Chemistry PhD

Why choose this course?

Studying a Chemistry PhD at Surrey, you will join an internationally-renowned and research-active department with a strong track-record of employability and research excellence.

Our Department of Chemistry has a small-medium sized PhD cohort and is home to an intimate and collegiate working community. Our small group sizes mean that you will receive close and careful supervision and easy access to all the help and support you need to succeed. In the Department there is a long tradition of close interaction between supervisor and student.

The Department’s research interests span much of the discipline of Chemistry. Many of the research themes are aimed at solving real-world problems, from supplying clean energy, through the discovery of new drugs and drug delivery systems, to analysis of ever more challenging forensic samples. This focus will provide you with the opportunity to undertake research with the potential to benefit society. Much of our research is published in some of the foremost journals in the world, allowing our PhD students to witness the impact their work has in their particular field of research. Our PhD students have an excellent record of winning prizes for oral and poster presentations at scientific meetings not only within the University but at national and international levels. Within our Department, we encourage all of our PhD students to attend and to present at meetings.

What you will study

Our Chemistry PhD will deepen your understanding of the latest advances in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, natural products chemistry, materials chemistry, fuel cell research, nanotechnology, environmental, forensic and computational chemistry. A suitable project can be proposed or outlined by your supervisor. This is a novel piece of research that is expected to take the subject forward and ultimately contribute to the advancement of chemical knowledge.

Research, generally laboratory-based, takes place over most of a three-year period. A thesis or dissertation is written during the last few months. This examination is typically by an expert in the field who is external to the University, and by another who is internal. Throughout the writing up process, both during the PhD, and for the final submission, you can count on the help and support of your supervisor.

There are induction programmes, both University and Departmental based, formal and informal, during the first few months, depending on the nature of the research. There are regular formal reviews (six monthly intervals) to ensure that progress is maintained.

As a PhD student you will be expected to develop real critical analysis skills, to interpret novel results and change, even if in a small way, how we think about the field. Initially, this is likely to be very much in consultation with your supervisor, but as your PhD progresses you will increasingly apply these skills independently. Chemistry is the archetypal laboratory science, but not all research takes place exclusively in a traditional laboratory. Many projects involve computational studies, field work, and interaction with other institutions and with industry.

You will develop your laboratory skills and become familiar with a wide range of advanced instrumentation. You will also develop excellent reasoning and presentational skills. As part of this aim, you will be expected to present your progress at various opportunities and to defend your work where necessary, for example, at the confirmation exam. 

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 48 months January
PhD Full-time 48 months April
PhD Full-time 48 months July
PhD Full-time 48 months October
PhD Part-time 96 months January
PhD Part-time 96 months April
PhD Part-time 96 months July
PhD Part-time 96 months October
Stag Hill

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees.

The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Our students

  • Dan McDowall, MRes Chemistry

    “What I enjoy most about the MRes course is spending large amounts of time performing research in the lab and getting to the bottom of a challenge.”

    Read more

  • Matthew Bone, BSc Chemistry

    "University has been a fantastic experience for me, and one that will definitely shape my future. I’m very glad that I chose to study at Surrey."

    Read more

  • Mason Malloy, MChem Chemistry with Forensic Investigation

    "Since arriving at Surrey I have become much more confident and have gained a greater sense of what I am capable of - both academically and socially."

    Read more


  • Find out how our Doctoral College can support your research career

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  • Stay up to date with our latest research news

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  • Explore how our research is making a difference to the world

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Research themes

  • Materials chemistry
  • Natural products chemistry
  • Radiochemistry
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Forensic analysis
  • Polymers
  • Environmental chemistry

Research facilities

The laboratories are well-equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and support from excellent technical staff.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time January £4,195 £20,000
Full-time April £4,195 £20,000
Full-time July £4,195 £20,000
Full-time October To be confirmed £20,800
Part-time January £2,100 £10,000
Part-time April £2,100 £10,000
Part-time July £2,100 £10,000
Part-time October To be confirmed £10,400

For fees payable in 2018/19, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Contact us

Admissions enquiries

+44 (0)1483 682 222

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