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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. This will be advertised on this page.

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.

How do I apply for an MSc by Research?

You can carry out an MSc by research with any member of academic staff in the Chemistry Department. Please find below an example of a MSc by research project available for 2022 entry:

Supervisors Dr Katherine Manfred and Professor Jacqui Hamilton

Project title In situ aerosol morphology characterisation using laser imaging nephelometry


Atmospheric aerosol particles play important roles in both climate and public health,[1,2] but quantifying their impacts remains challenging due to their highly complex nature. While robust techniques have been developed to measure particle composition and size, there is still a major gap in the ability to monitor particle shape in situ. Particle morphology affects the interaction with solar radiation and the ability to penetrate into the human respiratory tract, making it an important parameter in radiative climate models, satellite retrievals, and air quality assessments.[3,4] In this project, the student will use a recently developed imaging nephelometer instrument.[5,6] The instrument measures laser light scattered from a bulk aerosol sample with high angular resolution (<1°). Scattering patterns are compared to widely used optical models to predict particle size and morphology with off-line validation by scanning electron microscopy. The aim is to look at a range of aerosol including emissions from wood-burning stoves and road traffic. The majority of the project will take place in our laboratory in York, however there may be opportunities to take the instrument to other sites (e.g. Manchester) for further measurements.


• Demonstrate retrieval of non-spherical shape parameters using scattered light measurements

• Validate light scattering measurements of non-spherical particles with off-line imaging analysis

• Develop look up tables to facilitate analysis of data from different aerosol sources

Experimental Approach

Angularly-resolved scattered light data of bulk aerosol samples from the imaging nephelometer will be measured in conjunction with co-sampling commercial instrumentation (particle counter). Using off-line imaging analysis (SEM) to confirm particle morphology, scattered light data will be compared against predicted scattering patterns from established optical models (Mie theory, Rayleigh-Debye-Gans, spheroidal) to develop look up tables. These tables will then be used to determine the dominant morphology of aerosol particles sampled from more complex environments, such as an urban roadside air quality monitoring site or residential wood burning stove (in a laboratory). These data will be useful in developing a more holistic look at aerosol properties from sources that humans are regularly exposed to in order to more accurately assess potential toxicity and climate impacts.


This imaging nephelometer is the first of its kind in the UK and offers exciting opportunities to expand our abilities to measure aerosol properties in situ, validate widely used theoretical models, and challenge assumptions of aerosol properties that underpin many of our current remote and in situ measurement techniques. Training No prior knowledge is required, although experience and/or interest in aerosol sampling, optics, or data analysis (e.g. R) will be beneficial.

Training in all the relevant skills needed to successfully complete the project will be provided, including laser safety, aerosol handling, and analysis of aerosol scattering data. 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. WACL is a highly collaborative environment with research spanning a wide range of areas relating to atmospheric chemistry. 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. All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills:


1. Stocker, T. F. et al. Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2013). 2. AQEG. Particulate Matter in the UK: Summary. (Defra, 2005). doi:10.1093/bmb/ldg028 3. Kahnert, M., Nousiainen, T. & Veihelmann, B. Spherical and spheroidal model particles as an error source in aerosol climate forcing and radiance computations: A case study for feldspar aerosols. J. Geophys. Res. D Atmos. 110, 1–12 (2005). 4. Broday, D. M. & Rosenzweig, R. Deposition of fractal-like soot aggregates in the human respiratory tract. J. Aerosol Sci. 42, 372–386 (2011). 5. Dolgos, G. & Martins, J. V. Polarized Imaging Nephelometer for in situ airborne measurements of aerosol light scattering. Opt. Express 22, 21972–21990 (2014). 6. Manfred, K. M. et al. Investigating biomass burning aerosol morphology using a laser imaging nephelometer. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 18, 1879–1894 (2018).


You would need to be able to fund your own studies