2023 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MChemPhys Chemical Physics

UCAS code: F333

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Chemistry

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing MChemPhys Chemical Physics

Chemical Physics is an interdisciplinary subject that lies at the apex of two major fields of physical science.

Its range and compass are broad. From the fundamental physics of individual atoms and molecules to soft and hard condensed matter physics. From dealing with a spectrum of matter from the molecules of life to the latest technological materials.

A chemical physicist in the 21st century is armed with the tools to 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 chemical physics degree from the University of Edinburgh provides the intellectual framework for understanding the properties of matter - 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?


This degree programme is accredited by both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics.

The MChemPhys degree programme covers topics in all branches of the discipline, from the fundamentals to the most advanced understanding and application.

In the early years, you will be provided with a solid foundation in the core subjects of:

  • chemistry
  • mathematics
  • physics

The extra year of study (compared to the corresponding BSc degree) will expose you to a wider range of advanced knowledge, with a greater emphasis on the skills required to conduct original scientific research, including:

  • methods
  • intellectual approaches
  • practical skills
  • associated IT skills

You will foster greater leadership and organisational skills by extensive group-based learning and open-ended projects.

In your final year, you will gain further direct experience of research and undertake an in-depth individual research project with a choice of location and context.

Year 1

In Year 1 you will study chemistry, physics and mathematics by taking:

  • the same introductory chemistry course as those for the other chemistry degrees
  • physics and mathematics courses delivered by the School of Physics and Astronomy

The chemistry and physics courses each include a laboratory practical programme occupying six hours each week.

Year 2

You will continue with your chemistry, physics and mathematics courses.

In addition to the Chemistry 2 course you will take the courses:

  • Physics and Fields of Matter
  • Dynamics and Vector Calculus
  • Linear Algebra and Several Variable Calculus
  • Modern Physics
  • Experimental Physics

In the Chemistry 2 and Practical Physics courses you will continue to train in:

  • computer programming
  • data analysis
  • experimental laboratory techniques

Year 3

You will take a modified version of the Year 3 chemistry courses that cover the same material in physical and, in part, inorganic chemistry.

You will also take the physics courses:

  • Fourier Analysis
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Computer Modelling
  • Quantum Mechanics

Year 4

In the penultimate year of your MChemPhys, you will take a mix of taught courses in chemistry and physics.

You will also take a laboratory-based research training course in preparation for your final year project.

Year 5

You can:

  • work on a project in one of our cutting edge research groups


  • join a research group in one of our partner universities around the world


  • apply to take a paid industrial placement at one of our industrial partner companies

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2022/23)

Our facilities

You will have access to research laboratories and the University's libraries and computer facilities.

In Year 1, Chemistry teaching is based at the King's Buildings campus in the new Nucleus building.

In further years, all chemistry teaching and laboratory work is based at the University's King's Buildings campus.

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

Take a 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


You can include a year-long placement in industry or with one of our partner universities around the world as part of your MChemPhys programme.

Your placement will form the final year of your programme and be largely comprised of research project work.

If you do not undertake one of these options, you will complete a full academic year long research project.

Placements may be located in the UK or overseas and include research institutes or companies such as:

  • Unilever
  • Akzo Nobel
  • Procter and Gamble

Each year a very high proportion of MChemPhys students undertake one of these Industrial or Year Abroad placements.

Study abroad

You can include a year-long placement with one of our partner chemistry departments at a range of universities overseas.

These placements will form the final year of your programme and be largely comprised of research project work.

Year abroad locations include:

  • USA
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • Russia
  • many other European countries

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • laboratory classes
  • problem-solving workshops
  • small-group tutorials

How long should I study?

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

Normally, you should also dedicate an additional 15 to 20 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 essays 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 (conducted either in an academic or industrial context).

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of:

  • coursework
  • reports on laboratory practicals
  • presentations
  • exams and performance
  • reporting on your final year research project

Chemical Physics graduates find careers in a range of technology sectors and industries like:

  • petrochemical
  • pharmaceutical
  • nuclear

They also utilise their acute numerical, problem-solving and analytical skills in sectors such as:

  • IT
  • finance
  • marketing
  • advertising

All our programmes include:

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

A high proportion of our graduates progress to a higher degree, typically a PhD.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA - AAAB (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - ABB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 32 points with 555 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: AABB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 32 points with 555 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A and Physics and Chemistry at B. Higher Applications of Mathematics is not accepted in place of Higher Mathematics. Advanced Higher Mathematics and Chemistry are recommended. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Chemistry, Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) and Physics at 5. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:

  • SQA Advanced Highers: AAA in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics.
  • A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics.
  • IB: 38 points with 666 at HL to include Chemistry, Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) and Physics at 6.
Other entry pathways

Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MChemPhys Chemical Physics

Additional costs

You will require a white lab coat, which costs £15 in 2021.

You should also purchase three core textbooks in Year 1, which cost £150 in 2021.

If you are on placement you may incur travel costs. However, you could receive a salary or stipend from the host company on an industrial placement.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding

More information

How to apply

School: Chemistry

College: Science and Engineering