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Guide to studying Chemistry

Chemistry is one of three central branches of educational science. It looks at matter and substances, their properties and how they interact with each other.

Female scientist preparing laboratory equipment for tests


  1. What's Chemistry?

  2. Why study Chemistry?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Chemistry graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Chemistry?

Chemistry is a physical science that studies the composition, structure, properties and change of matter.

During a Chemistry degree, you’ll learn the properties of atoms and how they form chemical bonds and compounds, the interactions of substances through intermolecular forces, and chemical combinations and reactions.

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry teaches useful skills. As a science, it means learning how to be objective, how to reason and how to solve problems. It also makes sense of current events such as climate change, pollution and technology.

It opens up many career options. Even if you're looking for a job in another field, the analytical skills you gain during a Chemistry degree will be very helpful. It applies to the food industry, retail, transportation and even art.

Read our five reasons to study Chemistry for more information on why you might choose this subject area.

What jobs can you get as a Chemistry graduate?

Chemistry degrees are well known for having strong job prospects; there's a growing need for those who have not only advanced science knowhow, but also have creative capabilities.

Particular job areas include in analytical chemistry, engineering, healthcare research, forensic science and pharmacology, as well as outside science in accounting, consultancy, journalism and teaching.

Several professional organisations, such as the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), offer specialised positions for Chemistry graduates.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Chemistry have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Chemistry students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

Most universities will ask for an A Level (or equivalent) in Chemistry. Other subjects that will be helpful for your application are Mathematics, Biology and Physics.

Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you're interested in, as standards change between institutions.

What degrees can you study?

  • BSc Chemistry
  • MSc Chemistry with Management
  • BA Natural Sciences
  • MSc Chemistry with Physics

How will you be assessed?

A lot of the work you'll do is intended to assist your personal development. In some cases, it will be assessed and count towards your degree. This could be through written exams, practical tests and coursework.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include MChem Advanced Chemical Sciences, Advanced Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Drug Design and Discovery, and Environmental, Green and Sustainable Chemistry.

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