Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Analytical Chemistry
A Royal Society of Chemistry accredited degree programme designed to enhance the skills of Chemistry graduates, focusing on environmental and life sciences.

Key Facts

Study Mode
Full-time (12 months)
Entry Date
Learning Mode
On-campus Learning

Programme Details

The MSc programme in Analytical Chemistry will build on your undergraduate chemistry experience and develop specialist skills applicable to analytical, bioanalytical and environmental topics.

This programme focuses on specialisation in advanced modern analytical methodology. The range of industries or institutes where these skills are asked for includes the pharmaceutical industry, environmental institutions, research institutes and also the oil & gas industry.

NMR and elemental and molecular mass spectrometry allows the identification and quantification of small biomolecules in complex mixtures at trace level. Trace analysis of toxic elements such as arsenic or mercury is not only needed for the determination of environmental contamination, but also applies to food security, as our impact study on Arsenic in rice (ranked 1st in Scotland at REF 2014) impressively shows.

The University has a historic and central presence within Aberdeen, the town where modern chromatography was invented (Synge, Nobel prize 1952), and where Frederick Soddy published the discovery of a new element, protactinium (Nobel Prize 1921).

Why Study this Programme?

  • Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, it is tailored to provide students with the skills that local and global industries seek, and also provides a strong foundation for further studies onto PhD level.
  • The programme has been designed in collaboration with our industrial advisory board, which ensures that it is relevant and current.
  • It contains theoretical and practical courses, formal teaching as well as application oriented research training, and professional skills such as project planning management exercises.
  • We provide strong research-led teaching in all analytical subjects, with a focus on environmental and life sciences, relevant for industries and research or government institutes.
  • Entry onto the programme is competitive and student numbers are kept on a smaller scale in order to provide the opportunity for students to closely integrate with academic staff.
  • Our Alumni community feedback into this course, for example through our mentoring system, where students are encouraged to contact mentors from industry.
  • Many of our staff in the environmental group (TESLA) or the natural products group (MBC) work closely with industry via research and consultancy.[KDEM1]
  • Though focusing on analytical topics, this degree programme will also give you the relevant chemistry knowledge and skills to perform in a variety of industrial processes
  • In the REF2014, our department was rated "1st in Scotland for Chemistry research impact
  • Our main research revolves around the broad areas of Biomolecular Chemistry (Natural products, medicinal chemistry and environmental analytical chemistry with speciation) and materials (surface chemistry and catalysis), and are particularly well equipped for these areas.
  • Facilities for Biomolecular Chemistry research include 300, 400 and 600 MHz NMR, electrospray MS (Orbitrap MS), GC-MS and LC-MS, and a unique collection of instruments for environmental analysis and speciation (ICP-MS, MIP-AES, atomic fluorescence and absorption spectrometry, HPLC-ICP-MS, GC-ICP-MS, laser ablation ICP-MS).
  • Facilities for Materials Chemistry Research include X-ray single crystal and powder diffraction, electron microscopy, solid state NMR, XPS, EPR, FTIR and Raman microprobes, impedance spectroscopy, gas sorption analysis and a comprehensive suite of thermal analysis instruments (including high pressure DSC).
  • Chemistry staff also make extensive use of Central Facilities such as synchrotrons and neutron sources both in the UK and Europe. We are a full member of ScotCHEM which includes the international graduate school within the network of Scottish Chemistry Institutions, and can access facilities in other Scottish Universities.
  • You will be taught by, and work closely with our leading academics, and will be fully integrated into the respective research groups in case that your final research project is hosted in-house in the Chemistry department.
  • 80% of research in Chemistry was rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' at REF2014.


Royal Society of Chemistry accredited. 


  • To provide students specialist knowledge of the instrumentation and method development for the identification and quantification of natural and anthropogenic compounds at trace level.
  • To build on undergraduate chemistry experience of more traditional fundamentals in analytical chemistry
  • To develop analytical thinking which is needed to take leadership in industry and academia. 

Contact Information

For further information about the programme or to discuss your application, please contact the Graduate School Admissions Unit.


The programme contains theoretical and practical courses, formal teaching as well as application oriented research training, and professional skills such as project planning management exercises. Besides group work activities it provides additionally a major individual research project worth a minimum of 30%.

The programme is designed so that the research project can also be conducted off campus in an academic or an industrial environment. The latter may suit students sponsored by an industrial partner who would like to have the student working on an analytical chemistry project in their R&D department on-site.

First Semester (PgCert)

Advanced Analytical Methodologies A

The discovery of novel compounds e.g. for cancer or antibacterial research and treatment is a major task in the life sciences. The key to successful characterisation of novel compounds is structure elucidation, which can be achieved by modern, advanced analytical techniques. In this course, you will learn about the background theory of analytical techniques with a focus on structural identification to gain in-depth knowledge with methods like elemental & molecular mass spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) for qualitative and quantitative determinations. The course will contain lectures, tutorials and invited lectures by experts in the field.

Advanced Analytical Methodologies B

Metals are ubiquitous in the environment and in living things. They can be essential or toxic, and can occur in traces in biota and environmental samples. For the determination of trace levels of elements, advanced analytical methods can be used, based on atomic spectrometry. This course will provide in-depth knowledge of atomic emission, absorption and fluorescence spectroscopies, and mass spectrometry, featuring qualitative and quantitative aspects. Chromatography, combined with atomic spectrometry, is featured for trace element speciation, which allows distinguishing different metal compounds with varying toxicity. The course will contain lectures, tutorials and invited lectures by experts in the field.

Practical Exercise and Professional Skills in Analytical Chemistry

In this course, you will learn how to perform instrumental analysis on modern analytical equipment. The course comprises a variety of experiments with modern instrumentation including atomic absorption/emission spectrometry, mass spectrometric methods, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, gas and liquid chromatography and atomic fluorescence spectrometry in practical lab sessions. It provides experience in data collection and data handling from modern instrumentation through practical experience in environmental and life science applications. Students learn about research dissemination, funding mechanisms, quality assurance and ethical issues.

Second Semester (PgDip)

Research Project in Analytical Chemistry A

An individual research mini-project is performed in the second term within the Environmental Analytical Chemistry program. This mini-project is performed within one of the research groups in the chemistry department involved in environmental and analytical research. This can comprise a range of topics, from method development e.g. for mercury analysis, to determination of new compounds in plants. You will build on the knowledge you have acquired in the first term. The work will be mainly carried out in research groups e.g. the trace element speciation laboratory Aberdeen, TESLA, or the Marine Biodiscovery Center, MBC.

Research Techniques, Professional Skills and Problem solving in Theory and Practice

This course is tailored to provide you with research skills with a focus on problem solving and team working experience. A PPME project (Project Planning and Management Exercise) is performed, which asks for planning, managing and results delivery for teams of 2-3 students. Project topics revolve around environmental and analytical work. Workshop style assignments are held; information prioritising, (short notice briefing on an analytical problem) and writing a grant proposal for a long term investigation. The course contains laboratory classes and workshops. Oral presentations and scientific writing are part of the course assessment.

Third Semester (MSc)

Extended research project/dissertation on or off campus

An extended research project is the last part of the Analytical Chemistry course. An individual research project topic is given to each student within the field of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry. This can comprise a range of scenarios, e.g. the life sciences, archaeology etc. You will build on the topics taught in the first parts of the degree. We aim to provide project placements in related research groups at the University of Aberdeen, or in research institutes (e.g. the Hutton Institute, Marine Lab) locally in and around Aberdeen. Projects are supervised by both a University supervisor and placement supervisor.

Some previous examples of projects include:

  • When is a Lake not a Lake? Exploring biomarkers to unravel a Devonian lake’s history (in-house, Geology)
  • Microplastics: a study to evaluate the efficiency of biological uptake of POPs (off-campus, Marine Laboratories Aberdeen)
  • Competition for Organic Nitrogen between Genotypes of the Ectomycorrhizal Fungus Laccaria bicolor (in-house, Plant and Soil Sciences)



Assessment is by course work, by written examination or by a combination of these as prescribed for each course. The Extended Research Project will be assessed by dissertation. The degree of MSc shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to complete the Extended Research Project at an appropriate standard, irrespective of their performance in other courses.



Many graduates will find careers working in a pharmaceutical company or will work for an environmental agency as, or with, analytical chemists. This course gives strong fundamentals of techniques which are widely used in life sciences and in environmental monitoring in industry and academia and gives an appreciation of emerging new analytical techniques which will be used in those fields in the future. This opens up careers in lab-based studies which are not centred around the traditional chemical science laboratories.

Example of roles that our graduates have gone onto include:

  • Lecturer
  • Process Chemist
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Production Chemist
  • Research and Development Chemist
  • PhD Student


Academic Requirements

Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is a Chemistry, Applied Chemistry or Industrial Chemistry degree at 2:2 (lower second class) UK Honours level (or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth). 

Students with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Chemistry, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Geology or B.Ed in Chemistry may also be considered if they have a 2:1 (upper second class) result or above.

Key subjects you must have covered: a minimum of 2 years of chemistry in your undergraduate degree.

It is important to note that the programmes of postgraduate study at the University of Aberdeen are very competitive and the entry requirements stated are a guide to the minimum requirements, but do not guarantee entry. 

Document requirements

For this application we need at least:

  • a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) so far (original & official English translation)
  • detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • current CV/resume

It is important when submitting an application that you ensure you have completed all the necessary sections and enclosed all the relevant documentation to ensure that your application can be processed as quickly as possible. 


We have one intake of students each September. Late applications may be asked to wait until the next intake should the programme coordinator feel there is insufficient time to consider the application. Prospective students who require a visa to study in the UK are advised to apply as early in the year as possible to secure a place. Applications received after 30th June from students who need to apply for a visa to study in the UK will not be processed for entry but will be considered for entry into the following intake as appropriate.

English Requirements

Even if you have been educated in the medium of English you must meet our English Language requirements. These are located at This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Standard' level of English proficiency. If you are in doubt about your proficiency in English, contact the British Council office or its equivalent in your country. If your first language is not English, it is important that your proficiency in English is good in order for you to study successfully at the University of Aberdeen . Without this ability you will find great difficulty in understanding lectures, producing written work and sitting examinations. 


2016/17 Fees

UK/EU Students - £4,500

International - £17,200

Information on tuition fees, can be found on the University Registry website.


Prospective students should visit the University of Aberdeen's Postgraduate Funding Database.

University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme

The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More Information can be found here.


Related Information

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