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Chemistry with a Placement Year Abroad (BSc)

Entry year

Spend a year working in a research laboratory abroad with one of our international university partners on this BSc Chemistry degree programme.

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Chemistry laboratory bench

Course overview

The BSc Chemistry with a Placement Year Abroad programme 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 programme 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 programme can be applied in broader working contexts such as business, teaching or research.

This is a four-year programme that incorporates a 9-12 month project in a placement provider overseas after you have completed year two, greatly adding to your value in the job market.  The course also includes an extensive project worth 30 credits in the final year.

Distinctive features

Working abroad will allow you to experience a different culture, expand your network and develop employability skills. This programme offers students who wish to spend a year overseas as part of their degree greater flexibility during the placement year to become immersed in local culture and a broader range of placement work than our MChem Chemistry with a Placement Year Abroad.

UCAS codeF106
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with year abroad

Entry requirements

AAB-ABB including Grade B in Chemistry with (where applicable) a pass in the practical element of the A-level. Please note that General Studies is not accepted for entry.

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.

DDM - DMM in BTEC in Applied Science.

30 - 34 points including Chemistry.

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


Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.


At least 90 overall with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

GCSE Maths grade C/4. GCSE English Language grade C/4 or an accepted English Language equivalent

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page 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

All coursework is submitted electronically, and all the laboratory equipment and software required is available to students without charge.

Students will be expected to cover additional costs associated with the placement, including travel, subsistence and visa costs. Students may be required to cover the cost of additional insurance.

Course specific equipment

All students are issued with a laboratory coat, safety glasses, molecular modelling kit and laboratory notebook at enrolment.


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 2020 and this page will be updated by end of October 2020 to reflect the changes.

All our Chemistry degrees share a common first and second year. Transferring to BSc Chemistry or BSc Chemistry with a Year in Industry is possible at the end of year one or two. Transferring to a MChem programme is also an option, if your overall average mark is 55% or better.

Most compulsory modules in years one and two are worth 20 credits, and run over the whole academic year.  Optional modules are usually worth 10 credits and last a single semester. 

Currently, in year one you 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. Year three is the placement year.

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

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.

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 other disciplines, with ones in a wide range of European and Asian languages being available. Students wishing to apply for a placement abroad must achieve 120 credits in Year 1 with an average of at least 55% overall.

Year two

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

Application advice and guidance regarding overseas placements is given throughout the year.  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.

Year three: Sandwich year

You will spend year three on placement overseas, undertaking a project under the supervision of an English-speaking member of staff at the placement provider. The School will help you to find a placement related to your interests and strengths, and we will maintain close contact with you throughout your placement.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Placement Year AbroadCH9998120 credits

Year four

In year four you will take a compulsory theory module in the four main branches of the subject (biological, inorganic, organic and physical) in the autumn semester and select from a range of optional modules in the spring semester.  Practical work consists of a laboratory-based module in the autumn semester, followed by a supervised research project in the Spring semester.

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?

A major part of the programme is delivered through lectures, typically 10-12 lectures weekly, each of 50 minutes duration.  These are supported in various ways, according to the nature of the topic, by slides, computer presentations, videos, overhead transparencies and course summaries provided electronically through the virtual learning environment.

The second major part of teaching consists of the practical classes, again typically averaging about 10-12 hours each week. In the first two years, some practical work is associated with most core modules, and this provides experience in all the main laboratory procedures and techniques across chemistry. In the Autumn semester of the Final Year there is more advanced practical work in a module arranged specifically for this. The practical classes follow a defined sequence, which begins with basic techniques, and progresses towards substantial experiments requiring planning, analysis and interpretation of results, and reporting to a professional standard. In the Spring semester of the Final Year students undertake an open ended project under the supervision of a member of academic staff. Students are expected to devote approximately 12 hours per week to work associated with the project.  The project will require students to manage their own learning and to apply and extend their understanding of chemistry. The training through the four years of the programme is designed to extend each student steadily, from being a new student to being a practising chemist.

Tutorial classes in small groups (typically of 9 students) are given each week in each year (except during the overseas placement). This is to allow practice, discussion and analysis of the material presented in lectures, and to provide opportunity for developing key skills of communication.

The final form of teaching is through workshops. These take various forms in different parts of the curriculum, but are essentially classes to develop skills, both chemically related skills practising the use of important principles, and key skills in communication, presentation and debate. Workshops are attached to many of the modules throughout the three years in Cardiff, and they are particularly significant in modules designed to promote critical analysis, judgement and skills of oral presentation and argument.

Students on the BSc Chemistry with a Placement Year Abroad programme spend the third year away undertaking a project under the supervision of a member of staff in the placement provider.  During this year their performance will be monitored, and at the end of the placement they have to submit a written report, reflective review, and a short video.

How will I be supported?

Every student will have three academic tutors, one of whom will also act as Personal Tutor, and will see one of his/her tutors every week whilst studying in Cardiff, either as part of a small tutorial group, or on a one-to-one basis in a personal tutorial.

The School’s overseas placement coordinator will assist students in finding a suitable project supervisor matching their research interests in the institution or country of their choice.

During the placement year students will work under the supervision of a member of staff in the placement provider.  The supervisor will select the topic of the project, and ensure that the student receives appropriate training and support while on placement.  Students will also be assigned a member of staff in Cardiff as a “Mentor”, who will usually have been the student’s Personal Tutor in the previous two years.  The role of the mentor will be to provide a source of help for general problems that may not be related directly to the work, and to monitor the well-being and progress of the student through regular email/telephone communications at least monthly.

Students will be provided with a printed copy of a comprehensive handbook, which contains all the key information relating to the School’s procedures and policies.

Extensive use will be made of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (Learning Central) for the dissemination of information.  In particular, marks for in-course assessment will be available via Learning Central within three weeks of the deadline for submission.

How will I be assessed?

Formative and summative assessments are carried out throughout each year of study. The purpose of these is to provide a measure of performance to inform students, staff and future employers about progress and achievement, but also to assist with the learning process by highlighting areas of success and areas needing more attention. The assessment procedures for the BSc Chemistry with a Placement Year Abroad programme involve a range of methods, as detailed below, and are selected to match the assessment to the particular outcomes of each module and the programme as a whole.

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

Some of these activities involve group working, providing an opportunity to judge performance as a group member.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate systematic knowledge and a critical comprehensive understanding of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to the subject area of chemistry. Specifically,

  • Chemical terminology, nomenclature, conventions and units.
  • The structural and stereochemical features of chemical elements and their compounds, including conformational analysis.
  • The characteristic properties and behaviour of elements and their compounds including group relationships and trends within the Periodic Table.
  • The principles and procedures used in chemical analysis and the characterisation of chemical compounds, including the application of spectroscopies to the determination of structure and properties of chemical entities.
  • The properties of the different states of matter and the theories used to describe them, and the relation between bulk properties and the properties of individual atoms, molecules and functional groups, including macromolecules.
  • The role of energy changes in chemical systems, including knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics and the ability to use quantitative methods to account for energy changes in chemical systems.
  • The factors that affect the rate of chemical change, the way in which they influence the rate and the use of mechanistic understanding to explain the course of chemical reactions.
  • The basic principles of quantum mechanics and their application to the description of the structure and properties of atoms and molecules, and an understanding of the theories of bonding and their applications.
  • The major types of chemical reaction and the main characteristics associated with them.
  • The properties and reactions of inorganic, organic, organometallic and coordination compounds.
  • Major pathways in synthetic chemistry, including functional group interconversions and bond formation, and the idea of retro-synthetic analysis.
  • The structures and chemical reactivity of the principal classes of biomolecule.
  • Awareness of major issues at the frontiers of chemical research.
  • Gain knowledge of a specialised project in an overseas placement provider.
  • Mathematical knowledge in basic algebra and calculus and numerical manipulation appropriate for the analysis and evaluation of chemical problems.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • apply knowledge and understanding of the subject areas identified above to the solution of qualitative and quantitative problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature.
  • recognise and analyse novel problems and strategies, criticise techniques applicable to their own advanced scholarship, and plan strategies for their solution.

Professional Practical Skills:

  • handle chemical materials safely, taking account of physical and chemical properties, assessing risk for experimental procedures and chemical substances and reporting specific hazards associated with their use.
  • carry out standard laboratory procedures for preparation, purification, and analysis of a range of substances, and use appropriate instrumental techniques for their study.
  • operate standard and advanced chemical instruments, such as those used for structural investigation and separation.
  • monitor chemical properties or changes, by observation and measurement, and record, in a systematic and reliable fashion, documentation relating to these events in a manner appropriate for a professional chemist working in an academic or industrial situation.
  • research, review, plan, design and execute practical investigations, select appropriate procedures from literature and knowledge, and proceed from the problem-recognition stage through to the evaluation and critical appraisal of results with subsequent suggestion of approaches to address shortfalls in current findings.
  • interpret data derived from laboratory observations and measurements in terms of their current significance and the theory underlying them, to assess their significance and place in context.
  • plan, recognise and implement good measurement science and practice across a wide range of chemistry.
  • present scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly, in writing and orally, to a range of audiences including peer-reviewed chemistry journals, research seminars and colloquia.
  • demonstrate computational, data-processing skills and electronic searching skills, relating to chemical information, data and the primary literature.
  • produce written work, give presentations in, and participate in team work in the style and format of the overseas placement provider.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

  • communicate orally and in writing.
  • adapt to living and working outside the UK.
  • show awareness of a culture outside the UK.
  • evaluate, interpret, manipulate and synthesise chemical information and data.
  • apply information technology such as word processing, spreadsheets, data-logging and storage, web communication and chemical drawing packages.
  • interact with other people from different cultures and engage in team-working in the UK and overseas.
  • plan and implement projects working towards a goal relevant to current chemical understanding and/or industrial targets.
  • independently identify and undertake study needed for continuing professional development.

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, and the additional skills gained through the year abroad will enhance your employability whatever your chosen career.


Placements are available on every continent around the world at one of our many partner placement providers.


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Spring 2020




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How to apply