Based at the School of Chemistry, our alternative to the traditional PhD offers a unique training period designed to strengthen your research techniques and introduce new technologies for Chemical Synthesis through lab rotations. You will benefit from developing a range of transferable skills (including presentation, teamwork and problem-solving) to enhance your employability.

After successfully completing the training element, you will embark on a lab research project in Chemical Synthesis. During this time, your scientific development will continue to be enhanced by entrepreneurship training and further professional and academic courses provided by our industrial partners. As a result, you will end your PhD as a well-rounded candidate for both industry and academia.

We are seeking applications from students covering the whole breadth of the synthetic chemistry spectrum. We encourage applications from students whose interests include:

  • Metal catalysed transformations
  • New scaffolds for medicines and agrochemicals
  • Designer ligands for catalysis
  • Computational modelling and automation
  • Design and synthesis of new bioactive and functional molecules
  • Main group chemistry: from molecules to materials
  • Development of expedient new synthetic methodologies
  • Chemistry, synthesis and activity of natural products
  • Cleaner synthesis and reactor technology.

Applications are welcomed from students with or expecting to gain a first or upper-second class honours MSci/MChem (or equivalent).

This is one of the two CDTs hosted by the School of Chemistry offering training in a number of different disciplines.

Programme structure

At the start of the PhD programme, you will participate in an 8-month training period (Technology and Automation Training Experience or TATE) designed to strengthen your research techniques and introduce new technologies for chemical synthesis.

The main goal of TATE is to enable you to make an informed PhD choice. You will develop research proposals in brainstorming sessions and undertake short rotations in synthetic chemistry labs - contributing to the group's research aims - before selecting your PhD project.

In addition, we provide training on automated synthesis, computational methods for synthesis design and new reactor technologies, alongside research lectures by world-renowned academics, who are leaders in their fields.

You will also benefit from developing a range of transferable skills through a series of workshops, virtual lab experiments and a journal club.

Having explored potential research projects in chemical synthesis during the brainstorming sessions, you will choose your preferred areas of research in May and will start working on your three-year PhD research project in June of the first year. Find out more about the PhD project areas.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours MSci/MChem degree in chemistry, or international equivalent.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level F.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,758 per year
Overseas: full-time
£26,000 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Bench fees

For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (such as training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will be made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

We have a number of EPSRC-funded studentships, which will be allocated to successful candidates (national and international).

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

Career prospects

This PhD programme has grown out of our previous Chemical Synthesis PhD. Graduates from this programme are currently working in a range of sectors, including further academic research, pharma and biotech industries, patent law and teaching.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Research groups

We cover the breadth of chemical synthesis and strongly encourage cross-disciplinary research projects. Our research activity is underpinned by the latest in synthetic chemistry technologies such as automated reaction optimisation, AI for synthesis design, data-driven discovery and predictive methods.

Research interests of our staff include:

  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Synthetic analogues
  • Heterocyclic chemistry
  • Supramolecular chemistry for recognition, transport and medicine
  • Design of new peptide and protein structures
  • Molecular machines
  • Transition metal catalysis
  • Synthesis and design of new ligands
  • Photocatalysis and biocatalysis
  • Carbohydrates in synthesis
  • Organo-boron and organo-sulphur chemistry
  • Photochemistry, electrochemistry and flow chemistry
  • Natural product extraction and characterisation
  • Total synthesis
  • Isotopic labelling and biosynthetic pathways
  • Ultra-fast spectroscopy for reaction dynamics.

We currently work closely with several chemical companies, including Astex, AstraZeneca, Bayer, GSK, Merck, Pfizer, Syngenta and Vertex.

Contact us


Krissy Stothard, CDT Administration Manager

+44 (0) 0117 455 9863
Sbu Mbatha, CDT Course Manager
+44 (0) 0117 455 1166