MSc in Chemistry (by Research)

Scientist in green chemistry lab

An MSc by Research is a  Masters level course during which you carry out a research project in your specific area of interest working under the supervision of an academic member of staff alongside the rest of their research group.  Find out more about the benefits of studying for a postgraduate Chemistry research degree at York

This is not a taught course and does not require completion of specific taught modules. The MSc by Research is often a popular choice for those who wish to see if they are suited to a research programme, and can provide a valuable stepping stone to those wishing to embark on a PhD programme.

There are now UK Government Masters loans are available for MSc by Research applicants

How long will it take me to complete an MSc by Research?

12 months when taken full time, or 24 months when taken part time. The part time option is particularly suitable for those who still wish to continue working throughout their studies.

Attendance times can be agreed with your supervisor depending on the nature of the research, and your other commitments.

For both options, there is an additional three months at the end of the project for you to write up your thesis.

How will I be assessed?

You will be required to write up the results of your research project in a thesis which will be examined by at least two examiners. In some cases an oral examination by be requested, but this is at the discretion of the examiners.

Although there are no formal taught modules for an MSc by Research, all research students are still required to complete the iDTC graduate training programme

What are the entry requirements for an MSc by Research?

The standard entry requirement for the MSc by Research is a minimum of a 2:2 or overseas equivalent in a relevant subject - chemistry, or chemistry related depending on the nature of the project.

Sometimes, individual circumstances such as previous experience and relevant work experience are also taken into account and applications are welcomed from interested applicants.

Students whose first language is not English will also need to meet the English Language requirements of both the University and the UKVI.

How much will I need to pay?

You will need to pay tuition fees for 12 months of study - this would be split in half if you were doing the MSc on a part time basis.

All students would also need to cover their living expenses throughout their studies. We recommend you have at least £10,000 per year for this but this figure can vary depending on your chosen accommodation and lifestyle.

Is there any funding available to help me do an MSc by Research?

Most MSc by Research students fund their own studies but there are sometimes funding opportunities available for particular projects. The Department is pleased to offer two funded MSc by research positions for October 2020 entry.  Please see details below.  The closing date for applications is 8 January 2020.

Some students may be elgible for a UK Government Masters Loan.

Students from outside of the UK are welcome to apply for financial assistance from the Wild Fund which is held in the Department of Chemistry.

What can I do after an MSc by Research?

An MSc by Research will show potential employers that you have the motivation and commitment to complete a substantial piece of work independently. The MSc programme can enhance your technical abilitiy and chemical knowledge, as well as improve your transferable skills, making you a strong potential empoyee. Our previous MSc students have gone on to work for a variety of chemical companies as well as other industries and sectors.

Other MSc students choose to continue their studies and have successfully embarked on PhD programmes at York, around the UK and the rest of the world. The MSc programme provides a valuable insight into the demands of a PhD giving you the opportunity to see if a research programme is the right choice for you.

Funded MSc by research projects for Autumn 2020:

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to offer two funded MSc by research projects for October 2020 entry.  Funding will include full tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, a £10,000 stipend for living costs and costs of consumables. The closing date for applications is 8 January 2020.  Details of each project are included below:

Funded MSc by research project #1

Project Title: Photochemical Arylation of Enolates

Supervisors: Dr Michael James and Professor Peter O'Brien

Project description:

Background: The synthesis of α‐aryl carbonyl compounds is an area of great interest to pharmaceutical science due to the widespread prevalence of this functionality in biologically active natural products and drugs. To date, this motif has primarily been prepared by the transition-metal-catalysed arylation of enolates (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2010, 49, 676). These reactions are typically palladium-catalysed and proceed via a well-studied oxidation addition, enolate transmetallation and reductive elimination mechanistic pathway. However, the atom, energy and cost efficiency of these reactions is often impeded by the formation of unwanted by-products, harsh reaction conditions and high catalyst/ligand loadings, respectively.

Objectives, Experimental Approach & Novelty: This project will aim to circumvent these limitations by developing an alternative transition-metal-free method for the arylation of enolates. Here, it is planned to use visible light as a mild and abundant energy source to initiate radical via the photoexcitation of enolates or their corresponding charge transfer complexes. To gain insight into these reactions, detailed mechanistic studies will be performed using combined spectroscopic and computational techniques. It is then planned to demonstrate the synthetic utility of this method through the synthesis of known bioactive α‐aryl carbonyls. Finally, investigations into related anions and highly challenging stereoselective variants are also planned.

Training: All postgraduate research students receive our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills. All research students take the core training package which provides both a grounding in the skills required for their research, and transferable skills to enhance employability opportunities following graduation. The student appointed to this project will receive excellent training in organic synthesis. In particular, the student will become highly proficient in the preparation, purification and characterization of small organic molecules using inert-atmosphere, photochemical and (computational) analytical techniques. The student will also have the opportunity to attend organic section problem classes and present their research at national or international meetings.

For further details please contact

Funded MSc by research project #2

Project Title: The Design and Synthesis of Paddlewheel-Porphyrin Conjugates for Solar Harvesting Applications

Supervisors: Dr Luke Wilkinson and Dr Jason Lynam

Project description:

Background: Arguably the single greatest challenge facing humanity is the fight against climate change. To overcome this challenge, we need to avoid burning fossil fuels and move to sustainable, ideally renewable forms of energy. The sun provides an inexhaustible 3x10^24 Joules of energy per year, 10,000 times the current global energy usage, so harnessing this energy in a useable form is of utmost importance! Current commercial photovoltaics based on silicon are both expensive and energy intensive to fabricate, whereas dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) are cheaper, more flexible and can be tuned to absorb a greater range of wavelengths for improved efficiency. In order to maximise the efficiency of DSSCs, a strong emphasis is placed on the dye itself. A dye must be able to absorb as much light as possible across a broad range of wavelengths and be bulky enough to avoid the problems associated with aggregation. This project aims to address these challenges by combining paddlewheel complexes and porphyrins to generate new molecules with applications as dyes for DSSCs Objectives: (1) Synthesise a family of paddlewheel-porphyrin conjugates. (2) Characterise and analyse these molecules to determine their electrochemical and photophysical properties. (3) Demonstrate that the properties of these new compounds can be tuned through simple structure modification

Experimental Approach: This project will involve the synthesis of dimolybdenum paddlewheel complexes and porphyrins to generate novel molecules for study of their redox activity and photophysical properties. Paddlewheel complexes are air sensitive and so reactions will involve the use of Schlenk line and glove box techniques. Once the target molecules are synthesised and structurally characterised, their properties will be studied with a range of analytical spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques including cyclic voltammetry, UV/Vis, IR, time-resolved IR and EPR spectroscopies.

Novelty: While paddlewheel complexes and porphyrins represent two very well studied fields of coordination chemistry, there have been very few instances where they have been combined. The molecules synthesised in this project will be the first of their kind and will display properties that hold great promise for the development of new dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells and other forms of solar technology.

Training: All postgraduate research students receive our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills. All research students take the core training package which provides both a grounding in the skills required for their research, and transferable skills to enhance employability opportunities following graduation.  The student will obtain a broad set of skills, in and out of the lab, which will allow them to move forward in any career direction they choose. In the lab, the student will gain expertise in the synthesis and manipulation of air and moisture sensitive compounds by employing specialist equipment, such as Schlenk lines and glove boxes. They will have the opportunity to use a wide variety of analytical spectroscopic techniques such as X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry, NMR, IR, UV/Vis/NIR and EPR spectroscopies, as well as electrochemical techniques such as cyclic voltammetry. There will be further potential for the student to investigate their complexes through time-resolved IR spectroscopy and DFT calculations. Regular group meetings will provide the student with opportunities to practice their presentation and critical thinking skills, while their writing skills will be honed through the preparation of their final project report. Additionally, the student may have the opportunity to attend regional and/or national conferences, which will provide valuable networking opportunities and exposure to the wider chemical community.

For further details please contact:

How to apply

  • Applicants should submit an MSc by research application to the University of York by 8 January 2020
  • Supervisors may contact candidates either by email, telephone, web-chat or in person
  • Supervisors can nominate up to 2 candidates to be interviewed for the project
  • The interview panel will shortlist candidates for interview from all those nominated
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a panel interview at the University of York in the week commencing 10 February 2020
  • The awarding committee will award studentships following the panel interviews
  • Candidates will be notified of the outcome of the panel’s decision by email