Studying chemistry involves a lot more than mixing colourful liquids in test tubes, it is a branch of science concerned with the composition and properties of a body, substance, structure, and change of matter. Chemistry is one of three central branches of education science and is a physical science. The science is also concerned with the properties of atoms and how they form chemical bonds with each other to form compounds, as well as chemical combinations and reactions.
Students will need science-based A-levels to receive admission on to a chemistry degree course. All universities will want candidates to have A-levels in chemistry, as well as maths, or another science. The UCAS entry requirements will depend on the university; however, upper-league or Russell Group universities generally ask for AAA or AAB from their students (and if you’re aiming for University of Oxford? You’ll need AAA* at least!)
Many institutions offer single degrees in chemistry for students; however, there are other branches available, such as; Forensic Chemistry, Applied Chemistry and Natural Sciences. Universities may also offer joint degree programmes such as Chemistry with Management or Chemistry with Physics.
Chemistry degrees usually last three years and typically consist of an introductory year, followed by two years where students will have the chance to focus their interests, by choosing their modules.
Students will primarily be taught through lectures and seminars, as well as within a lab environment. Also, individuals most likely will be expected to conduct research and collect their own data as part of assessments.
During the first year, students will be brought up to the same level of knowledge (ensuring students who have studied with different exam boards during A-level balance out) as well as expected to study introductory Physics and Maths modules depending on the institution and previous qualifications and experience held. The study of chemistry is split into three disciplines, organic, inorganic and physical. Students will develop their knowledge of physical chemistry through kinetics, thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.
Throughout the second year, students typically study materials to extend their understanding of the introductory year better. Modules and topics include; Electrochemistry, Ligand Field Theory, Spectroscopy, Computational Chemistry and Functional Group Chemistry. During the second year, students may be able to explore areas of interest and specialise by taking additional non-compulsory modules of their choice.
The third and fourth years will differ depending on the degree programme and university that candidates select (Learn more – How to find the right university course for you). Students tend to have more freedom in the modules that they choose for their final years, undertaking advanced modules in organic, inorganic and physical chemistry.
In some cases, students are assessed through examinations, tutorials and workshops as well as laboratory reports and performance (Learn more – University terms glossary). Students are also offered the opportunity to re-sit end of module exams throughout the academic year, and the grades achieved during the introductory year do not count towards the final degree award.
The skills which students develop while studying are transferable and desirable to employers. Students will gain skills in; communication and presentation, logical thinking, analysis, creativity, data handling and manipulation, ICT and observation.
Chemistry tends to answers questions, through tests and experiments. It also teaches individuals how to be objective, how to reason and solve problems, to make sense of current events and opens career options.
Chemistry is well-suited for those who have a natural aptitude for science, strong mathematical and analytical skills as well as a passion for discovering how things work.
The majority of students will pursue careers in international and national laboratories and research facilities meaning that they will continue their studies through to postgraduate, and possibly further on to a PhD course. Those who take this route tend to work in areas regarding biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology.
Particular job areas include; Engineer, Analytical Chemistry, Forensic Science, Healthcare Research, Pharmacology.
Whereas job opportunities outside science cover consultancy, accounting, teaching and journalism.
An exciting range of Master’s degree programmes are available, such as; Advanced Chemical Sciences, Analytical Chemistry, Drug Design and Discovery, Advanced Organic Chemistry, and Environmental, Green and Sustainable Chemistry.
Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church was originally trained as a chemist and received a chemical technician’s degree from Escuela Nacional de Educacion Tecnica in Italy.
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