Chemistry forms part of our everyday lives. Study it to better understand what things are made of and how stuff works, and make a difference to the world we live in.

Through chemistry we’ve made great discoveries, such as penicillin and pasteurisation, and made the modern world possible with inventions including plastic and lithium-ion batteries.

Chemical scientists are leading research on the world’s most pressing concerns, including challenges around human health, climate change, and energy. There are job opportunities in many sectors, including medicine research, manufacturing, and education.

You could enter a professional or managerial role once you’ve graduated, or go on to further study.ther study.

The impact you could make
  • Conduct tests and experiments that pioneer new medicine, technologies, and discoveries.
  • Further develop renewable energy technology like solar energy and car batteries.
  • Enrol on a postgraduate course to become a nuclear engineer, helping the UK or other countries reach their nuclear power goals.
What you could study
  • Chemical lab skills
  • Medicinal and biological chemistry
  • Molecular pharmacology
  • Physical chemistry
  • Solid state chemistry
  • Mathematical skills for chemists
  • Computational chemistry

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

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Example module
"Medicinal chemistry, the use of metals in medicine, and of course laboratory skills for chemists. Once a week, going into the lab really helps me have a productive, interactive learning day."
Second year pharmaceutical chemistry student, University of Reading
Example project
"The analytical chemistry research task, where I was asked to investigate the best way to analyse concentrations of certain chemicals in coffee to then determine its quality."
Second year chemistry with medicinal sciences student, University of Southampton

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some chemistry courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.

Chemistry
Maths
Biology
Physics
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Laboratory and experimentation work
  • Independent research projects
  • Placements and industry experience
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Communication
  • Research and observation
  • Analytical and reasoning skills
  • Presentation skills

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying chemistry. The following information is based on a typical chemical scientist professional role.
Available jobs
23,199 vacancies in the past year
2.46% growth over next eight years
Average salary
£33,551
Up to £60,492

Career options

Chemistry

Analytical chemist

Laboratory technician

Production chemist

Food scientist

Pharmacology

Medicinal chemist

Pharmacology

What is a…. colour technologist?

Colour technologists often work in a chemical lab or workshop, developing and testing new dyes and pigments for use in things like paints, textiles, printing inks, cosmetics, and medical products. They tend to work in the manufacturing industry, and will develop and record the processes that make sure a colour can be reproduced accurately, it’s durable, and it doesn’t run when put in the wash or under other similar conditions. Colour technologists are also sometimes referred to as colour scientists or textile dyeing technicians or technologists.

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study chemistry at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from chemistry applicants.
 

A levels
AAB
Scottish Highers
AAABB
Vocational
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

The expert view

Lakshmi Hughes, Careers Advice & Guidance Manager, Royal Society of Chemistry
Chemistry is in everything you see, smell, taste, and use. As a chemical scientist you could be developing life-changing medicines, influencing how things you touch and wear are made, or finding sustainable solutions for the pressures on energy, food, and water in our lives. From sports science and aerospace engineering to art conservation and patent law, there’s a huge range of career opportunities that open up to you when you study the chemical sciences. Your chemistry journey could end up changing the world.

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.

Let's talk about... science apprenticeships (Sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University)

Katie discusses social life, work-life balance, and what day-to-day life is like as a science apprentice with representatives from GSK, Unilever, and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around chemistry with the following:

  1. Brought to you by chemistry podcast

    Listen to this podcast, made by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which features experts talking about some of the chemical challenges facing our society, like air quality and pollution.
  2. TED Talk – How green hydrogen could end the fossil fuel era

    Listen to Earthshot Prize winner, Vaitea Cowan, talk about how she and her team mass produce electrolzyers (which split water into hydrogen and oxygen), helping to make carbon-free fuel. Browse TED’s selection of talks on chemistry too. 
  3. New Scientist magazine

    Lots of news articles and features about chemical science and research that’s happening right now. 

Chat to a current chemistry student

Chat to a current chemistry student using UniBuddy.

Some conversation starters for you:

  1. Ask which modules they really enjoyed.
  2. Find out how easy it was for them to make friends on their course.
  3. Do they have any tips on your personal statement?
  4. Did they do anything to prep for uni before they went?
  5. Are there books, podcasts or YouTube channels they would recommend?
     

Second year chemistry student, Cardiff University

I love the vast knowledge it brings into interdisciplinary subjects. I learn new things every day and it gives a deeper level of meaning into everyday life.

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your chemistry journey.
Skills, experiences, and interests to mention
  • Demonstrate your natural curiosity and analytical skills. What field trips or holidays have you been on that ignited your passion for chemistry? When have you dug further into a topic or object because you wanted to know how something worked, or what it was made of?
  • Show you understand about lab work and workshops too, whether through school experiments, work experience, or at home. Can you think of something you tested and what you learned from the results?
  • What do you want to do with your degree? Show you understand the industry by mentioning organisations or publications you follow, and what you’ve learned about what jobs you might do with this subject.
  • Illustrate how you can be self-motivated, whether that’s studying for your exams, pursing a hobby, or getting an after-school club started, for example.
  • Consider other skills you can demonstrate too, like teamwork and/or presentation skills. Are you part of a sports or other team? Have you given a presentation at school, or in another setting?
 

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