Undergraduate degree course/programme Chemistry BSc F100:
As the central science, Chemistry is responsible for many of the most important breakthroughs in science. In taking some of the world's most exciting ideas and discoveries and turning these into innovative processes and products, its potential to improve our everyday lives is enormous.
Study Chemistry at Birmingham and you will join one of the UK's leading departments and have access to some of the best research facilities in the country. Throughout your time with us, you will be constantly challenged as you push forwards the boundaries of your understanding, all within a supportive learning environment. By the time you graduate, you will be ready to forge an exciting career that shapes the future of science and society.
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“I really wanted to study abroad and choose the University of Birmingham because of the beautiful campus and it was positioned highly in the league tables. I’ve definitely improved my English speaking skills as well as just general skills of living abroad. I’ve had to get used to a completely new environment, which can be slightly scary in the beginning but it is exciting and a great experience. The best things about studying at Birmingham are all of the opportunities that are available like all of the different societies and clubs.”
Chemistry is a partnership between practical work and theory. This, accredited, degree programme, which has a 100% student satisfaction rating, offers a balanced curriculum that will enable you to develop skills at the bench by putting into practice what you learn in lectures. Our research facilities are among the best in the country and having access to state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories will be a vital part of your education.
Each year contains 120 credits of taught material, delivered in modules that are typically worth 10 or 20 credits. In each year, you will take 60 credits of core chemistry courses, covering the fundamental aspects of the subject. These courses include a significant practical component, which not only allows you to develop your practical skills and techniques, but also to consolidate the associated theory from your lectures. The remaining 60 credits comprise modules designed to support these core courses and include optional chemistry modules, mathematics courses, laboratory modules, and courses which focus on communications skills and employability.
In Year 1, you will take core modules in the traditional sub-disciplines of inorganic, organic, analytical and physical chemistry, all of which include an extensive laboratory work programme. Those of you who have A-level maths at grade B or higher will choose from a range of non-chemistry option courses. Particularly popular options include ‘The Cosmic Connection,’ delivered by the School of Physics and Astronomy, and ‘Good brain – Bad brain,’ delivered by the Department of Pharmacology. Those of you who do not have A-level maths – don’t worry! We provide an introductory maths course in Semester 1, which you take in place of the option course. This course will bring you up to speed with the common mathematical techniques needed for chemistry. In Semester 2, everyone comes together to take Numerical Methods. In this more advanced course, you will begin to apply your mathematical skills to chemical problems. Both maths courses are delivered by staff from Chemistry, which ensures you are equipped with those skills you need to tackle the more physical and theoretical aspects of our courses
Second year (contributes 25% to overall degree mark)
In Year 2, you will build on material from your first year as we employ a combination of lectures and practicals to further your understanding of the fundamental aspects of chemistry. In addition to core courses in organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, you will also take chemical electives, choosing from a range of courses, which include analytical chemistry, computational chemistry and biological chemistry.
Third year (contributes 75% to overall degree mark)
In Year 3, core chemistry modules in inorganic, organic and physical chemistry are accompanied by further choice in elective subjects, which focus on some of the most exciting aspects of current chemistry research, including atmospheric chemistry, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), metals in organic synthesis, and bioinorganic chemistry. You will also carry out a 40-credit research project, which can be practical-based research, computer-based research or a literature dissertation. If you are interested in entering the teaching profession, you may instead opt for a project in the area of chemical education. You will choose the topic of your project from a pool of titles and work with your project supervisor to tailor the project to your particular research interests.
Generic skills-training, focusing on transferable skills and employability, is embedded throughout the course from the outset, and will ensure that you are equipped with the ICT, presentation, team-working and problem-solving skills, which are seen as crucial by employers.
BSc or MSci? The first two years of this BSc course are interchangeable with, and identical to, our Chemistry MSci (F101) programme, which means you can delay your final choice of degree (BSc or MSci) until the end of Year 2. MSci study is dependent upon performance: you will need a 60% mark in Year 2 in order to transfer on to the MSci programme.
Chemists at Birmingham adopt a broad, multi-disciplinary outlook to their subject, which is vital if we are to solve the problems of the 21st Century in healthcare, medicine, sustainability and the environment. Birmingham has a leading research rating and is committed to excellence in teaching: your lecturers are not only experts in their fields but also passionate about chemistry and committed to inspiring you!
Read more about why you should study Chemistry at Birmingham
Each year contains 120 credits of taught material, delivered in modules that are typically worth 10 or 20 credits.
Core courses (60 credits in each year) are taken by all students enrolled on both single honours and major/minor degree programmes and cover those fundamentals of the subject that we deem essential. These courses include a significant practical component, which not only allows you to develop your practical skills and techniques, but also to consolidate the associated theory from your lectures.
The remaining 60 credits in each year comprise modules designed to support these core courses and include optional chemistry modules, mathematics courses, laboratory modules, and courses which focus on communications skills and employability.
Year 1 Summer Skills Laboratory is a zero credit module which fulfils the accreditation requirement of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Satisfactory completion is assessed by maintenance of a laboratory notebook, the quality of the data produced in the laboratory and its interpretation. Satisfactory completion of this module is normally required fro progression to Year 2. Fundamental Mathematics is a zero credit module which is student centred and self paced, providing training in the fundamental skills and concepts of mathematics that underpin the rest of the programme. Satisfactory completion of this module is normally required for progression to Year 2.
The following must be taken:
Students must also take 20 credits worth of Widening Horizons Modules (WHM)
The compulsory Chemical Electives module contains a choice of courses; students choose any two courses.
The following must be taken:
The compulsory Year 3 Chemistry Options I module contains a choice of courses; students choose any two courses.
The following must be taken:
Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to keep them up-to-date, which may require changes to module content. Also, key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
- Number of A levels required:
- 3 , offer will depend on subject combination.
- Typical offer:
- 2018 entry: AAB–ABB. 2017 entry: ABB
- Required subjects and grades:
- A level Chemistry. Minimum Mathematics requirement GCSE grade B. You must also pass the practical element of any reformed science A levels which include Biology, Chemistry and Physics taught from 2015.
General Studies, Critical Thinking and Use of Maths are not accepted.
The decision to remain on (for MSci-registered students) or transfer to (an option for BSc-registered students) an MSci programme is made at the end of Year 2 and is based on your Year 2 mark.
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5-6,5,5 at Higher Level, including Chemistry at Higher Level, with a minimum of 32 points overall. One or more additional science subjects at Higher Level is advantageous. A minimum of 5 at Standard Level English and 4 at Standard Level Maths is required for those students who do not have a minimum of grade C in English at GCSE and of grade B in Maths at GCSE.
BTEC only considered when combined with other qualifications.
Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements
Standard English language requirements apply, learn more about international entry requirements.
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.
Key Information Set (KIS)
Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.
All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.
The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.
The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.
You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and postgraduates, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the School of Chemistry here where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.
What you can expect
Year one and Year 2 averages 15 hours per week spent in lectures, tutorials, workshops and lab classes. Year three consists of 12-17 hours per week (lectures, workshops and project work) depending on module choices .
Collaborative Teaching Laboratory
The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), planned to open in 2018/19, will become a hub for science & engineering teaching, with multifunctional labs suitable for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and team working.
Personal Tutor: At the start of your degree, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor who remains with you throughout your studies. You will meet him or her at least once a semester to review your academic progress and to discuss how to develop your transferable skills. Your personal tutor will also be able to advise on particular areas where you may need additional support. During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into University. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.
Delivery of the course
As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner; we want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.
Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, including lectures, workshops and small-group tutorials, self-study and peer-group learning sessions and laboratory and project work.
You may find these new ways of studying challenging at first; however, rest assured, we will work with you to facilitate this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive academic and pastoral support system, which includes your personal tutor and welfare tutors.
The course is delivered as lectures, tutorials, workshops and laboratory classes. In your final year, you will also complete a research-related project. In the first year, you can expect about 20 hours of contact time per week made up of approximately 12 hours of lectures, tutorials and workshops, and up to eight hours of laboratory classes.
Small-group tutorials run alongside our lecture courses and provide a valuable opportunity for you to discuss specific problems with your tutor, as well as consolidate and test your understanding of the lecture material through problem-solving exercises..
Enquiry-Based Learning (EBL) provides an environment where the learning process is driven by enquiry. In this learning approach, the lecturer acts solely as a facilitator. EBL is a particularly useful method for teaching aspects of chemistry, for example, the use of spectroscopic techniques in structure elucidation. It often requires you to work in a team to solve a problem and exemplifies the research-oriented approach to problem-solving, which lies at the heart of the research-led ethos of the University.
Laboratory-based practical work forms an integral part of the School's degree programmes. These classes not only develop your practical skills but also reinforce concepts introduced in the associated lectures. Practical sessions typically last four hours in your first year; however, these increase in length in subsequent years to allow for more advanced experiments.
In your final year, if you are on an MSci programme, you will undertake a major research project. You will join a research group and become a member of the Research School. Your project will enable you to focus on the area of Chemistry that interests you most and to carry out science that has never been done before. Projects can be synthesis-based or concentrate on more theoretical aspects of the subject or involve a combination of both; you will work closely with your project supervisor to tailor the project to your particular research interests.
If you are a BSc student, you will also complete a research-related project in your final year, which can involve practical-based research, computer-based research or a literature dissertation. If you are interested in entering the teaching profession, you may opt instead for a project in the area of chemical education.
Each module is assessed independently. Most contain a component of continuous
assessment, which usually contributes a quarter to one-third of the module mark.
Methods of assessment are tailored to best assess the learning outcomes of the
module and can include end-of-year examinations, written assignments, oral
and poster presentations, computer-based tests and/or laboratory and project
Some modules are assessed completely by coursework. Examinations are taken in
May and June.
We provide prompt and informative feedback on all pieces of submitted work.
Feedback comes in a variety of forms, including written comments on pieces
whole-class feedback sessions and one-on-one discussions with your tutors.
In all cases, the feedback will highlight the good points as well as those
that require more attention.
At the beginning of the year, you will be given information on how and
when you will be assessed. You will receive feedback on each assessment
(and often much sooner) so that you can learn from, and build on, what
you have done. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take.
BSc Chemistry Job: New Technologies Group, Reckitt Benckiser
The support, opportunities for self-management and sense of ownership that were provided by Birmingham Chemistry were vital in preparing me for my first job in the New Technologies Group at Reckitt Benckiser.
As a Birmingham Chemistry graduate you will possess excellent core skills in numeracy, IT and literacy, as well as highly-developed problem-solving, team-working, and communication skills, all of which are deemed crucial by employers. Combining these transferable skills with an in-depth knowledge of Chemistry, both theory and practice, you will enter the workplace ready to interpret complex data, to propose innovative solutions to challenging problems, and to design new moleculesand materials to solve societal needs.
You might decide to pursue a career in one of the chemical, pharmaceutical or manufacturing industries; alternatively, you could choose to work in other areas of science and technology, such as environmental protection, analytical chemistry or forensics. Other areas that need the problem-solving skills you will have developed include finance, law and marketing, as well as teaching andresearch.
Birmingham Chemistry has strong research links with many chemical companies, which we can exploit to help you to gain industrial experience whilst studying. Whilst you may choose to undertake a Summer placement as part of your degree, our Chemistry with Industrial Experience MSci programme is a more popular degree choice should you wish to gain experience of working during your degree. On this programme, you spend your third year in paid employment. Working and studying in an industrial setting provides you with valuable experience, whilst at the same time improving your career prospects.
MSci Chemistry with Industrial Experience
A placement is not as intimidating as it first appears and if you enjoy practical work, then I can't think of a better degree to choose.
Career destinations of previous graduates include:
- Procter and Gamble
- Reckitt Benckiser
- Severn Trent Water
- Forensic Science Service
- BAE Systems
University Careers Network
Preparing for your future career should be one of the first things you think
about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future
aspirations lie or would rather consider the broad range of opportunities that
are available to you once you have your degree, our Careers
Network are there
to help you to achieve your goal.
Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject
area, offering specialised expert advice and mentoring, as well as guidance
you to secure exclusive work-experience opportunities and global internships,
all of which will help you to stand out from the competition. Once you have
a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs, interview practice
applications will further help to give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed,
Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular
activities and is an accredited employability programme designed to improve
If you make the most of the wide range of services
you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.
Visit the careers section of the University website for further information.
This course is accredited by the RSC.
Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
Clubs and societies
The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.
We have a very active Chemical
Society run entirely by our students. Everyone
is encouraged to get involved in ChemSoc activities including the annual black
tie ball, charity drives, guest lectures careers events and scientific debate.
Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.
Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.