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Your questions answered

Our frequently asked questions are grouped under the following headings:

  • The course
  • The application process
  • Overseas, mature or non-standard applications
  • Fees, bursaries and scholarships

The course

Should I do an MChem or a BSc degree course?

In making the choice between BSc (3-Year) and MChem (4-Year), you need to consider how useful the additional MChem year will be in preparing you for your likely career, and whether it provides experiences and challenges that will be interesting and worthwhile.

Students who take the MChem courses are generally aiming for a scientific career, whereas students taking the BSc may be interested in a variety of possibilities, for example, teaching.

Our course is designed to be flexible so that you can transfer between MChem and BSc courses at any time during the first two years.

How many hours' teaching will I have, and in what size groups?

In a typical week, the number of contact hours with chemistry staff is a maximum of 20. Your timetable will include practical work in the lab, lectures, tutorials and workshops.

Weekly tutorials (4 to 5 students) and workshops (up to 25 students), organised on a college basis, are used to support the material covered in the lecture courses.

A minimum of five staff in your college will arrange your tutorial and workshop programme, and guide your work throughout the 3 or 4 years of your course. This continuity of teaching and the small size of the groups (normally 4 or 5 students) make it easier for you to get to know your tutors, and you are welcome to seek help from them whenever you need it.

How do you organise practical work?

Practical work is spread over two days in Years 1-2 and labs are typically open for up to 7.5 hours per week.

At the beginning of the course, you will carry out a range of synthesis experiments, guided by academic staff and postgraduates, and there is an emphasis on teaching you fundamental practical skills and building up your confidence in the lab.

As the course progresses, you have an increasing range of choice in the experiments you do, and these also become more open-ended.

Can you give me any advice on purchasing prescription safety glasses?

Prescription safety specs have to be obtained outside the Department and must conform to the standard used for safety specs EN166F, or higher.

Prescription safety specs are available through most opticians. However, as they must fit well and give good coverage, it is strongly advised that frames are tried before purchasing safety specs.

The Bolle range have proved acceptable in the past. (The opticians in Boots on Coney Street, York carry the Bolle frames).

Do you teach in terms or semesters?

Our courses were previously taught in three 10-week terms. However, we are moving to semesters starting in September 2023.

View semester dates.


What forms of assessment do you use?

Students are typically assessed through end-of-module examinations and continuous assessment, such as practical work and/or coursework.

For some modules, presentations are assessed.

Students who fail modules have the opportunity to take resit examinations.

What feedback will I get?

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), whereas in other cases the work, and feedback on it, is primarily intended to assist your own personal development (eg for tutorials and workshops, each week, written work is marked and returned giving our students prompt feedback on performance and understanding).

Who monitors my progress during my degree?

The Board of Studies in Chemistry is responsible for monitoring the progress of all of our students. However, at the beginning of your degree, you will be assigned a supervisor who will be a member of academic staff within the Department of Chemistry.

Does the Department have a peer-mentoring scheme?

Yes, some of our second, third and fourth year Chemistry undergraduates provide informal help and support to students throughout their first year of university.

The mentors offer help and advice to our first year students on a range of social issues, as well as a range of issues relating to their course.

The Department also has a student-run Chemical Society (ChemSoc) that organises a programme of social events for its members to meet away from lectures and labs.

What proportion of students fail or drop out?

A small number of students may transfer between courses, both to and from Chemistry (perhaps up to 4% of students will make some change), but the number of Chemistry students who fail and/or drop out of the university is very small indeed – typically, around 4.5% each year.

What proportion of chemistry students are women?

Normally about 50 per cent of our chemistry undergraduates are women.

We were the first Department in the UK to achieve the Athena Swan Gold award for commitment to women in science and we are the longest held recipient of the Gold Award on record.

Can I study other subjects as part of my degree?

Yes. As part of any Chemistry degree course you can choose to take 'elective' modules: up to 20 credits in your second and later years can be freely chosen from across the university (subject to timetabling constraints and your background knowledge).

Is it possible to spend some of my degree studying abroad? If so, do I need a language qualification?

Yes. You can sign up for an MChem course where you spend Year 4 at an overseas university

Students applying for a year in France, Germany, Italy or Spain are generally required to have a minimum of GCSE grade 5 in an appropriate European language.

The University, through the “Languages for All” programme, provides further language training and this is free of charge to Chemistry students who register for our "Year in Europe" courses.


Will I be guaranteed a year abroad placement?

If you apply for our MChem year abroad course through UCAS then you will have the highest priority when it comes to assigning places to one of our overseas partner universities.

In recent years, this has meant that essentially all students who apply through UCAS for the year abroad course have been assigned a placement abroad.

In terms of hurdles, all of our MChem students need to achieve a minimum of 55% at the end of year 2 in order to progress. As we give preference to students who apply through UCAS for our year abroad course, we do not allocate overseas places for these students on the basis of their course marks.

I am interested in a career in teaching. Do you provide any special support?

York has a highly successful and supportive programme of student volunteering in schools (YSIS).

BSc students interested in teaching also have the opportunity to do a research project in local schools.

What career options will a chemistry degree give me?

Employers value the training in logical thought, and numerical and communications skills that you will receive through a chemistry degree.

Major employers of chemists include pharmaceutical companies, agrochemical companies, oil companies and the makers of detergents, paints, dyes, cosmetics and explosives, but the diversity of employment is endless.

The Royal of Society of Chemistry (RSC) provides lots of information on the various career paths open to chemists.

View information on career prospects for York Chemistry graduates

The admissions process

What is your standard offer?

We consider all applications on their own merits and therefore the exact nature of offers can vary to match individual cases.

For A level students, offers are typically based on three subjects at A level, one of which must be Chemistry.

Do you have different offers for different Chemistry courses?

Offers to applicants for the MChem programmes are the same as for BSc programmes, except that applicants wishing to be considered for the 'Year in Europe' programme are generally expected to have a minimum of GCSE grade B in an appropriate European language.

I am doing an unusual combination of A level subjects. Will you still consider me?

We will consider applicants with Chemistry and no second science or Mathematics.

Do I require an A level in Maths?

Maths is a very useful subject to help support some of the quantitative topics in a chemistry degree course.

However, we do not require students to have A level Maths.

In Year 1, we provide a maths skills course (taught by Chemistry staff) to support those students who have not taken Maths beyond GCSE (or equivalent).

Do I choose which college to be in?

The Department of Chemistry is unique at York in that Chemistry students are taught in college groups for the small-group teaching sessions (weekly tutorials and workshops).

Each student is assigned a chemistry teaching college with typically 25 first year students in each college. Our teaching colleges are:

  • Avogadro
  • Dalton
  • Curie
  • Faraday
  • Hodgkin
  • Mendeleev
  • Pauling
  • Woodward

When do I apply for accommodation?

You can apply for accommodation online and you will be guided through the process by our Accommodation Office. 

View the Accommodation Office webpages for further details

Do you have any catered accommodation?

Yes, catered halls are available and two substantial meals (breakfast and dinner) are included in your accommodation charges.

You may also like to take a look at our Meals in Advance (MAD) scheme which lets you purchase discounted meals on a semester by semester basis.

Does it matter which school/college I attend?

No, not at all. All applications receive equal treatment, irrespective of educational background or geographical location.

We welcome students from all sorts of backgrounds and with a wide range of experience, and consider every application on its own merits.

The University of York is committed to a programme of widening access to higher education.

If I apply for medicine, how will my application be treated?

We consider all applications on their own merits and each year we make a number of offers to students applying for medicine.

We recognise that students who apply for medicine will need to focus their UCAS personal statement on their interests in medicine, so we ask that these students submit a separate personal statement (to reflect their Chemistry interests) directly to the Department of Chemistry (please contact for further details).

After submitting my UCAS application, when will I hear from you?

Normally, we will contact an applicant within 2 to 3 days of receiving their UCAS application.

Please see our visit day page for further applicant information.

Will I be required to visit the Department prior to receiving an offer?

For applicants who are based in the UK and whose application meets our selection criteria, we normally require you to visit the Department before considering you for an offer.

This is because we believe the visit day experience is extremely important in helping to decide which university you ultimately choose to attend‌.

What happens during a visit day?

Take a look at our visit day pages for further information on our pre-offer and post-offer visit days which we run between October and March in the Department of Chemistry. 

Do you accept A level General Studies?

Normally, we do not include General Studies in terms of an offer.

Can I offer two AS levels instead of an A level?

We could only consider making an offer based on 2 subjects at A2 (one of which would have to be Chemistry) and 2 AS subjects in the event of mitigating circumstances.

What will happen if I miss my offer?

If in August it turns out that you narrowly miss your offer, we will use your UCAS application to help us make a decision. You may well still get your place, especially if you have a good grade in Chemistry, although this cannot be guaranteed. If you do not quite meet the conditions of your offer, and there are extenuating circumstances, you should contact our Chemistry admissions team as soon as possible, email or telephone 01904 322545. This will allow us to keep you in the picture as much as possible during what we realise can be a very stressful and difficult period.

What is your view on re-sits?

Each year we receive a number of applications from students who are planning to re-sit examinations.

This will not affect your application in any negative way and we would like to reassure you that we do make offers to students in this category.

Overseas, mature or non-standard applicants

Do you encourage applicants to take a gap year before starting university?

A significant number of our students defer entry for a year to enable them to travel or earn some money before beginning their degrees. We welcome such applications, and find that many students benefit enormously from this experience, which is sometimes - but not always - in an area connected with their future studies.

We encourage students to talk about their plans for their gap year in their UCAS personal statements.

When you apply through UCAS you should indicate that you want to defer your entry for a year. Then, if you make the grades we ask for, we will hold a place open for you for a year. Note that you cannot normally apply to defer for more than one year.

What if I left school some time ago?

The Department of Chemistry encourages applications from students over 21 including those who have completed a suitable Access or Foundation course.

Syllabuses must contain a significant portion of Chemistry, other sciences and Mathematics: applications will be considered on an individual basis.


English is not my native language. Will I have to obtain an English qualification before being accepted?

If overseas applicants have not had all their school teaching in English we usually ask them to obtain a grade of 6.5 in IELTS (or equivalent) with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. We would make that requirement part of any conditional offer.

As an overseas student, may I offer an A level in my native language?

Yes this is usually possible. 

So we often include, for example, A level Chinese in offers that we make to native Chinese speakers.

Do you accept applicants from International Foundation Programmes?

Yes, although the syllabuses must contain a significant portion of Chemistry and other science subjects: applications will be considered on an individual basis. You are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor in Chemistry prior to making an application.

I have a rather unusual set of qualifications. Will you still consider me?

Yes. We'll consider, in principle, any type of qualification which includes material equivalent to the Chemistry A level course, together with evidence of school-leaving achievement across a wider range of subjects.

You are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor in Chemistry prior to making an application, please email or telephone 01904 322545.

I am an international student - what will be my typical offer?

You are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor in Chemistry prior to making an application, please email or telephone 01904 322545.

Can I transfer to York from another university?

If you have completed the first year of a comparable degree at another university, we would normally consider a request to transfer into the second year of a BSc or MChem course. Your formal application must be made through UCAS.

If you have extenuating personal circumstances and if there are pressing reasons why you need to be in York, then we will always be prepared to consider you.

Fees, bursaries and scholarships

What fees will I have to pay?

View information on the University's undergraduate tuition fees. You will not have to pay your tuition fees when you are at university.

You can take out a fee loan each year through Student Finance Direct, and begin to repay the total cost of the fees after you graduate. The DirectGov site contains lots of detailed and useful information on student loans.

Please see full details of the University's bursaries and scholarships for home and EU undergraduates.

Do you offer bursaries or scholarships to home students?

Yes, each year the Department of Chemistry offers departmental and industrial sponsorships for all BSc and MChem Chemistry students.

All of our Chemistry students are provided with a Teaching Package, free of charge, which includes:

  • an electronic copy of our Year 1 recommended textbook, Chemistry3
  • a laboratory coat
  • a full set of laboratory equipment
  • safety spectacles
  • a molecular model set
  • affiliate membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
  • detailed laboratory scripts

Do you offer bursaries or scholarships to overseas students?

Yes, as well as the University International Office Scholarships for overseas students, the Department of Chemistry offers departmental and industrial sponsorships for all BSc and MChem Chemistry students and scholarships for overseas students.

All of our Chemistry students are provided with a Teaching Package, free of charge.

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Further information

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