Physical and Theoretical Chemistry PhD/MPhil/MRes


Fact file

Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in an MSci/MChem (2:2 for MRes)
6.0 (5.5) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
University Park
Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
Other requirements

Research overview

Physical and theoretical chemistry provides a quantitative framework for understanding and appreciating the static, dynamical, and chemical properties of gases, liquids and solids. These can be as simple as a collection of rare gas atoms or as complex as DNA, but in every case knowledge of their physical state and how it might respond to change, such as the absorption of a photon, can only be gained using advanced experimental or computational methods. Physical and theoretical chemistry research at Nottingham covers a broad range of subdisciplines, including surface and materials science, computational and quantum chemistry, laser spectroscopy, solid-state NMR, cluster science and molecular astrophysics. Within each of these areas, Nottingham has made major contributions in the advancement of physical and theoretical chemistry both in terms of our knowledge of basic processes and in the development of advanced instrumentation and computational techniques.

Spectroscopy and Dynamics

  • studies of fragmentation in isolated molecules using tunable laser and synchrotron light sources;
  • time-resolved studies of intramolecular energy transfer;
  • photoelectron studies of chiral molecules.

Astrophysical Chemistry

Observational and laboratory spectroscopy of molecules and dust found in stellar, circumstellar and interstellar media.

Magnetic Resonance

Application of magnetic resonance spectroscopic and imaging techniques to the characterisation of structure and dynamics in polymers, nanocomposite materials and biomolecules.

Surfaces Science

  • studies of internal surfaces in mesostructural materials;
  • UHV surface science, including surface structure using X-ray standing wave analysis, surface kinetics and dynamics.

Clusters and van der Waals complexes

  • chemical and spectroscopic studies of the gas phase solvation of metal dications
  • spectroscopy of weakly-bound complexes
  • spectroscopy of molecules trapped in helium nanodroplets
  • development of new experiments for studying metal ions using traps.

Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

  • development of new methods in quantum chemistry, applications include benzene in superfluid helium droplets, buckminsterene fullerene adsorbed on silicon surfaces, and the spectroscopy of proteins
  • application of computational chemistry to biologically important molecules.

This research is undertaken with access to state-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities. Current equipment includes a wide range of vacuum systems for surface, synchrotron, photoionisation, and cluster beam experiments, tuneable UV, visible and infrared lasers, ion traps, solid-state NMR spectrometers, mass spectrometers, and advanced computational facilities including access to the University's 1000-processor cluster. 

Entry requirements

The usual minimum requirement for PhD/MPhil entry is an upper 2nd class or first class honours degree (or International equivalent) in an MSci or MChem degree in Chemistry.

The usual minimum requirement for MRes entry is a lower 2nd class honours degree (or International equivalent) in Chemistry.

International research students need to achieve an IELTS score of 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in each element.

The University runs a number of preparatory English programmes each summer and, for extra support during your degree, you can attend its free language classes. For more information, visit our Centre for English Language Education (CELE).



  • £1.5m Centre for Mass Spectrometry
  • Computational modelling with an ultra high powered GRID
  • Fluorimeters and ToF SIMS
  • FTIR
  • Full range of workshop facilities
  • High-field nmr
  • Mass spectrometers
  • Powder X-ray diffractometers
  • Single crystal CCD
  • Solid-state nmr
  • SQUID magnetometer
  • State-of-the-art XPS
  • UHV and surface equipment
  • UV/VIS/Raman
  • World-class laser facilities
  • From UV to IR, with timescales from picoseconds to CW

Research support

A number of University support services exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond.

The Postgraduate Students' Association (PGSA) are a particularly important source of support. 


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Details of research supervisors at the University can be found on our research A to Z.



UK/EU students

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research. The Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas21 funding. For prospective students the University has introduced a new funding database . The Graduate School also holds a list of other sources of fundingStudentship opportunities are also available.

Government loans for doctoral study

The Government plans to introduce doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes from 2018. Applicants must ordinarily live in England and more details are expected to be announced in due course.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Visit the school page for additional opportunities 

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 100% of postgraduates in the School of Chemistry who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary for postgraduates from the Faculty of Science was £29,024 with the highest being £67,000*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2014/15.

Career prospects and employability


The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.  

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service.  

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.


* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.


Get in touch

+44 (0)115 951 3450  
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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Professor K L Reid
School of Chemistry
The University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD 

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