Research course


University of Cambridge · Department of Chemistry

Entry requirements

At least a 2.i UK four-year "undergraduate Master's" (Honours) degree or a UK three-year Bachelor's (Honours) degree plus a relevant one/two-year Master's degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry or other relevant discipline.

Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content

Chemistry in Cambridge aims to support fundamental science of the highest quality in a first class physical environment. The Department includes a large number of internationally recognised research groups covering an exceptionally broad spectrum of chemical science ranging from molecular biology to geophysics. Our enthusiastic research culture embraces new challenging areas, including strong collaborations with other academic disciplines and institutions, while maintaining a powerful presence in the traditional core areas of chemistry.

The PhD is offered by the Department of Chemistry as a full-time period of research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge. (Applications from part-time students may also be considered but there are attendance requirements and you will need to live close enough to Cambridge to fulfil these.) Students are integrated into the research culture of the Department by joining a research group, supervised by one of our academic staff, in one of the following areas of Chemistry:


With a focus on enzymes, nucleic acids, protein folding and misfolding, and physical techniques; with relevance to health and disease, drug discovery, sensors, nanotechnology, ageing and energy research applications.

Materials Chemistry

Including surfaces, interfaces, polymers, nanoparticles and nanoporous materials, self assembly, and biomaterials, with applications relevant to: oil recovery and separation, catalysis, photovoltaics, fuel cells and batteries, crystallization and pharmaceutical formulation, gas sorption, energy, functional materials, biocompatible materials, computer memory, and sensors.

Physical Chemistry

Including atmospheric sciences, surfaces and interfaces, materials, and physical and chemical aspects of the behaviour of biopolymers and other soft systems.

Synthetic Chemistry

Including complex molecule synthesis, synthetic catalysis, synthetic assembly, synthetic biology and medicine, new technology for efficient synthesis, green synthesis, and preparation of new materials.

Theory, Modelling and Informatics

Including quantum dynamics, modelling soft materials, protein folding and binding, biomolecules in motion, pharmacological activity, molecular switches, redox chemistry, designing bioactive molecule and drugs, chemical biology, crystallography, and simulation of spectroscopic studies.

Potential supervisors and their area of research expertise may be found at Department of Chemistry (Research)

Educational aims of the PhD programme:

  • to give students with relevant experience at Master's level the opportunity to carry out focussed research in the discipline under close supervision;
  • to give students the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests;
  • to give students training in transferable skills to broaden their horizon above and beyond the focus of their research in the Department.

Department specialisms

Atmospheric and Gas Phase Chemistry; Chemical Biology; Materials, Polymers and Nanoscience, Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy; Surfaces, Interfaces and Heterogeneous Catalysis; Synthetic and Mechanistic Chemistry; Theoretical and Computational Chemistry and Informatics

Qualification and course duration


full time
36-48 months
part time
60-84 months

Course contact details

Graduate Admissions Secretary
01223 762031
01223 336067