Skip to main content

Catalysis (MSc)

Build a sound foundation in catalysis theory and applications with Cardiff Catalysis Institute, one of the world’s leading centres for catalysis.


Catalysis lies at the heart of many chemical processes, from living systems to large-scale industrial reactors. By understanding and applying catalysts, we can create faster, cleaner, economical and more sustainable processes. With roughly 85% of all products manufactured involve catalysis somewhere in their production chain, career prospects for graduates with specialist knowledge in catalysis are strong.

This course will provide you with a sound foundation in catalysis theory and its applications. You will be trained to use a range of laboratory equipment and techniques for testing and characterising catalysts. We will explore three branches of catalysis – heterogeneous, homogeneous and biological – and you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in the area that interests you through a major research project.

A selection of current research and projects within the Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) include gold catalysis and exploring the use of biorenewables to transform waste into fuel.

Distinctive features

  • Specialise in heterogeneous, homogeneous or biological catalysis and develop a wide range of transferable skills through your research project.
  • Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • Our School of Chemistry is ranked 9th in the UK in the most recent REF cycle.
  • Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) is recognised as a world-leading centre for catalysis.
  • The CCI’s new high-tech home in the University’s Translational Research Facility is due to open in 2021.
  • Cardiff University has invested over £20 million in our Chemistry research facilities
  • Our research partners range from local and national SMEs to some of the world's largest multinationals.
Joseph, 2017

One of the many reasons I chose to study the MSc Catalysis course at Cardiff University is the Cardiff Catalysis Institute. The CCI is a world renowned centre for research offering degrees that give you the freedom to investigate a cutting-edge topic in depth amongst leading researchers with truly first-class facilities. The course is taught by experts in their fields, bringing in-depth knowledge and heaps of enthusiasm. The chemistry department itself is fantastically organised, providing support from the moment the course begins.

Joseph, 2017

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration1 year
Other ways to study this course
AccreditationsRoyal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

Admissions criteria

The programme is suitable for applicants that hold a minimum 2:2 degree or equivalent, in chemistry or a related discipline such as chemical engineering, physics, pharmacy, pharmacology and biochemistry. Applicants with a degree in a subject other than chemistry will be required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key chemical topics prior to an offer being made.

Entry to courses in chemistry will be subject to the University requirements for English language.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

When you are applying for this course, please include information on why you are interested in catalysis in your personal statement. Specific details such as your future aspirations, and how your educational or professional background makes you a suitable applicant are welcomed. We do not accept generic statements.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

structure tab

This course may be taken on a one-year full-time or three-year part-time basis.

There are two parts to the degree. Part one is comprised of core and optional taught modules which you will take during the autumn and spring semesters. In these modules we will provide you with a foundation in the theory of heterogeneous, homogeneous and biological catalysis. Optional modules will allow you to specialise in your area of interest.

On progression to part two, you will carry out a summer research project in our research laboratories or one of our partner universities. We will make a range of project options available to you from the three areas of catalysis, molecular modelling, or computational chemistry.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

If you are on the one-year full-time degree option, you will undertake all modules and your research project in one year.

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.
Catalysis learning tab

How will I be taught?

The methods of teaching we employ will vary from module to module, as appropriate depending on the subject matter and the method of assessment. We teach using a mixture of lectures, workshops, tutorials, practicals and self-directed learning.

Your research project will be carried out in research laboratories under the supervision of an academic member of staff with interests in a similar field.

Modules relating to computing frequently take place in our computer rooms, while practical work and your research project will be undertaken in our laboratories.

Students will also benefit of the weekly seminars organised by the School of Chemistry, where leading experts in various scientific fields are invited to present their work.

How will I be supported?

All of our students are allocated a personal tutor when they enrol on the course. A personal tutor is there to support you during your studies, and can advise you on academic and personal matters that may be affecting you. You should have regular meetings with your personal tutor to ensure that you are fully supported. Many of our staff operate an open door policy and meetings can be arranged at mutually convenient times to discuss your work.

You will have access to the Science Library, which holds our collection of chemistry resources, as well as to the other Cardiff University Libraries. In addition to the library facilities the University has extensive electronic resources of textbooks and research journals that can be accessed online.


We offer written and oral feedback, depending on the coursework or assessment you have undertaken. You will usually receive your feedback from the module leader. If you have questions regarding your feedback, module leaders are usually happy to give advice and guidance on your progress.

How will I be assessed?

Taught modules are assessed in a variety of different ways depending on the module content and learning outcomes (found in the module descriptions). We use course work, assessed workshops, presentations and examinations or a combination of these to assess your progress on the course.

Your research project at the end of the course will be assessed through a dissertation, a presentation, and an oral exam.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On completing the course you should be able to:

  • Understand the theory, application, preparation and analysis of catalysis to a level that is appropriate for graduates in chemistry or chemical engineering wishing to pursue a career in academia or industry;
  • Use and apply mathematics at an appropriate level to solve problems in catalysis;
  • Work within a team to research solutions to unsolved problems in catalysis;
  • Present research work to peers in both oral and written format;
  • Discuss the applications catalysts have in various processes such as oxidation and pollution control/clean-up;
  • Understand the mechanism of action of a variety of transition-metal-based homogeneous catalysts and apply this knowledge to unseen problems;
  • Understand how changes to ligands relate to the properties of homogeneous catalysts and use this knowledge in the design of new catalysts;
  • Reproduce the basic structures of various types of whole cells used in fermentation-based biocatalysis and know the major advantages and drawbacks of this type of catalysis;
  • Reproduce the basic structures of the major macromolecules necessary for biocatalysis to take place – namely proteins and ribonucleic acids;
  • Understand how biocatalyst structure, functional groups and solution conditions interrelate and know the major advantages and limitations of purified non-whole cell biocatalysts;
  • Relate modern methods for the preparation, purification, evolution and application of biocatalysts;
  • Use molecular modelling to explore catalysis from surfaces, through molecular homogeneous catalysts to enzyme structure and function;
  • Discuss how modern catalytic methods are applied and can drive the future of a more sustainable chemical industry.
Anisa Tariq, MSc Catalysis

Cardiff is a beautiful city and having lived here all my life I know how much the University has developed over the years, especially in research. The MSc Catalysis course is exemplary; despite my pharmaceutical science background I have been able to build my knowledge and practical skills on the subject thoroughly through the various modules taught on the programme and it has prepared me well for work in industry and towards a career in research. Having the opportunity to work with renowned professors in the field and at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute – the leading catalysis facility in the UK – makes me very proud and I hope I will be able to contribute further to the success of the department and make the most of what Cardiff University has to offer.

Anisa TariqMSc Catalysis

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2020/21 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 2020/21 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.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

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.

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

We will provide you with safety glasses and a lab coat to work in our laboratories, molecular models and any other equipment that is essential to the course. However, we recommend that you bring a laptop computer with appropriate software (e.g. word processing), USB or a hard drive, general stationary and some basic drawing equipment.

The chemical drawing software used in our teaching (ChemDraw) is available on university networked computers, and will be made available to you for download free of charge. The University will also provide you with access to software for word processing and data analysis as well as access to Scifinder and Web of Knowledge for searching the scientific and patent literature.

During the course, you will have access to the Science Library, and other University libraries, and study spaces across campus. Within the School, you may work in our laboratories and computing suites.

Our graduates are in high demand across many industries. Some choose the chemical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, as well as careers in regulatory affairs, health and safety, intellectual property and patents. Many of our students go on to pursue research-related roles within public and private research institutions, academic institutions, or consulting services.

You might meet our graduates working for companies including Johnson Matthey, Thales, Hexion, BAE Systems in the UK, as well as international companies such as Haldor Topsøe, Denmark and the National Science and Technology Development Agency in Thailand.

This course is also particularly suitable for those wishing to pursue further study at PhD level at Cardiff University and other top universities.

placement tab

There is the opportunity to undertake the research project overseas in one of our partner institutions allowing you to expand your range of chemistry knowledge, laboratory skills and professional network.