The course

UCAS code
5 years
Delivery type

Heriot-Watt University is ranked first in Scotland for chemistry in the Guardian University Guide 2020. MChem Chemistry is a 5-year degree accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Option to study a year abroad or specialise to enhance employability.


Got questions about this programme?

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Chemistry is a dynamic and exciting subject which makes many important contributions to the world. It is a major contributor to the Scottish and UK economies and as such is a secure career pathway. Chemistry plays a crucial role in developing new medicines, materials and energy sources using greener methods for a better future.

At Heriot-Watt University, we make sure the theory we teach is linked to these practical applications so that when our students graduate they are ready to address the biggest of global challenges. Heriot-Watt University is ranked first in Scotland for chemistry in the Guardian University Guide 2020.

The courses within our five-year MChem Chemistry include extensive laboratory work throughout. They provide students with hands-on experience and opportunities to link theoretical knowledge from lectures to the real world. As a result, our students develop practical lab experience as well as much needed teamwork, problem solving and communication skills.

Your career prospects

Chemistry graduates from Heriot-Watt University have a good reputation with employers who appreciate their practical abilities, confidence, and communication skills in addition to the extensive, cutting-edge theoretical knowledge they possess. 

Graduates from chemistry can work in a number of roles across a diversity of fields within the pharmaceutical, biomedical, biochemical, health care, agriculture, food, drink and water industries. Opportunities also exist in the chemical, petroleum, electronic, aerospace and communications industries.

In addition to career pathways that directly use practical skills and chemical knowledge, graduates from chemistry are actively sought by a diverse range of employers seeking their problem solving abilities, numeracy and other transferable graduate skills appropriate for management roles.

Study abroad

Students on MChem Chemistry can choose to study one year of their degree with a Heriot-Watt University partner institution in Australia, North America, Spain, Germany or France.


Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry for partially meeting the academic criteria for Chartered Chemist (CChem).



Through the selection of complementary optional courses, students can choose to study a specialist field within chemistry and enhance their employability. Our specialist routes include Chemistry with: Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biology, Computational Chemistry, and Materials and Nanoscience.

Students should apply for BSc Chemistry (UCAS code F100) or MChem Chemistry (UCAS code F101) to follow these specialisms.

Student profile

Jonathan Oxley Heriot-Watt Graduate

Learning at Heriot-Watt was never just theoretical, and links with practical and commercial applications were made clear to help bring learning to life. Now, as Senior Director at the World Energy Council, I lead engagement with corporate partners, governments and institutions, and our Future Energy Leaders Programme.

Jonathan Oxley (BSc Chemistry) - Senior Director, World Energy Council Chemistry, BSc Chemistry


Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Our Pharmaceutical Chemistry pathway is attractive to students who want to understand how both chemistry and biology can improve the health and well-being of people, animals and plants. Pharmaceutical, or medicinal, chemistry provides a route for the discovery and development of modern pharmaceuticals, as well as revealing the molecular causes and treatment of disease. The UK pharmaceutical industry is amongst the strongest globally. Find out more: MChem Chemistry with Pharmaceutical Chemistry 
Our MChem Chemistry with Biology pathway suits students looking to combine their passion for both chemistry and biology. It aims to provide students with concepts of Molecular Biology and Microbiology and an informed understanding of the chemistry at the borderline to Life Sciences. . Find out more: MChem Chemistry with Biology
Computational Chemistry
Our MChem Chemistry with Computational Chemistry degree pathway suits students looking to integrate their chemistry more closely with physics, mathematics and computer science. You will learn how computer simulation can assist in solving chemical problems, using methods from quantum chemistry and thermochemistry incorporated into efficient computer programs, to determine the mechanisms and rates of chemical reactions and predict the structures and properties of molecules, and materials. Find out more: MChem Chemistry with Computational Chemistry
Materials & Nanoscience
Our MChem Chemistry with Materials & Nanoscience pathway is aimed at students with an interest in both chemistry and physics, and their engineering applications. The development of new materials with special properties requires students to combine their newly learned knowledge of polymers and solid-state materials with core chemistry. Microelectronics, communications, aerospace and other high-tech industries are dependent on chemists to develop and manufacture novel engineering materials. Find out more: MChem Chemistry with Materials and Nanoscience
European Language
This degree specialism works alongside our expert languages department in the School of Social Sciences allowing students to study French, German or Spanish to intermediate and advanced level alongside chemistry. Through our international partnerships in France, Germany and Spain, students will progress to carry out a research project at their chosen chemistry department. Find out more: MChem Chemistry with European Language
Year Abroad
Our MChem Chemistry with a Year Abroad route allows the student to study the fundamental principles of chemistry with the opportunity to spend one year studying at one of our partner institutions in Australia, France, Spain, Germany or the USA.
Industrial Placement
Students spend a year working in the laboratory of an approved company or organisation, where students can apply laboratory skills and theoretical knowledge in a real-life situation. As part of the year in industry students prepare reports and present lectures on their work and take two distance learning courses supported by email and online teaching material.


Course content

Year 1

Students gain a good understanding of the fundamental principles of chemistry and are introduced to laboratory skills illustrating various experimental techniques; students also study mathematics and an optional subject.

Year 2

Inorganic, organic and physical chemistry lectures continue with emphasis on the interrelationship between theoretical principles and experimental measurements. In addition, students choose an optional subject: Biology, Maths/Statistics, Physics or a Language. 

Year 3

Students study further Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry and can choose from a range of optional subjects (Analytical and Materials Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Microbiology, Programming, Solid-state physics). Communication and teamwork skills are developed and laboratory work becomes more advanced.

Year 4

Involves advanced lectures in inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, together with special topics. Special practical courses are designed to give a deeper understanding of modern practical chemical techniques.

Year 5

Involves an extensive 24-week research project within a research group plus computational chemistry and a range of optional specialist chemistry courses.


Work and study

This is what our MChem Chemistry students are doing 15 months after graduating:

  • 45% are working
  • 25% are studying
  • 10% are working and studying.

In highly skilled work

  • 90% of those are in highly skilled work 15 months after graduating.


  • The average salary of students 15 months after graduating: £21000
  • The average UK salary of students 15 months after graduating from a similar course: £24000


These are the most common jobs students go into 15 months after graduating:

  • Science, engineering and technology associate professionals

Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements

  • Highers AABB (including A in Chemistry and B in Maths/Physics/Engineering Science)
  • A-Levels BBC - ABB (including Chemistry and Maths with one at B) 
  • Int. Baccalaureate 30 points (with Higher Level Chemistry and Mathematics at 5)
  • BTEC DDM (in relevant subject)
  • HNC A in graded unit (in relevant HNC)

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC (including Chemistry at B and one of Maths or Physics or Engineering Science)
  • A-Levels CCC (including C in Chemistry and Mathematics or Physics)

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB (including Chemistry and Mathematics plus Highers AABB)
  • A-Levels ABB (including Chemistry and Mathematics with one at A)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 33 points (with Higher Level 6 Chemistry and Mathematics)
  • HND BB in graded units (in relevant HND)
  • BTEC DDD (in relevant subject)

Year 3

  • HND AA in graded units (in relevant HND)

Additional information

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2022 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland** International***
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £20,584

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'Rest of the UK' (RUK) and Republic of Ireland students entering at Level 1 receive a fee waiver of one year's tuition fee. Normally this will be the final year, or a year during which students study abroad (either at a partnership institution, or at one of Heriot-Watt's overseas campuses).

*** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales starting undergraduate degree courses in 2021

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about Bursaries

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.