Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

MChem Chemistry

UCAS code: F104

Duration: 5 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Chemistry

College: Science and Engineering

Study abroad

Introducing MChem Chemistry

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 MChem Chemistry degree programme is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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

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

In addition, there is 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 transfer to an alternative degree programme within science or engineering at the end of Year 1.

You will have scope to specialise, in particular during the senior honours years, through an appropriate choice of optional courses and your research project topic. For example, in materials or environmental chemistry.

You will foster greater leadership and organisational skills through 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

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.

Year 2

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

You will also 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 select options to potentially transfer between different programmes within the College of Science and Engineering.

Year 3

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.

Year 4

In your penultimate year, you will take five lecture courses chosen from a number of advanced topics on offer.

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

Year 5

In your final year, you can choose to:

  • 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
  • the University's libraries
  • computer facilities

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

Tour of the Nucleus building

Find out more about 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.

Take a virtual tour of the School of Chemistry


You can include a placement in industry or with one of our partner universities around the world as part of your MChem 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 final year research project with one of our cutting-edge research groups in Edinburgh.

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

  • Unilever
  • Akzo Nobel
  • Glaxo Smith Kline
  • Astra Zeneca
  • Procter and Gamble

Each year, a high proportion of MChem 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.

Year abroad destinations include:

  • USA
  • Australia
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • many 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
  • 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:

  • 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, 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
  • 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:

  • business
  • banking
  • accountancy
  • marketing
  • advertising
  • 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.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

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).

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

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.


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.

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 MChem Chemistry

Additional costs

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.

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