Research course


University of St Andrews · School of Chemistry

Entry requirements

A good honours degree; normally a UK 2.1 or equivalent

Months of entry

January, November, October, September, August, June, May, April, March, February

Course content

The School of Chemistry at St Andrews has a long history of research achievement stretching back to 1811.

For example, the concept of aromaticity, first realised with Kekule by the Scot, AM Couper, was further developed in St Andrews in 1925 with the coining of the term 'aromatic sextet' by Prof Sir Robert Robinson and his research student at the time, local baker's son, James Wilson Armit. Armit famously etched a benzene ring (hexagon with inscribed circle) onto the window of his father's shop, possibly the first time this image was displayed before a wider public.

Nowadays, research at St Andrews covers a wide range of chemistry. We are now in a position to become world-leaders in four key areas:

The Chemistry/Biology Interface

The Chemistry/Biology Interface area is broad, with particular strengths in the areas of protein structure and function, mechanistic enzymology, proteomics, biologically targeted synthesis, the application of high throughput and combinatorial approaches and biophysical chemistry, which focuses on the development and application of physicochemical techniques to biological systems.

Experimental and Theoretical Chemical Physics

Chemical Physics is the fundamental study of molecular properties and processes. Areas of expertise include probing molecular structure in the gas phase, clusters and nanoparticles, the development and application of physicochemical techniques such as mass spectoscropy to molecular systems, in Silico Scotland, a world class research computing facility, and the EaStCHEM surface science group, who study complex molecules on surfaces, probing the structure property-relationships employed in heterogeneous catalysis.

The Surface Science and Computational Chemistry groups in St Andrews have recently created new websites highlighting their research.

Molecular Synthetic Chemistry

Molecular synthesis encompasses the synthesis and characterisation at ambient and extreme conditions of organic and inorganic compounds, including those with application in homogeneous catalysis, nanotechnology, supramolecular chemistry, drug discovery and ligand design. The development of innovative synthetic and characterisation methodologies (particularly in structural chemistry) is a key feature.

Materials Chemistry

The St Andrews Materials Chemistry group is one the largest materials chemistry groups in the UK. Areas of strength include the design, synthesis and characterisation of strongly correlated electronic materials, battery and fuel cell materials and devices, porous solids, materials at extreme pressures and temperatures, polymer microarray technologies and technique development for materials and nanomaterials analysis.

The School has a wide range of research and support facilities available in-house to researchers from within the School and outside (both academic and industrial researchers) subject to availability and upon application. Applications are welcome from the ScotCHEM chemistry departments, who enjoy the same access privileges as St Andrews researchers.

Department specialisms

Organic Chemistry; Inorganic Chemistry; Physical Chemistry; Biological Chemistry; Materials Chemistry; Catalysis, Computational Chemistry, Electrochemistry

Research Excellence Framework (REF) score

Top in Scotland, GPA 3.23, UK ranking: 12th

Information for international students

Students whose first language is not English are required to sit an appropriate test and achieve IELTS overall 7.0 or equivalent

Fees and funding

UK students
Fees confirmed early 2017
International students

EPSRC/BBSRC/ORSAS/School/Industry CASE Awards - over 35 new funded studentships each year.

Qualification and course duration


part time
72-84 months
full time
36-42 months


full time
12-24 months
part time
24-48 months

Course contact details

Prof Michael Buehl
01334 467232
01334 463808