The Student Room Group

Chemistry vs Material Science and Engineering

Hi guys,
I'm currently switching courses from Earth sciences after I realised I want to do a more scientific degree. With material science I think it may be easier to get straight into industry with a decent job. However as I am quite indecisive I have seen that chemistry may provide a wider range of options after graduating. I was also looking at other engineering courses but sadly My A levels were in Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Physics (A*AAB) so most wont let me in. Does anyone have any knowledge of the prospects of these degrees as finding data on material science is quite hard. Or does anyone know a way to get into engineering without doing a foundation year (e.g. summer intensive courses) as I have already spent a year doing a degree I wouldn't like to pursue.

Thanks for any assistance.
I think you should take some time and figure out what you are most passionate about.

It would be better to take a year out, take A-level maths or a foundation year and study what you want rather then compromise the rest of your career (40+ years).

There are lots of opportunities for both chemistry & materials scientists/engineers. From what ive seen if you want to work as a professional chemist (in a lab), you may well need a PhD as well as your undergraduate qualification.
Reply 2
Original post by mnot
I think you should take some time and figure out what you are most passionate about.
It would be better to take a year out, take A-level maths or a foundation year and study what you want rather then compromise the rest of your career (40+ years).
There are lots of opportunities for both chemistry & materials scientists/engineers. From what ive seen if you want to work as a professional chemist (in a lab), you may well need a PhD as well as your undergraduate qualification.

Hi, thanks for the help. Unfortunately the uni I'm at wont let me do a foundation year because I have already completed a year of my course. There is no way to get around not having done maths A level is there? Like summer programs or whatnot. Do you think unis would be slightly flexible as I have done some math courses in my first year? I also am not sure what I want to do but I am sure I want a science degree at uni.
Thanks for the help
Original post by helpm
Hi, thanks for the help. Unfortunately the uni I'm at wont let me do a foundation year because I have already completed a year of my course. There is no way to get around not having done maths A level is there? Like summer programs or whatnot. Do you think unis would be slightly flexible as I have done some math courses in my first year? I also am not sure what I want to do but I am sure I want a science degree at uni.
Thanks for the help

Have you approached other universities?
Could you not pause your studies for 12 months and take A-level maths…
Reply 4
Do you have to stay at your current university? If so why?
Reply 5
Original post by ajj2000
Do you have to stay at your current university? If so why?

Nope! I don't have to stay at my current uni (UOM) but they rank well for chemistry and engineering + I have housing arrangements. However, if i get accepted onto a better course I may switch but unfortunately my options without A level maths are quite limited for science degrees.
Original post by helpm
Nope! I don't have to stay at my current uni (UOM) but they rank well for chemistry and engineering + I have housing arrangements. However, if i get accepted onto a better course I may switch but unfortunately my options without A level maths are quite limited for science degrees.

Nobody in the real world cares about university rankings.

You are better off spending an extra year/year out and studying what you want, where you want to move after uni, rather then compromise.
Reply 7
Original post by mnot
Nobody in the real world cares about university rankings.
You are better off spending an extra year/year out and studying what you want, where you want to move after uni, rather then compromise.

Hello,

I know that university rankings aren't the most important thing but I do want to attend a university that is globally recognised as I do not plan on staying in the United Kingdom. I have looked around at engineering courses and the general engineering degree at Sheffield seems very interesting to me due to its flexibility. However, I am also interested in the material science and engineering course at the UOM. It's just quite hard to find more information on the subject area as its not a very popular course. I am going to make a post asking people who studied the subject how it was and their prospects after. :smile:

Thank you for replying!!
Chemistry is a solid degree, though prospects within chemistry aren't great... not in terms of salary anyway. Lab work tends to pay surprisingly poorly for the skill and education required.

Materials science is quite a niche degree - certainly within the engineering field. Materials engineers - and the various subfields that you can also go into, such as metallurgy, corrosion engineering, welding engineering, etc. - are certainly extremely useful in industry and sought after, though you may not find that many graduate positions compared to the main engineering disciplines.
Reply 9
Original post by Smack
Chemistry is a solid degree, though prospects within chemistry aren't great... not in terms of salary anyway. Lab work tends to pay surprisingly poorly for the skill and education required.
Materials science is quite a niche degree - certainly within the engineering field. Materials engineers - and the various subfields that you can also go into, such as metallurgy, corrosion engineering, welding engineering, etc. - are certainly extremely useful in industry and sought after, though you may not find that many graduate positions compared to the main engineering disciplines.

Thank you for answering! I went to the chemistry open day and I don't think that is really my passion unfortunately. I am going to apply to material science and hope I get an offer. When I looked at jobs though many would be like accepting physics, chemistry, other engineering, material science etc. When I am in the engineering building looking at all the sciency stuff the engineers are building and stuff made me realise that I want to study engineering. I'm just worried that material science is less designing and building and more theoretical and like u said less graduate positions. However it does seem really interesting and I have seen that the prospects after graduating are quite broad. Its soo hard making a decision that would impact the whole trajectory of my life its so stressful.
Original post by helpm
Thank you for answering! I went to the chemistry open day and I don't think that is really my passion unfortunately. I am going to apply to material science and hope I get an offer. When I looked at jobs though many would be like accepting physics, chemistry, other engineering, material science etc. When I am in the engineering building looking at all the sciency stuff the engineers are building and stuff made me realise that I want to study engineering. I'm just worried that material science is less designing and building and more theoretical and like u said less graduate positions. However it does seem really interesting and I have seen that the prospects after graduating are quite broad. Its soo hard making a decision that would impact the whole trajectory of my life its so stressful.

In the context of designing things, the materials engineer's contribution is typically in the selection of appropriate materials. This requires a great deal of knowledge of material properties, performance, etc. Opportunities also exist to do failure analysis, or even develop new materials or improve existing ones.
Reply 11
Original post by Smack
In the context of designing things, the materials engineer's contribution is typically in the selection of appropriate materials. This requires a great deal of knowledge of material properties, performance, etc. Opportunities also exist to do failure analysis, or even develop new materials or improve existing ones.
Thanks for helping once again. May i ask if u studied this degree? Do you know the job prospects/pay/demand for this because I can enter other engineering disciplines if I take a foundation/gap year.
Original post by helpm
Thanks for helping once again. May i ask if u studied this degree? Do you know the job prospects/pay/demand for this because I can enter other engineering disciplines if I take a foundation/gap year.

I didn't study materials science or engineering but I have worked alongside them. Salary and prospects depend quite heavily on the industry, as some pay much more than others. Demand is decent enough though it is quite niche - at most places there will only be a very small amount of materials (and related) engineers relative to other disciplines (mechanical, structural, chemical, etc.).

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