in the materials used for sails and sailing equipment and their resilience to natural factors such as wind abrasion or water damage.

The purpose of the project was to compare 3 different types of sail, subject them to different amounts of UV and then test their strength, tear and colour properties to see if there was any difference, and if so, if there was any trend in what type of material was the most susceptible.

In sailing, UV damage is the biggest commercial issue that affects everyday sailors as well as yacht racers, and so finding a UV resistant material would be ground breaking.

As I had decided to pursue my own research project, I found an industrial sponsor who supplied the material I tested and the specifications to test by. This was a great way to focus my research project, and meant that my research had commercial value. I used the equipment in the labs at The University of Manchester, including a light fastness machine, a tensile testing machine, a spectrophotometer and a scanning electron microscope.


Since completing my final year research project, my interest has been focussed more on the colour properties of materials and how these can be measured accurately. This field of study is referred to as Colour Physics or Colour Chemistry, and looks at what colour is, how it is measured, and the chemistry and math behind it. I enjoy it as there is a creative element with colour and textiles, which relates to design and photography, but with some complex math, chemistry and physics to understand.

Going further...

Find out more about studying Materials Science at The University of Manchester here.

Materials at Manchester – Graphene! Click here for more information.

Link to my final year project proposal presentation can be found here.

Click here for information on carbon fibre.

An interesting journal on textile composites used for space exploration can be found here.

A look at historic sailcloth can be found here.

For more information on modern sailcloth created by my sponsors, click here.

The Health and Safety Laboratory.


Undergraduate Research

by YPU Admin on December 2, 2013, Comments. Tags: history and undergraduate research

As part of our series on undergraduate research, Jack Mollart-Solity shares his experience of completing his final year History dissertation. 


Hi, my name is Jack Mollart-Solity, and I graduated from The University of Manchester with an undergraduate degree in History. In my final year at university, I did a 12,000 word dissertation with my research focusing on Hungarian Refugees in Britain following the failed Hungarian Revolution in 1956; however, it also explored other immigrant and refugee groups who had come to Britain throughout the 20th century.

My research

I chose to focus on this topic for a number of reasons. Partly, the history of Hungarian Refugees had been overlook by historians, so my research was part of uncovering their experiences in Britain and how they adapted to their new surroundings. More broadly though, I wanted to examine the factors that influence both governmental and societal responses to refugees and immigrants, both positive and negative. I believe this is important to investigate these issues as it is extremely relevant to modern society as much political debate is focused on immigration, and its benefits and drawbacks.

In order to investigate these issues, I used a variety of sources. For much of my research, I had to be in the National Archives in London. While there, I examined old government files trying to find the reasons why the government chose to admit Hungarian Refugees. As well as this, I looked through newspaper reports from The Manchester Guardian and The Times between the years of 1955 to 1960; this helped to show me what influenced the public’s response to the incoming Hungarians.

The most difficult aspect of my project was trying to uncover how Hungarian Refugees themselves felt about their experience in Britain: most sources completely overlooked the opinions of Hungarians. However, I was able to build up a limited picture through looking at government files and newspapers. Ideally, I would have liked to have interviewed Hungarian refugees and their decedents but this did not prove possible.


It was hard to draw conclusions about the experience of Hungarian Refugees in Britain from the limited evidence available, particularly as it is likely to be highly individualised for each refugee. However, it appeared that many felt they had been lied to in order to get them to come to Britain, and this cost them a chance to go to America, a location which was for many their preferred destination.

My findings suggested that the government’s principle motivation to admitting Hungarian refugees was both to win favour with and help their potential new ally Austria, the country which the Hungarians had immediately escaped to, as well as filling vacancies in Britain’s labour market. 

Finally, the public’s reaction was influenced by ideas of ethnicity; the white Hungarians received a warmer welcome due to their perceived ethnic similarities with the British. Equally, the refugees’ flight from communism enhanced their reputation in capitalist Britain.

I really enjoyed doing my dissertation: it gave me a chance to research a topic I was particularly interested in and gave me a lot of control over the work that I did.

Going further...

For more information about the History course at the University of Manchester, click here.

Click here for information from the London School of Economics on why it is beneficial to study History.

The Guardian recently ran a feature about how to plan and write a dissertation.

Search the National Archives website for different documents you can look up: it is free to use the National Archives.

Access to Archives: search archives located near you.