Chemistry Q&A (Plain Text)
What makes the department at Queen’s University Unique?
The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s is the only combined school within the Russell Group of research-intensive universities within the UK. Being a combined school gives us a lot of advantages when it comes to dealing with global challenges, as we really do get to understand how to design materials and processes from the molecular to industrial scale. Within Queen’s we also have a common first semester where both chemists and engineers are taught together. Students who meet the entrance requirements for both subjects can take modules which allow them to transfer between subjects over the first semester once they become more familiar with the courses.
Should I do Chemistry or Medicinal Chemistry?
Chemistry one of the core sciences and our Chemistry degree pathways cover all of the major branches of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical and analytical). Our Medicinal Chemistry degree shares all of the organic and inorganic modules with Chemistry but in place of some physical chemistry modules also covers molecular biology, bioinformatics and drug discovery and design. We recommend that students who have a general interest in Chemistry apply for the core pathway but those with an additional interest in biology and/or drug discovery apply for a Medicinal Chemistry course.
What are the main skills I will learn during the course?
Almost every man-made object that you interact with during your day-to-day life would not be here without chemists. From developing reactions to make the polymers that go into many important materials, to designing creating next generation medicines to treat disease, chemistry is essential to improving our quality of life. In both Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry, you will learn the fundamental principles that govern how molecules react and how to apply these principles to make more complex chemical entities. A strong emphasis is placed on laboratory classes, where students put the concepts they learn in lectures into practice. Our MSci pathways include a research project, where students spend most of their final year conducting research in an academic laboratory, offering the chance to specialize in an area that they find most interesting. Students also gain many general skills highly valued by employers, including problem solving, data analysis, communication and the ability to work in a team.
What facilities will I have access to in the school?
The School has excellent facilities which complement those of the wider University. Within the School, we have state of the art research and teaching spaces, as well as a student hub. We're constantly upgrading our teaching laboratories and have up-to- date computational equipment to support students in their learning. Students can even borrow laptops from the School to help with their studies and assignments, if needed. You can check out the School tour video elsewhere on these pages, which will give you an idea of the facilities we have.
What are the benefits of taking the placement option, and what support will the University provide me with?
As a practical subject, there is no better way to test what you have learned than by doing it! Many of our students do just that, and take an opportunity to go on a placement in any one of a number of different companies that regularly come to Queen’s each year. The insight that is gained from the application of academic studies in a workplace environment, and the confidence which comes from finding individual and team solutions to workplace challenges helps students to refine their career aspirations and gives them a boost in securing full time employment. We do recommend this option and if you want to find out more please do check out the placement content on these pages, where you'll also be able to hear from some of our current placement students!
What do graduates go on to do after studying Chemistry? How do you expect the job market to change, locally and internationally, following the global pandemic?
Our Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry degrees are stepping-stones to a career in any one of a number of areas. There is so much potential for creative individuals who are well trained within many areas. Our graduates have gone on to work in the pharmaceutical industry, bulk or fine chemicals production, energy, construction, academic research and in many other sectors. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown exactly why chemists and medicinal chemists are needed. Without chemists, we wouldn’t have the polymers that are used to make facemasks, gloves and other PPE. Without medicinal chemists, we wouldn’t have the drug dexamethasone, which significantly decreases the mortality rate of Covid patients on mechanical ventilation. Collectively, chemists and medicinal chemists have extended the average human life span by over four decades over the past century. As we move forwards to face new challenges, you can be assured that you will have the essential skills and training to face these challenges.