Dr Leon Black

I’m an analytical chemist with over 15 years’ experience working with cement and concrete. I first became fascinated with cement when working as a researcher in Karlsruhe, Germany. The more I studied the microstructure and materials chemistry of cement, the more I was amazed by the complexity of this material we take for granted every day. For the past 15 years, I’ve worked on the relationship between cement composition, microstructure and durability of low carbon cement and concrete. Much of my research uses analytical chemistry to understand the composition of low carbon cements, then relate that to durability. Increasingly, I am interested in considering the whole life performance of cement and concrete, using lifecycle assessment as a tool to understand the environmental performance of concrete. 

Since Leeds bricklayer Joseph Aspden first filed his patent for Portland cement in 1824, Portland cement has transformed human existence. With over 12 billion tonnes being used every year, Portland cement concrete now underpins modern life like no other material. Furthermore, demand has been increasing by about 10% per year for many years as developing economies invest in their infrastructure. However, there is a common misconception that we know all there is to know about cement and concrete. As a result, many people take this ubiquitous material for granted, leading to some of the very public and very visible failing concrete structures we may see around us.

The MSc/PGDip in Advanced Concrete Technology is a distance learning course designed to give practitioners a deep understanding of this fundamental material. Working in teams and as individuals, you will learn about the whole life cycle of concrete, from its component materials, via its properties and performance in the field, through to its durability, end of life attributes and environmental performance. The course gives you the necessary knowledge required to understand the performance of new concrete infrastructure and renovation and repair of existing structures. The course is aimed at professionals working in the cement and concrete industries, bringing together their experience together with the latest academic understanding of this fundamental material.