Chemistry PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates

July 2022
October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates

July 2022
October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Why choose this programme

Studying a Chemistry PhD at Surrey will see you 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 it’s home to an intimate and collegiate working community. Our small group sizes mean you’ll receive close and careful supervision, with easy access to all the help and support you need to succeed. In the Department, there’s a long tradition of close interaction between supervisor and student. 

Our 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 and addressing microplastic pollution, to the discovery of new drugs and drug delivery systems, and analysing 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 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 our PhD students to attend and present at meetings. 

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

Our Chemistry PhD will deepen your understanding of the latest advances in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, natural products chemistry, materials and polymer chemistry, inorganic chemistry, fuel cell research, nanotechnology, and 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. The 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 formal and informal University and Department induction programmes during the first few months, depending on the nature of the research. There are regular formal reviews at six-month intervals to ensure progress is maintained. 

As a PhD student, you’ll 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’ll increasingly apply these skills independently and will become an expert in your field.  

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 industry. 

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


Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

We encourage you to contact a supervisor before you apply for this course to discuss what projects they can offer or whether they are the right person to supervise a project you have in mind.  

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

Research themes

  • Computational chemistry 
  • Environmental chemistry 
  • Forensic analysis 
  • Inorganic chemistry 
  • Materials chemistry 
  • Medicinal chemistry 
  • Polymer chemistry 
  • Radiochemistry.

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of 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).

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements

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

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language 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.


Start date: July 2022


UK £4,500

Overseas £22,700


UK £2,250

Overseas £11,400

Start date: October 2022


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

Start date: January 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

Start date: April 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

For fees payable in 2022/23, 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 2022 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.

Additional costs

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


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

How to apply

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.

More information on the application process.

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).

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions
Contact Admissions Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH