Overview

About the degree programme

Chemistry is the study of atoms, molecules and ions—their structures, properties, synthesis—and how they interact with each other to create new molecules. 

Its range and compass are enormous. From the simplest compounds like methane and sodium chloride to vast and complex biological molecules such as DNA or the proteins which form the basis for life itself. 

An understanding of every facet of science, technology and engineering is therefore informed by knowledge of chemistry. 

A 21st-century chemist can make significant contributions to a sustainable, secure and healthy future for the coming generations through the development of:

  • efficient renewable energy sources 
  • smart materials and devices 
  • targeted medicinal therapies

A chemistry degree from the University of Edinburgh provides the intellectual framework for understanding the properties of molecules - from the fundamentals to the frontiers of current research.

The degree focuses strongly on the wide range of analytical and experimental skills necessary to practice the subject. It also provides insight into research via a final-year research project working at the cutting edge of the subject. 

Studying chemistry at the University of Edinburgh

What do our students think?

View page in current degree finder

BSc Chemistry on the 2024 degree finder

How long it takes to complete this degree programme

This programme is studied over 4 years.

A key benefit to studying a 4-year degree programme is that you have the flexibility to study a range of subjects, outside your chosen degree programme, in Year 1 and Year 2.

This allows you the opportunity to study other courses that interest you or enhance your degree.

The four-year experience

Programme rankings

  • 5th in the UK in The Guardian Subject Rankings 2024
  • 6th in the Complete University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Times Good University Guide 2024

Programme benefits

  • All our chemistry programmes are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and our chemical physics programmes are accredited by both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics.
  • You will have the opportunity to combine the study of chemistry with a wide range of other subjects in Years 1 and 2.
  • The School of Chemistry scored 81% in the National Student Survey 2022 for overall student satisfaction.

Entry requirements

Find your entry requirements

Use the dropdowns to find out your entry requirements.

  1. Select the country where you are studying or where you studied your qualification.
  2. Select the qualification you are studying or studied.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for BSc (Hons) Chemistry

View the tuition fees for one academic year of BSc (Hons) Chemistry.

Additional costs

You will need a white lab coat, which cost £15 in 2023.

You should also buy three core textbooks in Year 1, which cost around £150 in 2023.

Accommodation

Accommodation costs depend on where you live while studying at university and the type of accommodation you choose.

In private accommodation, you can expect to pay more for a private studio or flat than a room in a flat where you share a kitchen and living space with others.

In University accommodation, factors impacting the rent are room size and the available facilities, such as ensuite rooms and catered halls.

University of Edinburgh student accommodation

Scholarships and funding

Funding information

You can find detailed information on financial support available, based on where you are living, in our fees and funding section.

Programme details

What you will study

The BSc degree programme covers topics in all branches of the discipline, from the fundamentals to the frontiers of modern chemical knowledge.

In the early years, you will study core courses in chemistry and mathematics.

In addition, there is also a flexible curriculum to suit your personal interests. This means you can combine courses in other sciences, arts or humanities with your core chemistry content. This flexibility means you can maintain options to potentially transfer to an alternative degree programme within science or engineering at the end of Year 1.

You will have scope to specialise, through appropriate choice of optional courses in Year 2 and Year 4 and through the choice of your research project topic. For example, in environmental chemistry.

Emphasis is placed on providing a broad and varied syllabus throughout the programme to:

  • reflect the multi-faceted nature of Chemistry
  • prepare students for future careers in industry, teaching or research

In your final year, you will undertake:

  • an in-depth individual research project (and gain further direct experience of research)
  • alternatively, a final-year science education project and placement

Second year entry

We have incorporated a lot of flexibility into our programme structures. These include the option to change between Bachelors or Masters and choosing entry into 1st or 2nd year. This can be agreed with your student support advisor and academic cohort lead early in first semester.

You will spend approximately a third of Year 1 in:

  • chemistry lectures
  • laboratory classes in the new Nucleus building
  • tutorials with a high staff-to-student ratio

You will also take a mathematics course.

You can choose the remainder of your curriculum from a broad range of courses from across the University.

Find courses

The courses you can study will vary from year to year and may be different for your year of entry.

You can get an idea of what you might study by viewing the latest course information for this programme.

Find Year 1 courses (2023/24 academic year)

You will continue with your chemistry courses. You will also take the course Data Driven Chemistry, which reflects the increasing importance of computational chemistry.

You will choose additional courses. Frequently taken additional courses are:

  • Environmental Chemistry 
  • Chemical Pharmacology 
  • Biological Chemistry 2

There are many more options allowing a considerable choice of subjects in year 2.

The range of option courses available over the first two years provides lots of flexibility. This means you can maintain options to potentially transfer between different programmes within the College of Science and Engineering.

Find courses

The courses you can study will vary from year to year and may be different for your year of entry.

You can get an idea of what you might study by viewing the latest course information for this programme.

Find Year 2 courses (2023/24 academic year)

You will study two lecture-based chemistry courses that provide a foundation for the remaining honours years.

You will also take a laboratory course providing you with a high level of practical skills.

Find courses

The courses you can study will vary from year to year and may be different for your year of entry.

You can get an idea of what you might study by viewing the latest course information for this programme.

Find Year 3 courses (2023/24 academic year)

In your final year, you will choose four lecture courses from a range of advanced topics.

Research project or science education project

On the BSc programmes, you will have a choice between a final-year research project with one of our cutting-edge research groups. Alternatively you may take a science education project.

The science education project provides ideal preparation for future study towards a teaching qualification.

Find courses

The courses you can study will vary from year to year and may be different for your year of entry.

You can get an idea of what you might study by viewing the latest course information for this programme.

Find Year 4 courses (2023/24 academic year)

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • laboratory classes
  • problem-solving workshops
  • tutorials with a high staff-to-student ratio

In your first two years, you will undertake 20 hours per week of timetabled study.

Normally, you should also dedicate an additional 15 hours to prepare for:

  • tutorials
  • writing lab reports
  • private study

In later years, you will undertake more practical learning and research project work.

What skills will I gain?

As you produce posters, reports and a final year thesis, you will develop skills in:

  • written communication
  • report writing
  • IT
  • oral presentation skills (from formal presentations)

You will also develop practical skills and an awareness of the safety aspects of laboratory work and risk-assessment throughout the programme.

You will build these skills further through a substantial research project in the final year.

Assessment

You will be assessed through a combination of:

  • coursework
  • reports on laboratory experiments
  • presentations
  • exams
  • reporting on your final year research project

This is an example of what your timetable could look like in semester 1 of Year 1 of Chemistry if you took Biology as your outside subject, for example. There is a high level of flexibility in the other courses you can study. You can discuss this with your academic cohort lead and student adviser. You have to do 20 credits of Chemistry 1A, 20 credits of Maths and then an optional 20 credits of electives (Biology 1A in this example).

Monday
  • 09:00-09:50 Chemistry 1A (lecture)
  • 14:10-15:00 Biology 1A: Variation (lecture)
  • 15:30- 17:00 Chemistry 1A (tutorial)
Tuesday
  • 09:00-09:50 Biology 1A (lecture)
  • 12:10 -13:00 Mathematics for the Natural Sciences 1A (lecture)
  • 14:10-17:00 Chemistry 1A (lab session)
Wednesday
  • 09:00-09:50 Chemistry 1A (lecture)
  • 10:00-10:50 Mathematics for the Natural Sciences 1A (Workshop)
  • 14:10-16:00 Biology 1A (workshop)
Thursday
  • 09:00-09:50 Chemistry 1A (lecture)
  • 10:00-13:00 Biology 1A (practical)
  • 13:10-14:00 Mathematics for the Natural Sciences (lecture)
Friday
  • 09:00-09:50 Chemistry 1A (lecture)
  • 10:00-10:50 Mathematics for the Natural Sciences (lecture)
  • 14:10-15:00 Biology 1A (lecture)

Support for your studies

You will be assigned a Student Adviser, who is part of the Chemistry Student Support Team. This person will be your named contact in the School which means you can contact them for support throughout your studies. Your Adviser will help you matriculate each year and enrol you on your optional courses.

Your Student Adviser is there to meet with you throughout the year if you would like to discuss any questions or worries you may have during your studies. They will listen non-judgementally and will work with you to provide any information, advice and support you need. They can also signpost you to specialist support services and staff.

You can contact them by email, Microsoft Teams and in-person throughout the year for support. 

Academic support and guidance

You will also be assigned an Academic Cohort Lead. This is an academic member of staff in the School who is familiar with your area of study.

Throughout the year, your Cohort Lead will meet with you and your fellow classmates (your ‘cohort’) to support your academic development through drop-ins, study skills advice as well as events and activities specific to your degree. 

Where you will study

Study location

All teaching and labs are based at the King's Buildings campus with Year 1 labs taking place in the new Nucleus building.

The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh by bus.

Academic facilities

You will have access to:

  • research laboratories
  • the University's libraries
  • computer facilities
The Nucleus building

 

A quick tour of the Nucleus building at King's Buildings - College of Science and Engineering. Three female students highlight the learning, teaching and studying facilities at the new building.

Virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of Chemistry and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the School of Chemistry

Career paths and further study

Accreditation

The BSc (Hons) Chemistry degree programme is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Career paths

Our Chemistry graduates work in a wide range of sectors and industries. Many undertake a range a roles, including:

  • research and development
  • project and product management
  • manufacturing within chemical and pharmaceutical companies

Some students follow interests in sustainability, intellectual property or continue their research within academia. Many will go on to postgraduate study to gain a PhD.

Skills you will develop

Our programmes support you to develop key skills valued by employers, including effective communication, collaborative working and confidence using technology.

If your programme includes an industrial placement, research project or year abroad, you will learn how to develop networks and adapt to new environments as well as specialist research and technical skills.

You can also use their your acute numerical, problem-solving and analytical skills in sectors such as:

  • business
  • banking
  • accountancy
  • marketing
  • advertising
  • the IT sector
  • data analytics

All our programmes include:

  • training, practice and feedback in communication skills
  • teamwork and collaboration
  • exposure to the latest technology of scientific information retrieval and organisation

Careers Service

The Careers Service works closely with students and staff within the school to help you to review what you've done, explore your options, plan next steps and chart progress along the way.

The Careers Service supports you not only while you are studying at the University, but also for around two years after you finish your studies.

Support from the Careers Service includes:

  • tailored careers advice
  • one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • a comprehensive range of workshops and careers fairs
  • help to find work while you study and after you graduate

Visit the Careers Service website

Further study

After you complete your programme, you may want to go onto further study at Edinburgh or a different university. You could progress to:

  • a Masters degree
  • a postgraduate diploma or certificate
  • a PhD
  • a second undergraduate degree

Find out about options for further study

Graduate profiles

Read our undergraduate alumni profiles to find out more about their student experience and their careers.

School of Chemistry graduate profiles

Our global alumni network

The University of Edinburgh has a diverse community of alumni spread across the world. In the School of Chemistry, we provide opportunities for you to connect with this global network during your studies through panel discussions, workshops and dedicated online communities.

From getting to know Edinburgh to transitioning to life after graduation, you will benefit from the valuable insights of our supportive School of Chemistry alumni.

One of the most enjoyable parts of my degree was its diversity. Through taking electives in physics and biology, I was able to study a broad range of science, and through a summer project and an industrial placement, I was exposed to both academic and industrial research.

The core chemistry modules were also excellent, and I owe my continued interest in the subject to many inspiring and entertaining lecturers.

My summer project and industrial placement were academic highlights of my time in Edinburgh – I greatly enjoyed the creativity of research, something which drove my decision to pursue a PhD following my MChem.

Applying

How to apply

You must submit a full application through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) before the relevant deadline.

What you need to apply

As part of your application, you will need:

  • your academic qualifications
  • a personal statement
  • evidence of your English language skills (with relevant qualifications)
  • a reference

How we select

If you have met, or are predicted to meet, all our entry requirements by the relevant deadline, then your application will go into our selection process.

As part of this selection process, we will review all the information you submit in your UCAS application when we decide who to select for this degree programme.

How we select applicants

When to apply

  • 2024 entry UCAS deadline: 31 January 2024 (6:00pm GMT)

This is the deadline for all UK, EU and international applicants to non-medicine and veterinary medicine programmes.

To find out if any degree programmes have spaces after 31 January 2024, search the University of Edinburgh on the UCAS website.

Search degrees that are open on the UCAS website

Key application dates and deadlines

After you apply

After you have applied for your degree programme, we suggest you have a look at the following information to help you prepare for University:

Applying as an international student

As an international student, you apply for this degree programme through UCAS.

Find out more about applying through UCAS

Visas and immigration

If you do not have the right to live in the UK, you will need to apply for and secure a Student visa before the start date of your degree programme.

Our Student Immigration Service can help you with the Student visa application process.

Applying for a visa

Agents

An education agent is someone who can help you with the application process as an international student.

We work with education agents around the world and have a list of local offices you can contact.

Find contact details for an education agent

Life at Edinburgh

Student and campus life

Your experience at the University of Edinburgh will go beyond what you learn in your courses. There are hundreds of societies and sports clubs for you to get involved in.

Outside of the University, you will get to explore one of the world’s most beautiful cities, which offers everything from a rich history to a gorgeous landscape.

Accommodation

We guarantee an offer of University accommodation for all new, single undergraduate students from outside Edinburgh. To be eligible, you need to meet all criteria and apply for accommodation by 16 August in the year of your entry to the University.

University accommodation website

Accommodation guarantee criteria

If you prefer to live elsewhere, we can offer you advice on finding accommodation in Edinburgh.

Accommodation information from the Edinburgh University Students' Association Advice Place

Societies and clubs

Our societies and sports clubs will help you develop your interests, meet like-minded people, find a new hobby or simply socialise.

Chemistry Society and CacFams logo

ChemSoc

Chemistry Society (ChemSoc) is here to catalyse the bond formation between chemists alike. The society organises both academic talks and social events, with an End of Semester Ceilidh and Games Night with Professors being hits in previous years.

You will be able to meet likeminded peers in mixer events and be a part of the oldest chemistry society in the world. ChemSoc also organise the iconic end of year ChemBall.

ChemSoc

CacFams

Chemistry Academic Families (CAcFams) is an inter-year group where you are sorted into families with 'parents' from the third and fourth years.

It's a great opportunity for you to get involved in the chemistry community and meet chemistry students from both your year and other years who will be able to give advice on all aspects of university life.

The city of Edinburgh

Edinburgh skyline as seen from the Salisbury Crags at sunset.

Scotland's inspiring capital will form the background to your studies—a city with an irresistible blend of history, natural beauty and modern city life.

Find out more about living in Edinburgh

What our students say

Chemistry programme here is tailored for the future of science, with programming and data analysis taught from year 1. I feel well-prepared for my 5th year in either industry or academia because of excellent teaching and opportunities to harness my transferable skills.

The community spirit within the School of Chemistry is probably unmatched across the University, but the diversity of people you meet and the connections you form throughout the entire University network are priceless.

Health and wellbeing support

You will have access to free health and wellbeing services throughout your time at university if you need them.

The support services we offer include:

  • a student counselling service
  • a health centre (doctor's surgery)
  • support if you're living in University accommodation
  • dedicated help and support if you have a disability or need adjustments

Health and wellbeing support services

Chat to our students on Unibuddy