Study chemistry at university

What is chemistry?

Chemistry is the study of the properties of substances and interactions with energy. It is the study of how inorganic and organic substances combine or separate to form other substances.

Chemistry combines aspects of other areas of science, such as biology and physics, to study the properties of natural and man-made materials, discovering already existing chemicals as well as creating new ones.

Everything around us is chemical, and advancements in chemistry help us to create new medicines, new materials and new sources of energy to improve our way of life.

There are many different fields of chemistry, focusing on unique areas. Some of the major fields of chemistry include:

  • Analytical chemistry – Works to determine what matter is, using instruments and methods to identify and quantify it.
  • Biochemistry – Studies the chemical processes within and related to living organisms.
  • Organic or inorganic chemistry – Studies the behaviour, structure, properties and reactions of inorganic or organic compounds and materials.
  • Physical chemistry – Applies physics to the study of chemistry to learn how chemical reactions occur and the physical properties of molecules.

Why study chemistry?

There are a number of benefits to studying chemistry at university:

We are surrounded by chemicals and chemical processes. From the air we breathe to the food we buy, chemistry is a crucial part of our everyday lives. From studying chemistry you will learn how stuff works, how it is made and generally develop a better understanding of life.

Chemistry can work to make everyone’s life easier. Through the development of new chemicals, new materials and chemical reactions, chemistry can lead to discoveries and creations that can constantly improve our way of life and provide the answers to countless fundamental questions – such as new medicines and sustainable materials.

Understanding the complex chemical reactions which help make up our world are key to helping to protect the environment from harmful human activities. Chemistry can help with advancements in areas such as energy storage and electric vehicles to help protect and preserve the natural world.

Why study chemistry at Durham University?

With one of the best chemistry departments in the UK (top UK chemistry department for research impact, REF 2014), Durham University makes a fantastic option to study an undergraduate degree in chemistry.

You will benefit from superb facilities throughout your studies. Three new teaching laboratories offer a range of modern equipment and you will also be taught how to use more advanced research instrumentation, including Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometry.

You will be taught by internationally renowned academics through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and laboratory work. You will also have the opportunity to join the University’s student chemical society, which is ideal for out-of-class learning.

5th in the UK

for Chemistry in the UK in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020

Top 100 for Chemistry

in the world in QS World University Rankings 2019

Key skills from studying Chemistry

  • Project and time management
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Research
  • Data handling and analysis
  • Problem solving
  • Report writing
  • Decision making

What chemistry degree can I study at Durham University?

If you are looking to study chemistry at Durham University then BSc (Hons) Chemistry is a great option. This three-year course covers core chemistry as well as giving you the opportunity to choose optional modules.

You will study a range of core modules that, in the past, have included inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. You will also study mathematical and physical concepts as tools for chemistry and learn the basics of biology and physics.

Degree preparation at the International Study Centre

Prepare for your chemistry degree at Durham University with our International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering. Studying at the International Study Centre is the perfect way to prepare for your undergraduate degree.

You will learn key academic and English skills that will prepare you for success, not only during your degree but also for your future career.

International student Nutta sits on wall outside Durham University building

I wanted to be a doctor at first but a doctor would be too hard for me, so the next thing after being a doctor is to be a scientist. Doing chemistry, you get to discover a lot of things, especially when chemistry is very much related to in the area of medicine. So it's still interlinked because even if I don't become a doctor, I'm still a drug maker and helping people at the same time.

Nutta-uea from Thailand

Studied International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering

Now studying BSc (Hons) Chemistry

Chemistry career opportunities

With a degree in chemistry you will have plenty of directly related career opportunities. Whether you want to continue into further education and specialise in a field of chemistry or go into a research or field role, you will have a range of options.

Some of the jobs you could follow include:

  • Toxicologist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Chemical engineer
  • Pharmacologist
  • Research scientist
  • Nanotechnologist

Why study science?

Science labs at Durham University