Chemistry PhD/MSc by Research

The School of Chemistry is undergoing a period of renaissance and growth. We have received significant investment in surface chemistry and analysis laboratories (£500,000), and won £2.5 million-worth of investment from Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and refurbish laboratory space for carrying out research under the heading of Advanced Materials Research. 

Please note that you may upload a research proposal when submitting your application form, however, this is not mandatory.

Thomas Carey

PhD Chemistry

“The best thing about my course was the quality of teaching I received. I also personally really enjoyed getting involved in the sporting activities at the University.”

Please note that you may upload a research proposal when submitting your application form, however, this is not mandatory.

Please consult our research website and decide the area of Chemistry in which you want to work, and with which member(s) of staff. The research areas are also listed on the research interests tab of this course profile.

You can then approach staff members directly, or contact the School Postgraduate Admissions Secretary, who will be happy to provide advice about the admissions process and help put you in touch with members of staff who have similar research interests to your own.

Further information can be found on the School of Chemistry PhD pages.

Hear from one of our PhD students

Over the last four years, expenditure of over £2 million has allowed the School of Chemistry to purchase new instrumentation and refurbish and redevelop its facilities for research and teaching. This has been accompanied by the creation of several new staff positions. This increased research strength has been recognised by the research councils, who have given substantial support for research in the School in the last few years. With the facilities and opportunities available to our researchers, we can make real contributions to tackling the scientific challenges that face chemists today. 


Postgraduate students are provided with an Induction Programme, which generally occurs within the first week of Semester 1. The Induction Programme considers aspects such as the School Structure, Key Personnel, and Safety Matters, and is supplemented by a number of generic and subject specific Training Programmes. 

You will also receive training in thesis writing through the requirement to submit two reports (a literature review and end of year one research review) in their first year of registration. These reports are reviewed by two assessors, and feedback is provided. During subsequent years, you may gain experience with paper writing through submission of research for publication.

The School also organises an Annual Postgraduate Research Conference in July, at which all PG students attend. Students in their second year of registration produce a poster for this conference, while third year students are required to give an oral presentation. You will be actively encouraged to present your work at National and International conferences, and evidence for the success of our procedures in presentation training is provided by numerous best student talk/poster prize winners at such conferences. 

Why study this course

Birmingham’s School of Chemistry is one of the best-equipped in the UK for carrying out research in the Chemical Sciences. Join the School and you will work in an internationally recognised research group and have access to world-class facilities for tackling the chemical problems of the 21st century.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees 2019/20 academic year:

  • £4,320 UK/EU students, full-time
  • £2,160 UK/EU students, part-time
  • £21,420 International students, full-time

Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD. You will be able to apply for funding for the 2018 to 2019 academic year in summer 2018.

Follow the video link below to find out more
Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

Further information is available at the student finance zone.

Scholarships and studentships

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

Additional scholarships can be found in the funding database.

Contact the department for further information.


For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have 2:1 Honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant subject. Learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about  international entry requirements

English language

For students whose first language is not English, one of the following English language qualifications are required:

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall, with 5.5 minimum band score
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • PTE Academic: 51 in all four skills

Further information about postgraduate English language requirements, including alternative qualifications considered and Pre-Sessional English.

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Individual staff research summaries within each unit can be found in the links below:

  • Biomolecular, Supramolecular and Nanoscale Chemistry
    Research in this Unit is focused on working on the design and development of new molecular assemblies and functional materials, often beyond the traditional molecular dimension scale.
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry 
    This unit contains researchers engaged in the following fields: analytical chemistry; bio-nanotechnology; biophysical chemistry; catalysis; charge transfer and transport; clusters and nanoparticles; computational and theoretical chemistry; electrochemistry; environmental chemistry; fluorescence; magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging; scanning probe microscopy; self-assembly; simulation and modelling; single molecule imaging; soft matter; surface and interfacial chemistry; synchrotron-based characterisation.
  • Solid State Chemistry 
    This research unit is recognised as one of the top UK solid state research groupings. Members undertake internationally-leading research across the breadth of materials chemistry and cover subjects as varied as fuel cells; hydrogen storage; ion exchange materials for the nuclear industry; catalysis; biomaterials, multifunctional materials: magnetic/optical/electronic materials; thermoelectric materials; crystal engineering & polymorphism.
  • Molecular Synthesis and Catalysis
    Research in this unit is focused on answering fundamental questions relating to molecular structure, chemical reactivity and physical properties. Our programmes concerning the discovery and development of efficient enabling methods and the design of bespoke functional molecules provide novel chemical entities and processes to tackle major societal challenges, spanning sustainability (energy, chemical feedstock, agriculture), next generation therapeutics and diagnostics. Our research is supported by the Centre for Chemical and Materials Analysis, which offers high quality spectroscopic analysis, including NMR, Mass Spectrometry, X-ray Diffraction and HPLC.

Related research

Find a PhD

As a research-led School, which has received significant recent investment for research infrastructure, we offer a high quality research environment that provides its researchers with the best starting point for their future career. Through your time with us, you will not only have acquired the diverse range of skills that equip you for a research career in science, but also have developed key transferable skills that will be invaluable for pursuing a career in any discipline. 

  • You are literate and numerate  
  • You have developed critical and analytical skills
  • You have honed your problem-solving skills
  • You are well versed in communication and presentation skills
  • You can work independently as well as in a team
  • You are practiced in the use of IT
  • You are an expert in your research field

In short, you are ready to face the world!

University Careers Network

Preparation for your 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 want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.