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Degree type


Course length

4 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*AA
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

The chemistry department at Durham is one of the leading departments in the UK and within the Top 100 across the world. When you choose to study for a MChem degree you will join a dynamic and focused learning community that is home to multiple research institutes, a range of first-class facilities and experts with close links to industry. Current developments in both research and industry are used to bring theoretical learning to life.

Chemistry degrees at Durham offer a high level of flexibility. The MChem contains the same core curriculum in Years 1 and 2 as our other chemistry degrees and you can switch to one of the other degrees up to the end of the second year.

You will build strong foundations in inorganic, organic and physical chemistry and learn practical skills in our modern teaching laboratories. In your third year, you will continue to learn the core aspects of modern chemistry, and start to focus on the concepts and skills required in research. Your final year is built around a research project embedded within a research group.

You will learn how chemistry is the central science with learning interfaces with biosciences, earth sciences, engineering, physics and astronomy. You will be exposed to cutting-edge analytical techniques and learn how they can be used to assist research and tackle global issues. Graduates are ready to either move straight into employment in a wide range of industries or advance into further studies and scientific research.

Course Structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Core Chemistry 1 provides the foundation for your future studies and covers organic, inorganic and physical chemistry.

Practical Chemistry A and Practical Chemistry B are two modules of laboratory work. These will allow you to learn and practise the skills required to accurately and safely use chemical reactions to create target substances and concludes with project work.

The Mathematical and Experimental Tools Required in Chemistry (METRiC) module builds on your pre-university mathematical skills and ensures that you understand the vocabulary of physics and biology that interfaces with chemistry.

Introduction to Materials Chemistry introduces the fundamentals of solid state and materials chemistry.

Finally, you will choose some optional modules allowing you to tailor your learning in subjects such as mathematics, biology, languages or the chemistry module Molecules in Action.

Year 2

Core modules:

Core Chemistry builds your knowledge of inorganic, physical and organic chemistry into more specialised concepts.

Chemistry of the Elements focuses the principles of bonding as well as the unique chemistry of the transition metals.

Structure and Reactivity of Organic Chemistry explores how the structure of molecules affects reactions.

Properties of Molecules advances your understanding of physical chemistry in the areas of magnetic resonance, surface chemistry and electrochemistry.

Practical Chemistry becomes more intensive with three modules, one each for Inorganic, Organic and Physical.

Once again, you can personalise your studies with one optional module, including Biological Chemistry or Computational Chemistry.

Year 3

Core modules:

Core Chemistry takes your knowledge up to degree standard.

You will also produce a research-led Chemistry Literature Perspective which will demonstrate your attained skills of literature review, data collection and critical analysis as well as literacy and presentation skills.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Inorganic Concepts and Applications
  • Advanced Organic Chemistry
  • Molecules and their Interactions
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Advanced Computational Chemistry
  • Computational Chemistry
  • Advanced Biological Chemistry.

Year 4

Core modules:

Core Chemistry provides an advanced overview of more specialised areas of chemistry and chemical physics.

Chemistry Research Project into which you will impart your experimental, analytical, theoretical and problem-solving skills through a capstone project including laboratory or computational work, or both, and the writing of a research report with the potential for publication.

You will also choose one module in preparation for your research project:

  • Advanced Research Concepts in Chemistry
  • Advanced Computational Chemical Physics


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.


The factual and theoretical content of the course is delivered mainly by lectures, supported by tutorials, workshops and private study.

In an experimental science, practical lessons are a vital aspect of learning and you will develop your laboratory skills, experiment planning, data analysis and safety management.

In your first year the core modules involve seven hours of lectures, two hours of tutorials or workshops and six hours of practicals per week. In addition, each optional module will require between two and six hours of contact time per week, supplemented by independent study.

Contact time for the core modules increases in subsequent years, typically with 12 hours of lectures and 10 hours of practicals per week. By the third year, you will have developed as an independent learner and more aspects of learning are student-led.

At the heart of the fourth year is a research project, supervised by a member of academic staff and possibly in collaboration with researchers outside the department. Your project work will typically be for 20 hours per week for 20 weeks, and you also follow two lecture modules. The learning environment is more focused on independent learning than in earlier years.


Assessment is mainly by end-of-year examinations and coursework including laboratory reports, and essays. In your final year, you will submit your research-led project report and deliver an oral presentation.

The range of assessment methods is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the course content, test your capacity to solve problems, enhance your written and oral communication skills, and assess your ability to relate your learning to real-world scenarios.

Entry requirements

A level offerA*AA including Chemistry and Mathematics.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaD*DD and A level requirements as above.

IB Diploma score38 with 666 in higher level subjects, including Chemistry and Mathematics (either Analysis and approaches HL or Applications and interpretations HL).

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. For more information contact our Admissions Selectors.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry, but encourage a short statement of gap year plans in your personal statement.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £30,500 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £30,500 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


A degree in Chemistry will prepare you for a career in science and technology either in industry, research or academia. Chemistry is also an excellent foundation for careers in areas such as business and finance, consultancy, journalism, information technology, teaching and more. A significant number of our students also progress to postgraduate study.

Transferable skills include communication and presentation skills, logical thinking, report writing, problem solving, time management, data handling and analysis, teamwork and leadership, creativity, and instrumental and experimental skills. We aim to develop your curiosity as a scientist. These skills are valued across many sectors.

Recent employers of our graduates include GSK, Infineum, Procter & Gamble, BP and Akzo Nobel.

Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 90% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 93% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £28,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information


We are a dynamic and diverse international teaching and research community, equipped with modern laboratories and world-class facilities. You’ll be taught by internationally renowned research-active academics with a wide range of expertise.

We have a long tradition of interdisciplinary research, from the development of chemical tests for cancer to the theory and computational study of molecular interactions. You will study the design, synthesis and characterisation of societally and technologically important substances, and will benefit from exposure to innovative research programmes and ideas. We have built a large network of national and international industrial partners involved in collaborative research through interactions at many levels with the Department and our BSc and MChem qualifications are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

With flexible pathways to suit your interests and career goals, and the chance to apply for an additional year in industry or an overseas placement, a degree in Chemistry will equip you for a range of careers or further study.

For more information see our department webpages.


  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 7th in The Guardian University Guide 2023
  • 10th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Chemistry Department web pages.

Research Excellence Framework

96% of our research outputs are world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021).


We are located on the Lower Mountjoy (science) site, near the Palatine Building and Calman Learning Centre, and just a short walk from the city centre or any of our colleges. Chemistry teaching is delivered in lecture theatres within our own building or those nearby. Our practical laboratories and research space are all together. Our research services interact with various UK and overseas companies and with other universities and research institutions.

Throughout your degree you will have access to Durham’s virtual learning environment which contains lecture material, support materials and course administration information.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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