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Course content

Course description

Polymer chemists are specially trained to build complex molecules that do very specific jobs. They turn the building blocks of life into useful products for business, healthcare and society at large. These range from oils, paints and coatings, to food, cleaning agents and cosmetics, to medical, agricultural and aerospace technologies. This means polymer chemists are qualified for careers in a huge number of industries.

This specialist course in polymer science and engineering is our most applied masters course. You'll learn how polymers are made and behave, how important products like polystyrene are constructed and how to use cutting-edge techniques to create new advanced materials.

The course is led by the experts behind the Polymer Centre. It's the UK's largest polymer research network within a single institution, made up of 48 research groups at the University of Sheffield. The centre has fostered many collaborations with businesses, so this course has been designed to give you the skills and expertise to work in the polymer industry.

Course structure

At the start of this one-year course, you will study the fundamental science of how polymers are structured and synthesised, and how they behave. You will also learn about the techniques that chemists use to identify, characterise and analyse polymers. Laboratory training covers a range of polymer synthesis methods and analytical techniques including size-exclusion chromatography, viscosity analysis, and IR and NMR spectroscopy.

Other modules highlight how polymer chemistry overlaps with other areas of science, by focussing on concepts from physics that explain polymers' unique physical properties, and engineering principles to look at the effects that polymer microstructures have on polymer performance. You will also take part in a research training programme that teaches you how to interpret and evaluate scientific literature, and communicate scientific topics in presentations and posters.

All of this training gets put into practice when you start your main research project, which will take up around a third of your course. You will choose your own topic within polymer science, be assigned an academic supervisor who specialises in your area and work in their laboratory as part of a team of scientists. There, you will be taught advanced lab techniques and be trained to use state-of-the-art chemistry equipment.

Current modules – students take all nine:

  • Fundamental Polymer Chemistry (15 credits)
  • Design and Synthesis of Polymers of Controlled Structure (15 credits)
  • Polymer Characterization and Analysis (15 credits)
  • Polymer Materials Science and Engineering (15 credits)
  • Smart Polymers and Polymeric Materials (15 credits)
  • The Physics of Polymers (15 credits)
  • Polymer Laboratory (15 credits)
  • Research and Presentation Skills (15 credits)
  • Polymer Research Project (60 credits)

Example project titles include:

  • Comparative life cycle assessment of fossil based PET and bio-based PEF bottles
  • Pressure swing approach towards carbon dioxide sequestration using hypercrosslinked polymers
  • Synthesis of block copolymer nanoparticles via living polymerisation methods

Learning and teaching

You will learn through lectures, workshops, laboratory classes and your research project, supervised by one of our academic staff.


Assessments include examinations, coursework, assessed workshops and your 15,000 word dissertation and viva.

After your degree

Graduates from this course apply their polymer chemistry expertise in lots of different industries – from oils, paints and coatings, to food, cleaning agents and cosmetics, to medical, agricultural and aerospace technologies.

This course is also great preparation for a PhD and a career in polymer chemistry research. 

How to apply

To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form.

Postgraduate online application form

Visit the MSc Polymers for Advanced Technologies page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!






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