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Study Chemistry, Why & How To Study

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.

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CONTENTS

  1. What’s Chemistry?

  2. What Chemistry degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Chemistry degree?

  4. What topics does a Chemistry degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Chemistry?

  7. What do Chemistry graduates earn?

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

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Chemistry

  11. Have any questions?

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.

What Chemistry degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Chemistry include:

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

Options may include an integrated foundation year or master’s, industrial placement or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a Chemistry degree?

Typically, entry to an undergraduate Chemistry degree requires between 104–165 UCAS points. Some courses may have lower or higher requirements, and not all unis base their offer on UCAS points. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: A*A*A–CCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–MMM (or in combination with A Levels)
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB–AA)
  • International Baccalaureate: 40–26
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: an A Level (or equivalent) in chemistry, and may require an additional science

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Biology, maths, physics
  • General studies or critical thinking A Levels may be excluded

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Work experience or shadowing in a lab – contact a local uni, NHS trust, or industrial labs and biotech companies
  • You could gain office experience in a chemical company or research institute
  • Volunteering or work to evidence interpersonal and team working skills
  • Independent learning from online courses or MOOCs, YouTube videos or podcasts
  • Extra reading in the area – such as science journals or the website of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • If eligible, summer schools such as UNIQ or Sutton Trust, or Nuffield or In2scienceUK placements

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
  • An interview may be required by some universities

What topics does a Chemistry degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Advanced physical and materials chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Integrated chemistry
  • Molecular spectroscopy
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Principles and methods of organic synthesis
  • Properties of molecules
  • Quality assurance and laboratory management

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module:

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Exams
  • Poster and oral presentations
  • Practical tests
  • A research project or written report may be required in the final year

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.

Career-specific skills:

  • Practical lab skills in synthesis, measurement and characterisation, and experiment design
  • Data handling plus quantitative and mathematical skills

Transferable skills:

  • Analytical and logical thinking
  • Communication
  • Computer literacy
  • Presentations
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Team working

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees may be accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, leading towards registration as a Chartered Chemist (CChem)

What do Chemistry graduates earn?

Entry salaries for Chemistry graduates range between £18,000–£25,000.

Mid-career, the average salary for chemists is £45,000–£57,000, with those in managerial roles earning a higher premium. Other career options include working as a teacher. In England, classroom teachers earn £25,700–£37,000, while the income of a lead practitioner could be as much as £64,500.

What jobs can you get as a Chemistry graduate?

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

  • Accountant
  • Analytical chemist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Chemical engineer
  • Forensic scientist
  • Healthcare researcher
  • Management consultant
  • Pharmacologist
  • Science journalist
  • Teacher

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Postgraduate opportunities are normally limited to those with a degree in Chemistry or a closely related subject. Graduates with a Chemistry degree must complete teacher training to become a teacher. Examples of postgraduate courses include:

  • Analytical and Polymer Science MSc
  • Chemical Science MSc
  • Digital Chemistry MSc
  • Inorganic Chemistry MRes/DPhil

Similar subjects to Chemistry

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

Get in touch with our experts by emailing ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk with your question about studying Chemistry. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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