Three or four years may seem a long time to dedicate entirely to the study of metals at university. But, while metallurgy is often offered as part of a broader materials science course, in fact it incorporates a diverse range of different skills, subject areas and applications.
Some of the areas you might choose to focus on include:
Physical metallurgy: This is the study of the properties and forms of different metals, how they respond to different conditions, and various types of change they can undergo.
Specialism in this field will also involve learning how to use a range of methods for examining metals, such as thermal analysis, mechanical testing, diffuse X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy (lots of impressive-sounding words to impress your friends and family).
Chemical metallurgy: Unsurprisingly, this involves looking at the chemical properties of metals, and chemical transformations. It may also include the use of chemical processes to extract and refine metals.
Engineering and process metallurgy: You guessed it – this is the study of metals as used in engineering processes. This may include the production of alloys, shaping, and an awareness of the effects of different processes on metallic properties, such as brittleness caused by cold or cryogenic conditions.