BSc Chemical Physics
UCAS code: F334
Duration: 4 years
College: Science and Engineering
Introducing BSc Chemical Physics
Chemical Physics is the keystone 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 through to soft and hard condensed matter physics, dealing with a spectrum of matter from the molecules of life through 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, and targeted medicinal therapies.
A chemical physics degree from Edinburgh provides the intellectual framework for understanding the properties of matter from fundamentals to the frontiers of current research. It also focuses strongly on the wide range of analytical and experimental skills necessary to practice the subject. It provides insight into research via a final-year research project working at the cutting edge of the subject.
This degree programme is accredited by both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics.
The BSc (Hons) Chemical Physics degree programme covers topics in all branches of the discipline from their fundamentals to the most advanced understanding and application.
In the early years, there is a commitment to providing a solid foundation in the core subjects of chemistry, mathematics and physics. Advanced courses in Chemistry and Physics are studied in the final year, and direct experience of research is engendered by an in-depth individual research project.
During your first year you will study chemistry, physics and mathematics by taking the same introductory chemistry course as those for the other chemistry degrees, along with 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.
You 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 and Practical Physics. Training in computer programming, data analysis and experimental laboratory techniques continues in the Chemistry 2 and Practical Physics course.
You will take a a modified version of the third year chemistry courses that covers the same material in physical and, in part, inorganic chemistry as taken by students on the chemistry degrees. You will take the physics courses Fourier Analysis, Statistical Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Computer Modelling and Quantum Mechanics.
In the final year of your BSc, or the penultimate year of your MChemPhys, you will take a mix of taught courses in chemistry and physics. Students on the BSc programmes will have a choice between a final-year research project or a science education placement with a local school, the latter providing ideal preparation for future study towards a teaching qualification.
Students on the MChemPhys programmes will take a research training course in preparation for their final year project.
In modern teaching and research laboratories. In first year your lectures take place in the Central Area and thereafter all chemistry teaching and laboratory work is at the University's King's Buildings campus.
Students on a BSc (Hons) degree programme have the option of undertaking a science education placement in a local high school in place of the final year research project. This provides valuable experience for students who wish to pursue a career as a teacher.
How will I learn?
You will be taught through a combination of lectures, laboratory classes, workshops and small-group tutorials.
In your first two years you will undertake 20 hours per week of timetabled study. Normally an additional 15 to 20 hours is dedicated to preparing for tutorials, writing lab reports or private study. Later years include more practical learning and research project work.
Acquisition of knowledge and understanding is achieved mainly through lectures, laboratory classes, tutorials/workshops and project work. Lectures are assessed via formal 'unseen' examinations.
In all courses understanding is reinforced by small group tutorials and/or by problem solving workshops.
Written communication, report writing and IT skills are developed via laboratory reports, posters, essays and project reports.
Oral presentation skills are acquired via formal presentations.
Practical skills and an awareness of the safety aspects of laboratory work and risk-assessment are developed progressively over the first four years of the course and 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 and reporting on your final year research project.
Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.
To give you an idea of what to expect from 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.
Chemical physics graduates find careers in petrochemical, pharmaceutical and nuclear industries, and in other key technology sectors; they also utilise their acute numerical, problem-solving and analytical skills in sectors such as IT, finance, marketing, or advertising.
All our programmes include training, practice, and feedback in communication skills, team working, and 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.
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: Highers: Mathematics at A and Physics and Chemistry at B. 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 (from 2021, Mathematics: Analysis and approaches only) and Physics at 5. SL: English at 5.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of 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.
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 (from 2021, 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.
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
- SQA Standard Grade at 3
- SQA Intermediate 1 at A
- SQA Intermediate 2 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 module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
- TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
- Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components
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, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
*(Revised 27 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition.)
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 require a white lab coat, which cost £15 in 2019. You must also purchase three core text books in Year 1, which cost £150 in 2019.
For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.