School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Chemistry

Chemists play a vital role in tackling key societal challenges, including sustainability, health, energy and protecting the environment. To ensure our graduates can apply their chemistry, our course places problem solving, communication, and project management at the core of what we do. Taught by world-class researchers, our students gain both the academic knowledge and practical laboratory skills needed to be a professional chemist in a wide range of careers.

Final-year chemists working on their research project

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022*

The University of Plymouth has been named among the top 5% of universities globally in 2022 for its contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals*, in particular, work on marine issues and on climate change. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, sustainability is at the heart of our research and teaching. From sustainable cities, affordable and clean energy, to climate policy, biodiversity, and natural hazards, our academic staff work with partners locally and overseas to help understand, communicate and solve fundamental and pressing sustainability challenges.

Careers with this subject

The skills you learn during your degree make you very attractive to employers across a range of sectors. Although you could use your chemistry skills directly, in areas such as research and development within the pharmaceutical industry or in other laboratory-based analytical roles (for example within the brewing or food industries), many of our graduates choose to move into multi-disciplinary teams across the science, engineering, healthcare, environmental and technology sectors.
You could use your graduate-level skills in occupational areas as diverse as marketing, scientific writing, legal careers, IT, administration or finance. There may be opportunities to travel as many organisations, particularly those in the pharmaceutical industry, are global. A significant percentage of our graduates go on to postgraduate study, including masters and PhD positions, which can be a way of specialising and gaining valuable research skills. Teaching (both primary and secondary) is another option open to you.
Career opportunities
You’ll be offered a work placement module as a final year option so that you can gain first-hand experience with employers - we see this as a key driver for employability of our graduates. Upon graduation, you will be eligible for the professional qualification of through our accreditation by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Key features

  • Benefit from outstanding teaching – 100% of our students agreed the course is stimulating; they were challenged to achieve; built on skills and gained skills for the future. 94% of students said staff were good at explaining and that the subject is engaging (NSS, 2023).
  • Equip yourself for successful employment in a competitive job market – our focus on practical, professional skills means you graduate primed to enter the workplace.
  • Benefit from award-winning teaching in small groups and be inspired by staff who are world-leading researchers.
  • Hone your practical problem solving skills in our newly-refurbished laboratories, kitted out with the latest analytical instrumentation.
  • Our tutorial system ensures that you receive the support and guidance you need to reach your full potential.
  • 70% of assessment is based on coursework.
  • Experience chemistry in the real world and boost your employability by taking a placement, work-based project in your final year, or working alongside PhD and post-doctoral researchers in our high specification laboratories.
  • Graduate with in-demand skills for a range of career paths, from research and development in the pharmaceutical industry and lab-based roles in the food and energy industries, to positions in the science, engineering, healthcare, environmental or technology sectors.
  • Accredited by the , the professional body representing chemistry in the UK.
  • A diverse and respectful place in which to work and study is fundamental to everything we do. Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • In your first year, you’ll take part in workshops, lectures, tutorials and practical sessions, providing you with the essential skills and knowledge for a degree in chemistry. You’ll learn about core chemical principles and chemical problem solving, as well as IT and laboratory techniques. You’ll begin developing personal and professional skills to boost your employability in the science workplace.

    Core modules

    • Practice of Chemistry (CHM1011)

      Ignite your passion for Chemistry. Get hands-on as part of a team, be trained in practical techniques, develop your laboratory practice, and enhance your scientific communication skills. This module will support your transition to university level study whatever your background.

    • Solving Chemical Problems (CHM1014)

      This module introduces the application of fundamental theoretical chemical concepts and practical skills to well-defined chemical problems. It provides a basic introduction to research informed teaching via a series of research applications workshops, and starts to build employability with careers workshops.

    • Inorganic Chemistry (CHM1017)

      An exploration of atomic structure, relating the concepts of electron energy levels and atomic orbitals to real-world applications. Students will construct the periodic table, discussing its history, structure, and uncovering trends in elemental properties. Learn and apply bonding theory for simple molecules, metal complexes and crystal structures, through hands-on laboratory experimentation and analysis.

    • Organic Chemistry (CHM1019)

      Join us on a voyage of molecular discovery. In a series of hands-on lab sessions, workshops, and small group tutorials, you will explore the wonder of organic chemical reactions and gain a deep understanding of the concepts underpinning them.

    • Physical Chemistry (CHM1020)

      Further your ability to predict and model chemical parameters. Understand the states of matter, chemical kinetics, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics. Workshops will provide you with opportunities to investigate and ask probing questions, and lab sessions will train you in accurate observation and data collection.

    • Approaches to Data Analysis (CHM1021)

      Learn how computing, maths and chemistry interweave. Enhance your IT skills and gain a thoroughly supported experience using the programming language “R” to process, analyse and present environmental chemical data sets.

  • Year 2

  • Building on the theoretical and practical areas covered in your first year, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of organic, inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry. You’ll be trained in the use of advanced instrumentation and develop the skills and knowledge to tackle chemical problems in real-life contexts; laying the foundations for more extended projects. You’ll continue your personal and professional development, gaining problem solving and teamwork skills essential to the workplace.

    Core modules

    • Inorganic Chemistry (CHM2011)

      Develop an in-depth understanding of bonding in transition metal complexes. Apply ligand field theory to explain a diverse array of magnetic and electronic properties. Through an enhanced understanding of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, you will begin to rationalise the complexity of everyday natural processes and discover their beauty.

    • Organic Chemistry (CHM2012)

      Discover reaction pathways and understand how molecules rearrange themselves during a reaction. Learn the importance of the carbonyl (C=O) group in organic synthesis reactions. Use powerful spectroscopy techniques to identify organic molecules and their formulation. Enjoy plenty of hands-on, lab-based work on this module.

    • Physical Chemistry (CHM2013)

      Benefit from a series of interactive workshops and practical lab sessions which will explore how molecules behave quantum mechanically, thermodynamically, statistically, and electrochemically.

    • Research Skills (CHM2016)

      This module will develop research and professional skills within the context of chemical problems, including a business challenge, and prepare students for modules CHM3011 and CHM3012.

    • The Analytical Toolbox (CHM2017)

      Can you trust your data? Explore the importance of obtaining representative and reliable data using a series of case studies to apply fundamental theoretical concepts. During workshops, we will unpick robust approaches to sample collection, processing, and analysis. This will prepare you for your final year project and your future career. 100% coursework assessed.

    • Practical Environmental Chemistry (CHM2018)

      Enjoy an entirely practical-based module. We will take you into the field to collect samples and put into practice theoretical concepts you’ve already mastered. Gain experience using a range of modern instrumentation to gather large volumes of high-quality environmental data. 100% coursework assessed.

    • Placement Preparation (GEES2000)

      This module explores the role of placements, work experience and volunteering for enhancing employability whilst at university and as a future graduate. It considers placement options (types, durations) and supports students in developing applications and preparing for interviews.

  • Optional placement year

  • Core modules

    • Placement (GEES3000)

      This module is a placement position, where a student undertakes a programme of work within a host company or organisation. The placement occurs within a yearlong period, meeting minimum duration requirements. Students experience applying their degree, experience professional practice, develop enhanced subject-related knowledge and skills, and undergo personal-professional development.

  • Final year

  • Studying chemistry at an advanced level, you’ll explore contemporary chemical issues and focus on developing your skills to a professional standard. You’ll hone your practical skills and project management know-how by planning and undertaking a project with an internationally recognised research group, working with the latest instrumentation and paving your way for successful entry into your profession. There’s also an opportunity to experience a work-based learning placement within the industry.

    Core modules

    • Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (CHM3014)

      Study a selection of advanced inorganic chemistry topics related to current cutting-edge research areas (e.g. modern catalysis, materials chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry). Apply your knowledge, new skills and understanding to plan and deliver laboratory-based investigations and theoretical problem solving related to these research areas.

    • Advanced Organic Chemistry (CHM3015)

      How does organic chemistry work in our daily lives? What reactions go on in our bodies and how can we use this understanding to design effective medicines? What are the environmental effects of the organic molecules, such as pharmaceuticals, we make? Explore these questions in detail and unearth the fascinating world of enzyme chemistry and other essential molecules of life, such as steroids and terpenoids.

    • Advanced Physical Chemistry (CHM3016)

      Advanced theoretical and practical concepts in physical chemistry and materials characterisation techniques.

    • Frontiers in Analytical Science (CHM3020)

      Learn how to use modern and industrially relevant instrumentation, with guidance from expert staff. Workshops will allow you to explore the complimentary theory and look at the instrumentation of the future. This is a hands-on module, designed to give you the practical experience that employers are looking for.

    • Advanced Research Project (CHM3018)

      A research project, normally involving laboratory work, but which may also include fieldwork, on a topic relevant to the degree programme. Both independent research and collaborative team-work is linked to the development of skills appropriate to the management of the project and entry and success in the professional workplace.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Chemistry Programme Specification September 2024 6177

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 112

A level: A typical offer will be 104-112 points, minimum 3 A levels to include a grade C in chemistry. General studies is excluded.
BTEC RQF National Extended Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: DMM – science related including chemistry units.
BTEC National Diploma modules: If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.
International Baccalaureate: 26–27 overall to include grade 4 at higher level chemistry.
If you are an international student and not studying English within IB, you must have IELTS: 6.0 overall with 5.5 in all elements.
Access to HE Diploma: Pass an Access to HE Diploma with 33 level 3 credits at merit and/or distinction, which must include 15 level 3 credits in chemistry with merit. The remaining units should come from science related units. Suitable Diplomas might include science/combined studies/natural sciences/nursing.
T level: Merit: Science pathway, which must include Laboratory Sciences as the occupational specialism.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £16,300 £18,100
Part time (Home) £770 £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all undergraduate students completing any part of their placement year in the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,850.
The fee for all undergraduate students completing their whole placement year outside the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,385.
Learn more about placement year tuition fees

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).
UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code.
To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the .
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email


Chemistry is key in solving our current challenges because it studies the molecules that make up everything around us from the sand on the beach to the silicon chip that drives our smartphone. The chemistry course at Plymouth is designed to provide students with the skills and experience of modern chemical and analytical techniques that makes them so valuable to employers. Recent graduates are working in diverse fields such as environmental protection, energy and pharmaceuticals, contributing to making the world a better place.
Dr Hayley Manners
Programme Leader
Dr Hayley Manners
with a colleague on board the research vessel Chikyū, investigating life in the
deep biosphere
Dr Hayley Manners with a colleague on board the research vessel Chikyū, investigating life in the deep biosphere

Three years of chemistry in three minutes

Dr Roy Lowry explains what you can expect year by year when you study BSc (Hons) Chemistry at Plymouth.
If you want to join a practical degree that gives you excellent job prospects and uses small group teaching to make sure that every student is known and gets the experience they need, then choose chemistry at the University of Plymouth.

Additional information

Find out more about studying chemistry at Plymouth

Chemistry facilities - student using lab equipment

Chemistry facilities

Dr Roy Lowry, Associate Professor of Chemistry runs a YouTube channel designed to help teachers and students get to grips with the important concepts in chemistry.

Here is Roy explaining 'The Peculiar Atom'

Biogeochemistry Research Centre

Researching the environmental behaviour, fate and impact of nutrients, metals and pharmaceuticals in terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic systems.
The Biogeochemistry Research Centre comprises expert researchers and instrumentation, with acknowledged international leaders in organic geochemistry and environmental analytical chemistry and a strong focus on marine science and current and past ecosystems and climates.
Scientists working with a University of Plymouth team on sea ice in the Arctic (credit: Simon Belt/University of Plymouth)

Academic staff

*Royal Society of Chemistry accreditation