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The University of Edinburgh: Chemistry

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Chemistry
Study type Research


Our EaStCHEM Joint Research School was formed by the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews in 2004 to combine the research activities of two of Scotland’s leading schools of chemistry. EaStCHEM now provides the largest chemistry research unit in the UK.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), EaStCHEM was one of only three chemistry units to achieve a 100% "world-leading" score for our research environment. This result rewards our:

provision of state-of-the-art facilities recruitment of high-quality academic, research and professional services staff collaboration across disciplines and with industry partners support for career development nurturing of talent

REF 2021 also assessed >99% of our research outputs as either "world-leading" or "internationally excellent" and 100% of the economic, social and environmental benefit in our impact case studies to be "outstanding" or "very considerable".

In addition to gaining research skills, making friends, meeting eminent researchers and being part of the research community, a research degree will help you to develop invaluable transferable skills which you can apply to academic life or a variety of professions outside of academia.

The Chemistry/Biology Interface

This is a broad area, with particular strengths in the areas of:

  • protein structure and function

  • mechanistic enzymology

  • proteomics

  • peptide and protein synthesis

  • protein folding

  • recombinant and synthetic DNA methodology

  • biologically targeted synthesis

  • the application of high throughput and combinatorial approaches

We also focus on biophysical chemistry, the development and application of physicochemical techniques to biological systems. This includes mass spectrometry, advanced spectroscopy and microscopy, as applied to proteins, enzymes, DNA, membranes and biosensors.

Experimental & Theoretical Chemical Physics

This is the fundamental study of molecular properties and processes. Areas of expertise include:

  • probing molecular structure in the gas phase, clusters and nanoparticles

  • the development and application of physicochemical techniques such as mass spectoscropy to molecular systems

  • the EaStCHEM surface science group, who study complex molecules on surfaces, probing the structure property-relationships employed in heterogeneous catalysis

A major feature is in Silico Scotland, a world-class research computing facility.


This research area encompasses the synthesis and characterisation of organic and inorganic compounds, including those with application in:

  • homogeneous catalysis

  • nanotechnology

  • coordination chemistry

  • ligand design and supramolecular chemistry

  • asymmetric catalysis

  • heterocyclic chemistry

  • the development of synthetic methods and strategies leading to the synthesis of biologically important molecules (including drug discovery)

The development of innovative synthetic and characterisation methodologies (particularly in structural chemistry) is a key feature, and we specialise in structural chemistry at extremely high pressures.

Materials Chemistry

The EaStCHEM Materials group is one of the largest in the UK. Areas of strength include the design, synthesis and characterisation of functional (for example magnetic, superconducting and electronic) materials, such as:

  • strongly correlated electronic materials

  • battery and fuel cell materials and devices

  • porous solids

  • fundamental and applied electrochemistry polymer microarray technologies

  • technique development for materials and nanomaterials analysis

Doctor of Philosophy - PhD

MSc (Res)

Edinburgh. Extraordinary futures await.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 22nd in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Our position as one of Britain’s leading research universities was reaffirmed by the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, ranked 4th in the UK for research power (Times Higher Education, Overall Ranking of Institutions), with 90% of our research activity classified as world leading or internationally excellent in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

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