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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Chemical Research

MSc ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )


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.

Highlights of this programme include:

  • Undertaking an in-depth individual research project, you will develop the skills necessary to investigate a new area of chemistry and present the results both verbally and in writing.
  • We have links with chemical enterprises of all sizes, including Astra-Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Syngenta.
  • Some members of staff in the School have set up spin-out companies where students have found employment or direct involvement with management.

Research and teaching

In December 2014 the Research Excellence Framework (REF) demonstrated that 87% of our chemistry outputs were ranked as either 4-star (world-leading) or 3-star (internationally excellent). In the same month we celebrated 125 years of Chemistry at QMUL. For over a century, we have been committed to providing our staff and students with the best facilities for teaching and research:

  • Early in the twentieth century our laboratories were based in the People’s Palace's Rotunda - now the Octagon.
  • The College suffered considerable bomb damage during World War II and we had to rebuild the chemistry facilities.
  • HRH The Queen Mother opened our second Chemistry building in 1967.
  • In 2006 we opened the Joseph Priestly building with state-of-the art facilities including a range of analytical and spectroscopic facilities commensurate with contemporary research.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering at QMUL has recently committed to an investment of over £25 million into its buildings, equipment and teaching practices to ensure that our students are taught using the most advanced teaching methods in first-class laboratories. In 2018, a £5 million refurbishment of the undergraduate teaching labs in the Joseph Priestley building was undertaken to ensure students could continue to learn in a state-of-the-art environment.

Informal enquiries

If you have questions about this programme which you would like to put to Dr Lesley Howell, MSc Chemical Research Programme Director, please contact:

Tel: +44(0)207 882 6625

You can also learn more about MSc Chemical Research Programme Director Dr Lesley Howell in this blog.


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.

Recent dissertations include:

  • Polymers for bioelectronic sensors 
  • Computational modelling of molecular crystals with applications in lasers
  • The synthesis and manipulation of rare amino acids from citronamide natural products
  • The identification and analysis of new natural products from cyanobacteria with relevance to neurodegenerative disease

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.

Note: The 4th year modules ‘Drug Development & Design’ and ‘Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry' are only available to those who have a background in Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Teaching in optional modules includes lectures, workshops and a virtual learning environment. You can expect two to four hours of contact time per module per week.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class BSc (Hons) degree (or equivalent international qualification) in chemistry or a degree with a significant chemistry component. Applicants with a good lower second class degree may be considered on an individual basis, taking into account relevant background and related achievements. You can view a list of potential supervisors and project descriptions here.

English language requirements

All international students are required to provide evidence of their ability in English language.

The minimum level required for entry to our postgraduate programmes is:

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall including 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • TOEFL: 92 overall including 21 in Writing, 18 in Reading, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall including 57 in Writing and 51 in Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • Trinity ISE: Trinity ISE II with a Distinction in Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking, or Trinity ISE III with a minimum of Pass in Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • C2 Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE): 176 overall including 169 in Writing, and 162 in Reading, Listening and Speaking
  • C1 Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE): 176 overall including 169 in Writing, and 162 in Reading, Listening and Speaking  

For further information about our English language requirements please visit the QMUL international pages.

Am I eligible?

To check your eligibility contact our Postgraduate Admissions team:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328

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.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.


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


You will also be assessed on a supervised 20,000-30,000-word dissertation. The dissertation is assessed and orally examined by two examiners: one internal and one external. It is important that candidates appreciate that the presentation and general standard of the dissertation is expected to be comparable in quality to that of other externally-assessed research degrees (e.g. the PhD) of the University of London.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £10,900
Part time £5,450

Tuition fees for International students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £22,750
Part time £11,400

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

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.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate employment

This programme provides a comprehensive preparation for students wishing to progress onto a research career (bridging the gap between a typical lecture-dominated programme of an undergraduate degree and the research intensive PhD degree), but the qualification can also be a real asset for those wishing to pursue other careers in industry, or in education. Training is given in a wide range of techniques enabling students to build up a substantial portfolio of experimental skills and, therefore, feel confident in tackling more extended research and development projects.

What are our graduates doing now?

The range of skills gained through our Masters programmes, coupled with opportunities for extra-curricular activities, has enabled our MSc Chemical Research 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
  • Manager of a cosmetics company in China
  • PhD Student at the University of Reading
  • Technology Consultant at IBM
  • Lab Technician at Queen Mary University of London

Pursuing a career in research

Many graduates from this programme have gone on to do further research in the UK and abroad, including PhD positions at Queen Mary, Imperial College London, Oxford University, University College London as well as universities in continental Europe, North America and Asia.

Careers support at Queen Mary

Throughout the programme, postgraduates have access to a careers programme to prepare them for applying for work after graduation. This programme includes workshops on job hunting and job applications as well as employer events to facilitate networks and help students to explore their options. Recent career events open to the School’s postgraduates include the SBCS Industrial Liaison Forum featuring small and medium sized employers, and workshops on applying for and doing a PhD.

Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village redevelopment means that there are substantial opportunities for on campus and local part time work and work experience. On campus there are 1200 job and volunteer opportunities ranging from E-learning Assistant to Website Administrator and from Society President to Student Mentor. QTemps job agency offers work suitable for current students and recent graduates, QMSU Volunteering facilitates volunteering and QM JobOnline hosts over 800 part time and full time job vacancies.

  • Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages.


Ekaterina Gousseva - MSc Chemical Research (graduated 2017)

Now PhD Student in Chemistry at University of Reading

I made the decision to continue with my studies at Queen Mary after completing my Bachelor’s degree. Initially expecting to graduate and apply for corporate graduate schemes, I was introduced to the Chemical Research MSc course by my supervisor. Having never considered pursuing a career in science, but particularly enjoying my final year undergraduate project, it was the unique structure of the postgraduate course which led me to contemplate this as the next step. 80% of the Chemical Research MSc consists of a research project, which made my experience really worthwhile and helped me gain an insight into the world of academia. You have the freedom to choose which academic you wish to work with and take the time to complete a project thoroughly. The passion of the academics in at Queen Mary was inspiring and it really helped guide me in my choice to continue onto a Chemistry PhD.