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, inorganic 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.
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.
- Computational chemistry
- Materials chemistry
- Natural products chemistry
- Medicinal chemistry
- Forensic analysis
- Environmental chemistry
- Inorganic chemistry.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Chemistry.
The laboratories are well-equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and support from excellent technical staff.
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.
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 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.
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.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
We will be offering over 150 Doctoral College studentships for outstanding prospective postgraduate researchers starting in October 2020.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
The Marion Redfern Studentship Award 2020
Full tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and stipend at the UKRI rate, currently £15,009 for 2019/20.
Find out more
Biodegradable polymers: New directions in controlled radical ring-opening polymerisation
This call is for self-funded students. However, excellent candidates will be encouraged to apply for a doctoral college studentship award which covers living cost (£15,009 per year), tuition fees, and bench fees for 3 years. Available from: October 2019 Applications accepted all year round
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).
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.