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Sustainable Chemistry Masters/MSc

Start date
1 year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024/25:
£11,340 (UK students)
£29,340 (International students)
Further fee information is available.

The world is facing huge sustainability challenges. Sustainable chemistry offers solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society, and our Sustainable Chemistry Master’s course provides the skills and knowledge you need to significantly enhance your career prospects in this growth area.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a core aspect of all engineering and physical sciences, and chemistry is essential to help society to achieve a sustainable future.  The aim of this postgraduate programme is to educate you in sustainability and advanced aspects of sustainable chemistry, providing you with the skills and knowledge required to develop a career in an increasingly sustainability-focused chemical sector.

Our modules in sustainability will give you an advanced understanding of the wider field of sustainability and how the sustainability of products and processes is measured, whilst developing wider transferable skills.  Specialist modules in sustainable chemistry will allow you to explore how chemistry offers solutions to sustainability challenges, through the development of new, carbon-free fuels, new materials for energy storage and conversion, new methods for recycling plastics and for producing them from sustainable sources, and greener, more energy-efficient production methods.

The research project will allow you to undertake independent research with world-leading research teams within the School. Our graduates are well prepared for a career in a variety of industries and have an opportunity to capitalise on the growing global demand for experts in sustainable chemistry across a range of sectors.

Why study Sustainable Chemistry Masters at Birmingham?

  • In this course we will teach you the key principles of sustainability, the circular economy and life-cycle assessment, equipping you with the skills and knowledge to assess the sustainability of products and processes.
  • Our sustainable chemistry modules will teach you about the advanced areas of chemistry at the cutting-edge of sustainability research.  You will learn how to develop new materials for energy storage and conversion, new approaches to the production and recycling of plastics, and greener, more sustainable methods for chemical synthesis.
  • Teaching is led by our world-leading researchers in sustainable chemistry, and, during the research project, students work within research groups on an original piece of research.
  • Birmingham has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. With over 35,000 students and 7,000 staff, today we are one of the world’s leading universities. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives – a tradition that this programme proudly continues.


  • The Circular Economy - 20 credits

    This module introduces you to the fundamental concepts of the circular economy.  You will be taught the history of the circular economy and the theories and principles that underpin it, along with the challenges and opportunities of designing products for the circular economy.  The impact of the circular economy on business and society, and the role of government policy in shaping the circular economy will be explored.

  • Energy Storage and Conversion 1 - 10 credits

    Effective energy storage and conversion is critical to the transition to a renewables-based energy system, and materials are central to many energy-storage and conversion technologies.  In this module we will explore the way that the properties of materials underpin energy storage and conversion, and the different factors that influence the choice of technology.

  • Energy Storage and Conversion 2 - 10 credits

    This module will look at more advanced aspects of energy storage and conversion technologies based on materials chemistry.  Energy storage and conversion is critical to the transition to a renewables-based energy system, and, in this module, we will explore how current materials present effective solutions to some of the challenges in the field.  We will also look at the problems that need to be addressed before these materials can be considered to provide a truly sustainable solution.

  • Green Chemistry 1 - 10 credits

    Cleaner and greener methods for chemical synthesis are critical to a more sustainable future, and chemists are constantly searching for more efficient catalysts, more atom-economical reactions and ways to reduce reliance on organic solvents.  In this module we will explore the fundamental principles that underpin green chemistry, and we will begin to look at how some of the methods of green chemistry can be applied across a range of reactions.

  • Green Chemistry 2 - 10 credits

    Cleaner and greener methods for chemical synthesis are critical to a more sustainable future, and chemists are constantly searching for more efficient catalysts, more atom-economical reactions and ways to reduce reliance on organic solvents.  In this module we will explore a range of approaches to catalysis involving metals and non-metals, the key factors that need to be considered when reducing reliance on conventional solvents for chemical synthesis, and we will look at methods for performing solvent-free reactions.

  • Life-cycle Assessment - 20 credits

    This module introduces the fundamental concepts of life cycle assessment as a means of assessing the environmental impact of products and processes.  You will be taught the underpinning concepts of life cycle assessment, as well as the methodologies used in life cycle assessment.

  • Materials for Sustainable Chemistry - 10 credits

    This module explores the chemistry of framework materials, their structures, properties, synthesis and characterisation. Different approaches to the design and synthesis of framework materials will be discussed, as well as the key techniques used to characterise them. Throughout the course, a range of examples of framework materials are used to illustrate key concepts. The remarkable tunability of framework materials and their application in the field of sustainability will be discussed, including application to areas such as carbon capture and energy storage.

  • Sustainable Polymer Chemistry - 10 credits

    This module explores sustainable polymeric materials. The ability of polymers to entangle bestows them with properties that provide their strength, flexibility and durability. These properties also present the critical paradox of the plastic problem: we can’t have durable materials that degrade – they just wouldn’t do what we wanted them to do. Understanding the landscape of sustainable polymeric materials is critical as a first step to addressing this challenge. The way in which the leading degradable materials in this class are accessed, as well as the considerations that need to be taken into account to modify these for a wider range of applications, will be addressed.  The module will develop a fundamental understanding of the chemistry that underpins these advances, as well as considering state-of-the-art, application-focused research.

  • Research Project - 60 credits

    You will undertake a major research project in an area of your choice. The research topic is determined by consultation with academic members of staff. You will join the research group of one of our world-leading researchers in the field of sustainable chemistry to undertake the project work, exposing you to the cutting edge of research being carried out in the School.

  • Research Skills - 20 credits
    This module introduces you to the fundamental skills required to search the literature, to write in appropriate formats for different audiences, to reference source material correctly and to report findings concisely in written and oral formats.  You will be taught to use a variety of databases and literature-searching tools and will be guided through the process of researching a topic and critically analysing the literature.  Various written and oral presentation styles will be discussed and critically analysed.  You will be guided through the process of carrying out a piece of research and reporting your findings.


Annual tuition fee for 2024/25

  • UK students: £11,340
  • International students £29,340

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Postgraduate Loans (PGL) for Masters students

UK and EU students (with settled or pre-settled status) looking to pursue a Masters programme in the UK can apply for a non-means-tested loan from the British government via the Student Loans Company (SLC).

The loan will be paid directly to you, into a UK bank account. It is intended to provide a contribution towards the costs of Masters study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs is at your own discretion.

Learn more about applying for PGL 



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.

University scholarships

Birmingham Masters Scholarship

Our Birmingham Masters Scholarship offers £2,000 via a tuition fee discount, to support the brightest and best applicants from UK or Ireland undertaking Masters study at Birmingham during 2024-2025.

Global Masters Scholarship

This £2,000 Gloabl Masters Scholarship award is available to all international students from a selection of countries who are seeking to study a taught Masters degree at Birmingham in the 2024-25 academic year.


How To Apply

International applicants requiring visas

Applications to this programme from students who are international for fees will close 1 June 2024. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.

UK and non-Tier 4 applicants

Applications will close 31 August 2024. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

  • UK: A minimum of a 2.1 BSc in Chemistry or a closely related discipline.
  • International: A minimum of a 2.1 BSc in Chemistry or a closely related discipline

Learn more about entry requirements.

International Requirements

International Students

International students: A minimum of a 2.1 BSc in Chemistry or a closely related discipline

English language

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

  • IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band
  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

The modules are taught in a variety of ways, and encourage enquiry-based learning and problem solving, enabling graduates to think laterally and make complex decisions when entering the world of work or further study.

Modules are assessed primarily through coursework, including short reports and presentations.

Some modules include group work to develop and discuss ideas. The research project is assessed, in part, by the submission of a dissertation.

Sustainable chemistry is a worldwide growth area, and experts in sustainable chemistry are in demand across a range of sectors, including energy, manufacturing and recycling. 

This course aims to produce graduates of the highest calibre, who will be much in demand due to their skills, knowledge and ability to lead in teams addressing some of the biggest challenges facing society.

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.