Chemistry PhD/MPhil/MRes/MSc by Research


Fact file

PhD/MPhil/MRes/MSc by Research
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in an MSci/MChem (2:2 for MRes, MSc by Research)
6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Please contact the school
University Park or Jubilee Campus
Other requirements

Research overview

Inorganic and Materials Chemistry

Research in inorganic chemistry at Nottingham is very wide-ranging and interdisciplinary with many national, European and international collaborations. Research interests encompass a diverse range of interests which interface with physics, biology, pharmacy, materials and computational science and chemical engineering. The common feature of inorganic chemistry at Nottingham is the use, study and understanding of novel molecular interactions or unusual synthetic or engineering procedures to yield new compounds, properties, catalysis and function. 

Coordination, organometallic and supramolecular Chemistry

The synthesis of transition metal and f-element complexes and complexes that challenge the traditional views of bonding and reactivity; small molecule activation and homogeneous catalysis by organometallic complexes; single isomer chiral metal complex chemistry; surface, solution and solid-state supramolecular self-assembly, including crystal engineering; and photochemistry and time-resolved spectroscopy to probe both excited states and reaction mechanisms.

Biological Inorganic Chemistry

The chemistry of the catalysis accomplished by metal centres in enzymes, especially in oxygen atom transfer at Mo or W and activity that requires a metal and a phenoxyl radical; coordination complexes as mimics for NiFe hydrogenase and catalytic hydrogen/proton interconversion for fuel cells; complementary spectroscopic and theoretical techniques to probe the electronic structure of transition metal complexes and metalloenzyme active sites; and metal intercalators as IR probes of DNA damage, sensors of biological molecules and models of water splitting by photosystem II.

Nanomaterials, Solid State and Polymer Chemistry

The synthesis, processing and characterisation of carbon nanotubes and fullerenes; nanostructure formation via self-assembly of molecular hosts: molecular entrapment and organisation on surfaces; nanomaterials and light framework polymers for gas (hydrogen, methane, VOC) storage, absorption and extraction; studies of internal surfaces in mesostructural materials; polymer synthesis and processing using supercritical carbon dioxide: from drug delivery devices, tissue engineering scaffolds, unique polymer blends and photonic materials; and the synthesis of new magnetic oxides and ionic conducting materials with tailored structures.

Green and Analytical Chemistry and Clean Technology

Development of cleaner reaction chemistry in supercritical water; continuous reactions in supercritical CO2 from lab-scale to commercial plant; UHV spectroscopic techniques for the characterisation and in-situ monitoring of catalytic processes in ionic liquids; and solution XPS to measure controlled changes in physical properties for sensor and imaging application.

Structural Chemistry

Single crystal X-ray diffraction and structural studies at low temperature, high pressure; and experimental charge density studies. 

Organic and Biological Chemistry

Organic and Biological research at Nottingham is very broadly based, and spans the whole spectrum of activity from medicinal chemistry, target organic synthesis, catalysis and development of new synthetic methodology through to mechanistic enzymology, chemical genetics, chemical biology, protein biochemistry, protein engineering and structural biology. Organic chemistry is especially strong in the areas of target synthesis, natural product chemistry, and asymmetric synthesis. Complex natural products and their analogues continue to present a fascinating challenge to the synthetic chemist. Research groups at Nottingham are probing new strategies and developing new methodologies for the synthesis of such molecules, with emphasis on compounds with significant biological activity. In particular, we are interested in novel compounds with antibacterial, anticancer and antimalarial properties. In biological chemistry, we address problems at the interface of chemistry and biology, to define the molecular interactions that determine the specificity and control of biological processes. The department is well supported through UK Research Council and EU funding, and has strong links to the pharmaceutical industry. Key themes include:

Synthesis and Natural Products

The design and application of novel synthetic methodologies for the synthesis of naturally occurring target molecules, including antibiotics, alkaloids, terpenes and marine natural products.

Sustainable Synthesis and Catalysis

The design of new reagents and catalysts to effect diastereoselective and enantioselective reactions, involving alkylations, C-H oxidation, reduction, and rearrangement processes, with an emphasis on efficiency and sustainability: including biocatalysis and biotechnology.  Some of this research is supported in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemistry.

Biological and Medicinal Chemistry, and Chemical Biology

Studies of the fundamental properties of biomolecules, for example the folding of proteins and the binding of antibiotics to DNA; synthesis of enzyme inhibitors, antisense DNA, and hapten design for generation of catalytic antibodies. Novel compounds with antibiotic, anticancer and antimalarial properties.

Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

This field of 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 science, computational and quantum chemistry, laser spectroscopy, solid-state NMR, and cluster science. 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

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

Magnetic Resonance

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

Surfaces Science

UHV surface science, including surface structure using X-ray standing wave analysis, surface kinetics and dynamics.

Clusters and van der Waals complexes

Including chemical and spectroscopic studies of the gas phase solvation of metal dications, and the spectroscopy of weakly-bound complexes.

Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

The 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. The 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/MSc by Research 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).



  • Centre for Mass Spectrometry
  • Computational modelling with an ultra high powered GRID
  • Fluorometers and ToF SIMS
  • FTIR
  • Full range of workshop facilities
  • High-field NMR (up to 800 MHz)
  • Open access mass spectrometers and LC-MS
  • 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 continuous wave

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 funding. Studentship 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 2016, 77% of postgraduates from the School of Chemistry who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £30,571 with the highest being £37,000.*

*Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

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.


Related courses

No related courses

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.

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