The Master in Chemistry is a two-year (120 ECTS) advanced study in chemistry organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a Flemish university located in Brussels, Belgium. This MSc programme combines the expertise in the different research domains of both the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Ghent University (UGent).
Apart from a mandatory set of core competences, the programme offers a wide variety of classes within four current trends in Chemistry (clusters composed of a course package of 30 ECTS credits):
• Molecular and Macromolecular Design offers a thorough education in the design and synthesis of organic molecules and polymers, in which medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry and structural analysis feature prominently.
• Materials Chemistry focuses on the properties of materials, such as polymers, for example surface analysis, X-rays and laser spectroscopy and computational chemistry.
• Analysis and Characterisation covers a whole range of analytical techniques, including new electrochemical methods, advanced chromatography and elemental and isotope analyses.
• Environmental Chemistry studies natural and disturbed processes in water, soil and atmosphere. A variety of analytical techniques are used here, and new sampling and measuring techniques are designed, refined and optimised.
Additionally three main orientations exist, allowing you to select a profile composed of an additional course package of 30 ECTS in Research, Industry or Education (the profile ‘Education’ is taught in Dutch).
Practicals in small groups:
Chemistry is a real experimental science. Consequently, a lot of attention is given to practical experience and laboratory training. Practical sessions are designed to precisely perform experiments in small groups, and to handle chemicals in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. Writing lab reports and oral presentation skills are emphasised, as they constitute an integral part of the preparation for your future career. During these practical sessions, you are exposed to the different research areas and you become familiar with both theoretical and practical aspects of the different branches of chemistry. You will be introduced to the world of nucleic acids, proteins, biochemical processes and their applications, the design and synthesis of new molecules, molecular properties and reactivity studies, as well as the detection of organic pollutants, or the precise measurements of very low metal concentrations in the environment (water, soil, air).
Chemistry gives insight into a broad range of phenomena with everyday applications, and teaches you the theoretical basis of molecular properties. You also learn how you can elucidate the structure of complex organic molecules, and how you can build these molecules in the lab. The air you breathe or the water you drink must comply with international quality standards. You will be taught how to monitor that quality. The focus is clearly towards a discipline-based education, with a lot of time for experimental work.
During your master years, you have the opportunity to do an internship and gain experience in a professional environment, such as an international company or research lab. Or you can decide to study abroad for a semester.
Do you want to discover new molecules or develop advanced materials with specific properties, at a university, a public or industrial research lab?
Do you want to work on energy-efficient and environmentally friendly materials and processes?
Do you want to specialise in molecular and macromolecular design, with applications in various field such as medicine, materials, etc.?
Do you want to study the impact of chemical products on the environment?
Do you want to share your knowledge and are you considering a career in education?
Do you already have a professional Bachelor’s degree and are you looking to pursue your education and increase your opportunities on the job market?
The overall aim of the Master of Chemistry programme is to train students to conduct research in an academic or industrial setting.
Students apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired by identifying a research question, situating it in its proper chemical and social context and designing a study that addresses this research question.
This is an initial Master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.
The full programme comprises 120 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), including 18 ECTS for compulsory courses and 54 ECTS for electives. In addition, students develop advanced practical skills in an internship at KU Leuven to the value of 18 ECTS, while the remaining 30 ECTS are allocated to the Master’s thesis.
There are five majors to choose from:
The Department of Chemistry consists of five divisions, all of which conduct high quality research embedded in well-established collaborations with other universities, research institutes and companies around the world. Its academic staff is committed to excellence in teaching and research. Although the department's primary goal is to obtain insight into the composition, structure and properties of chemical compounds and the design, synthesis and development of new (bio)molecular materials, this knowledge often leads to applications with important economic or societal benefits.
The department aims to develop and maintain leading, internationally renowned research programmes dedicated to solving fundamental and applied problems in the fields of:
Knowledge and understanding
Acquire, use and form an opinion about information
Communication and social skills
Motivation and attitudes
The Master of Science in Chemistry offers a wide range of specialisations and, as such, many career options are available to our graduates. More than half of our alumni work in industry, while others work in academia or other research institutes.
Within industry, graduates can opt for a technical, a commercial, or research-oriented career. Since the chemical industry is also a major industrial sector throughout Europe and the rest of the world, employment opportunities are enhanced by obtaining a PhD. A few examples of professional domains where chemists are needed include industry (chemistry, petrochemistry, medical sector, pharmaceutical industry, agrochemistry, food industry etc.), government or public administration, and research institutes.
This master's programme includes a variety of disciplines. In addition to fundamental chemical-scientific course units, the curriculum includes the fields of socio-economics (company management, economics) and chemical technology (engineering, separation techniques, chemical process technology, industrial process technology, surface chemistry, environmental technology, etc.). A flexible cross-campus elective package and a master's thesis conducted in either a research-specific or industrial context enable you to focus your studies according to your specific interests and career goals.
In the Sustainable Process and Materials Engineering option emphasis is placed on reliable technology that meets today's needs without jeopardising the welfare of future generations. This implies that materials and energy must be used efficiently, taking into account their impact on the environment. Thus, on the one hand this option is aimed at sustainable designing, development, and manufacturing of products and systems, and on the other it is aimed at development, properties, characterisation, production and processing of (new) materials.
Add an in-company or project-based learning experience to your master's programme
You can augment your master's programme with the Postgraduate Programme Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Engineering. This programme is made up by a multifaceted learning experience in and with a company, with an innovative engineering challenge as the central assignment. It is carried out in a team setting, has a distinct international dimension, and usually requires a multidisciplinary approach. Entrepreneurs and students alike are encouraged to innovate, transfer knowledge and grow. It is a unique cross-fertilisation between company and classroom.
International Campus Group T
The Faculty of Engineering Technology maintains close ties with universities around the world. At Campus Group T, more than 20% of the engineering students are international students. They represent 65 different nationalities from all over the world. This international network extends not just to Europe, but also to China, Southeast Asia, India, Ethiopia and beyond.
Campus Group T is the only campus of the faculty who offers all the degree programmes in the business language par excellence: English. The language is ubiquitous both inside and outside the classroom. If you've mastered English, you feel right at home. And if you want to explore more of the world, you can do part of your training at a university outside Belgium as an exchange student.
This master's programme brings students to the advanced level of knowledge and skills that is associated with scientific work in the broad sense, and more particularly to those areas of the engineering sciences that are related to chemistry. This programme offers a broad academic training in chemistry and chemical (processing) technology, in which a clear emphasis is placed on chemical analysis in production, quality management and research.
Degree holders are able to apply the acquired scientific knowledge independently in a broad social context. Furthermore, they have the necessary organisational skills to hold executive positions.
The chemical sector (petrochemical, synthetic, pharmaceutical, etc.) offers a broad and fascinating field of work. On completion of this master's programme, you are equipped with the skills to lead and coordinate industrial production units and research, analysis and screening laboratories in technical-commercial, administrative and educational environments. You can also set up applied research and design activities on a self-employed basis.
The Master of Science in Chemical Engineering programme is primarily aimed at applying chemical engineering principles to develop technical products and to design, control and improve industrial processes. Students also learn to take environmental and safety issues into account during all phases of the process.
Two guiding principles of sustainable development – the rational exploitation of resources and energy, and the application of the best available technology – are emphasised, as is the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle”.
As a chemical engineering student, you will learn to think in a process-oriented manner and grasp the complexity of physico-chemical systems. Even more than other specialists, you will be asked to solve problems of a very diverse nature. Insights into processes at the nano and micro scale are fundamental for the development of new products and/or (mega-scale) technologies.
While students should have a foundational knowledge of chemistry, the underlying chemistry of the elements and components, their properties and mutual reactions are not the main focal points of the programme.
With a focus on process, product and environmental planet engineering, the programme does not only guarantee a solid chemical engineering background, it also focuses on process and product intensification, energy efficient processing routes, biochemical processes and product-based thinking rather than on the classical process approach.
The programme itself consists of an important core curriculum that covers the foundations of chemical engineering. The core curriculum builds on the basic knowledge obtained during the Bachelor’s. In this part of the programme, you will concentrate on both the classical and the emerging trends in chemical engineering.
Students also take up 9 credits from ‘Current trends in chemical engineering’-courses. These courses are signature courses for the Master’s programme and build on the research expertise present within the department. These courses encompass microbial process technology, process intensification, exergy analysis of chemical processes and product design.
The curriculum consists of a broad generic core, which is then strengthened and honed during the second year, when students select one of the three specialisations: product, process and environmental engineering.
This choice provides you with the opportunity to specialise to a certain extent. Since the emerging areas covered in the programme are considered to be the major challenges within the chemical and related industries, graduating in Leuven as a chemical engineer will give you a serious advantage over your European colleagues since you will be able to integrate new technologies within existing production processes.
During their Master’s studies, students are encouraged to take non-technical courses (general interest courses), organized for instance by other faculties (economics, social sciences, psychology…) in order to broaden their scope beyond mere technical courses.
An important aspect of the Master’s programme is the Master’s thesis. Assigning Master’s thesis topics to students is based on a procedure in which students select 5 preferred topics from a long list.
The Master’s programme highly values interactions with the chemical industry which is one of the most important pillars of the Flemish economy. As such, some courses are taught by guest professors from the industry.
One or two semesters of the programme can be completed abroad in the context of the ERASMUS+ programme. Additionally, you can apply for an industrial internship abroad through the departmental internship coordinator. These internships take place between the third Bachelor’s year and the first Master’s year, or between the two Master’s years.
The department also offers a new exchange programme with the University of Delaware (United States) and with the Ecole Polytechique in Montréal (Canada).
The faculty’s exchange programmes are complemented by the BEST network (Board of European Students of Technology). This student organisation offers the opportunity to follow short courses, usually organised in the summer months. The faculty also participates in various leading international networks.
You can find more information on this topic on the website of the Faculty website.
The chemical sector represents one of the most important economic sectors in Belgium. It provides about 90,000 direct and more than 150,000 indirect jobs. With a 53 billion euro turnover and a 35% share of the total Belgian export, the chemical sector is an indispensable part of the contemporary Belgian economy.
As a chemical engineer you will predominantly work in industrial branches involved in (the production of) bulk and specialty chemicals, oil and natural gas (petrochemical companies and refineries), non-ferrometallurgics, energy, waste treatment, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. The following professional activities lie before you:
Apart from the traditional career options, your insight into complex processes will also be much appreciated in jobs in the financial and governmental sector, where chemical engineers are often employed to supervise industrial activities, to deliver permissions, and to compose regulations with respect to safety and environmental issues.
As self-employed persons, chemical engineers work in engineering offices or as consultants. Due to their often very dynamic personality, chemical engineers can also be successful as entrepreneurs.