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Studying a Masters Degree In Chemistry

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Transitioning from an undergraduate to a postgraduate course in chemistry can be challenging, but it will lead to you becoming an expert in your chosen area. Your tutors will encourage you to develop world-class research skills and gain an advanced knowledge of your subject. This makes a masters degree a great way of preparing for more studies at PhD level, or moving on to a successful career.

The way your Masters in Chemistry is marked and organised will be very different from your first degree. The groups you will be put into for lectures, seminars and practical work will be significantly smaller. Students are expected to work independently and use self-directed study techniques, like researching a topic prior to a teaching session so you are ready to engage with a discussion.

You will also find a difference in the way you interact with your professors and the other people on your course, as you move toward becoming an authority on your chosen subject, based on your own efforts.

Benefits of taking a Masters Degree in Chemistry

After your primary chemistry qualification, it’s likely that you’ve developed a range of research interests and areas of expertise, by taking a masters you’ll get the chance to broaden these and explore your talent further. You will be taught to approach data from an original perspective, to evaluate research critically and to understand the methodologies needed for your specialism. A masters degree is both time consuming and demanding, but it is a huge investment in your future, granting you access to the best jobs and higher salaries.

Entry requirements 

In the UK the basic entry requirements for students wishing to enrol on a masters program in Chemistry will be at least a good 2.1 degree – or upper second class honours. If you are not from the UK, the equivalent qualification from another country is acceptable. The standard requirements of European universities are very similar, but it is possible to find out about the exact grades and qualifications they demand from their individual websites. In general, your first degree or similar should be in analytical chemistry, chemistry, or another discipline related to chemistry.

For UK institutions – as well as many European universities – as the course is delivered in English, students who do not speak it as a first language will have to provide evidence of their competency. If you do not hold an official English Language qualification, you will be asked to take an IELTS or TOEFL test. Some English Language certificates are only valid for two years, so check that yours will be in date when you start the course.

Postgrad chemistry Study modules

Most Masters in Chemistry programs consist of six taught modules and a substantial thesis, which is based on personal research. The research project can focus on any topic from a wide range and is chosen by the student after consulting with their tutor.

The taught modules may include; organic chemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance, polymers, spectroscopy, elements of environmental science and x-ray diffraction. These will be offered in the form of lectures, seminars, workshops and lab sessions for extra support. Most courses also offer a module designed to enhance a student’s research skills; this will specifically address the methods used in scientific report writing, presenting facts and database comprehension.

Choosing the right university

Trying to pick the ideal university is not easy; you’ll need to consider the location, the standard of teaching and whether the course is appropriate for your chosen career. Universities in mainland Europe can vary widely in terms of the way students are assessed, teaching methods used and the length of the course. There is no typical masters degree, so seek out one which suits your learning preferences, your future employment goals and specialism. Many universities in the UK and beyond have world-renowned chemistry departments, getting it right means you’ll have an extremely productive and enjoyable year.

Student case study

Danni Sun is in her second year at Southampton University, she says: “The university offers a great learning environment, especially for masters students who study in the chemistry department.”

Career opportunities 

For students aiming for academic greatness, a PhD in chemistry can naturally follow from the masters. Doctoral studies enable you to make a contribution to the understanding of complex issues in your own right. It’s a great way to launch a formidable scientific career.

For students who would prefer to enter directly into the job market, there are many roles with a direct link to the subject. You could consider pursuing a job as a forensic scientist, a pharmacologist, a toxicologist, a biochemist or an analytical chemist. Alternatively, as chemistry is so readily transferrable to other areas, it may also impress employers who are seeking environmental consultants, lecturers, specialist writers or teachers.

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