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Chemistry is the science of everyday life – allowing us to explain properties of substances, their structures and the changes they undergo. Consequently, the chemical industry is central to the modern world economy and chemistry graduates have a wide range of employment options open to them in oil, gas, energy and pharmaceutical industries, as well as in consumer products.
At the School of Physical Sciences we have a strong teaching record in analytical chemistry and we are proud to link our world-leading research on materials chemistry to our undergraduate programmes. All practical classes take place in our newly refurbished laboratories, where you use the latest equipment.
It is possible to take this degree with a placement year and gain valuable work experience. For details, see Chemistry with a Year in Industry.
You also have the option of doing a four-year MChem programme and working as part of a research group doing cutting-edge work. For details, see Chemistry - MChem.
Think Kent video series
Dr Barry Blight, Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Kent, discusses the use of lanthanide phosphorescence to create a Turn OFF sensor for bacterial spores such as Bacillus Anthracis (used as the carrier for the Anthrax bioweapon).
In the National Student Survey 2016, Chemistry at Kent was ranked 3rd for overall satisfaction. Of those graduating in 2015 with a degree in chemistry, Kent students were the most successful in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities, according to the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey*.
*conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
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CH308 - Molecules Matter & Energy
This module introduces and revises the basic concepts of chemistry that underpin our understanding of the stability of matter. This starts with introducing atomic and molecular structure, with a focus on understanding the electronics of bonding in the molecular compounds around us. You will then study the laws governing the behavior of gases and origins of other interactions that hold solids and liquids together, alongside describing some of their basic properties such as conductivity, viscosity, and the way in which ions behave in solution. In the final aspect of this module we cover the critical role thermodynamics plays in determining the stability of matter, including the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and the importance of equilibrium in reversible reactions.Read more
CH309 - Fundamental Organic Chemistry for Physical Scientists
This module reintroduces the basic concepts of organic chemistry that are vital in understanding pharmaceutical and biological substances. You will study the basics of the chemistry of carbon, the element critical to underpinning life, including its basic building blocks and functional groups. We also cover the mechanisms by which basic organic reactions including elimination, substitution and oxidation processes occur. This module concludes with studying aromatic compounds and chirality, which crucially influence how organic molecules interact within living systems.Read more
CH314 - Introduction to Biochemistry and Drug Chemistry
Chemistry in context
Using an organic chemistry perspective, you will study the fundamentals of biochemistry, the chemistry of life, including enzyme reactions, protein chemistry, DNA, lipids and carbohydrates. These topics are underpinned by the role chemical phenomena such as thermodynamics and intermolecular interactions play in a biological context. We then explore the nature and discovery of drugs, how they work, and the potential effects of their misuse.Read more
CH320 - Chemical Reactions
This module will introduce you to core scientific chemical concepts including chemical equations and stoichiometry, kinetics and activation energies for reactions in solutions and acid and base chemistry. You will learn the theoretical background and terminology needed to understand these core concepts, along with the mathematical skills required by a practicing chemist. Hands-on laboratory experimentation is a key component of this module, teaching you the basic methodology used for understanding the physical chemistry of reactions, with a particular focus on their kinetics and thermodynamics. As part of this you will be taught how to effectively use fundamental laboratory equipment and instrumentation (Lab component).Read more
CH382 - Chemical Skills
In this module you will be introduced to the key concept of periodicity and how, through a deeper knowledge of the periodic table, chemists are able to understand and predict the chemical properties, reactivity and compounds formed by the elements. You will also be introduced to redox chemistry, which plays a key role in the reactivity of the elements and the forms in which they are found.
This module also has a significant focus on experimental chemistry. You will therefore complete a set of laboratory practicals, enabling you to develop the laboratory skills and knowledge to work safely in an experimental environment and carry out fundamental organic and analytical chemistry procedures, including basic spectroscopy. This will be supplemented by teaching you the essentials of laboratory safety awareness and the skills needed to write scientific reports, including ways to clearly present data arising from experiments. To enable you to achieve this you will learn, through examples of physical science applications, the basic mathematics required to understand, plot and analyse graphical information, including differentiation and integration. This will be supported by lessons in how to use simple computer programs for drawing molecular and crystal structures and carry out basic calculations on the energy levels of chemical systems (Lab component.)Read more
PH302 - Computing Skills
Introduction to the concept of programming languages, and to Fortran 90 in particular.
Introduction to the UNIX operating system: including text editors, the directory system, basic utilities, the edit-compile-run cycle.
Introduction to Fortran 90, including the use of variables, constants, arrays and the different Fortran data types; iteration (do-loops) and conditional branching (if statements).
Modular design : subroutines and functions, the intrinsic functions.
Simple input/output, such as the use of format statements for reading and writing, File handling, including the Fortran open and close statements, practical read/write of data files. The handling of character variables.
Programming to solve physical/chemistry problems.Read more
PH307 - Disasters
Chemistry in context
In this module, you will study particular cases in which disasters occur (for example, explosions, volcanic eruptions, exposure to chemical warfare agents and accidents in the chemical industry), either as a result of human participation or in the natural course of events. We will explore how science, and in particular chemistry, is integral to the understanding and mitigation of such events. You will then focus on an aspect particular disaster and give a short oral presentation on it alongside a written report and press release. Note: this module constitutes the writing component required by the Royal Society of Chemistry.Read more
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PS512 - Numerical, Statistical and Analytical Skills
Trace analysis: definitions, methods and problems. Sampling, storage and contamination. Quality control. Random and systematic errors; statistical treatment of data. Accuracy and precision. Signal/noise ratio. Sensitivity and detection limits. Choice of methods for trace analysis.
Units, dimensions, exponentials and logarithms:
Decimal places and significant figures. Units and dimensions: SI units, dimensional analysis. Manipulation of exponentials and logarithms. Power laws. Exponential decay and half-life. Beer-Lambert law, Arrhenius equation, Boltzmann distribution, Gaussian functions.
Balancing chemical equations. Amount of substance, molar quantities, concentration and volumetric calculations, gravimetric analysis, gas pressures and volumes.
Equilibrium calculations, strong and weak electrolytes. pH, acid-base equilibria, buffer solutions. Solubility. Chemical kinetics: reaction rates, rate constants and orders of reaction.
Probability and Statistics:
Elementary probability, probability spaces, Venn diagrams, independence, mutual exclusion, expectation. Quantitative treatment of the effect of evidence: Bayes Theorem and conditional probability Samples and populations, mean, standard deviation, moments, standard error. Probability distributions: binomial, normal, poisson. Limiting cases. Use of normal tables. Significance testing and confidence limits. Hypothesis testing. The chi-squared test. A brief look at probability-based arguments used by expert witnesses, recent controversies and challenged convictions. Regression and correlation
Analysis of alkaloids by HPLC
Accelerant analysis by gas chromatography
Analysis of metal cartridge cases and counterfeit coins using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy
Determination of copper by atomic absorption spectroscopy
Quantifying substances in a mixture using UV-visible spectroscopy
Isolation & purification of caffeine from tea leavesRead more
CH504 - Organic Reaction Mechanisms
You will study organic reactions and materials encountered in organic chemistry in depth. In particular, you will look at the organic chemistry of functional groups such as alcohols, ethers, carbonyl, amines and alkyl halides. You will also look at carbon-carbon forming reactions and strategies for synthesising target molecules. (Lab component.)Read more
CH506 - Chemical Identification Techniques
You will develop an understanding of the theory and application of techniques for chemical identification. You will study symmetry, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), gas chromatography (GC), mass spectrometry (GCMS), infrared and Raman spectroscopy, spectrophotometry/fluorimetry, basic diffraction methods and electron spin resonance.Read more
CH530 - Polymeric and Organic Materials
Chemistry in context
Plastics, Liquid Crystals and Organic LEDs are ubiquitous in everyday life; your smartphone, tablet or television screen is likely an Organic LED. Here, the chemistry of these common materials is explored. Specifically, the structure and nomenclature of organic and inorganic macromolecules are covered, as well as polymer syntheses. The physical, chemical and mechanical properties of polymers, liquid crystals and light emitting materials are dissected and device structure of organic LEDs is deconvoluted.
(Lab component.)Read more
CH531 - Thermodynamics and Kinetics
The speed (kinetics) and energetics (thermodynamics) of a reaction are of central importance in chemistry. Here, we use thermodynamics and kinetics to predict whether a particular reaction would take place and its likely product yield. We also cover equilibrium constants, electrochemical cells, colligative properties, including elevation and depression of melting and boiling points, zero, first, second and third order reaction kinetics and statistical thermodynamics. Experiments are included to help to cement understanding. (Lab component.)Read more
CH532 - Spectroscopy and Bonding
This module will deepen your understanding of the fascinating world of quantum mechanics and symmetry. We explore how this gives rise to quantisation and selection rules, and go on to apply this to spectroscopic methods to understand structure and bonding including: rotational (microwave) spectroscopy, vibrational (IR and Raman) spectroscopy and electronic transitions (UV-vis, PES). The lab course will give you hands on experience of some of these quite abstract concepts, and will allow you to apply your spectroscopic skills to real chemical problems. (Lab component.)Read more
CH533 - Materials and Solid State Chemistry
The arrangement of atoms and defects in a solid governs its properties. Here, we cover the crystal structures and phase diagrams of solid materials. Bonding in solids is discussed, including metallic, ionic and molecular crystals, band theory, defects and non-stoichiometry. You will be introduced to the synthesis, properties and applications of a wide range of materials and their solid state reactions. Applications covered include catalysis, energy materials such as fuel-cells and Li-ion batteries, superconductivity and semiconductors and nanomedicine. (Lab component.)Read more
CH534 - Inorganic and Environmental Chemistry
Here, you will explore the chemistry of the d- and f-block elements, including their electronic and colour properties as well as their magnetic behaviour, both in lectures and workshops and also practically through a lab component. Environmental chemistry is of growing importance and this module will also equip you to understand environmental concerns such as toxicity, bioavailability and environmental mobility. (Lab component.)Read more
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CH604 - Analytical Chemistry
Here, you will be introduced to a variety of modern techniques used to understand the structure, properties and potential applications of materials. Analytical techniques include: atomic emission/absorption spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE), ion chromatography, mass spectrometry and gas chromatography (GCMS), electro-analytical chemistry, optical microscopy, electron microscopy.Read more
CH620 - Chemistry Research Project
Here, you will undertake a lab-based research project. You will choose one of three areas: Computational Chemistry, Solid-State Chemistry or Synthetic (Organic) Chemistry. You will then independently plan and execute your experiments or simulations (computational chemistry) with guidance from an academic supervisor. The module provides framework research training.Read more
CH622 - Topics in Inorganic Synthetic Chemistry
Nanoscience will sculpt the scientific landscape of the 21st century. Here, you will be exposed to the synthesis of nanomaterials spanning nanoparticles, nanorods and porous architectures. You will learn how to control their shape, size, functionalisation and stabilisation. Solid-state reactions are introduced as well as high-pressure synthesis to prepare novel materials. The wealth of applications and potential applications of nanomaterials will be covered spanning: catalysis and quantum dots to nanomedicine. You will also synthesise nanomaterials in our chemistry laboratory. (Lab component.)Read more
CH623 - Main Group and Organometallic Chemistry
The nature of chemical bonding changes as you move across and down the periodic table. In this module, you will study how and why this bonding changes and how we can use our understanding of this to understand the structure and reactivity of many classes of compounds. This is coupled to advanced analytical techniques for probing these often complex and flexible structures. The concepts developed then feed into the reactivities underpinning modern Organometallic catalysis, moving from pure fundamentals to application and showing how they let us understand the cutting edge of modern research and industrial syntheses.Read more
CH624 - Transformations and Chirality in Organic Chemistry
A key component to chemical education is the exposure to more advanced aspects of chirality, and chemical transformations towards the synthesis of simple targets. Concepts relating to the synthesis of natural and unnatural target molecules through organic chemical transformations are essential to the students chemical repertoire. In-depth exposure to chirality, exposure to asymmetric chemical transformations, carbon-carbon bond-forming reactions, and their application in targeted small molecule synthesis will be covered.Read more
PS701 - Topics in Functional Materials
Chemists and physicists are now playing an important role in the growing field of materials research. More recently there has been a growing interest, driven by technological needs, in materials with specific functions and this requires a combination of physics and chemistry. For example, new materials are needed for the energy industry (batteries and fuel cells), for the optics and electronics industry (semiconductors, lasers and wave-guides), and for the environment (sensors, actuators and smart materials). The aim of this module is to introduce students to this area of modern materials and techniques.
Examples of the topics that might typically be covered are:
1. Crystal growth and defects.
2. Liquid crystals.
3. Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.
4. X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS).
6. Multiferroics.Read more
PS601 - Fires and Explosions
Physics and chemistry of fires and explosions:
Fire and arson occurrence and importance. Combustion definitions. Thermodynamics and enthalpy. Flammability limits, flash point, fire point, ignition temperature. Pyrolysis of wood and plastics. Fuels and accelerants. Propagation and spread of fires. Sampling and laboratory analysis of fire scene residues.
Explosions definitions. Vapour phase and condensed phase explosions. Detonation and deflagration. High and low explosives. Primary and secondary high explosives. Molecular design of explosives. Survey of important explosives. Stoichiometry, oxygen balance, gas volumes, thermodynamics and enthalpy. Sampling and laboratory analysis of explosives residues. Preventative detection of explosives in contexts such as airports.
Fire dynamics. Propagation and spread of fires flames, fire types, flashover. Fire investigation. Forensic Science Service procedures at the scene. Damage observation and assessment. Fire and smoke patterns. Sources of ignition. Injuries and fatalities. Evidence recovery: sampling and laboratory analysis. Establishing the origin : the seat of the fire. Finding the cause: natural, accidental, negligent or deliberate? Indicators of arson. Evidence procedures. Case studies.
Control of the explosion scene and procedures for recovery of evidence. Damage observation and assessment. The work of the Forensic Explosives Laboratory. Identification of explosives: organics and inorganics. Bulk analysis. Trace analysis of explosives: recovery, extraction and analysis of samples. Physical evidence: detonators. Preventative detection. Precursor identification. Explosives evidence in court: legal definitions and procedures. Terrorism. Case studies.Read more
PS637 - DNA Analysis & Interpretation
The module lectures will cover the following topics:
DNA sample collection, processing and storage
DNA databases and statistical interpretation
Quality Assurance, management and control
Forensic case studies
Future trendsRead more
Teaching and assessment
There are approximately eight one-hour lectures each week, and in addition laboratory classes, project work and problem solving seminars.
Assessment is by a combination of written examinations, continuous assessment and other assignments. You must pass the Stage 1 examinations in order to go on to Stage 2. The year in industry mark also counts towards your final degree result.
Coursework assessments include practical laboratory skills, presentation skills as well as essay and report writing.
The programme aims to:
- instil a sense of enthusiasm for chemistry, an appreciation of its application in different contexts and involve students in an intellectually stimulating and satisfying experience of learning and studying
- provide a broad and balanced foundation of chemical knowledge and practical skills
- provide access to as wide a range of students as practicable
- develop in students the ability to apply their knowledge and skills to the solution of chemical science problems and to be able to solve theoretical and practical problems in chemistry
- impart practical skills including the knowledge, understanding and ability to assess safety in the laboratory environment
- develop a range of generic skills, of value in chemical and non-chemical employment
- provide a stimulating, research-active environment in which students are supported and motivated to achieve their academic and personal potential
- enable students to graduate with an understanding of scientific methodology, the ability to use this in the solution of problems in and outside of a laboratory environment, and the ability to undertake and report on an experimental investigation using such methodology
- foster an appreciation of the importance and sustainability of the chemical sciences in an industrial, academic, economic, environmental and social context
- provide students with the knowledge and skills to gain graduate-level employment or to pursue further studies.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- core and foundation scientific physical, biological, and chemical concepts, terminology, theory, units, conventions, and laboratory practise and methods in relation to the chemical sciences
- areas of chemistry including properties of chemical elements, states of matter, organic functional groups, physiochemical principles, organic and inorganic materials, synthetic pathways, analytical chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, fires and explosions
- developments at the forefront of some areas of chemical sciences.
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- the ability to understand essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to the subject and to apply this knowledge to the solution of qualitative and quantitative problems
- the ability to recognise and analyse problems and plan strategies for their solution by the evaluation, interpretation and synthesis of scientific information and data
- the ability to use computational methods for the practical application of theory and to use information technology and data-processing skills to search for, assess and interpret chemical information and data
- a knowledge of essay writing and presenting scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly, in writing and orally, to a range of audiences and the ability to communicate complex scientific argument to a lay audience.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- the safe handling of chemical materials, taking into account their physical and chemical properties, including specific hazards associated with their use and risk-assessment of such hazards
- the ability to carry out documented standard laboratory procedures involved in synthetic and analytical work in relation to organic and inorganic systems. Skills in observational and instrumental monitoring of physiochemical events and changes and the systematic and reliable documentation of the above. Operation of standard analytical instruments employed in the chemical sciences
- the ability to collate, interpret and explain the significance and underlying theory of experimental data, including an assessment of limits of accuracy
- the ability to implement research projects including competence in the design and execution of experiments.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- communication, both written and oral
- to be able to undertake further training of a professional nature
- problem-solving in relation to qualitative and quantitative information, extending to situations where evaluations have to be made on the basis of limited information
- numeracy and computational skills, including such aspects as error analysis, order-of-magnitude estimations, correct use of units and modes of data presentation
- information-retrieval skills, in relation to primary and secondary information sources, including online computer searches
- knowledge of IT such as word-processing and spreadsheet use, data-logging and storage, internet communication
- interpersonal skills, relating to the ability to interact with other people and to engage in team working within a professional environment
- time-management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective modes of working. Self-management and organisational skills with the capacity to support life-long learning
- study skills required continuing professional development and professional employment.
Chemistry students who graduated from Kent in 2015 were the most successful in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey). Recent graduates have gone into areas including research and development, contract laboratories, material and pharmaceutical industries as well as the oil industry.
Kent science graduates have an excellent employment record, in part because we ensure they have the transferable skills necessary for success in today’s employment market.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
New GCSE grades
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English Language Requirements
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:
UK/EU fee paying students
The Government has announced changes to allow undergraduate tuition fees to rise in line with inflation from 2017/18.
In accordance with changes announced by the UK Government, we are increasing our 2017/18 regulated full-time tuition fees for new and returning UK/EU fee paying undergraduates from £9,000 to £9,250. The equivalent part-time fees for these courses will also rise from £4,500 to £4,625. This was subject to us satisfying the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework and the access regulator's requirements. This fee will ensure the continued provision of high-quality education.
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
General additional costs
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
The Government has confirmed that EU students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will still have access to student funding support for the duration of their course.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.