Chemistry with a Preliminary Year (BSc)

Entry year

2017 2018

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

This BSc degree is designed to give you a broad education in chemistry and, in addition, to supply you with a wide range of research, mathematical and computational skills, with practical training an essential element. 

This four-year course is designed for students who are unable to meet the requirements for admission to year one of the BSc Chemistry course, providing the academic background needed for a science degree.  Upon completion of the preliminary year, you will automatically progress into year one of the BSc Chemistry degree programme.

The programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and is suitable not only for students who want to progress to a career in chemistry or related disciplines, but also those who wish to use the framework of knowledge and skills obtained in a wider context, such as in business or administration. 

Distinctive features

  • This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • 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.

Key facts

UCAS CodeF105
Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
AccreditationsRoyal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Typical places availablePlease contact the School for information.
Typical applications receivedPlease contact the School for information.
Admissions tutor(s)

Entry requirements

Typical A level offerApplicants for this course are from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, so all offers are based on each individuals merits. We encourage all applications from those whom have non-standard qualifications and grades (e.g. Open University, ACCESS, NVQ etc).
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerApplicants for this course are from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, so all offers are based on each individuals merits. We encourage all applications from those whom have non-standard qualifications and grades (e.g. Open University, ACCESS, NVQ etc).
Typical International Baccalaureate offerApplicants for this course are from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, so all offers are based on each individuals merits. We encourage all applications from those whom have non-standard qualifications and grades (e.g. Open University, ACCESS, NVQ etc).
Alternative qualificationsAlternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Chemistry admissions criteria pages.
English Language requirementsIf you are an overseas applicant and your first language is not English, please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our accepted qualifications.
Other requirementsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

We are currently working with our students to update and improve the content of this course. The information shown below reflects the current curriculum and is likely to change. The review of the course is expected to be completed by August 2017 and this page will be updated by end of October 2017 to reflect the changes.

The Chemistry BSc with a Preliminary Year is a four-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 will be required to take a ‘Mathematical Methods’ module and if you do not have A-level Biology, you will be required to take a ‘Chemical Biology’ module as part of your options. After the preliminary year, 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 allowed if you have achieved an adequate average grade in each of the first two years.

Modules across the first two years usually incorporate lectures and practical work.

In year three practical work constitutes a separate module, taken in the autumn semester.  This is followed by a research project in the spring semester.  You take a compulsory theory module in each branch of the subject and choose from a range of options.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2017.

Preliminary year

The preliminary year course includes modules in Biosciences, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Your modules will depend on your academic background and discussions with staff at enrolment.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Cells and the Chemistry of LifeBI000110 credits
Genetics, Evolution and DiversityBI000210 credits
Nutrition, Transport and SignallingBI000410 credits
The Way The Body WorksBI000510 credits
Medical Imaging and The Human BodyCE396810 credits
Disease in The Developing WorldCE419010 credits
Preliminary Mathematics IMA000310 credits
Preliminary Mathematics IIMA000410 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits

Year one

Our year one modules will stimulate your interest in the subject, while giving a solid knowledge base to build upon in the following years. Five 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 can also take optional modules in disciplines such as Biological Sciences, Physics or Modern Languages.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Forensic ChemistryCH211210 credits
Chemistry of the CosmosCH211510 credits
Mathematical Methods For ChemistryCH211610 credits
Environmental ChemistryCH211710 credits
Energy Resources and MaterialsCH211810 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits

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.

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 options.

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

Teaching is undertaken through a series of lectures, tutorials, workshops and practical classes. All of these are supported by material hosted on our intranet system, Learning Central.


The major element of staff 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, overhead transparencies, 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. Electronic resources help you understand theory and practical application of spectroscopic techniques.

Laboratory work progresses towards substantial experiments which need careful planning, analysis and interpretation of results, as well as professional standard reporting. Practical work is integrated into each core module in the first two years, providing experience in all the main laboratory procedures and techniques. Training is designed progressively to extend your level of proficiency in practical chemistry, preparing you to undertake an independent research project at the end 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. One will also be designated as your personal tutor, but all staff operate an open door policy, meaning you can always approach staff with issues, academic or otherwise.

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 internationally recognised 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.


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

Other information

If you achieve at least 55% overall in year two, you will have the chance to transfer to an MChem course before the start of year three. 

If an industry placement is attractive to you, you will 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.

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

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.


  • Healthcare Assistant
  • Trainee Chemistry Teacher
  • Health and Safety Assistant
  • Trainee Accountant

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding 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 (2017/18)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

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. Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

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. At enrolment 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.

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