UCAS code: F100
Duration: 4 years
College: Science and Engineering
Introducing BSc Chemistry
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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?
The BSc (Hons) Chemistry degree programme is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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 materials or 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
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.
You will continue with your chemistry courses. You will also take the course Data Driven Chemistry, which reflects the increasing importance of computatonal chemistry.
You will choose additional courses. Frequently taken additional courses are:
- Environmental Chemistry
- Chemical Pharmacology
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.
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.
In your final year, you will choose four lecture courses from a range of advanced topics.
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 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.
You will have access to:
- research laboratories
- the University's libraries
- computer facilities
All teaching and labs are based at the King's Buildings campus with Year 1 labs taking place in the new Nucleus building.
Tour of the Nucleus building
The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh by 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.
The BSc (Hons) Chemistry degree programme gives you the option of undertaking a science education project in a local high school, in place of the final year research project.
This provides valuable experience if you wish to pursue a career as a teacher.
How will I learn?
You will be taught through a combination of:
- laboratory classes
- problem-solving workshops
- tutorials with a high staff-to-student ratio
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 hours to prepare for:
- 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
- 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.
How will I be assessed?
You will be assessed through a combination of:
- reports on laboratory practicals
- reporting on your final year research project
The majority of our chemistry graduates find careers in chemical or pharmaceutical companies.
They also use their acute numerical, problem-solving and analytical skills in sectors such as:
- the IT sector
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
Standard entry requirement
The standard entry requirement is:
- SQA Highers: AAAB by end of S5 or AAAA by end of S6. 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.
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A 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 and Mathematics at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
- IB: HL: Chemistry and Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 5. SL: English at 5 and Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6 (if not at HL).
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.
For direct entry to second year the standard requirements must be exceeded, including the following:
- SQA Advanced Highers: AAB to include Chemistry and Mathematics; or AA in Chemistry and Mathematics, plus at least BB in two further Highers.
- A Levels: A*AA in one set of exams to include Chemistry and Mathematics, or AAA in one set of exams to include Chemistry and Mathematics and one of Further Mathematics, Physics, Biology, and Geology.
- IB: 38 points with 666 at HL to include Chemistry and Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) at 6.
Other entry pathways
Entry to many degrees in Science & Engineering is possible via other qualifications (eg HNC/D, Access, SWAP).
Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.
SQA, GCSE and IB
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
- 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.
(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)
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.
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.
You will need a white lab coat, which cost £15 in 2022.
You should also buy three core textbooks in Year 1, which cost around £150 in 2022.
For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.
Search the degree finder
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