Newcastle, University of

At a Glance

In Depth

Why Study Chemistry at Newcastle University

Chemistry at Newcastle has a long history of pushing back scientific boundaries and providing an excellent environment in which to, work, study and conduct research.

The School of Chemistry is currently home to over 80 members of staff and over 350 students, all of who work together to ensure a vibrant community in which everyone can reach their full potential.

The recently announced National Student Survey Results have continued to show how appreciative graduating students have been of the quality of education provided by the School of Chemistry here at the University of Newcastle. With a score of 93 out of 100, the School continues to improve on its performance and the figure is recognition of the efforts by staff (both academic and support) to ensure that the needs of our students are being met. Continued effort is being placed on fully effective engagement and feedback, and on providing new Facilities for next semester including a New Physical Chemistry Laboratory, New School Office and a new Student Common Room. All first year students will again be enrolled as members of The Royal Society of Chemistry thereby ensuring that they are at the heart of the UK Chemistry Community

Contemporary chemistry is reflected in all our taught undergraduate courses. Apart from pure chemistry, we offer specialised degrees in medicinal chemistry and degrees with a year in industry. Our international reputation facilitates joint ventures with universities in mainland Europe and North America.

With the highest teaching standards, modern lecture theatres and superb undergraduate laboratory facilities, a chemistry degree at Newcastle is a stimulating experience and the start of a rewarding career in science.

To hear some of the reason why our students choose Newcastle: Click here


We offer a wide range of degrees in various aspects of Chemistry to cater for the full range of interests and future career paths. Both three year BSc and four year MChem programmes are available. Allowing you to study your chosen subject in greater detail, or take the opportunity of a year in industry or a year abroad.

  • The MChem degrees are four-year courses whereas the BSc are three-year courses. The former are intended for students who wish to become chemists, whereas the BSc degrees are for students who will probably go on to more mainstream careers where a Chemistry degree will be helpful. Providing students show that they are capable, transfer between BSc and MChem is possible at the end of the first year.
  • Students registered for the BSc degrees which include Industrial Training spend a year between stage 2 and stage 3 working for an industrial company. They are paid during this year and generally undertake a project during their time with the company.
  • The Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry degrees are biased towards training chemists for the pharmaceutical industry. They provide a course that includes modules taught by drug development scientists at Newcastle.
  • The Chemistry with Study Abroad degree includes an assessed year spent at a overseas university. Currently this can be in Europe (Spain, France, Germany or Italy) or in North America (Canada or USA). Plans are in progress to extend this to include countries in the Far East. This provides an opportunity to experience a different culture whilst obtaining your Chemistry degree.

To see the various degrees we offer: Click here

Research-led Teaching

We have a strong record of research in areas ranging from the synthesis of anti-cancer chemicals to fuel-cell research and the production of novel catalysts for industry. This cutting-edge research informs our undergraduate teaching and ensures that our students are exposed to the latest thinking across the subject.

In all of our programmes a range of teaching methods are used, including lectures, tutorials, workshops and experimental work. Valuable key skills are developed through group assignments and training in problem solving. We also enjoy excellent research facilities and students are encouraged to use these during final year projects.

First Class Facilities

We have recently built brand new teaching laboratories which offer a state-of-the-art working environment. Our students also have access to specialist computer facilities with chemical software, recently refurbished lecture theatres, and the full range of University facilities including the award winning library and the new multi-million pound sports centre.

A Friendly Cosmopolitan School

Chemistry at Newcastle is big enough to offer plenty of choice but small enough to be able to get to know everyone. Our students are a lively cross section of the population, with representatives from over 15 countries. We have a active student society, Nukem which runs everything from a football team to social events and visits to local industries.

Student Support

You will have a say in running the School. There is a Staff-Student Committee which deals with any student complaints and/or suggestions. Each student also receives a personal tutor and there are a range of support services available for anyone who needs a bit of extra help.

Strong Industrial Links

We have strong links with Industry both for research purposes and for student training. In recent years we have sent students for their Industrial training years to ICI, Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter and Gamble, Azko-Nobel, Beecham, Exxon, BP, Kodak and others. Many students who have undertaken such training have gone on to work with the industrial partner on a full-time basis.

Professional Accreditation

All MChem degrees are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.


The School of Chemistry is housed primarily in the Bedson Building, with the laser spectroscopy facilities being located in the adjacent Herschel Building. Purpose-built laboratories, most of which have undergone extensive renovation over the past 12 months, are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for synthesis, characterisation, X-ray crystallography, computation, spectroscopy and surface science. Research is underpinned by excellent resources.

The School is highly competitive in attracting research funding and has benefitted from major investments by the Regional Development Agency and from the Strategic Research Infrastructure Fund. Substantial research funding is provided by the UK Research Councils, including EPSRC, and BBSRC, the European Commission, the Leverhulme Trust, and chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

We have strong links with many leading UK chemical companies and with the Royal Society of Chemistry. The University Research Centre in Catalysis and Intensified Processing is a joint venture with the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials. There is a lively student chemical society, NUKEM, that organises a series of formal and social events. The Faculty Graduate School seeks to ensure that all postgraduate students complete their studies within a period of 39 months. Our successful postgraduates are in high demand and, with few exceptions, find appropriate employment immediately upon graduation.

Research within the school of Chemistry at Newcastle can be organised into the following general themes:

  • Synthetic & Medicinal Chemistry
  • Chemical Nanoscience
  • Structural Chemistry & Spectroscopy

To find out more these areas of research: Click here


What can I do with my Chemistry degree? This is a question we are frequently asked by students interested to study chemistry but not sure what career they may end up pursuing. The best way to answer it is to provide some examples of what our previous students have gone on to do.

In the last three years our graduates have used their degrees to find employment in a wide range of chemical and related industries; their roles have included:

  • Industrial Chemist
  • Medical Chemist
  • Product Development Technician
  • Experimental Chemist
  • Process Development Technician
  • Analytical Development Scientist
  • Green Chemistry Research Technician
  • Clinical Trials Scientist
  • Chemist and Environmental Engineer
  • Research Associate
  • Technical Co-ordinator
  • Quality Control Manager
  • Operations and Technical Assistant Analyst
  • Developmental Technologist
  • Analytical Scientist
  • Carbon Nanotube Technician
  • Chemistry Teacher

A significant number of our graduates have also used their degree to enter careers in different areas including:

  • Finance
  • Sales and Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Arts
  • Law
  • Teaching
  • Social/Welfare Professions

Case Studies

Below we show you what one of graduates is doing now, for more case studies from our graduates click here:

  • Ian Little - PetroChemical Researcher, BP
  • Graduated: 1986
  • Degree Studied: Chemistry
  • Employer: BP
  • Role: Petrochemical Research

Reasons for choosing Newcastle:

The people I met when I visited - they seemed enthused and motivated by the place - and because of the proximity of the department to one of the most interesting cities in Europe

Career Path:

I would have preferred to stay in the north east, but the best job offer was down south in Sunbury-on-Thames, at BP's research centre. The environment and work was great - I started working on methane conversion, gas- to-liquids technology. This was my first experience of heterogeneous catalysis, a subject which has been the main thread through my career since then. The great thing about BP then, and it's still true now, is the large variety of technology one has the opportunity to tackle. In the 14 years since joining I've worked on novel reforming technology, thermal hydrocarbon cracking, environmental pollution control catalysis, new catalysts for acrylonitrile via propane ammoxidation, methanol carbonylation, ethylene and propylene polymerisation, polyketone catalysis and novel routes to light olefins.
Research in the petrochemicals industry is far more interesting, varied and challenging than is generally perceived. Recently we've been able to take advantage of new high throughput experimental techniques first applied in the pharmaceutical field (sometimes also called "Combinatorial Chemistry") which are revolutionising not only the way we discover, prepare and evaluate new catalysts, but also challenge the chemist to develop new skills. The modern chemist has to understand data management, advanced data visualisation and make use of the latest knowledge management techniques. All that and the periodic table is still there as well!

Career High Point:

I particularly enjoyed working in Cleveland, Ohio for a 6 month secondment, and I've travelled the world on research projects - Atlanta, Chicago, Michigan, Houston, San Francisco, and extensively in Europe. It's particularly enjoyable to visit colleagues in the south of France, as we have a site close to Marseille where the climate and lifestyle are pretty enviable!