PhD comprehensive examination

Course Name: 

Comprehensive Examination



Course modules and teaching hours: 

Comprehensive examination Model:

As resolved in the 45th Senate meeting of NITK, for every student who is admitted for PhD program in the Institute in the Academic Year 2018-19 or later the following regulations apply:

  • Student must complete the course work within one year of joining the program with minimum CGPA of 6. 
  • Student should clear a comprehensive examination within 1.5 years from his/her date of registration. Comprehensive examination would comprise of written examination and oral examination.
  • Student is deemed to have qualified in the comprehensive examination if he secures greater than or equal to 60% marks in the written examination and satisfactorily completes the oral examination. If a student performsnon satisfactorily in the oral exam, he needs to retake only the oral exam.
  • Maximum two attempts will be given to qualify the comprehensive  exam.
  • If a student does not qualify the comprehensive exam after two attempts, his or her registration will be terminated.
  • Comprehensive exam has to be conducted by the department every semester
  • The question paper may consist of two parts. Part - 1 and Part- 2.





  • The questions in Part I would be based on compulsory topics or modules specified by the Department.
  • This is common for all the doctoral candidates taking up the CE in the department.



  • Part 2 is on domain specific courses/modules.
  • Part -2 would consist of sub parts. There would be one sub-part in Part II for each broad domain of specialization existing in the department.
  • The number of sub parts to be equal to the broad domain of specializations in the department. 
  • Student may choose one sub part relevant to his area of research.  




  • To qualify in comprehensive written examination, a candidate must secure minimum 50% marks in each of the parts (Part-1 and Part-2) and a minimum 60%  as overall aggregate.
  • Total time allotted for both the papers, i. e, paper-1 and paper-2 is three hours. 
  • Question papers will not be of objective type. The questions will test the conceptual knowledge of the student.
  • Oral exam will  be based on the syllabus for Paper 1 and Paper 2 subpart  opted by the student as in written exam
  • The comprehensive exam is to be conducted in last week of April and last week of November every year.
  • Students need to register for the comprehensive exam by the last week of March for April exam and in the last week of October for November exam.
  • Academic calendar to include the date of Comprehensive written exam and the last date for registration for the same. Academic calendar will also include the date by which the results have to be announced.


Detailed Syllabus

Section 1 (Compulsory)

Foundations of Materials Science and Engineering

The electronic structure of atoms; Types of atomic and molecular bonds; ionic bonding; covalent bonding; metallic bonding; secondary bonding; mixed bonding; hybridization; Energy bands in metals, insulators and semiconductors; Basic crystallography;Defects and dislocations; Laws of thermodynamics; heat capacity; entropy; free energy; Types of Materials: Polymers, metals and alloys, semiconductors, ceramics, composites; Diffusion; Phase rule and phase diagrams; Properties: optical, magnetic, mechanical, electrical, thermal; Corrosion and material degradation; Characterization tools: XRD, SEM, TEM, DSC, TGA, basics of spectroscopy.


  1. W.D. Callister Jr, Materials Science and Engineering, Wiley, 2006.
  2. W.F. Smith et al, Materials Science and Engineering, Tata McGraw Hill, 2008.
  3. D.R. Askeland, W. J. Wright, Essentials of Materials Science and Engineering, Cengage, 2013.
  4. V. Raghavan, Materials Science and Engineering: a First Course, PHI, 2011.
  5. D.A.Skoog, F.J.Holler and T.A Nieman, Principles of Instrumental Analysis, 4th Edn. Harcourt, 2001.
  6. David R Gaskell, Introduction to Metallurgical Thermodynamics, 5th Edn, CRC press, 2008.


Section 2 (Any one module should be selected)

Physical Metallurgy

Structure of metals: Space lattice, unit cells, Miller Indices, crystal systems, metallic crystal structures, packing efficiencies, planes and directions, voids, imperfections in crystalline solids, dislocations and plastic deformation

Plastic deformation: Theoretical shear strength, concept of dislocations, types of dislocations, Burgers vector, dissociation of dislocations, climb and cross slip, dislocation interactions, plastic deformation by slip and twin, critical resolved shear stress, cold working and hot working, work hardening in single and polycrystalline materials, recovery, recrystallisation and grain growth, yield point phenomenon, strain ageing, dynamic strain ageing

Diffusion:  Diffusion in solids, Fick’s laws of diffusion, Kirkendall effect, applications of diffusion concepts

Solidification of metals: Dendritic freezing in alloys, freezing of ingots, segregation, homogenization, porosity, constitutional supercooling, coring

Solid solutions: Types of solid solutions, Hume Rothery rules, intermediate phases: intermetallic compound, interstitial compound and electron compound

Phase diagrams: Laws of Thermodynamics, Phase rule, Lever Rule, Tie Rule, experimental techniques of phase diagram determination, solidus, liquidus and solvus lines, binary isomorphous system , miscibility gaps, eutectic systems, phase diagrams with intermetallic compounds; monotectics, syntectic, eutectoid, peritectic and peritectoid reactions in binary systems, ternary phase diagrams: isothermal sections and isopleths; ternary systems involving binary reactions, ternary reaction, Fe-Fe3C phase diagram, effect of alloying elements on Fe-Fe3C diagram -Cu-Zn phase diagram, Al-Si phase diagram-Al-Cu phase diagram

Phase transformation in steels: Nucleation and growth kinetics, precipitation process, TTT diagram CCT diagram of plain carbon and alloy steels, nucleation and growth of austenite, pearlitic transformation, formation of bainite, formation of martensite

Strengthening mechanisms in metals: Strain hardening, solid solution hardening, dispersion hardening, precipitation hardening

Heat treatment of steels: Annealing, normalizing, hardening and tempering, temper brittleness, hardenability, heat treatment furnaces, austempering, martempering, thermomechanical treatments, plain carbon and alloy steels

Some important alloy system: Effect of alloying additions to steel, Stainless steels, low alloy steels, maraging steels, dual phase steels; cast irons and their heat treatment, tool steels and their heat treatment, aluminium and its alloys

X-ray metallography: Stereographic projections, generation, absorption and detection of X-rays; intensity of diffracted beam, Scherrer formula; Laue, rotating, powder methods, Debye-Scherrer technique, focusing technique, pin hole technique, diffractometer, crystal structure, indexing cubic and non-cubic patterns, precise lattice parameter, grain size, full width half maxima, stress analysis

Microscopy: Optical microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, electron - matter interaction, image formation, specimen preparation, reciprocal lattice, indexing SAD patterns; Scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy


  1. Introduction to physical metallurgy, by Sidney H Avner, McGraw –Hill International Editions, 2nd Ed, 1974.
  2. Materials Science and Engineering, A First Course: V. Raghavan, PHI Learning Private Limited, Delhi, 6th Ed, 2017.
  3. E.Reed-Hill and R. Abbaschian, Physical Metallurgy Principles, PWS Publishing Co., 1994.
  4. Physical Metallurgy, Principles and Practice, V Raghavan, PHI Learning Private Limited, Delhi, 6th Ed, 2003.
  5. F.N.Rhines, Phase Diagrams in Metallurgy, McGraw Hill, N.Y.1956.
  6. G. E. Dieter,Mechanical Metallurgy, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1988.
  7. B D.Cullity, Elements of X-Ray Diffraction, Addison Wesley, 1977.
  8. David R Gaskell, Introduction to Metallurgical Thermodynamics, McGraw Hill International, 1973.
  9. W. C. Leslie, The Physical Metallurgy of Steels, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York, 1982.
  10. D. A. Porter and K. E. Esterling, Phase transformation in metal and alloys, Chapman Hall, 1992.
  11. V. Raghavan, Solid state phase transformation, PHI of India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1987.
  12. P. G. Grundy and G. A. Jones, Electron Microscopy in Study of Materials, Edward Ernold, 1976.


Process Metallurgy


Solutions - Raoult's law and Henry law, properties of Raoultian ideal solution, non-ideal solution, binary Gibbs-Duhem equation and its application to activity and activity coefficient determination. Belton-Freuhan Treatment, Quasichemical theory, excess thermodynamics functions, regular and sub regular models of metallic solutions, interaction parameter and interaction coefficient, Slag Theories 

Transport Phenomena and Metallurgical Kinetics

Momentum Transfer in Metallurgical Processes - Viscous properties of fluids, Laminar flow and the momentum equation, Turbulent & complex flows, Energy balance applications, Problems in compressible flow, Sonic velocity and supersonic jets, production of vacuum, Differential models of turbulence for bulk convecting flows,

Heat Transfer in Metallurgical Process - Unsteady state conduction of heat, Differential thermal energy balance in fluids, Forced and Natural convention of heat, The heat transfer coefficient, Heat Transfer Correlations, Radiant heat transfer between black body surfaces, gray body surfaces, radiation through emitting and absorbing media, Heat transfer in continuous casting, welding and quenching, Inverse heat conduction problem - solution and application. Process Modelling - Introduction, types of models, similarity criteria, development of process models, model implementation.      

Unsteady state Diffusion and Mass Transfer, Concept of mass transfer coefficients, mass transfer correlations, mass transfer models, interfacial phenomenon, staged operations, impinging jets and submerged jets, continuous flow systems, C & F diagrams. Analysis of single particle reactions, correlation with packed beds and fluidized beds.                    

Metal Casting

Concept of liquid metal engineering, Solidification heat transfer, Science of Solidification, Thermodynamics of solidification, Concept of Undercooling, Homogeneous and Heterogeneous nucleation, Theory of Nucleation Rates, Growth in Pure Metals & Alloys, Constitutional Supercooling, Nucleation ahead of an advancing interface, Eutectic growth structures, Modification and Grain refinement of Al-Si Alloys, Concept of Bifilms, Campbell’s Ten Rules

Iron Making

Raw materials for iron making, Iron ore beneficiation, Theory and practice of sintering and pelletising, Testing of burden materials, Blast Furnace Reactions, Thermodynamics and Kinetics: Ellingham diagrams and deviations for solutions, Slag theories: Ionic and non-ionic, Blast furnace design, other auxiliary units, plant layout, recent developments in the design & operation of blast furnace, irregularities in operation and their remedies, Blast furnace refractories and instrumentation; Blast furnace slag & gas: importance, formation and use.  Direct reduction methods, Production of ferroalloys.

Steel Making

Major steel making processes, Principles of steel making, Physical chemistry of steel making, Deoxidation, Tapping and Teeming, Slags in steel making. Basic oxygen steelmaking processes, Top and bottom blown processes, Hybrid and modern processes: LD/BOF, Q-BOP/ OBM, LD-AC/OLP, Kaldo Rotor; Requirement of Metallic Coolant, Energy Optimizing furnace (EOF), Inputs required in oxygen steel making, Yields from metallic inputs. Alloy and stainless-steel making, Continuous steel making, Steel making in electric arc and induction furnaces, Conarc process.  Secondary steel making processes, Steel degassing processes, Casting: Pit, Continuous, Moulds, Casting powder, Electromagnetic stirring, Defects in Pit and Continuous cast products.


  1. D. R. Gaskell, Introduction to Thermodynamics of Materials, CRC Press, 2008.
  2. Problems in Metallurgical Thermodynamics and Kinetics: International Series on Materials Science and Technology (Materials Science & Technology Monographs) (Volume 25) Pergamon Press, 1977.
  3. Ahindra Ghosh, Text Book of Materials and Metallurgical Thermodynamics, Prentice-Hall, New Delhi, 2003.
  4. D. R. Poirier & G. H. Geiger, Transport Phenomena in Materials Processing, TMS, Warrendale, 1994.
  5. N. J. Themelis, Transport and Chemical Rate Phenomena, Gordon Breach, New York, 1995.
  6. Ahindra Ghosh and Sudipto Ghosh, A textbook of Metallurgical kinetics, Prentice-Hall, New Delhi, 2014.
  7. J. Campbell, Complete Casting Handbook, 1st Edition, Metal Casting Processes, Techniques and Design, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2011.
  8. D.M.Stefanescue, Science & Engineering of Casting Solidification, Springer Science, 2009.
  9. R G Ward, An Introduction to the Physical Chemistry of Iron and Steel making, ELBS, London.
  10. A. K. Biswas, Principle of Blast Furnace Iron making, SBA Publications, Calcutta, 1981.
  11. R. H. Tupkary, Modern Steel Making, 1982, Khanna Pub, New Delhi, 2008.


Mechanical Metallurgy

Stress-Strain Relationship

Von Misses’ Criterion, Tresca yield Criterion, Force-Distance Curve, Engineering Stress-Strain and True Stress Strain Curve, Strain Hardening exponent

Dislocation Theory and Strengthening Mechanisms

Concept and Theory of Dislocation –Slip, Twinning, Edge and Screw, Critically Resolved Shear Stress (CRSS), Peirless-Nabarro Stress, Strengthening Mechanisms – Solid Solution, Precipitation, Cold working, Grain Refinement, Dispersion Strengthening

Materials Testing

Hardness, Tensile, Fatigue, Creep and Impact testing


Ductile and Brittle Fracture, Fracture Mechanics – Griffth’ Criterion, Ductile to Brittle Transition

Creep: Phenomenon, mechanisms and types of creep, creep resistant materials


  1. W.D. Callister Jr, Materials Science and Engineering, Wiley, 2006.
  2. G.E. Dieter, Mechanical Metallurgy, McGraw Hill 1988.


Corrosion and Surface Engineering

Corrosion Engineering

Corrosion, Principle of Corrosion, electrochemical reactions, role of microstructures on corrosion, thermodynamic and electrochemical kinetics aspects, details of Mixed Potential Theory. Effect of Galvanic Coupling and oxidizers using Mixed Potential Theory. Polarization,

Details of metallic Passivity, role of passivity on corrosion, role of allying elements, Environmental Effects, Oxygen,Oxidizers, Temperature on passivity, Types of corrosion, Tribo-corrosion,

High Temperature Corrosion: Oxidation of metal and alloy, hot corrosion and Mechanisms and Kinetics, High-Temperature Materials,

Corrosion Protections: Materials Selection, Alteration of Environment and Design, Cathodic and Anodic Protection, Coatings (paints and electro-deposition) and inhibitors.

Corrosion Testing:Corrosion Rate measurement, Intergranular Corrosion, Pitting, Stress Corrosion cracking, Erosion Corrosion, interpretation of electrochemical corrosion plots.

Surface Engineering

Scope: Student is required to know various processes, advantages and disadvantages, energy and environmental issues, required equipments, availability of facilities in and around, etc.

Cleaning processes: Classification and selection criteria- Alkaline/acid cleaning, Ultrasonic cleaning, Solvent and emsulsion based cleaning, Mechanical assisted cleaning

Plating and Electroplating processes- hard / decorative chromium coatings, Ni, Fe, Cd, Zn, Sn, Pb, Ag, Au, Cu and their alloy coatings, Pulsed current coating, Electroless Cu, Ni and Au coatings.

Dip, barrier and chemical conversion coatings- hot dip coatings, electrodeposition, phosphate coatings, rust preventive coatings, phosphate coatings, anodizing, ceramic and porcelain coatings.

Controlled atmosphere coatings- Thermal spray, chemical vapour deposition, Plasma enhanced CVD, growth models, vacuum deposition, reactive deposition, sputter deposition, diffusion coatings, arc deposition, laser beam, ion beam and electron beam assisted deposition.

Mechanical energy assisted surface engineering-Peening, mechanical attrition, SMAT, Friction surfacing, etc.

Testing and characterization - Film thickness, residual stress, surface and interface analysis, coating microstructures, wear and erosion measurements. Environmental and safety issues.



  1. ASM Handbook, vol 5, Surface Engineering
  2. Mars G. Fontana, “Corrosion Engineering”, 3rd edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986
  3. Zaki Ahmad “Principles of Corrosion Engineering and Corrosion Control” 1st Edition, publisher Butterworth-Heinemann
  4. H. H. Uhlig and R. W. Revie, Corrosion and Corrosion Control, Wiley (NY) (1985)
  5. Neil Birks, Gerald H. Meier, Frederick S. Pettit “High Temperature Oxidation and Corrosion of Metals” Cambridge University Press.
  6. ASM Handbook Vol-13 (A, B & C)

Polymer Technology

Physico-chemical aspects: Polymerization, classification, molecular architecture, molecular weight and molecular weight distribution, crystallinity, thermal transitions.

Mechanical behavior and viscoelasticity: Viscoelasticity, time - temperature superposition, stress-strain behavior, fracture, creep, hardness, impact behavior, toughening, dynamic mechanical analysis, theory of rubber elasticity.

Chemical and physical behavior: Environmental resistance and weathering, chemical resistance and solubility, permeability, electrical properties, optical properties, flammability.

Solubility and related phenomena: Thermodynamics of solubility, solubility parameter and its calculation, Hansen’s three dimensional solubility parameter, properties of dilute solutions, practical applications.

Industrial polymers: Commodity polymers, engineering polymers, specialty polymers.

Unit operations in polymer processing: Rheology, extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding, thermoforming, compression molding, transfer molding, rubber processing, fiber spinning.


  1. A. Rudin, P. Choi, The Elements of Polymer Science and Engineering, 3rd Edn, Academic Press, 2012.
  2. C.S.Brazel, S. L. Rosen, Fundamental Principles of Polymeric Materials, 3rd Edn, John Wiley, 2012.
  3. R. J. Crawford, Plastics Engineering, 3rd Edn, Elsevier, 2006.
  4. N. G. McCrum, C. P. Buckley, and C. B. Bucknall, Principles of Polymer Engineering, 2nd Edn, Oxford University
  5. Press, 1997.
  6. R. O. Ebewele, Polymer Science and Technology, 1st Edn, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2000.
  7. J. R. Fried, Polymer Science and Technology, 2nd Edn, Prentice Hall of India, 2005.


Ceramic Technology

Structure of ceramics: bonding, Pauling's rules, oxide structures, structure of glasses, Zachariasen rules; Ceramic phase diagrams, microstructure of ceramics; Defects in ceramics,Kroger vink notation; Processing of ceramics: Powder processing, forming, sintering; Powder production: thermal decomposition, spray drying, sol-gel synthesis; Sintering: solid state and liquid phase sintering, grain growth; Properties of ceramics: physical, mechanical, thermal.


  1. Michel W. Barsoum, Fundamentals of Ceramics, International Edition, 1997.
  2. W. D. Kingery, Introduction to Ceramics, 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 1991.
  3. M. N. Rahaman, Ceramic Processing and Sintering, 2nd Edition, Taylor & Francis, 2003.
  4. Alan G. King, Ceramic Technology and Processing, Noyes Publications, New York, 2002
  5. O. Surendranathan, An Introduction to Ceramics and Refractories, CRC Press, 2014.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Quantum mechanics: Introduction, Schrodinger equation, uncertainty principle, bound states of 3 D potential wells and periodic potentials, angular momentum, Bra and Ket notation and their rules; perturbation theory, electronic band structures in semiconductors, metals, organic materials and nanostructures.

Introduction: Definitions, classification, fundamental principles, fullerenes, nanoparticles, nanoclusters, nanowires, nanotubes, nanolayers, nanopores, supramolecules.

Properties: Size dependence of properties such as electrical, physical, optical and chemical. Synthesis: Top-down and bottom-up approaches, plasma arcing, chemical vapor deposition, electrodeposition, sol-gel synthesis, high energy milling/ball milling, nanolithography, self-assembly, Langmuir-Blodgett films. Characterization: Scanning tunnelling microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Application: Nanomachines and nanodevices, impact of nanomaterials in the areas of materials manufacturing, health care, data storage, clean energy etc. Society and nanotechnology: Challenges and fears, impact on health and environment.


  1. D. L. Schodek, P. Ferreira and M. F. Ashby, Nanomaterials, Nanotechnologies and Design, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2009.
  2. G. Cao, Y. Wang, Nanostructures and Nanomaterials: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications, Imperial College Press, London, 2004.
  3. M. Wilson, K. Kannangara, G. Smith, M. Simmons and B. Raguse, Nanotechnology: basic science and emerging technologies, CRC press, Boca Raton, 2002.
  4. C. P. Poole, Jr., and F. J. Owens, Introduction to Nanotechnology, Wiley-Interscience, New Jersey, 2003.


Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Contact us

Prof. K. Narayan Prabhu, Head
Department of MME, NITK, Surathkal
P. O. Srinivasnagar, Mangaluru - 575 025
Karnataka, India.
  • Hot line: +91-0824-2473050