Chemistry with a Foundation Year BSc MChem

2024-25 entry
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

If you don't have the usual scientific or mathematical background for our degrees, a foundation year is for you. Your first year will be spent improving your knowledge and skills, so you're at the right level to move to a degree.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    Students in an undergraduate teaching laboratory

    Shaped by a focus on sustainability, this four-year course builds you into a forward-thinking 21st-century chemist – ready to take your career to the next level.

    If you don't have the usual scientific or mathematical background for a chemistry degree, this four-year Chemistry with a Foundation Year BSc from Sheffield is exactly the place to begin.

    The foundation year gives you a broad spectrum of modules in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Complete this with an average mark of 60 or above, and you’re guaranteed entry into the next year of your degree.

    Sustainability modules are part of our core teaching, and you’ll learn about this right from the start. In years two and three, we focus on the fundamental concepts and skills you need to unlock a wide range of optional modules later, including environmental, biological, medicinal, computational and astrochemistry.

    As a chemistry student at Sheffield, you’ll have regular tutorials to delve deeper into the complex topics covered in lectures. These small group teaching sessions are led by your personal tutor in first year, and experts in later years.

    In your final year, you’ll explore the latest concepts and findings in chemistry and explore specialised modules in depth. Fourth years also work on a group research project, gaining valuable independent research experience – plus hands-on ability with our multi-million pound research labs.

    Whether it’s working alongside our academic researchers or crafting your transferable skills with your personal tutor, a Sheffield chemistry degree lays an outstanding foundation from which to build your career.

    Why study this course?

    • Bespoke career support - enjoy advice, use the Skills for Success training programme to get broader transferable skills, and get support from your personal tutor to take your next steps.
    • Summer research placement - we offer a guaranteed summer research placement if you meet the requirements of our Undergraduate Research Scholarship scheme.
    • Focus on sustainability - sustainability modules are part of our core teaching in all our undergraduate courses from the start, and are also available as in-depth specialised options in year three.
    • Research in Sheffield - 95% of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent, with many of our academics gaining prestigious research awards.
    • RSC accreditation - our courses are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, so you’ll receive all the organic, inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry skills a professional chemist needs in the 21st century.

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


    After successfully completing the foundation year modules, you can start your main degree.

    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.

    Title: Chemistry with a Foundation Year BSc or MChem course structure
    UCAS code: F102
    Years: 2023, 2024
    Foundation year

    Core modules:

    Advanced Level Chemistry

    The unit covers a selection of the major concepts from areas of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry in order to develop a sound basic knowledge of chemistry corresponding to the common core A level curriculum as preparation for successful studies in the Material Sciences and Chemical Engineering.

    20 credits
    Further Foundation Chemistry

    The unit covers a selection of the major concepts from areas of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry in order to develop a sound basic knowledge of chemistry corresponding to the common core A level curriculum as preparation for successful studies in the Sciences and Engineering.

    20 credits
    Foundation Year Physics Laboratory Practice

    This module will introduce key practical skills common to physics and broad based engineering themes. It will develop student practice in performing laboratory experiments using a range of measurement techniques, understanding errors, writing method statements, using appropriate graphing and statistical techniques, and drawing valid conclusions.

    10 credits
    Foundations of Physics

    PHY009 provides students with the foundations of Physics required to enter the first year of a regular Physics or other scientific degree course, or an engineering course where detailed knowledge of Physics is needed.

    Understanding will be developed in 3 lectures per week over a full academic year. Problem solving and example classes are integrated into lectures. The following topics will be covered: Dynamics/Mechanics; Electricity and Magnetism; Thermal Physics; Oscillations, Waves, and Optics; Properties of Matter; Atomic and Nuclear Physics.

    As PHY009 teaches no practical Physics, this module is complemented by the 10 credit laboratory module FCE002 for most science foundation year students (except for foundation year students leading to a Mathematics undergraduate programme) or FCE001 for engineering foundation year students.

    The greatest advances in technology have taken place in the last hundred years. In 1897 few would have imagined that the probing of materials at the atomic level would reveal so much. These early discoveries of atomic constituents and their structure would pave the way for semi-conductor electronics, develop key concepts in physical laws, and offer a replacement energy source for fossil fuels in the form of nuclear power. This course summarises key discoveries in early particle physics and combines historical background with the detailed physics understanding needed to fully appreciate the subject.

    These full modules aim to provide a sound foundation in Physics in preparation for Level 1 Physics modules. It introduces (i) Properties of Matter, (ii) Oscillations, waves and optics and (iii) Atomic and Nuclear Physics. (i) Properties of Matter discusses structural, mechanical and electrical properties in terms of simple models. (ii) treats vibration and waves introducing the concepts of wavelength, frequency and wave speed. (iii) discusses the physics of the atom, including historical aspects, the electron, the photo-electric effect, Bohr's atomic model, nuclear structure and radioactivity.

    30 credits

    Optional module:

    A student will take 40 credits (one module) from this group.

    Core Foundation Mathematics

    The syllabus for MAS003 covers the common core A Level curriculum. The unit is tailored for students who have been away from mathematics for a period of time, but who will have gained some A-Level or similar qualifications. The unit covers the basic principles of algebra, geometry and calculus. Following the introduction of new material in the lectures, students have the opportunity of extensive problem solving, both in the tutorial sessions with the lecturers and in their own time.

    40 credits
    Foundation Core and Enhanced Mathematics

    This module builds on the common core curriculum from A level maths (which is a prerequisite). This unit covers enhanced comprehension of topics in pure maths, statistics, probability, and numerical methods. These topics are chosen to further prepare students for their undergraduate studies in the science and engineering faculties.

    40 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.

    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

    Standard offer

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

    International Baccalaureate
    31, with 5 in Higher Level Chemistry
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDM in Applied Science (including the units Applications of Inorganic Chemistry, Applications of Organic Chemistry, Industrial Chemical Reactions, Practical Chemical Analysis)
    BTEC Diploma
    DD in Applied Science + C in A Level Chemistry
    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher
    BBBBB + B in Chemistry
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + BC, including Chemistry
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject covering sufficient Chemistry units, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 15 at Distinction and 30 at Merit. Applicants are considered individually and must provide a course syllabus
    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

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

    Graduate careers

    School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    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.

    Zhiheng Song

    My experience in a chemistry lab was a reason my PhD supervisor took me on

    Zhiheng Song Chemistry BSc

    Zhiheng has followed his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Sheffield with a PhD in the USA.

    Shona Fielding

    The chemistry course at Sheffield is a really good foundation for many careers in science

    Shona Fielding Chemistry BSc

    Shona moved into teaching after her chemistry degree, and is now taking a masters course to prepare for a role in renewable energy.

    School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

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

    Research Excellence Framework 2021

    The School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences is leading the way with groundbreaking research and innovative teaching. We provide our students with the skills and knowledge to support them in a wide range of careers.

    Chemistry courses at the University of Sheffield are built around cutting-edge science that’s addressing global challenges. Four Nobel Prize winners have been Sheffield chemistry students or researchers. 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.

    Chemistry students are based in the Dainton and the Richard Roberts Buildings, which has lecture theatres, teaching labs and world-class research facilities. It's across the road from the UK’s number one students’ union and 24/7 library facilities at the Information Commons and the Diamond, and a short walk from 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

    School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    University rankings

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2024 (based on aggregate responses)

      University of the Year and best for Student Life 
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024

      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 2023

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2024, 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

    Student profiles

    Shoubhik Maiti

    I got a taste of the real research work that is being done in the department

    Shoubhik Maiti Chemistry MChem

    Shoubhik came to Sheffield from India and transferred onto our Chemistry MChem from the BSc so he could do an extra year of research training. It's prepared him for a PhD at the University of Oxford.

    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

    School 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 School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

    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.


    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


    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.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer


    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.

    If you don't have the usual scientific or mathematical background for our degrees, a foundation year is for you. Your first year will be spent improving your knowledge and skills, so you're at the right level to move to a degree.

    No No