Research course

Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

University of Nottingham · School of Chemistry

Entry requirements

2.2 (or international equivalent) in a BSc.

Months of entry


Course content

Physical and theoretical chemistry provides a quantitative framework for understanding and appreciating the static, dynamical, and chemical properties of gases, liquids and solids. These can be as simple as a collection of rare gas atoms or as complex as DNA, but in every case knowledge of their physical state and how it might respond to change, such as the absorption of a photon, can only be gained using advanced experimental or computational methods. Physical and theoretical chemistry research at Nottingham covers a broad range of subdisciplines, including surface and materials science, computational and quantum chemistry, laser spectroscopy, solid-state NMR, cluster science and molecular astrophysics. Within each of these areas, Nottingham has made major contributions in the advancement of physical and theoretical chemistry both in terms of our knowledge of basic processes and in the development of advanced instrumentation and computational techniques.

Spectroscopy and Dynamics

  • studies of fragmentation in isolated molecules using tunable laser and synchrotron light sources;
  • time-resolved studies of intramolecular energy transfer;
  • photoelectron studies of chiral molecules.

Astrophysical Chemistry

Observational and laboratory spectroscopy of molecules and dust found in stellar, circumstellar and interstellar media.

Magnetic Resonance

Application of magnetic resonance spectroscopic and imaging techniques to the characterisation of structure and dynamics in polymers, nanocomposite materials and biomolecules.

Surfaces Science

  • studies of internal surfaces in mesostructural materials;
  • UHV surface science, including surface structure using X-ray standing wave analysis, surface kinetics and dynamics.

Clusters and van der Waals complexes

  • chemical and spectroscopic studies of the gas phase solvation of metal dications
  • spectroscopy of weakly-bound complexes
  • spectroscopy of molecules trapped in helium nanodroplets
  • development of new experiments for studying metal ions using traps.

Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

  • development of new methods in quantum chemistry, applications include benzene in superfluid helium droplets, buckminsterene fullerene adsorbed on silicon surfaces, and the spectroscopy of proteins
  • application of computational chemistry to biologically important molecules.

This research is undertaken with access to state-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities. Current equipment includes a wide range of vacuum systems for surface, synchrotron, photoionisation, and cluster beam experiments, tuneable UV, visible and infrared lasers, ion traps, solid-state NMR spectrometers, mass spectrometers, and advanced computational facilities including access to the University's 1000-processor cluster.

For a more extensive overview, please visit the course page on the University of Nottingham's online prospectus.

Information for international students

English language requirements: IELTS 6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element).

Fees and funding

The Graduate School at The University of Nottingham provides information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

There is also funding information on the School of Chemistry web pages.

For information on funding opportunities for international students, please see the International Office website.

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months


full time
24 months


full time
12 months

Course contact details

Professor K L Reid
+44 (0)115 951 3450