Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Science
Awards available PhD , MSc by research
Programme length MSc by research: One year full-time, or part-time equivalent
PhD: Three to four years full-time, or part-time equivalent
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places 60-70 per year
Start date Not fixed

Programme overview

The School of Chemistry is one of the largest in the UK and an internationally recognised centre of teaching and research. Currently there are over 250 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, from many different countries, working with more than 60 academic staff on a wide range of research projects. Extensive collaboration with science-based industries and academic centres throughout the world ensures that research in Bristol remains at the frontier of science.

The School of Chemistry is housed in spacious, modern laboratories, which are well equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. There is a comprehensive graduate programme to ensure you have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills.

The School of Chemistry hosts or participates in eight EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). Training opportunities in these national flagship centres are available in the following disciplines:

  • chemical synthesis;
  • functional nanomaterials;
  • catalysis;
  • theory and modelling in chemical sciences;
  • science and technology of diamond;
  • synthetic biology;
  • advanced composites and quantum engineering.

Further opportunities also exist with Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) in the areas of environmental sciences, bioscience, and food security.

Fees for 2016/17

Full time fees


Additional fees

A bench fee may be charged depending on the research project

Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2016/17

The school provides financial support for PhD students from a number of sources including UK Research Councils, industry and scholarships. There is no separate application form for these.

Scholarships, which are awarded to cover bench fees (which may be charged), are available for the duration of a PhD. The maximum value of such a bench-fee scholarship is £24,000 over the duration of a PhD project.

Prospective candidates are welcome to contact the School of Chemistry's admissions team with any funding queries.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (eg MChem, MSci) or equivalent. Applicants with a lower second-class honours degree (eg MChem, MSci) or an upper second-class honours BSc degree may be admitted if they can demonstrate good potential for research.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile F
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

The School of Chemistry has three sections: Inorganic and Materials; Organic and Biological; and Physical and Theoretical. Interdisciplinary collaborative research is often carried out by staff in two or more of the sections. There are also strong interactions with other departments including biochemistry, physics, earth sciences and the medical school as well as with scientists in industry and universities worldwide. Selected major themes are highlighted below; further details are available from the School of Chemistry website.

Inorganic and Materials Section

General areas of research in the Inorganic and Materials Section include organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis, main group element chemistry, organised matter and materials chemistry including functional nanomaterials, polymers and bio-inorganic chemistry.

Organic and Biological Section

Organic synthesis including methodology, total synthesis of natural products, organometallic chemistry, catalysis; bio-organic chemistry including biosynthesis, enzyme mechanisms, protein structure and function (NMR, MS and X-ray); supramolecular and physical organic chemistry including reaction mechanism and the design of novel receptors, materials and polymers; biogeochemistry; analytical and environmental chemistry.

Physical and Theoretical Section

Computational and theoretical chemistry including development of new electronic structure methods and modelling of inorganic and enzyme catalysed reactions; laser chemistry including studies of photodissociation and bimolecular collisions in gas and condensed phases; atmospheric chemistry including analysis, monitoring, modelling, spectroscopy and photochemistry; growth and applications of diamonds and other thin film materials; colloids and interface science including gels, surfactants, polymers and electrochemistry; physical and chemical properties of liquid aerosol droplets.


A PhD in chemistry is valued in many employment sectors worldwide, including pharmaceutical sciences, polymers, coatings, agrochemicals, instrumentation manufacturers, management consultancy and many more.

Staff profiles

Professor Varinder Aggarwal, (Professor), Acyclic stereocontrol; catalytic asymmetric synthesis; organometallic chemistry; organosulfur chemistry.

Professor Neil Allan, (Professor), Computational solid state chemistry; molecular similarity; simulations and electronic structure of ceramics and minerals.

Professor Mike Ashfold, (Professor), Growth of thin diamond films by chemical vapour deposition and laser ablation; spectroscopy and photochemistry of gas-phase molecules.

Professor Paul Bartlett, (Professor), Colloidal crystals; light and neutron scattering; optical tweezers; soft condensed matter; structure in concentrated colloidal dispersions.

Professor Robin Bedford, (Professor), Synthesis of new catalysts and the inception and development of novel catalytic reactions.

Professor Kevin Booker-Milburn, (Professor), Free radical cyclisations; new synthetic methods for the synthesis of natural products; photocycloadditions and metal catalysed organic reactions.

Dr John Bower, (Senior Research Fellow), Asymmetric catalysis heterocyclic chemistry and total synthesis.

Dr Wuge Briscoe, (Senior Lecturer), Polymer chemistry; soft matter at interfaces.

Dr Ian Bull, (Research Fellow), Hyphenated mass spectrometric techniques and their application to biogeochemical and environmental problems.

Dr Craig Butts, (Reader), Experimental investigations (in particular with NMR) of unusual chemical structure or reactivity, with emphasis on developing techniques to probe and control these.

Professor Jonathan Clayden, (Professor), New molecular reactivity; rational conformational control; synthesis of bioactive compounds.

Dr John Crosby, (Senior Lecturer), Electrospray mass spectrometric studies of proteins; enzymology of polyketide biosynthesis; role of urocanic acid in uv-induced immunosuppression.

Professor Matt Crump, (Professor), Biological NMR; elucidation of the structure and function of proteins; protein crystallography.

Professor Tony Davis, (Professor), Application of combinatorial chemistry to the discovery of enantioselective receptors and ' artificial enzymes' ; synthetic supramolecular chemistry – design and synthesis of receptors for carbohydrates and anions.

Dr Sean Davis, (Senior Lecturer), Study of inorganic materials using electron microscopy and related techniques.

Professor Julian Eastoe, (Professor), Structure and dynamics; surfactant interfaces.

Professor Richard Evershed, (Professor), Analytical chemistry applied to industrial forensic problems; archaeological and palaeontological chemistry; biogeochemistry.

Dr Charl Faul, (Professor), Electroactive and conductive organic materials; functional self-organising nanostructures; ionic self-assembly (ISA); novel liquid-crystalline and functional materials; supramolecular chemistry.

Professor David Fermin, (Professor), Electrochemistry; structure-reactivity relationships of Pt and Pd nanoarrays.

Dr Carmen Galan, (Reader), Development of expedient and stereoselective glycosylation methods for the synthesis of oligosaccharide targets and glycoconjugates drug analogues; oligosaccharide synthesis and glycobiology.

Professor Tim Gallagher, (Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Science), Development of novel synthetic chemistry and its application to biologically important heterocyclic and carbohydrate-based targets; total synthesis of natural products.

Dr Paul Gates, (Research Fellow), Mass spectrometry structural elucidation studies of organic and natural products and mass spectrometry methodology development.

Dr Simon Hall, (Senior Lecturer), Bioinorganic materials chemistry; biomimetic routes to advanced superconductors; synthesis of novel, hierarchical materials.

Professor Fred Manby, (Professor), Development of methods in electronic structure theory.

Professor Stephen Mann, (Professor), Biomimetic approaches to organised matter chemistry; synthesis and characterisation of self-assembled inorganic materials.

Professor Ian Manners, (Professor), Block copolymers containing inorganic elements; self-assembly, supramolecular materials and nanoscience; synthesis of reactive inorganic molecules and of functional inorganic polymers.

Professor Paul May, (Professor), Deposition and characterisation of chemical vapour deposited diamond films; diamond-like carbon films; plasma chemistry and etching; world wide web innovations.

Professor Adrian Mulholland, (Professor), Enzyme catalysis by quantum mechanical and molecular dynamical modelling.

Professor Nick Norman, (Professor, Head of School), Fundamental and applied chemistry of the heavy p-block elements (primarily bismuth and antimony) and diborane(4) chemistry, transition metal boryls and catalytic boration reactions.

Professor Simon O'Doherty, (Professor), Atmospheric monitoring of important environmental gases and interpretation of this data.

Professor Guy Orpen, (Deputy Vice-Chancellor), Crystal and molecular structure analysis and design; crystal engineering; structure determination by single crystal X-ray diffraction.

Professor Andrew Orr-Ewing, (Professor), Photochemical mechanics; reaction and photodissociation dynamics; spectroscopy and photochemistry of atmospheric constituents.

Professor Rich Pancost, (Professor), Applications of combined chromatography/mass spectrometry and stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry to biogeochemistry.

Professor Paul Pringle, (Professor), Synthesis and applications (eg catalytic) of complexes of phosphines and phosphites.

Professor Jonathan Reid, (Professor), Atmospheric aerosols; chemical dynamics of aerosols; laser techniques for characterising and manipulating particles.

Dr Paddy Royall, (Reader), Colloidal dispersions.

Dr Chris Russell, (Reader), Synthesis and reactivity of novel p-block p-bonded compounds; synthesis, reactivity and applications of imido analogues of polyoxoanions.; synthetic utility of late-transition metal cyclopentadienyl derivatives.

Professor Dudley Shallcross, (Professor), Atmospheric chemistry; computer modelling; field measurements and laboratory gas-phase kinetics.

Professor Tom Simpson, (Alfred Capper Pass Chair of Chemistry), Bio-organic and natural product chemistry, especially biosynthesis of polyketide antibiotics; synthesis of biologically active natural products and mycotoxins.

Dr David Tew, (Royal Society University Research Fellow), Computational chemistry.

Dr Jeroen van Duijneveldt, (Reader), Colloids; soft condensed matter.

Professor Duncan Wass, (Professor), Homogeneous catalysis; organometallic and co-ordination chemistry.

Dr Colin Western, (Reader), Laser spectroscopy; transient species and radicals.

Professor Chris Willis, (Professor), Biotransformations; isotopic labelling; new methods for the synthesis of natural products and molecules of biological interest; reaction mechanisms.

Professor Dek Woolfson, (Professor), Biosensors and scaffolds for tissue engineering; computational and experimental methods to design, synthesise and characterise novel peptide and protein structures; understanding the relationships between protein sequence and three-dimensional structure.

How to apply
Application deadline:

Not fixed unless determined by external funding bodies

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 39% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 57% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 4% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 0% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Dr Charl FJ Faul Director of Graduate Recruitment Phone: +44 (0) 117 954 6321 Email:

Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 928 8166 Email:

School of Chemistry
University of Bristol
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