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Our Chemical Research programme gives you the opportunity to acquire key research skills while conducting a large individual research project in your chosen area of chemistry. It will provide comprehensive preparation for a research career in academia (PhD), as well as being a real asset if you wish to pursue alternative careers in industry or education.

You will receive training in a wide range of research techniques to enable you to build up a substantial profile of experimental skills so that you can tackle research projects with confidence. Typically this includes hands-on use of instrumentation for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, chromatographic and vacuum systems, the manipulation of air-sensitive materials, and training in state-of-the-art scientific computing and modelling.

As well as completing a large-scale research project students will enrol on two 15 credit modules, consisting of lectures and workshops.


You will spend a large amount of your time working on a major individual research project. This research work is supplemented by a programme of lectures and workshops.

If you have any questions about the content or structure, contact the programme director Dr Lesley Howell or Deputy Programme Director Dr Rachel Crespo-Otero.

Core module

  • Chemical research project (worth 80 per cent of the overall assessment): Students carry out an original piece of experimental or computational research on projects agreed with their academic supervisor. Projects are in the areas of organic, inorganic, physical, computational, materials, medicinal, pharmaceutical or analytical; or a combination thereof. The work also involves an in-depth and critical evaluation and dissemination of the relevant literature associated with the topic and methodologies employed.

For laboratory-based research projects you will spend around 30 hours per week working alongside PhD students, technical and postdoctoral staff and have many opportunities to learn skills through interaction with other researchers.

Optional modules

You will be able to choose from a wide range of optional modules such as the following:

  • Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry: This module is concerned with the principles of drug design, drug discovery and the relationship between the molecular structure of drugs and their biological activity. Topics to be covered include: how candidate drug structures are selected for synthesis, structure activity relationships, physico-chemical properties of compounds and how these may be employed to assist in the selection of drug candidates, organic synthetic methods that are of particular relevance to the preparation of drug-like molecules.
  • Advanced Biological Chemistry: This module focuses on the role of organic compounds in the natural world, with particular reference to biological and pharmaceutical systems. The role of synthetic models for biological systems is examined critically. The aim is to rationalise the properties and reactivity of the principal classes of natural products and to demonstrate the fundamental chemistry behind biochemical reactions in biosynthetic pathways. Major biosynthetic pathways leading to the formation of secondary metabolites are examined from the mechanistic point of view.
  • Organic Synthesis: This module covers the techniques used to plan the syntheses of organic compounds, together with a selection of reaction types that may be used in organic synthesis. The aim is to provide you with sufficient knowledge and experience to analyse and evaluate the design of syntheses of molecules of pharmaceutical relevance. The second half is specifically designed to give students an understanding of advanced heterocyclic chemistry, again covering examples that are appropriate to the pharmaceutical industry. The aim here is to enable you to design syntheses of a range of types of heterocyclic compounds and to predict the reactivity of these compounds with a variety of common reagents.
  • Computational Chemistry: This module discusses key approaches in modern theoretical and computational chemistry, including HF, post-HF and DFT methods, and considers the application of such methods to study of the structure, properties and chemical reactivity of individual molecules, and further extended to the study of condensed matter.
  • Drug Design and Development: The aim of the module is to introduce you to the approaches currently employed in the pharmaceutical industry for drug discovery and development using a number of recent case studies as exemplars. The module will introduce you to the physical and chemical approaches used in the design and development of new drugs and will make them aware of the physiological/pharmacological issues that need to be considered before a drug can be used clinically.

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students.


You will be assessed by a combination of coursework and written examination, as specified in the module specification.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £10,100

Part time £5,050

Tuition fees for International students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £20,850

Part time £10,425

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

What are our graduates doing now?

The range of skills gained through our Masters programmes, coupled with opportunities for extra-curricular activities, has enabled graduates to go on to roles including:

  • Analytical chemistry - Pharmaceutical industry
  • Research and development - Cosmetics industry
  • Technical officer - Major London hospital
  • Chemical engineer - Oil industry
  • Teaching - Secondary and third level
  • Manager of a cosmetics company in China

Visit the MSc Chemical Research page on the Queen Mary University of London website for more details!




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