Chemistry | University of Oxford
Chemistry
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Chemistry

mortar boardUCAS codeF100calendarDuration4 years (MChem)
pencilEntrance requirements

A*A*A (with both A*s in science subjects and/or Maths)

HeadSubject requirements  Chemistry and Maths
  Another science or Further Maths
tickAdmissions test(s)ox.ac.uk/tsa (Section 1)crossWritten workNone
bar chartAdmissions statistics*

Interviewed: 91%
Successful: 29%
Intake: 178
*3-year average 2016-18

phoneContact

+44 (0) 1865 272568
Email Chemistry

Subject requirements:       Essential       Recommended       Helpful – may be useful on course

Chemistry is a wide-ranging science concerned with matter at the atomic and molecular scale. Important aspects are synthesis, structure, reaction mechanisms, properties, analysis and transformations of all types of materials.

Chemists are a constant source of innovation: it is hard to imagine any product introduced in recent times that did not require the creative efforts of a chemist. Chemistry underpins the conceptual framework and methodology of biochemistry and molecular medicine and is at the heart of many major industries.

Teaching and research are closely linked on the course: Oxford has one of the leading chemistry departments in the world with state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories and world-class research in a broad range of areas including: synthesis and catalysis; medicinal and biological chemistry; sustainable energy; advanced materials; innovative measurement; and theoretical and computational chemistry. Students starting in 2020 will be taught an exciting new practical course in our recently-built lab. The department has an outstanding track record in commercialising the innovative work of research staff, which has raised millions of pounds for the University.

The MChem is a four-year course and is not modular, in the sense that the subject is taught and examined as a whole, enabling us to explore the links within the subject. The core material is taken by all students, with opportunities to specialise later in the course. The fourth year (Part II) is devoted exclusively to research – a distinctive feature of Chemistry at Oxford since 1916.

Work placements/international opportunities

The fourth year (Part II) of the course involves full-time work within an established research group, which offers the possibility for a few students to spend time at laboratories in industry or at universities abroad. Many students find work placements during vacations through the Careers Service and there are some opportunities within the department.

 Chemistry Building Students at a lecture Student in a lab
“We study organic, inorganic and physical chemistry as well as maths. The topics we study range from quantum mechanics, to the applications of superconductors, to biochemical warfare and drug targets. The department is one of the best in the world, with many top research chemists. It’s amazing how often we have lectures or tutorials given by the authors of the textbooks we use!”
ABIGAIL
“The great thing about Chemistry is that you learn about the fundamental aspects of the world we live in. Some of the biggest problems that face humanity are solved – via medicine, or via social and economic improvements – by the discoveries made by chemists.”
JACK
“The best things [were often] the other students - when I joined the committee of the Scientific Society, I wasn't sure that I would ever know as much as the older students about the scientific community across all fields in the UK. Over the past two years, I've been able to meet and talk at length with some of the best-known scientists in the UK and beyond, including invaluable contacts in my own field who I've kept in contact with ever since.”
NESSA

A typical week (Years 1–3)

  • About ten lectures (9am and 10am)
  • One or two tutorials in your college with set work to be completed in your own time
  • Two afternoons of laboratory work (11am to 5pm)
  • A problems class, eg a mathematics class in the first year

Tutorials are usually 2-4 students with a tutor. Class sizes may vary but would usually be no more than around 15 students and can be as small as four. Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by academic staff who are members of the department. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.

Part II (Year 4)

Part II (the fourth year) involves full-time work with an established research group.  Devoting the fourth year exclusively to research has been a distinctive feature of Chemistry at Oxford since 1916 and this will give you research skills that are highly valued by both academics and employers. This final research year of the Chemistry course has three extended terms of 12 to 13 weeks (instead of the normal eight weeks) and is 38 weeks in total. 

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

Course structure

YEAR 1
COURSES
  • Four courses are taken:
    • Inorganic chemistry
    • Physical chemistry
    • Organic chemistry
    • Mathematics for chemistry

ASSESSMENT

First University examinations: four written papers; satisfactory practical record

YEAR 2

COURSES

  • Core material, including courses on:
    • Theoretical chemistry
    • Biological chemistry
    • Molecular spectroscopy
    • Synthetic chemistry
  • Practical work
  • Optional supplementary subject course

ASSESSMENT

Part IA examinations: three written papers; continuous assessment of practicals but overall results are not calculated until the end of the Year 3

YEAR 3

COURSES

  • Further core material, plus advanced courses with a choice from a wide variety of options
  • Optional supplementary subject course

ASSESSMENT

Part IB examinations: seven written papers; continuous assessment of practicals

YEAR 4 (EXTENDED TERMS)

RESEARCH

  • Full-time research under the supervision of a member of the academic staff
  • Optional supplementary subject course

ASSESSMENT

Part II examination: dissertation; oral examination; determination of the class of honours degree

The practical element of this course is currently under review. Up-to-date details on any course changes can be found on the Chemistry website.

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Academic requirements

A-levels:A*A*A (including Chemistry and Mathematics) with both A*s in science subjects and/or Mathematics. See the full list of subjects in which an A* grade will be acceptable.
Advanced Highers:AA/AAB (including Chemistry and Mathematics)
IB:40 (including core points) with 7 in HL Chemistry and EITHER 6/7 in HL Mathematics, OR 7 in SL Mathematics (Analysis & Approaches) plus a second science with 7 in HL
Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Subject requirements

 Essential:  Candidates are required to have Chemistry and Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, or Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. In IB, Mathematics 7 at SL is also acceptable only where students have taken Analysis & Approaches.
 Recommended: An additional science or Further Mathematics are also recommended.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Applying

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written test

Test: TSA (S1)
Test date: 30 October 2019
Registration deadline:  6pm 15 October 2019                                                                                                                                             

All candidates must take the Thinking Skills Assessment: Section 1 (TSA S1).  Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline. Everything you need to know, including guidance on registration and preparation, can be found on the TSA page. 

Written work

You do not need to submit any written work when you apply for this course.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors are looking for evidence of academic excellence and motivation, as well as the potential for advanced study, a capacity to analyse, explain and apply current knowledge, and a readiness to have a go at problems even when you cannot see how.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Chemistry website.

Careers

Chemistry provides an excellent opportunity for the development of your critical faculties and intellect, and also instils important transferable skills that will serve you well, whatever your subsequent choice of career. While about 55% of our Chemistry graduates go on to do research or further study, others enter professions such as scientific journalism, consultancy, patent law and teaching. Long term, more than half our graduates remain in posts related to chemistry in some way. The Royal Society of Chemistry provides further information about careers using chemistry: www.rsc.org.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in 2020 can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in 2020 is available here.

The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in 2020.

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2020.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£9,250
Overseas£36,065

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2020 are estimated to be between £1,135 and £1,650 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2020 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to UK and EU students with a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to UK students from households with incomes of £27,500 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Chemistry

Students in their fourth year undertake full-time research under the supervision of a member of the academic staff. This final year has three extended terms of 12 to 13 weeks and is 38 weeks in total, so you will need to budget for higher living costs in the final year, as you will be required to be in Oxford for longer than the standard terms. (See the likely range of living costs for an additional month in Oxford.) This final year, which is entirely devoted to research, is a unique feature of the Oxford course, and will give you research skills that are highly valued by both academics and employers.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provides applicants with statistics about undergraduate life at Oxford. But there is so much more to an Oxford degree that the numbers can’t convey.

The Oxford tutorial

College tutorials are central to teaching at Oxford. Typically, they take place in your college and are led by your academic tutor(s) who teach as well as do their own research. Students will also receive teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. However, tutorials offer a level of personalised attention from academic experts unavailable at most universities.

During tutorials (normally lasting an hour), college subject tutors will give you and one or two tutorial partners feedback on prepared work and cover a topic in depth. The other student(s) in your college tutorials will be from your year group, doing the same course as you and will normally be at your college. Such regular and rigorous academic discussion develops and facilitates learning in a way that isn’t possible through lectures alone. Tutorials also allow for close progress monitoring so tutors can quickly provide additional support if necessary.

Read more about tutorials and an Oxford education

College life

Our colleges are at the heart of Oxford’s reputation as one of the best universities in the world.

  • At Oxford, everyone is a member of a college as well as their subject department(s) and the University. Students therefore have both the benefits of belonging to a large, renowned institution and to a small and friendly academic community. Each college or hall is made up of academic and support staff, and students. Colleges provide a safe, supportive environment leaving you free to focus on your studies, enjoy time with friends and make the most of the huge variety of opportunities.
  • Each college has a unique character, but generally their facilities are similar. Each one, large or small, will have the following essential facilities:
    • Porters’ lodge (a staffed entrance and reception)
    • Dining hall
    • Lending library (often open 24/7 in term time)
    • Student accommodation
    • Tutors’ teaching rooms
    • Chapel and/or music rooms
    • Laundry
    • Green spaces
    • Common room (known as the JCR).
  • All first year students are offered college accommodation either on the main site of their college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here, all of this is organised for you before you arrive.
  • All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation and some offer it for the entire duration of your degree. You may choose to take up the option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year – perhaps because you want to live with friends from other colleges.
  • While college academic tutors primarily support your academic development, you can also ask their advice on other things. Lots of other college staff including welfare officers help students settle in and are available to offer guidance on practical or health matters. Current students also actively support students in earlier years, sometimes as part of a college ‘family’ or as peer supporters trained by the University’s Counselling Service.

More about Oxford colleges and how you choose