Graduate employment


Employment levels for chemists have always been good compared with many other graduate professions due to the very wide nature of career opportunities available to chemists in industry and commerce. Our highly regarded department and strong industrial links ensure that our graduates have an excellent record of successful careers. Heriot-Watt Chemistry graduates either enter into the vibrant research environment within the department for a higher degree or enter industry directly. Recent graduates have joined the following companies or courses:

  • Research training through PhD
  • Electronics micro-fabrication industry McFarlane-Smith, Edinburgh
  • Avecia, Grangemouth
  • DERA, Winfrith, Dorset
  • CBD Porton Down
  • DERA PE219 Electronics Sector
  • Zeneca Pharmaceuticals
  • Universal Energy, Edinburgh
  • Organon, Newhouse
  • Akzo-Nobel
  • Croda
  • Accordis
  • Dow Corning
  • Yorkshire Chemicals
  • Ulster Carpets
  • DuPont
  • Kroma Printing Inks
  • Chemistry teacher training
  • Glaxo-Welcome Zeneca, UK
  • SmithKline Beecham
  • Zeneca Agrochemicals
  • Quintiles Edinburgh
  • MSc Information Technology
  • Merck, Sharp and Dhome, Northumberland
  • Award plc (Bauch & Lomb), Livingston
  • Coates-Viyella
  • Bank of England Printing
  • BASF
  • ICI Paints
  • Sandoz
  • Dale Norway
  • Craig and Rose
  • P W Hall

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineers are well paid and have many opportunities to travel with their work, often internationally. There is a global need for Chemical Engineers within large international firms as well as smaller companies in sectors such as chemicals, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, polymers, foods and beverages and water. Job prospects are outstanding – good chemical engineers are always in demand and there are opportunities to reach senior managerial positions. Jobs range from research and development, through the design, construction, commission and management of a plant, to product marketing and customer service. Opportunities also exist in the commercial side in banking, insurance, finance and accounting. A Chemical Engineering degree equips people with easily transferable skills especially in terms of teamwork and the ability to take an overview of a situation. The broad training involved allows them to take on considerable responsibility within a few years of graduation and many advance to the highest levels of technical and general management.

Good chemical engineers are highly valued by employers for their all-round skills, and job prospects are amongst the best in science and engineering. Graduates are employed in many sectors, from fine chemicals and food products to polymers and oil and gas. With their broad appreciation of process chemistry, engineering principles, and the way in which these interact, chemical engineers are well suited to such vital roles. Salaries reflect the level of responsibility that they quickly attain, and the aptitude they need to pursue this career.

Graduates are given a lot of responsibility within a few years of leaving University and salary levels reflect this. You can expect to receive a salary averaging around £23,000 on graduation, rising to an average over £56,000 for Chartered Chemical Engineers. The beauty is that, with a Chemical Engineering degree, a number of options are open to you, from the chemical and process industries, including management, finance and marketing, to areas including bioprocessing and speciality materials.

  • Amec Process and Energy
  • Astra Zeneca
  • BP Amoco/Innovene
  • ExxonMobil
  • Grant Distillers
  • Inveresk Plc
  • Motorola
  • Standard Life Bank
  • Thames Water
  • WS Atkins
  • Proctor and Gamble
  • IGL Engineering
  • Jacobs Engineering
  • AEA Technology Plc
  • Donside Paper Company
  • Stone and Webster Engineering Plc
  • Conoco Philllips
  • Kvaerner Oil and Gas
  • Nexpress Solutions Ltd
  • Air Products Plc
  • Croda International Plc
  • Norsk Hydro
  • Marathon Oil Plc
  • Texaco
  • Scottish Equitable
  • Rohm and Haas
  • Eka Chemicals
  • Halliburton
  • BOC
  • GlaxoSmithKline

Electrical, Electronic & Computer Engineering

The EEE@HW courses have traditionally produced undergraduates with qualifications which are very well respected in industry. In past years, the majority of our students have secured employment before completion of the course or within a few months of graduating.

Our Undergraduate Programme produces a number of high quality graduates, some of whom move into our research groups on completion of their degree courses, going on to PhD study. A number also go on to do Masters programmes selected from the large and varied portfolio that is now available through the EPS Graduate School.

All MEng class got multiple job offers in June 2008 with an average salary of £25,000.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers play key roles in all industrial sectors ranging from aerospace, oil and gas, through food and transport to manufacturing, chemical and entertainment industries.

  • BP Grangemouth
  • FMC Kongsberg Subsea, Dunfermline


Physics is the basis for many areas in engineering and technology and, as a consequence, physics graduates follow a wide range of careers. The student may enhance his/her chances of specialising in certain key areas of physics by taking one of the Department's more specialised degrees (such as Chemical Physics) or follow a more core-based degree in order to have a general choice in the jobs market. Regardless of which particular degree choice is made, there are wide-ranging employment opportunities.

The strong research interests of our academic staff mean that our degree courses are maintained as relevant to industry, and allow our graduates to compete with graduates in other disciplines, such as electronic engineering, computer science and mathematics. The versatility of a physics-based degree leaves numerous career options open. Many graduates find careers outwith the traditional domain of the science graduate, for example in the financial/business sectors and the Civil Service.

The physicist's professional organisation is the UK is the Institute of Physics, which has over 20,000 members. Students in the Departments are eligible to become Student Members of the Institute. All of the Department's degrees* are accredited by the Institute, which means that on graduation, the student can become a Graduate Member of the Institute. After a suitable period of experience this Graduate Membership can be upgraded to full Membership (MInstP) with the possibility to apply for status of Chartered Physicist (CPhys). In addition, the Institute of Physics now offers a route to the Chartered Engineer (CEng) status. 

The Department graduates approximately 50 students per year - many of whom have established excellent careers in their chosen fields. Below we list some companies that our recent graduates have taken up employment with:

  • QinetiQ
  • Rees Instruments Ltd., Surrey.
  • Sales Engineer, Melles-Griot Ltd.
  • Physicist, Schlumberger
  • Systems Engineer, Leonardo
  • R&D specialist, Coherent Inc.
  • Medical Physicist at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
  • Statistician, NHS Scotland.

Find out more about a career in physics by reading our graduate profiles, or by exploring careers resources provided by the Institute of Physics.

* The Physics with Education degree is delivered in partnership with Stirling University.  This as accredited by the relevant Education body, rather than the Institute of Physics.