The Department of Chemistry is the largest in the western world. Each year some 180 chemists graduate after a four-year course which includes a year of research, and about 80 graduates receive doctorates.
Oxford is one of the leading chemistry research departments in the world with around 80 academic staff carrying out international-level research, and an annual research income of around £15 million. The latest (2008) Research Assessment Exercise confirmed that Oxford Chemistry has the highest ‘power rating’ (breadth and depth of science) in the UK. The department is currently engaged in a number of innovative areas of work including chemistry for measurement, drug discovery, energy, catalysis, nanochemistry, synthesis, atmospheric chemistry, synthetic biology and femtochemistry.
The department has an unrivalled track record in protecting and commercializing the innovative work of research staff. Tens of millions of pounds in cash has been raised for the University as a result of spin-out activities from research carried out by Oxford chemists. The school is housed in four laboratories, clustered together in the University’s Science Area, particularly close to the well-stocked Radcliffe Science Library. These include a state-of-the-art £65m research laboratory with unrivalled facilities, which opened in 2004.
The undergraduate course lasts four years, the fourth year (Part II) being devoted exclusively to research – a distinctive, long-standing feature of Chemistry at Oxford.
Chemistry is part of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, which also contains Computer Science, Earth Sciences (Geology), Engineering, Materials, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, Plant Sciences and Zoology, some of which are taught in combinations in joint courses. In the later stages of honour schools in Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, there are opportunities to take options in other subject areas: in Chemistry for example, it is possible to take History and Philosophy of Science or a language as supplementary subjects, usually in the second year.