Chemistry (BSc)

Chemistry is a fundamental and exciting discipline, and one that plays a significant role in many areas of science and in everyday life.

Students work in partners in the lab

The BSc Chemistry course aims to give you a flexible and dynamic education in the knowledge and skills needed to advance into a successful chemistry career. We aim to develop your research, mathematical and computational skills alongside practical training.

Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the course provides an excellent platform to chemistry careers and is also a respected bridge to careers outside of chemistry and related disciplines. The skills and knowledge gained throughout the course can be applied in broader working contexts such as business, teaching or research.

Distinctive features

  • This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • If you are unable to meet the requirements for admission to year one of the course, it is possible to gain entry by taking a preliminary year of study. 
  • There are opportunities for students who are interested in a placement abroad or in industry to transfer to the BSc Chemistry with Industrial Experience, the MChem with a Year in Industry, or the MChem with a Year Abroad courses.
  • There are a variety of opportunities to undertake summer research projects in Cardiff under academic staff supervision.

I have chosen the Cardiff University’s School of Chemistry amongst all other Universities in the United Kingdom because of its excellence in teaching and research, its well-equipped facilities and its wide-open arms to receive international students. I was assisted in every step within the process of choosing a University until my enrolment, settling down in my accommodation and everything afterwards.

Danilo Santos, Brazil, Undergraduate, Science without Borders

Key facts

UCAS CodeF100
Next intakeSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
AccreditationsRoyal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Typical places availableThe School typically has around 170 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives around 600 applications.
Typical A level offerAAB including grade B in Chemistry. Ideally at least one other science or mathematical subject. General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted for entry.

Also grade C or higher in GCSE Maths and English or Welsh (as appropriate).

Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level (at the grades specified above), excluding Chemistry.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points to include 10 points in total from Higher Level Chemistry and another science or Mathematical subject. Chemistry is to be at least 5 points within this total.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online. Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course
Admissions tutor(s)

All our Chemistry degrees share a common first and second year. Transferring to the BSc Chemistry with Industrial Experience course is possible at the end of year one or two. Transferring to an MChem course is also an option, if you have achieved an adequate average grade in each of the first two years.

The Chemistry BSc is a three-year course.  Most compulsory modules are worth 20 credits, and run over the whole academic year. Optional modules are usually worth 10 credits and last a single semester. 

In year one you will take compulsory chemistry modules worth 90 credits, and optional modules worth 30 credits, which may be in chemistry or any other subject.  If you do not have A-level Mathematics, you must take Mathematical Methods as one of your options.

Modules across the first two years usually incorporate lectures and practical work.  In year two you will take compulsory chemistry modules in various different subject areas.

In year three you will undertake practical work in the autumn semester.  This is followed by a research project in the spring semester. You will take a compulsory theory module in each branch of the subject and are able to choose from a range of optional modules.

Year one

Our year one modules aim to stimulate your interest in the subject, whilst giving a solid knowledge base to build upon in the following years. Our core chemistry modules are based around three principal subject areas, including coverage of key skills for chemists. These are complemented by a range of optional modules, allowing you to exercise choice over your studies and extend your breadth of experience. You may also take optional modules in disciplines such as Biological Sciences, Physics or Modern Languages.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Forensic ChemistryCH211210 credits
Mathematical Methods For ChemistryCH211610 credits
Environmental ChemistryCH211710 credits
Energy Resources and MaterialsCH211810 credits
CHEMISTRY OF THE COSMOSCH211510 credits

Year two

In year two you will take more advanced compulsory modules that enable you to practise and consolidate new skills through application to a wide range of problems.


If you achieve at least 55% overall in year two, you have the opportunity to transfer to a MChem course before the start of year three. If an industry placement is attractive to you, you need to register your interest by the start of year two, and transfer to the BSc Chemistry with Industrial Experience course by the start of year three.  Application advice and guidance is given throughout that year. Placements are competitive, but generally available nationwide across all branches of the chemical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industry.

Year three

In year three a substantial research project is undertaken in the spring semester. You will take a compulsory theory module in each branch of the subject and select from a range of optional modules.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

We aim to provide an exceptional environment for chemical education and our undergraduate degrees reflect our current research strengths and interests, with final-year projects fully integrated into our research groups. Your course of study has been carefully designed to enable you to realise your maximum potential. We aim to deliver expert teaching and comprehensive pastoral care.

Teaching is undertaken through a series of lectures, tutorials, workshops and practical classes. These are supported by material hosted on Learning Central, the University’s virtual learning environment.

Lectures

The major element of teaching is through lectures, typically 10-12 per week of 50 minutes duration. Subject matter is supported in various ways depending on the topic. This can include slides, computer presentations, handouts and course summaries.

Laboratory work

The second part of teaching involves practical classes, again typically averaging about 10-12 hours each week. In year one the emphasis is on basic techniques and simple but accurate recording of observations. Skills are taught by practical demonstrations and supported by a range of e-learning resources freely available and readily accessible to all students.

Self-testing offers insight into different practical techniques, and the chance to correct mistakes before attending laboratory sessions.


Laboratory work progresses towards substantial experiments which need careful planning, analysis and interpretation of results, as well as professional standard reporting. Practical work is currently integrated into each core module in the first two years, providing experience in all the main laboratory procedures and techniques. Training is designed to extend your level of proficiency in practical chemistry, preparing you to undertake an independent research project in the final stages of your degree.

Small-group teaching

Small group tutorial classes are given in all years, allowing practice, discussion and analysis of the lecture material, as well as the development of communication skills. Sessions are delivered by three allocated staff members, one specialist in each of the areas of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. The same three tutors usually remain assigned to each group throughout your degree.

Research project

All our Chemistry courses have a major element of independent, supervised research. In the final year of the BSc course you will join a research group working in your preferred area of chemistry, and be allocated a topic to investigate. Working under the guidance of an expert in the field, you will present results of your work orally and in writing. In the past, this has led to undergraduates co-authoring published papers.

How will I be supported?

Every student has a number of academic tutors, one of whom also acts as your Personal Tutor. You will see one of your tutors each week, either as part of a small tutorial group or on a one-to-one basis in a personal tutorial.  All staff operate an open door policy, meaning you can always approach staff with issues, academic or otherwise.  Personal Development Planning is based around maintenance of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Undergraduate Skills Record. This will be discussed in personal tutorials.

You will be given access to a comprehensive handbook appropriate to your year of study, containing details of the School’s procedures and policies.

We make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (Learning Central) to share information.  Marks for in-course assessment will usually be available via Learning Central within three weeks of the deadline.

Feedback

You will receive regular oral and written feedback on your progress throughout the course. Feedback is usually given on coursework such as practical scripts, workshop and tutorials. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your results and feedback with your tutor in more depth at weekly tutorials and regular personal tutorials.

How will I be assessed?

Formative and summative assessments are carried out during each year of study. This gives a measure of performance to inform you, us as staff and potential employers about your progress and achievement. It can also help the learning process by highlighting areas of success and areas needing more attention. Assessment for the BSc degree involves methods which are selected to suit the particular outcomes of each module and the course as a whole. These methods include the following:

  • Formal examinations with fixed time-limits
  • Class tests
  • Reports on laboratory work
  • Planning, conduct and reporting of project work
  • Essays
  • Problem-solving exercises (as workshop assignments)
  • Oral presentations
  • Preparation and display of posters.

 

What skills will I practise and develop?

  • Communication skills, covering written and oral communication.
  • Problem-solving skills relating to qualitative and quantitative information, with extension to situations where evaluations have to be made based on limited information.
  • Numeracy and computational skills including error analysis, order-of-magnitude estimations, correct use of units and modes of data presentation.
  • Information-retrieval skills relating to primary and secondary information sources, including information retrieval through on-line computer searches.
  • Technology skills such as word processing and spreadsheet use, data-logging and storage, web communication and using chemical drawing packages.
  • Interpersonal skills, relating to the ability to interact with other people and engaging in team-working.
  • Time-management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective modes of working.
  • Study skills needed for continuing professional development.

In year one and two you take compulsory ‘key skills’ modules, during which you will learn and practise some or all of the above skills.  You also receive training in CV writing, completing application forms, and interview techniques, delivered in collaboration with the Careers Service.

Graduate chemists have an array of career options. Many join the chemical industry, while others enter academia or government establishments. A number of graduates use the logical and practical training they have gained to enter marketing, sales, management or finance.

Scientific journalism, publishing and teaching are all realistic potential destinations. Equally, the specific skills gained in laboratories can provide a stepping stone to roles in the manufacturing industry.              

In 2014 90% of the School’s graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduation, Employers of BSc graduates included Intertek, Jones Environmental Forensics, One Scientific and Spofforths.

Career destinations included analytical chemist, laboratory assistant, trainee teacher, trainee accountant and entrepreneur.

Jobs

  • Healthcare assistant
  • Trainee chemistry teacher
  • Health and safety assistant
  • Trainee accountant

Employers

  • Welsh Government
  • Environment Agency
  • European Commission
  • South Wales Police

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2016/17)

EU students entering in 2016/17 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2017/18 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£9,000None

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our Funding and fees section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2016/17)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£18,250None

Tuition fees for international students are fixed for the majority of three year undergraduate courses. This means the price you pay in year one will be the same in years two and three. Some courses are exempt, including four and five year programmes. Please check with us for full clarification.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of everything that is an essential part of the programme, this will be clearly detailed in all programme information and in any verbal instructions given by tutors. You may be required to cover additional costs that are either not essential or are basic costs that a student should be expected to cover themselves. This includes but is not limited to laptop computers, calculators, general stationery, text books (assumed to be available in the library), and basic copying/ printing.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You do not need any specific equipment. We will provide you with a lab coat, a pair of safety glasses, a laboratory notebook and a molecular modelling kit. Chemical drawing software, ChemDraw is available on all University computers, and you will be able to download it to your own computers for free.

Students who are interested in a placement abroad or in industry may request a transfer to the BSc Chemistry with Industrial Experience, MChem Chemistry with a Year in Industry, or MChem Chemistry with a Year Abroad course.

There are usually also opportunities to undertake summer research projects in Cardiff, under academic staff supervision.


Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.