Dr Joanna Buckley with students on a Taster Day.

Chemistry with Biological and Medicinal Chemistry MChem

Department of Chemistry

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    You are viewing this course for 2023-24 entry. 2024-25 entry is also available.

    Key details

    Course description

    This specialist course is the best route for students who are thinking about a career in scientific research to help meet the growing demands of the healthcare sector and pharmaceutical industry. As well as essential chemistry topics, you'll study more tailored themes such as pharmacokinetics, toxicology and drug design.

    You'll learn to use industry-standard commercial software and have the opportunity to spend your final year working on your own biological and medicinal chemistry research project.

    The programme is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and gives you opportunities to work individually and in groups, to carry out project work and to acquire a range of skills that are highly prized by employers.

    We cover a wide range of topics based on the latest concepts and findings in chemistry, and the skills and expertise that chemistry graduates can offer industry and society. As well as biological and medicinal chemistry, these include:

    • environmental and sustainable chemistry
    • advanced materials and nanotechnology
    • astrochemistry
    • computational chemistry

    Your lectures in first and second year are supported by small group tutorials, where you can delve deeper into complex topics. These small group teaching sessions are led by your personal tutor in first year, and specialist experts in later years. In addition, your personal tutor will also help you work out which skills you need to develop and support you as you build up your experience in time for graduation.

    If you want to study chemistry, but don’t meet the entry requirements to go straight into the first year of this course, you may be able to apply for our Chemistry with a Foundation Year course. Finish the year-long foundation programme with an average mark of 60 or above, and you’re guaranteed entry onto the first year of your chosen chemistry degree at the University of Sheffield.

    Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry for fully meeting the academic criteria for Chartered Chemist (CChem)

    Chemistry students in the lab


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

    Title: Chemistry with Biological and Medicinal Chemistry MChem course structure
    UCAS code: C720
    Years: 2022, 2023
    First year

    In your first year, you'll spend a day a week in the lab, learning essential skills and techniques. You will study topics including the structure of atoms and molecules, how and why chemical reactions happen, and how to identify and analyse different compounds. You'll also look at biological processes that are underpinned by chemistry, and the critical role that chemistry plays in ensuring a sustainable future. 

    Core modules:

    Chemistry in a Sustainable Future

    Chemistry has a crucial role to play in creating a sustainable world. This module looks at the contributions chemists can make to society, with a particular focus on sustainability and green chemistry. Students will learn where everyday essentials including food and energy come from, and how chemistry can help combat global warming by, for example, making the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and feedstocks possible. To make the biggest impact on society, students will learn how to explain scientific concepts to a range of audiences by working in groups to produce articles, infographics and other content.

    10 credits
    Fundamentals of Chemistry

    This is the first module that all of our undergraduate students take, and takes up most of the first year. It covers the fundamental concepts behind the four main branches of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical and analytical), and teaches practical skills that every chemist needs. Themes include the structure of atoms and molecules, how chemical reactions happen, and how to identify and analyse different chemicals and elements. Topics are covered in lectures, workshops, small group tutorials and in the laboratory.

    80 credits

    Other modules – the combination you take depends on your A Levels:

    Chemistry in the Biological World Around Us

    Chemistry is the backbone of fundamental biological processes, from healthcare and medicine to countless other features of modern life. This module brings together the four main branches of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical and analytical) to explain the principles behind the biology we experience in our day-to-day lives. Examples of the kinds of topic that will be described are medicine, nutrition, the molecules that have defined modern biology, and studies of molecules that have shaped and changed the biological world.

    10 credits
    Chemistry in the Physical World Around Us

    Many of the technologies, products and structures we take for granted in our everyday lives rely on chemistry. This module brings together the four main branches of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical and analytical) to explain the chemical principles of the world around us. Examples of the kinds of topic that will be described are the chemistry of explosives, molecules that glow, toiletries, cosmetics, laundry and foodstuffs.

    10 credits
    Mathematics for Chemists

    This module introduces mathematics as the language of science, so that students can apply a range of mathematical tools to the scientific problems they'll tackle during their chemistry degree. It is designed for students who haven't done A Level mathematics, or an equivalent post-16 qualification. At the start, the focus is on revising key mathematics skills, such as rearranging and solving equations. Students build up to the more complex mathematical concepts that chemists use, both to explain fundamental theories and to complete practical work in the lab. Mathematics is taught in a chemistry context throughout, exploring topics that range from thermodynamics and kinetics to quantum chemistry.

    20 credits
    Essential Mathematics for Chemists

    Lots of scientific knowledge is built on a strong mathematical foundation. This module is designed to develop students' mathematical understanding, skills and intuition. Advanced mathematical concepts such as differentiation and integration of complex functions, partial differentiation and integration by parts will be taught in terms of their applications in chemistry. Other topics, such as series, complex numbers, matrices, determinants and differential equations are are also covered in physical and theoretical chemistry contexts. The aim is to give students a strong set of practical tools for tackling a range of chemistry problems through a series of staff-led workshops and self-study problem sets.

    10 credits
    Physical Principles in Chemistry

    This module is designed for students studying Chemistry, but who do not have an A-level Physics qualification. The goal is to ensure that you have a strong grasp of the fundamental physical principles that will be used in your Chemistry degree. The course covers three major areas of physics: mechanics, electrostatics, and optics. Students will learn about topics including forces, energy conservation, wave motion, force fields and oscillators

    10 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

    Learning and assessment


    You'll learn through lectures, small group tutorials and workshops, practical sessions in the lab and research projects.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours


    You will be assessed through laboratory work, coursework, online quizzes, examinations, essays and other written work.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    including Chemistry

    A Levels + additional qualifications ABB, including Chemistry + B in the EPQ; ABB, including Chemistry + A in AS or B in A Level Further Maths

    International Baccalaureate 34, with 5 in Higher Level Chemistry

    BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in Science, including specific Chemistry units (Applications of Inorganic Chemistry, Applications of Organic Chemistry, Industrial Chemical Reactions and Practical Chemical Analysis)

    BTEC Diploma DD in Science + A in A Level Chemistry

    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher AAABB + B in Chemistry

    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AA, including Chemistry

    Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, including sufficient Chemistry units, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction and 9 at Merit. Applicants are considered individually and must provide a course syllabus for their diploma

    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 6/B

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    including Chemistry

    A Levels + additional qualifications ABB, including Chemistry + B in the EPQ; ABB, including Chemistry + A in AS or B in A Level Further Maths

    International Baccalaureate 33, with 5 in Higher Level Chemistry

    BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in Science, including specific Chemistry units (Applications of Inorganic Chemistry, Applications of Organic Chemistry, Industrial Chemical Reactions and Practical Chemical Analysis)

    BTEC Diploma DD in Science + B in A Level Chemistry

    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher AABBB + B in Chemistry

    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AB, including Chemistry

    Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, including sufficient Chemistry units, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction and 15 at Merit. Applicants are considered individually and must provide a course syllabus for their diploma

    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 6/B

    English language requirements

    You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

    Equivalent English language qualifications

    Visa and immigration requirements

    Other qualifications | UK and EU/international

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Department of Chemistry

    The Department of Chemistry was one of the University's first departments when it was founded in 1905. Since then, four Nobel Prize winners have either worked or studied in the department. Our researchers work on a broad range of contemporary scientific challenges, ranging from antimicrobial resistance and environmental sustainability to cancer treatments and new technological solutions for industry.

    The Department of Chemistry is mainly located in the Dainton and the Richard Roberts Buildings, which feature lecture theatres, teaching labs and world-class research facilities. We're just across the road from the award-winning library facilities at the Information Commons and the Diamond, and the UK's number one students' union, all within a short walk of the city centre.


    We have three large teaching labs where you'll spend a lot of time during your degree: one for organic chemistry, one for inorganic chemistry and one for physical chemistry. Each lab has specialist analytical equipment, including nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy, and gas-, liquid- and size-exclusion chromatography. Our advanced lab is used for the group research project you'll complete in your third year, with large fume cupboards and workbenches to make collaboration easy.

    We are also home to a number of multi-million pound research laboratories. These include the Lord Porter Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory, which is used in studies ranging from energy transport in molecules and materials to artificial photosynthesis, and our Soft Matter Analytical Laboratory, where scientists can study samples that are 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

    Department of Chemistry

    Why choose Sheffield?

    The University of Sheffield

      A top 100 university
    QS World University Rankings 2023

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022

      No 1 Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      A top 10 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2022, High Fliers report

    Department of Chemistry

    95% of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent

    Research Excellence Framework 2021

    Graduate careers

    Department of Chemistry

    Our courses have been created with your future in mind. All of our modules have been designed to give you skills that will help you find and succeed in your chosen career - problem solving, team working, fact finding, data analysis, critical thinking, communication, project management.

    As part of your course, you'll develop your own idea for a chemistry business and pitch it as part of a team. On our Skills For Success training programme you can get experience of public speaking, presenting a poster, hosting a debate or producing a video. At our annual careers day you can explore career options, meet with employers who hire chemistry graduates and get tips from former students to help you take your next steps after graduation.

    Some of the biggest employers of our students are pharmaceutical companies (such as GSK), where chemists develop new medicines, and consumer goods companies (such as Unilever and Reckitt), which make many of the products you see on supermarket shelves. Graduates can also go behind the scenes, creating the chemicals and materials that make industrial manufacturing possible.

    The science industry doesn’t only employ scientists though - big companies like Unilever and AstraZeneca need graduates who understand science to work in communications, market research and business development roles.

    What if I want to work outside science?

    A chemistry degree from the University of Sheffield can take you far, whatever you want to do. We have graduates using their scientific minds in everything from finance to computer programming.

    Tracy Maiden

    Making a difference with medicinal chemistry

    Tracy Maiden MChem Chemistry; PhD in Chemistry

    Tracy followed her undergraduate degree with a PhD that included a placement with GSK. She's now a senior scientist working in drug discovery.

    Toby Allen

    Doing chemistry as a degree opens many doors to you

    Toby Allen Chemistry MChem

    Toby landed a job in biotechnology after his chemistry degree, despite graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Placements and study abroad


    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the four year course to a five-year Degree with Placement Year.

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range transferable skills 
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace


    If you know you want to do a placement we also offer Chemistry with an Industrial Placement Year at both BSc and MChem levels that you can apply for via UCAS. Our students have completed placements at organisations including Dow Chemical Company (chemical industry), GSK (pharmaceutical industry), Merck KGaA (science and technology) and RB (consumer goods, formerly Reckitt Benckiser).

    Another great way to gain extra experience is by applying to join the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience scheme. This gives you the chance to spend around six weeks working in one of our research groups over the summer. It's a unique opportunity to pursue research in an area that you’re excited about, and can help inform your future career aspirations.

    We can guarantee you a summer research placement if you meet the requirements of our Undergraduate Research Scholarship scheme. Please find more information under 'Fees and funding'.

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget.

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually studying abroad between the second and third year at Sheffield. Or you can apply to replace a year of your time at Sheffield with a period abroad without adding an additional year to your course. 

    We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Fees and funding


    Additional costs

    The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    Funding your study

    Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

    Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

    Additional funding

    Department scholarships are available for this course, for further details see our funding and scholarships page.

    The University of Sheffield’s Experience Sheffield Scholarships includes a number of scholarships that are guaranteed to go to students in the Department of Chemistry.

    You can also be awarded an Undergraduate Research Scholarship to fund a summer research placement if you get AAA or above at A Level, or equivalent, and maintain an average grade of 70 per cent or higher.

    Visit us

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

    Campus tours

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply for this course

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

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