TSR Wiki > University > Choosing a Subject > University Courses > Chemistry Degree


Course Overview

Universities offering Chemistry

UCAS course list for Chemistry on its own as a single subject, in combination and associated degrees. There are lots of degrees that move beyond straight single honours Chemistry. These include Pharmacology/Drug Discovery, Biochemistry, Chemical Physics and even Environmental Chemistry.

Here are the range of Chemistry courses available at the University of Bristol, the University of Sussex and the University of Aberdeen which show you the range of different Chemistry courses available.

Chemistry is included in the course called Natural Sciences, offered at Cambridge, UCL and Durham among others. This allows you to pick streams, of which one could be Chemistry. For example, at UCL you can chose Chemistry as both a major and minor stream, along with Biology, Physics, History of Science etc. as the other stream. Natural Sciences has an individual wiki page.

Choose wisely and the course that is best for you and your interests. Or if you are not really sure what they are yet, then choose a more general Chemistry course that allows you to specialise later. Look for courses that are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC); some of the MChem degrees they accredit give you the opportunity to apply for chartered chemist status when you graduate, adding some letters after your name. Things like this are important to think about if you decide to work in the chemical industry.


Academic Requirements

Most Universities offer at least one course that covers Chemistry - though it may be called different things. Grade requirements range from A*A*A (Cambridge Natural Science) to BCC at 'points' Universities.

You will obviously need Chemistry at A-level, and many leading universities prefer (and sometimes require) Maths at A-level due to the large mathematical content of the course. A further science subject is useful (particularly physics). Many Chemistry students are surprised by the level of Maths in a basic Chemistry degree, so even if you aren't taking Maths to A2 level or the course you have chosen doesn't require it, an AS in Maths is often very useful.

UCAS Form & Personal Statement

Read sample chemistry personal statements.

Relevant work experience not needed. Those who do have it may have something to talk about in their PS or at interview, yet at Imperial and Oxbridge, the interviewers rarely glance at your personal statement - they ask solely academic questions.

It is a big plus to have Mathematics, and to a lesser extent Physics, to A-level because of the theory element of a Chemistry course. Mentioning any relevant concepts in your personal statement will show you understand this. However, don't throw in words that you don't entirely understand, as you might well be asked on it at interview! Helpful books on this topic are "Why Chemical Reactions Happen" by Keeler and Wothers and "A basic introduction to Quantum Mechanics" by the OUP, even if you just read/grasp the ideas in the introductions.

Go to some relevant lectures at a local University if you can or watch some lectures about Chemistry on You Tube or those available from the University of Bath. These will a) help you understand the step up from A levels to University level study and b) show you are starting to move beyond just your A level syllabus. Don't explain the entire lecture in your PS - just mention that you found a particular theory or approach within it interesting/intriguing etc.

Further Mathematics, can be helpful due to the nature of the course but it's by no means essential. Most universities include a maths module in the first year that covers the mathematics you will need to know for the course. Biology too can be helpful but again by no means a necessity, but may useful for certain biologically related topics such as medicinal chemistry. It also shows you have a wider interest in science beyond just Chemistry.

The most difficult part of a PS is saying what/why you love chemistry. Don't try and grapple with ideas like 'how important chemistry is to the real world'. Using an example of when you realised you got a real buzz out of understanding some coursework is a good way to do this, but keep it personal - 'I realised ...', 'I understood....' etc. A couple of well thought out sentences at the beginning is all that is needed.

Course Structure

The chemistry course structure varies considerably between institutions but as a rough guide:

First year

Introductory maths/physics/key skill modules. Physical modules that introduce quantum mechanics as well as more familiar topics such as kinetics and thermodynamics. Inorganic modules that explore transition metal complexes and molecular orbital theory. Organic modules that build upon A-level mechanistic knowledge and introduce hybridization

Second year

Physical modules that expand on topics as quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, computational chemistry etc. Inorganic modules that expand on topics such as molecular symmetry, ligand field theory, main group chemistry, F block etc. Organic modules that explore heterocyclic chemistry, stereochemical selectivity, functional group interconversion etc.

Third/Fourth years

Depending on whether your doing a BSc or an MSci/MChem the third and fourth years will differ, but a range of advanced modules in all main and interdisciplinary areas are normally accompanied with an extended research project in the final year.

Life as a Chemistry Student

Get help with your course with these University level chemistry revision notes.

Chemistry is a demanding degree, there's no way to sugarcoat that fact. Though if you keep up to date with your assignments and keep your head (workwise) above water you'll be fine. Also, another piece of advice, don't expect to pass your degree exams by revising the night before, it can't be done!

Typical work hours for a BSc student per week (taking the Uni of Liverpool timetable from 2010)

First year

  • 8 hours of Chemistry lectures
  • 4 hours of subsidy lectures
  • 8 hours of CA workshops (2x3 hours, 1x2 hours)
  • 3-6 hours of practical work (2 sets of 3 hours)
  • +at least 5 hours of SDL

Second year

  • 12 hours lab practicals
  • 6 hours of Chemistry lectures
  • 3 hours of subsidy lectures
  • 6 hours of CA workshops (2x3 hours), with this increasing ocassionally
  • 1 hour seminar
  • +at least 10 hours of SDL

Third year

  • 15 hours lab practicals
  • 12 hours of lectures
  • 2 hours of tutorials
  • +at least 15 hours of SDL

Normally the dissertation is an extended practical in one of the core disciplines (Organic, Physical or Inorganic), and assesment is 100% CA, via a lab report, a report from your academic supervisor and an oral presentation

For masters it's similar, just add about 2 hours of lectures, Masters year is mostly lab based.

So it's a fairly demanding timetable, and you'll be in everyday. However, in spite of this, if you're dedicated, and put in the work, you'll be okay. It should also be said that there will be at least one day of starting at 9. In the first year, there is a lot of cross-over from A-level.

Graduate Destinations and Career Prospects

The main destination is further research (at PG level), with a significant number of people going into the medical field. In terms of non-academia, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are big recruiters, but a chemistry degree (especially BSc) will open doors to most careers.

Some sites that may help you with your career choice once graduated and some information on the general prospects of having a Chemistry degree!






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