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Course overview

Green chemistry is one of our university's top research priorities. Together with our partners, we are changing the world. We have developed:

  • research that contributes to current and future healthcare products, drug discovery programmes and drug delivery systems
  • successful spin-out companies. For example, the award-winning Critical Pharmaceuticals is working on treatments for schizophrenia and osteoporosis
  • support for emerging economies, such as our partnership to transform chemistry degrees in Kenya

On this course you will gain advanced knowledge of contemporary methods of

  • synthesis
  • analysis
  • process design

You will learn how to:

  • critically evaluate comparable reaction pathways
  • make decisions in the design of efficient chemical processes

This programme uses expertise from Chemistry, Engineering, and Nottingham University Business School.

We have a thriving and supportive community with 160 postgraduate students. We share our passion for chemistry through school and community events.  

Why choose this course?


of research rated 'internationally excellent' or 'world leading'

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Excellent facilties

including our award-winning GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory


in the UK for chemistry

The Complete University Guide 2021 

Research project

supervised by one or more academic staff members


an active research group

Industry links

with major employers

Course content

You can choose 20 credits of optional modules. These may be from the School of Chemistry or from another school/department.

A highlight of the course is a research project in original experimental work. You will be supervised by one or more academic staff members and will join an active research group.


Core modules

Innovation and Technology Transfer

The module will provide you with a clear understanding of the importance of innovation in the exploitation of new scientific and technological developments and the transfer process for this technology to enable commercialisation.

There is a strong focus on technology transfer from universities and research institutes out to industry and between industrial partners. The political and sociological debates about the significance of technology transfer from universities will be considered. The importance of intellectual property and patenting as a key element of commercialisation will also figure strongly in the module.

You will get 'hands-on' experience by researching technology transfer strategies in universities, by working through real patents, patent searching, the approach to patenting indifferent industrial sectors and the processes involved in patent exploitation eg licensing deals, collaborations and company start-ups.

Practitioners in the area, including members of the Business Development Network in the University, will assist with the module at appropriate points.

Introduction to Sustainability

This module provides an introduction to the philosophical framework of sustainability and green chemistry. It should include a discussion of the framework and modus operandi of future chemicals development. The triple bottom line should be discussed as a concept and unpacked to show how wide the net should be thrown in assessing any process. It will speak of the context of LCA, metrics, and the impact that legislation and social policy can have on the economics of a process.

The module should discuss efficiencies in terms of mass, atoms, effort and energy. Only with a full handle on each of these input driven metrics can be a quotient for greenness be truly developed.

You will aim to develop experience in the concepts used to assess processes (socio-economic, sustainability metrics, cost/benefit analysis). You will be taught by doing real examples, integrated with projects or industrial case studies. Cost/Benefit analysis and development of a broader vision for a larger system are crucial such that unforeseen circumstances.

Energy and Feedstocks

This module will increase your knowledge and understanding of the importance of materials in energy generation, storage and transport, and the challenges of identifying feedstock material. This will include a review of:

  • energy-related gas storage in nanostructured carbons, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and related coordination polymers, including the use of these organic/inorganic materials for capture and purification of hydrogen and for storage other fuel gases such as methane, acetylene and CO2
  • energy storage and conversion in fuel cells, batteries and photovoltaic devices; recent developments in the application of electrochemical methods for energy conversion and storage and the use of novel metal-based catalysts for fuel cells will be explored. Insights into the development of new materials for high-energy batteries will also be discussed, as will the development of materials and devices for the conversion of solar energy into electricity and solar fuels
Sustainable Synthesis: Biological Approaches

This module outlines how sustainable synthesis can be achieved by enzymes and whole cells, both on their own and in combination with other synthetic methods.

Sustainable Synthesis: Chemical Approaches

You will be given a detailed appreciation of the major challenges facing the chemical-using community. The module will cover sustainable methods for the construction of C-C bonds and C-Heteroatom bonds, in order to access high-value materials, and the best available methods for changes in oxidation level (both oxidation and reduction), as well as routine functional group interconversions.

Emphasis will be placed upon catalytic methods (where appropriate). The need to adopt alternative ‘green’ solvents will be covered, and a range of new and emerging reaction media will be discussed. The use of metrics (eg process mass intensity, E-factor, atom efficiency) will be discussed, and these will be applied to a variety of chemical processes to assess the strengths and merits of each.

Examples from the chemical industry will be used to show how the use of metrics can lead to the development of ‘greener’ pharmaceutical manufacturing routes.

From Bench to the Bank

The ability to convert novel ideas into successful business opportunities (new products and processes) is key to the long term profitability of the UK chemicals and related industries.

You will explore this commercialisation process, which will cover topics such as idea generation and selection, intellectual property, sources of finance, technology licensing and business planning from the perspective of both university researchers and industrial research and development scientists.

Sustainability in Action

In this module, invited lectures from industrial speakers will teach real examples of greener processes in the chemical industry.

Chemistry in-silico

Modern approaches to chemistry in-silico will be introduced including quantum chemistry and molecules mechanics.

Key concepts in quantum chemistry including the wavefunction, electron density, electron correlation, basis sets, potential energy surfaces and molecular properties, will be introduced.

These will be discussed qualitatively and in the context of the application of quantum chemistry to problems in molecular modelling. The discussion of molecular mechanics will include empirical force fields and molecular dynamics simulations.

Some emphasis will be placed on appreciating the merits and limitations of the different approaches. A hands-on approach to molecular modelling will be provided.

Sustainability Research Project

This module will give you the opportunity to undertake a research project in chemistry. A wide range of projects will be available and you will be offered a selection of research areas.

All projects will require a review of relevant published work and the planning and execution of a research topic under the guidance of a supervisor and an assessor. You will present your findings orally and in a written report.

Research Planning and Management

Techniques for searching the chemical literature, retrieving and organising references, and how to effectively write a literature review will be outlined. You will then work with academic supervisors to explore the current literature and develop a scientific hypothesis that will be investigated during their research project.

Project proposals, including, literature reviews, proposed work packages and experimental plans will be prepared and assessed. Particular attention will be drawn to the importance of a robust framework to ensure efficient management of experimental time and delivery of the project report.

Optional modules

You can choose 20 credits of optional modules. These may be from the School of Chemistry or from another school/department.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Saturday 18 July 2020.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Research project

You will be taught be academic staff. Class sizes are typically around 10 students. 

How you will be assessed

  • Exams
  • Coursework
  • Reports
  • Presentation
  • Oral exam

Students are assessed using a mixture of coursework and exams, depending on the module. Examinations usually take place in January and May or June of each year. Some modules are 100% coursework, whereas others are 50% exam and 50% coursework. The research project involves a written report, presentation and oral examination.

You will need an average mark of 50% and pass some of the core modules to pass the MSc overall.

Contact time and study hours

A typical week may involve between 6-10 contact hours in lectures, workshops and seminars. This depends on the timetable and what optional modules you choose. The autumn semester is typically more demanding than the spring semester.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 with significant chemical content


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


UK students

Confirmed August 2020 *

International students

Confirmed August 2020 *

The UK government has confirmed that EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals starting courses in the 2021/22 academic year will no longer be eligible for home/UK fee status or the same financial support as in previous years. We will update our guidance for students when more information becomes available.

Additional costs

We do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies which you would need to factor into your budget. Personal laptops are not compulsory as we have computer labs that are open 24 hours a day but you may want to consider one if you wish to work at home.

Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes. It costs 4p to print one black and white page. You will be given £5 worth of printer credits a year. You are welcome to buy more credits if you need them.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

The University also offers masters scholarships for international and EU students. Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about funding postgraduate study.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

Graduates from our masters courses can expect to move into a range of scientific careers, including further study at doctoral level and employment with companies across the chemicals, materials, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.

Other graduates choose to progress to PhD study in a related subject area at the University of Nottingham or at other universities.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" Our MSc degree in Green and Sustainable Chemistry is designed to provide students with the technical and theoretical competences to equip them for a leading career in the chemical sciences. This course will develop the skill sets that are required to drive chemistry-related activity forwards on a more sustainable trajectory. "
Professor Hon Wai Lam

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Saturday 18 July 2020. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.