Chemistry with Year Abroad (MChem)

Entry year

This four-year MChem programme takes you to the heart of modern science and technology, embracing mathematics and physics on one hand, and medicine and the life sciences on the other.

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Course overview

MChem Chemistry with a Year Abroad aims to give you a detailed understanding of the knowledge and skills required to advance into a successful chemistry career, as well as a year working at a research laboratory abroad.

This flexible four-year course incorporates a major research project worth 60 credits in the final year, and a year spent working overseas at a research laboratory of another university or institution. During your time abroad in year three, you will continue with academic work and undertake an extended research project as part of a research group at the host institution. The entire year will be assessed as part of your degree.

Placements are offered globally, at partner institutions in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australasia.

A solid grounding across the whole subject of chemistry will be delivered, before you focus in depth on your specific areas of interest. This culminates in a major research project, working alongside subject experts within the School.

With more emphasis on analysis, synthesis and problem solving than BSc degrees, as well as significant opportunities to develop transferrable professional skills and gain experience living and working overseas, you can acquire all the attributes needed to be a self-sufficient working chemist.

Distinctive features

  • Learn about all aspects of chemistry during our common first and second year before specialising with optional specialist modules according to the interests you’ve developed.
  • Flexibility to transfer to a programme with a year in industry after our common first and second year.
  • Take part in research projects over the summer break working with leading researchers in the School.
  • Benefit from the School’s newly refurbished lecture facilities situated opposite the Students’ Union and close to city centre amenities.
  • Learn from staff who are world-renowned in their fields, for example our catalysis experts from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute.
  • Be eligible for full membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC) and a fast-track to Chartered Chemist (CChem) status (after relevant industrial experience)


UCAS code
Next intakeSeptember 2018
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with year abroad
Typical places availableThe School typically has around 170 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives around 600 applications.

Entry requirements

AAB - BBB including Chemistry with (where applicable) a pass in the practical element of the A level. Please note, General Studies will not be accepted.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

34 - 30 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.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Chemistry admissions criteria pages.

If 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.

You will require GCSE Maths at grade C or grade 4 and GCSE English or Welsh Language at grade C or grade 4. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

Tuition feeDeposit

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

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 (2018/19)

Tuition feeDeposit

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 and Medical and Dental courses. Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

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.

Course specific equipment

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, usually at enrolment. Chemical drawing software, ChemDraw is available on all university computers, and you will be able to download it to your own computers for free.


We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

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 2018 and this page will be updated by end of October 2018 to reflect the changes.

All our Chemistry degrees share a common first and second year. At the end of year one or two it is possible to transfer to the MChem Chemistry with a year in industry, or MChem Chemistry if you have achieved an adequate average grade in each of the first two years.

This four-year MChem course builds on the strong platform of the common first two years to explore particular areas in greater detail later on. This gives an enhanced level of insight and deeper knowledge on which to base your research and further study.

You will spend year three working overseas at the research laboratory of a partner university or other institution.

This degree has met the Royal Society of Chemistry requirements for accreditation, which means that MChem graduates are eligible for full membership of the Society (MRSC), and may apply for the title of Chartered Chemist (CChem) after further experience in a relevant job.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

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 can also take optional modules in disciplines such as Modern Languages, which is encouraged if you intend to spend year three in a non-English speaking country.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Forensic ChemistryCH211210 credits
Chemistry of the CosmosCH211510 credits
Mathematical Methods for ChemistryCH211610 credits
Environmental ChemistryCH211710 credits
Energy Resources and MaterialsCH211810 credits
Communicating ChemistryCH312010 credits

Year two

In year two, core material is rigorously developed across all of the main areas of chemistry through compulsory modules.

You may transfer to the three year BSc Chemistry course or the four year MChem Chemistry course at any point prior to the start of year three. If a placement in industry appeals to you instead, you need to register an interest by the start of year two, and transfer to the corresponding BSc or MChem course by the start of year three.  Advice and guidance in applying is given throughout that year. 

There are also opportunities for several students to undertake summer research projects in Cardiff, under staff supervision.

Year three: Sandwich year

Year three is spent at a university abroad, giving you the chance to experience the working practices and culture of a different country. Cardiff University currently has partner institutions in almost all European countries, as well as in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa and the USA. Your placement will be organised by the School depending on your interests and strengths, and we maintain close contact with you throughout your placement.

A research project supervised in the host institution but assessed primarily in Cardiff will form a significant part of your year abroad. You will also take a number of modules by 'distance learning' in inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. This ensures that you have covered the same core material as students spending year three in Cardiff.

Year four

A substantial year-long research project in an area of your choosing gives you the chance to develop and demonstrate new skills through research.  There are no compulsory theory modules in year four which will enable you to select available modules that match your interests.


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.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

We aim to provide an exceptional environment for chemical education and undergraduate degrees reflect our current research strengths and interests, 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, 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.


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, 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 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 the first three 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, typically with one specialist in each of the areas of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. The same 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 MChem Chemistry with a year abroad, you will undertake two research projects. One is conducted during the year abroad and the second takes the form of a 60 credit module in year four. This takes about two full days per week of both semesters, including planning, experimental work, analysis of results and reporting in a thesis. Working under the guidance of an expert in the field, you will present results of your work orally and in writing. This has even led to students co-authoring published papers.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




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 in the first two years, 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 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 future 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
  • reparation and display of posters.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 2

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 3

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 4

Written exams


Practical exams




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 electronically and in current research journals
  • 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, evidenced by the ability to plan and implement effective modes of working towards a goal relevant to current chemical understanding and/or industrial targets.
  • 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.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

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 2015/16, 91% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation. Employers included Intertek, Jones Environmental Forensics, One Scientific and Spofforths. Career destinations included development chemist, production technician, laboratory shift technician, portfolio manager, technical productions support, trainee accountant and science communicator.


On this course you will spend year three at a university abroad, giving you the chance to experience the working practices and culture of a different country. Cardiff University currently has partner institutions in almost all European countries, as well as in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa and the USA. Your placement will be organised by the School depending on your interests and strengths, and we maintain close contact with you throughout your placement.

A research project supervised in the host institution but assessed primarily in Cardiff will form a significant part of your year abroad. You will also take a number of modules by 'distance learning' in inorganic, organic, biological and physical chemistry. This ensures that you have covered the same core material as students spending year three in Cardiff.


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Wednesday 27 March




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