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    I'm currently in year 13 and so I've already applied to university. I currently hold conditional offers for Chemical Engineering at Edinburgh, Manchester and Sheffield. I'm not an incredibly decisive person, and during year 12 I was flitting between chem eng and chemistry. I had to make my mind up fairly soon into year 13 as I applied to Cambridge (pooled but rejected). Up until recently, I was fairly confident with my decision, but now I'm starting to wonder if I'd enjoy a more theoretical course (as we've been doing stuff I'm enjoying in chemistry and physics which overlap).
    My offers are for deferred entry: I decided to take a Year in Industry, partly to help me decide between chemistry and chem eng. My sixth form very strongly encouraged me to apply this year rather than next year, and although I can see the obvious benefits of having a teacher help you though it I think I made my decision too early.
    Now I'm left with the predicament of either accepting a place on a chem eng course or declining all of my offers and reapplying for chemistry/chemical physics during my gap year. The only issue with the second option is that if I do reject all of my offers and then subsequently decide I do want to do chem eng I'm not sure how favorably the universities I have applied to will look upon reapplying to the same course (particularly Edinburgh, my current favourite). Another spanner is Cambridge, where I could have another shot at if I reapplied. I loved the chem eng course structure there (because of the first year as a NatSci) and thinking about it the removal of that option has contributed to my current thoughts and made me wonder about my choice of course.
    I'm not sure if this is a kind of 'normal' panic that a lot of people go through and I'll eventually realise my original choice was right or if it's a genuine 'I need to change course' thing.
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    The attraction to NatSci where you don't have to make that decision is very common. Don't worry about that, and the whole chem eng and chemistry thing is too. Seriously though, I probably wouldn't make decisions based on Cambridge chances.

    What do you see yourself doing? Interested in working in a lab doing research and looking into new products - failures included - or are you someone more interested in manufacturing and larger scale stuff, things that have already been through the preliminary stages. Evaluating efficiencies and processes etc. The thing to keep in mind with chem eng is it's predominantly engineering: it's only a fraction of the chemistry that chemists do. Big emphasis on the maths and physics side, but the things with application rather than theory (where chemical physics would involve more theoretical physics).

    The practical side of a chemistry degree is more intense and more involved than chemical engineering, as you're building a lot more core lab skills, which aren't really things you need so much as an engineer. Whilst there is a cross over in some roles it's not very easy to switch between the two career paths at the other end as you're either missing a whole load of chemistry, or you're missing all the engineering. There are always exceptions. Generally speaking, better pay in engineering and tends to be a few more opportunities, but both are decent enough routes in this country so it needs to come down to what suits you.

    4th year chemist (did a year in industry for 3rd yr) here so I can give you more details about that. Chem eng experience is mainly based off an old flat mate, and i've briefly discussed chemical physics with a current 3rd year - at Sheffield anyway, it encompasses a fair bit of the standard chemistry stuff, but you just get the options from the physics side.

    What are your favourite areas of chemistry, and physics, a-levels and how do you feel about maths?
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    I like the analysis and spectroscopy side of things in chemistry at the moment, and I quite enjoyed the acids and bases stuff we did a while ago too.
    The only bit of physics which I don't like is electricity (although I quite like electric fields). I really like Maths (doing an AS in Further Maths and self teaching M2) so the mathsy side of chem eng isn't an issue - it's more if I'd actually enjoy the content.
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    (Original post by sarcastic-sal)
    I like the analysis and spectroscopy side of things in chemistry at the moment, and I quite enjoyed the acids and bases stuff we did a while ago too.
    The only bit of physics which I don't like is electricity (although I quite like electric fields). I really like Maths (doing an AS in Further Maths and self teaching M2) so the mathsy side of chem eng isn't an issue - it's more if I'd actually enjoy the content.
    Whilst i'm not 100% sure, analysis and spectroscopy would not be something you'd touch on very much with chem eng. I think more chem eng chemistry has more of its focus on just general reactions - i.e. predominantly taught via organic chemistry. With pure chemistry, you're obviously making synthetic compounds which need characterising so a good handle on NMR, IR, MS, and so on is always useful. I did a couple of courses during the first two years that were pretty much 'here's a pile of spectra, tell me what it is' which I enjoyed doing at the time.

    I've done a ridiculous amount of spectroscopic theory in physical chemistry over the few years - but this is something that will differ between universities as the level of detail we've done on it is really not necessary at all. Physics and physical chemistry practical side of things is a lot of collecting data and then processing or analysing it. It sort of seems like you may be more interested in chemical physics and/or physical chemistry but it's hard to gauge.

    I suppose maybe the issue with pure chemistry is you also have a third of inorganic, and a third of organic. It's pretty typical that there's one you won't enjoy as much as the others, but it may be something you can minimise/avoid more with chemical physics if you're really quite sure you're not bothered about certain aspects. I know the degree at Sheffield is accredited by the IoP, but I don't see any mention of the RSC which suggests there will be a bit more of the chemical core missing.
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    (Original post by Nymthae)
    Whilst i'm not 100% sure, analysis and spectroscopy would not be something you'd touch on very much with chem eng. I think more chem eng chemistry has more of its focus on just general reactions - i.e. predominantly taught via organic chemistry. With pure chemistry, you're obviously making synthetic compounds which need characterising so a good handle on NMR, IR, MS, and so on is always useful. I did a couple of courses during the first two years that were pretty much 'here's a pile of spectra, tell me what it is' which I enjoyed doing at the time.

    I've done a ridiculous amount of spectroscopic theory in physical chemistry over the few years - but this is something that will differ between universities as the level of detail we've done on it is really not necessary at all. Physics and physical chemistry practical side of things is a lot of collecting data and then processing or analysing it. It sort of seems like you may be more interested in chemical physics and/or physical chemistry but it's hard to gauge.

    I suppose maybe the issue with pure chemistry is you also have a third of inorganic, and a third of organic. It's pretty typical that there's one you won't enjoy as much as the others, but it may be something you can minimise/avoid more with chemical physics if you're really quite sure you're not bothered about certain aspects. I know the degree at Sheffield is accredited by the IoP, but I don't see any mention of the RSC which suggests there will be a bit more of the chemical core missing.
    I do like inorganic and organic chemistry, but I guess I prefer the physical side of chemistry because of doing physics at A Level. I did a project with a chemical firm (SABIC) last year which involved analysing some water samples and basically comparing all of the GC-MS/HPLC/ion chromatography/pH data and matching an unknown water to the samples we had - I loved this, and it almost persuaded me to apply for chemistry rather than chem eng but I was advised that chem eng had better career options and the general implied feeling from my teachers when I asked for advice was to go for engineering.
    Yeah, there doesn't look to be much chemistry content in chem eng other than the kind of essential reactions you'd encounter and catalysis/equilibrium stuff for improving yield. Up until recently I had thought that that kind of amount of chemistry would suffice, but with the current topics I'm wondering if I'd actually prefer entirely chemistry over the application of it.
    I have been looking at chemical physics and I particularly like the look of Edinburgh's course as it's the only one accredited by both the IoP and the RSC, but I guess most will be accredited by one or the other (and it probably just depends which department is more in control of the course).
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    (Original post by sarcastic-sal)
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    That sort of thing sounds like you'd enjoy analytical chemistry (maybe even bordering environmental with things like ground/soil sampling and so on). ChemEng does offer more opportunities career-wise certainly, but it has to be what you want to do for you to make the most of it really. Great experience with SABIC! Companies like SABIC do hire many more chemical engineers than chemists in this country, afaik.

    The only thing with analytical chemistry is to some extent many of the roles aren't that varied. I used to quite enjoy it, but as a career path i'm pretty certain i'd get really bored with it on a day-to-day once the novelty wore off. It's one of the more reliable areas in this country for chemists though, I see tons of jobs come up asking for analytical chemists.

    Randomly just found out one of my friends is doing chem eng and he made a comment - no inorganic chemistry, but some organic / physical. Whilst you don't get that much inorganic in chem phys it does look like there will be some bits of it (based on Edinburgh's module listing).

    You mentioned the year in industry - do you have something lined up right now for that?
 
 
 
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