MChem (Hons) Chemistry, the Atmosphere and the Environment with a year in industry

UCAS code Typical offer Length
F144 AAA*-AAB (See full entry requirements) 4 years full-time
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final year research project in industry

KIS environ icon

Environmental change raises important concerns over the future well-being of our planet. Although it is apparent that some changes result at least in part from human activities, it is equally clear that natural variations also play a major role. 

This course will give you the opportunity to learn about the chemical basis of the environment and to understand how we impact upon it.

Course overview

Chemistry is often referred to as the 'central science' as it covers topics as diverse as quantum mechanics and the study of atomic particles, to the molecular nature of biological systems and the Human genome project.

Learning about the fundamental basis of chemistry - the analysis of molecules, their structures and shapes and how they react - is vital for our modern society. Chemists can really make a difference in the world!

Course highlights

  • Chemical evolution of the Earth
  • Chemical oceanography
  • Meteorology and climate change
  • Archaeological environments in the geological past
  • Atmospheric modelling and measuring techniques
  • Impact of air pollution on climate and human health 

Why study chemistry at York?

The Department of Chemistry offers students

The structure of the course is such that all decision-making is left as late as possible to give ample opportunities to consider your choices for the future.

As part of a £29 million phased redevelopment, a £9.4 million research building was completed in 2013 and a new £10 million  undergraduate teaching laboratory and Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence in spring 2014.

Teaching Lab 2

Course content

What you'll study

Our courses are based on a modular system (120 credits per year) of core and option modules with a wide range of flexibility and choice.

In our core modules, we balance the importance of providing you with a good understanding of the basic principles of chemistry, with some opportunities to see the exciting contributions chemistry can make in the modern world.

Our option modules enable you to have an input into designing your own degree programme.

The general philosophy we adopt is to break down the artificial barriers between the different branches of chemistry so that you can appreciate that chemistry is a unified discipline in which underlying principles apply to all branches.

Course structure 

Year 1

Students share a common set of core modules each of which integrates the major areas of Chemistry: organic; inorganic; physical; theoretical; analytical and biological.
The Autumn term introduces themes of structure and bonding, and chemical change and reactivity, with practical courses (in synthesis) complementing the lectures, introducing you to:
  • independent study
  • group work
  • presentation skills
  • a quantitative science course
The Spring and Summer terms are divided into two interdisciplinary modules, that introduce key chemical principles in the areas of spectroscopic analysis, bonding and chemical change, and chemical reactivity and mechanism.
You will carry out experiments in analytical and physical chemistry, and a 2 week integrated chemistry project, giving a flavour of the research experience. 
This programme is supplemented by a series of "ancillary courses", which cover related topics in Mathematics, Physics and Biology.

Year 2

A significant proportion is made up of core Chemistry modules (100 credits) and practical work which is common to all our Chemistry courses. The remainder consists of an option module (20 credits) chosen by you towards the end of Year 1. 
Recommended option module for this course:

Year 3

You will continue your studies through a series of core lectures (60 credits) in advanced inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. Also, you will choose three option modules (one 20 credit option and two 10 credit options).
Recommended option modules for this course include:

You will also carry out a practical course on advanced techniques (20 credits). This includes mini-projects, where you will work as part of a team on a modern area of research.

Year 4: Year in Industry

In your final year, you will carry out an innovative twelve-month research project in industry (100 credits).

The Department negotiates with each placement provider to ensure that the nature of the training and project work provide an appropriate challenge.

During your year in industry you will have

  • A University placement supervisor
  • An industrial supervisor
  • You will all meet at intervals (at York or at the company) to discuss progress and plans for the rest of the placement

You will also do an independent open learning package called 'advanced topics' (20 credits), which involves exploring chemical topics at the frontiers of science.

For further details please contact Dr Brian Grievson,

View our 'Transition to York' video

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught


Lectures are used to:

  • define and develop the examinable syllabus
  • deliver knowledge
  • interpret and explain difficult concepts 

The size of lectures varies from 200 to as few as 5 for some option modules and last for 50 minutes. 

Presentations range from the traditional 'chalk and talk' to the use of digital presentations. Where possible, we include demonstrations and encourage audience participation - through chemical quizzes and voting. 

All teaching is done by our academic staff - many of whom are at the forefront of their fields and will discuss the latest developments in their area. 

You will be given a handout for the lecture course, which forms the basis for note-taking. If you have any questions you can approach the lecturer after the lecture or outside of the lecture room.


Tutorials are our smallest group teaching sessions and are usually one hour in length with up to 5 students and a college tutor who is a specialist in the subject. Tutorials develop a wide range of skills including: 

  • problem solving 
  • essay writing 
  • presentation skills

Tutorials help to reinforce topics covered in lectures, offer an opportunity to discuss aspects of the subject which interest you and ask about any problems encountered in your reading. 

I like the way all lecture courses are supported by tutorials and workshops allowing you to ask questions on a more one-to-one basis

Laura, Year 1


Up to 25 chemists in the same teaching college are divided into small groups to work through problem sheets usually over 1 or 2 hours. Active contribution to the discussions provides opportunities to develop skills in:
  • communication 
  • analytical
  • team-work

Laboratory Work

Practical chemistry complements your theoretical studies and constitutes most of the continuously assessed parts of your degree. 

A wide variety of experiments are carried out from the synthesis of target compounds to a crime-scene investigation using forensic methodology. 

You will gain experience in:

  • handling and interpreting experimental data
  • how principles taught in lectures can be put to use

Watch our video of a typical week

Typical Week icon 

As the course progresses, you have an increasing range of choice in the experiments you do. In the summer term of the first year you will do the 'Chemistry of a Night Out' practical where you will plan and carry out experiments as part of a team.


How you'll be assessed

We pride ourselves on delivering useful written and verbal feedback to all of our students. Whenever you complete and hand-in a written piece of work, you will receive feedback on its good and bad points, and guidance on how you can improve further.

In some cases, this work will be assessed towards your degree mark (eg examinations, practical work and assessed workshops).

In other cases the work, and feedback, is intended to assist your own personal development (eg for tutorials and workshops, written work is marked and returned giving students prompt feedback on performance and understanding).

For some modules, presentations are assessed.

Degree weighting

Your first year marks do not count towards your degree classification.

The marks you achieve in your second, third and fourth year will determine your degree classification - the weighting is:

  • 25% for the second year
  • 37.5% for the third year 
  • 37.5% for the fourth year

Examination vs continuous assessment

The split of written examinations to continuous assessment (including practicals) is shown below for each year.

  • Year 1: 69% examinations, 31% continuous assessment. 
  • Year 2: 72% examinations, 28% continuous assessment.
  • Year 3: 69% examinations, 31% continuous assessment.
  • Year 4: 4% examinations, 96% continuous assessment (including research project - a report and oral presentation).

The split of written examinations to continuous assessment over years two, three and four is 48:52.

For examinations, there is the opportunity to resit end-of-module examinations. 

Degrees accredited icon

All our courses are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)


Careers and employability

Our degree courses are designed to give you a thorough grounding in all aspects of modern chemistry and a qualification from the University of York is highly respected by employers.

Although the majority of our graduates progress to become scientists, the analytical and transferable skills which constitute part of our degrees are recognised as suitable training for a wide range of careers.

This programme is designed so you can develop and consolidate your chemical knowledge further in a real industrial context.

We are committed to developing our students employability skills and supporting their career plans, which we have embedded in our courses, as illustrated below.

Through my year in industry I have gained valuable experience, learnt new skills and learnt a lot about a particular field of chemistry

Sina, Year 4

Developing employability skills


  • integrated practical course
  • group exercises
  • final year project

Self management

  • independent learning - macromolecules course

Application of IT and numeracy

  • practical and project reports
  • use of specialist software
  • quantitative chemistry skills course
  • matrices and determinants course

Problem solving

  • tutorial and workshop problems
  • practical work

Communication and literacy

  • weekly tutorials/workshops
  • 'becoming a professional chemist' course

Business and customer awareness

  • group exercises
  • final year project

Career planning

  • skills record book
  • employability tutorial
  • CV writing workshop
  • careers symposium
  • interview skills workshop
  • departmental careers symposium

View our 'Employability skills for our chemists' video

Employability skills video icon

Career destinations

The majority of our graduates go on either to scientific careers or to further study (this includes higher degrees and teacher training).

Chemistry at York typically has an excellent 97% ‘Positive Destination’ rate, that is the proportion of students who either continue their studies or go into permanent employment. This is 4% above the national average for Chemistry graduates.

A qualification in chemistry opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

Our graduates achieve a high rate in the quality of their employment, typically with 79% entering professions in the top three occupational classes. This is a considerable 12% greater than the national average for chemists.

View Chemistry alumni profiles and watch our video


How to apply

We consider all applications on their own merits so the exact nature of offers can vary to match individual cases. For example, offers will be influenced by:

  • the content of the UCAS application
  • the performance at interview (we interview all UK-based students prior to making offers)
  • any extenuating circumstances

Offers to applicants for the MChem programmes are the same as for BSc programmes. However, applicants wishing to be considered for European placements on a year abroad programme are generally expected to have a minimum of GCSE grade B in an appropriate European language. 

Chemistry@York Magnify applicant site

After we have received your application for one of our undergraduate chemistry programmes for entry in 2016 or 2017 you will be given access to our distinctive site for applicants called Magnify.

Guided by our current Chemistry undergraduate students, this site has been created to address key areas that we hope will be of interest to you during the admissions process. ‌

If you have any further questions please contact Katrina Sayer, email or telephone 01904 322545.

Entry requirements

A levels

Offers are typically based on three subjects at A level, one of which must be Chemistry. We do not include General Studies in the terms of an offer. Typical offers are as follows:

  • AAB, A in Chemistry for students taking Chemistry and at least two other sciences/mathematics
  • AAA, A in Chemistry for students taking Chemistry with one other science/mathematics
  • AAA*, A in Chemistry plus an A or B grade in AS science/mathematics for students taking Chemistry with no other science/mathematics

(Where science/mathematics includes biology, electronics, further mathematics, geology, mathematics and physics; we treat mathematics and further mathematics as separate A levels).

For students taking four A levels, one of which is a non-science, our offer is: AAB (A Chemistry) excluding the non-science or AAA (A chemistry) including the non-science.

UCAS Tariff points offers may also be made, for example, when a student is taking two subjects at A level (one of which would have to be Chemistry) and two AS level subjects.

The introduction of the Extended Project gives you the opportunity to develop independent study and research skills. Completing an Extended Project may ease the transition from your school or college to our Chemistry degree programmes. We encourage students to undertake an Extended Project, however, this will not be a requirement of any offer that we make.

International Baccalaureate

For students taking Chemistry and at least one other science/mathematics at Higher level:

  • Obtain the diploma with a minimum score of 35 points overall, including grade 6 in Chemistry and another science/mathematics at Higher level.

For students taking Chemistry at Higher level without another science/mathematics at Higher level:

  • Obtain the diploma with a minimum score of 36 points including grade 6 in Higher level Chemistry and grade 6 in one or more Standard level science/mathematics subjects.

(Our IB offer level takes into account guidance published by UCAS on the setting of International Baccalaureate entry requirements, and our own experience of the IB qualification).

A qualification in English Language is required from applicants whose first language is not English and who were not taught predominantly in English. This requirement can be satisfied by obtaining grade 5 in English at Higher level.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

Two Advanced Higher levels are preferred, which must include Chemistry and also a second science/mathematics, plus a suitable range of Highers. Typical grades expected from Advanced Higher levels are AA/AB (A Chemistry) and AAAAA/AAAAB at Higher level.

Irish Leaving Certificate

Typically AAAABB - AAAAAB including Chemistry and a second science/mathematics.


BTEC National Extended Diploma (QCF): DDD.
We accept a range of BTEC qualifications equivalent to 3 A Levels.
An additional A Level or equivalent qualification in Chemistry is required alongside any BTEC qualification.

European Baccalaureate

Applicants must obtain the diploma with a minimum mark of 80% overall, including a minimum grade of 85% in Chemistry.

Other qualifications

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma

Pass the diploma in principal subjects with:

  • D3/D3/M2 for a student studying Chemistry and two other sciences/mathematics
  • D3/D3/D3 for a student studying Chemistry and one other science/mathematics

Access courses

Access courses are offered by local further education (FE) colleges, and most can be completed in one year, or over two years on a part-time or evening-only basis. You will need to make sure that the particular Access course you are considering is appropriate, and syllabuses must contain a significant portion of chemistry and mathematics. The Access tutors at your College would be able to confirm that this is the case. Applications will be considered on an individual basis.

English Language Requirements

All international students whose first language is not English must satisfy the University’s English requirement. This can be covered by one of the following qualifications:

  • GCSE English Language Grade C
  • IELTS 6.5 with at least 5.5 in all units
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) grade C
  • IELTS is preferred if a choice is available.

See more detailed information on the University's English language requirements.

Mature students

The Department welcomes applications from students over 21 including those who have completed a suitable Access to HE course or Foundation course. Access courses are designed to prepare adults for entry to degree courses, and provide the opportunity to study the necessary subjects at a level equivalent to A level, as well as ensuring that you have the key skills needed for higher level study, such as English, numeracy and ICT.


The University of York, in partnership with the Open University, offers a flexible route to a degree in Chemistry. This route is open to all prospective students who meet the requirements for study at the Open University. In years 1-2, you will gain a thorough grounding in Chemistry in part-time study through the Open University, while living at home.

On successful completion of the requisite OU modules you will be able to transfer into the second year of any of our Chemistry degree programmes at York, and will expect to graduate with a York BSc, or MChem degree, after a further two, or three years, of full-time study.

Any questions?

Please contact our chemistry admissions team if you have any questions:

Professor Andrew Parsons
Admissions Tutor

Katrina Sayer 
Admissions Officer

You might like to see our typical week, including contact hours

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