Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
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BSc Chemical Physics

UCAS code: F334

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Chemistry

College: Science and Engineering


Introducing BSc Chemical Physics

Chemical physics is an interdisciplinary subject that cuts across two major fields of physical science.

From the fundamental physics of individual atoms and molecules to soft and hard condensed matter physics. From dealing with matter from the molecules of life to the latest technological materials.

A modern chemical physicist is equipped 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 our University provides the framework for understanding the properties of matter, from the fundamentals to the latest research.

The degree focuses on the wide range of analytical and experimental skills necessary to practice the subject. It also provides insight into research through 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 BSc (Hons) Chemical Physics degree programme covers topics in all branches of the discipline, from the fundamentals to the most advanced understanding and application.

In the early years, we will provide a solid foundation in the core subjects of:

  • chemistry
  • mathematics
  • physics

In your final year, you will:

  • study advanced courses in chemistry and physics
  • carry out an in-depth individual research project and gain hands-on research experience

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 taught by the School of Physics and Astronomy

The chemistry and physics courses each include a six-hour laboratory practical programme every week.

Year 2

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

You will take the following courses:

  • Physics and Fields of Matter
  • Dynamics and Vector Calculus
  • Linear Algebra and Several Variable Calculus
  • Modern Physics
  • Chemistry for Chemical Physics 2
  • Programming and Data Analysis or Experimental Physics 2

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, inorganic chemistry.

You will also take the following physics courses:

  • Fourier Analysis
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Computer Modelling or Experimental Physics 3
  • Quantum Mechanics

Year 4

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

On the BSc programmes, you will carry out a final year research project in the School of Chemistry or School of Physics.

You may also take a science education project instead which provides ideal preparation for future study towards a teaching qualification.

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 (2024/25)

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 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


The BSc (Hons) Chemical Physics degree programme gives you the option of carrying out a science education project instead 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:

  • 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 have 20 hours per week of timetabled study.

You should also dedicate about 15 hours to prepare for:

  • tutorials
  • writing lab reports
  • private study

In later years, you will experience more practical learning and research project work.

What skills will I gain?

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

In addition to the lecture topics, 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 on these skills through a research project in your final year.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of:

  • coursework
  • reports on laboratory practicals
  • presentations
  • exams
  • assessment of your final year research project

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

  • petrochemical
  • pharmaceutical
  • nuclear

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

  • IT
  • finance
  • marketing
  • advertising

Many of our graduates progress to a higher degree, typically a PhD.

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 in one set of exams.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 32 points with 655 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 655 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 766 at HL to include Chemistry, Mathematics (Analysis and approaches only) and Physics.
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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)


We normally make offers to the highest qualified applicants. If competition for places is high this may mean that offers will only be made to applicants who are predicted, or who have achieved, above the single set of grades or the upper grade level in a range. Any conditional offer made may require you to achieve grades above the upper grade level. Therefore, achieving the top of our standard entry requirements does not guarantee a place on the relevant degree.

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 BSc Chemical Physics

Additional costs

You will need a white lab coat, which cost £15 in 2023.

You should also buy three core textbooks in Year 1, which cost around £150 in 2023.


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