Why choose this programme
As a PhD Chemistry student at Surrey, you will be part of a research-active school, with a strong track-record of employability and research excellence.
Our School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering has a small to medium-sized PhD cohort and is home to an intimate and collegiate working community. The small group sizes mean you’ll receive close and careful supervision, with easy access to all the help and support you need to succeed.
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 leading global academic journals, allowing our PhD students to witness the impact their work has in their field of research. Our 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. We encourage all our PhD students to attend and present at meetings.
We have an excellent graduate employability record: 100 per cent of our chemistry postgraduate research students go on to employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2023, HESA).
What you will study
Our PhD Chemistry 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. It must be a novel piece of research that is expected to take the subject forward and ultimately contribute to the advancement of chemical knowledge.
Research takes place over most of a three-year period and is generally laboratory-based. A thesis or dissertation is written during the last few months. Throughout the writing 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 School 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 how we think about the field, even if this is on a small scale. 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 presentation skills. As part of this, you’ll be expected to present your progress at various opportunities and to defend your work where necessary, for example, at the confirmation exam.
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.
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.
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.
Novel methods for recycling: synthesis of degradable polymers and degradable pressure-sensitive adhesives
The funding offer includes 3.5 years of stipend (currently £18,622 per year) and tuition fees (at UK/home level) as well as travel allowance to attend (international) conferences. International applicants are welcome to apply but must identify a source to cover the difference between international and home tuition fees.
- Computational chemistry
- Environmental chemistry
- Forensic analysis
- Inorganic chemistry
- Materials chemistry
- Medicinal chemistry
- Polymer chemistry
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Our laboratories are well-equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and our technical staff are on hand to support you.
Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper second-class (2:1) UK degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower-second (2:2) UK degree plus a good UK masters degree - distinction normally required (or equivalent overseas qualification).
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.
Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our application guidance.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Selection is based on applicants:
- Meeting the expected entry requirements
- Being shortlisted through the application screening process
- Completing a successful interview
- Providing suitable references.
Start date: April 2024
Start date: July 2024
Start date: October 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
Start date: January 2025
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September 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 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.
View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
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.
Read our application guidance for further 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 procedures, 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 registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, 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 our full disclaimer.