Introduction

Environmental Chemistry is a subject for people who want to understand how the world works.

This programme is studied on campus.

Environmental Chemistry is one of the public faces of chemistry with decisions based on research having enormous consequences for all of us. You may think that Environmental Chemistry is mostly about pollution, but really it is a subject for people who want to understand how the world works.

Environmental Chemistry is concerned with the behaviour of chemicals (natural or man-made) in air, water, soils and sediments. It is an interdisciplinary field at the cross roads of important scientific subjects centred around advanced analytical chemistry. It requires knowledge of fundamental principles of many subject areas, including organic chemistry, soil science, biochemistry, toxicology and ecology.

You will learn about the chemistry of organic and inorganic compounds, whether they are produced on purpose or generated as by-products of industrial processes, and about their reactivity and their interactions with living systems.

There is also the option of complementing this degree with a wider range of skills through the MChem Environmental Chemistry programme.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
BSc
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
F142

What You'll Study

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Chemistry for the Physical Sciences 1 (CM1021) - 15 Credit Points

The fundamentals of chemistry are important across the physical sciences and engineering. Starting with atomic structure and the Periodic Table, this course moves on to chemical bonding theory, building to the structure of organic molecules. Moving from the molecular level, acid-base theories, phase equilibria and solution chemistry are covered. The properties of ideal and non-ideal gases are then discussed. The energetics of chemical processes completes the course.

Teaching includes lectures and class workshops that put chemical concepts into a real-world context. Laboratory classes introduce important practical techniques, with experiments that support and complement the taught material.

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Elements of Chemistry 1 (CM1022) - 15 Credit Points

This course will inspire students to investigate the scope and power of chemistry and to develop the necessary skills for success in undergraduate Chemistry and beyond. Students will develop an appreciation of the essentially limitless scope of chemistry in understanding and controlling the material world. Students will also become more confident learners - in particular developing competences in literacy and numeracy, communication, data collection, analysis and interpretation, discussion and presentation of complex ideas and laboratory methods.

By getting to know other students studying chemistry and finding out about lecturers’ research interests, students will feel more part of the Chemistry team.

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Ecology and Environmental Science (BI1511) - 15 Credit Points

This course will take you on a journey through the physical workings of the Earth, the interactions between species and their environments and then on to the effects humans are having on the planet, potential solutions and thoughts on the future.

Teaching is by staff with different subject specialisms who give both variety and immediacy to course material.

Exposure to the problems we are facing both now and in the future will help you make informed choices in their everyday lives.

A range of ‘wet’ and computer-based practicals enhance the classroom teaching and develop generic scientific skills.

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Chemistry for the Physical Sciences 2 (CM1513) - 15 Credit Points

Chemistry plays a central role in modern science and engineering, not only because of the insights it gives on the composition, properties, and reactivity of matter but also because of its wide-ranging applications. This course seeks to consolidate some of the important fundamentals of chemistry that underlie many topics and principles across the physical sciences and engineering, bringing together molecular structure, reaction mechanisms, the driving forces behind chemical reactions, and methods of chemical analysis and structure determination.

Workshops and laboratory classes complement lectures by consolidating learning and developing problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.

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Elements of Chemistry 2 (CM1522) - 15 Credit Points

This course aims to encourage students to integrate their knowledge in chemistry and apply basic knowledge to more complex but widely applicable topics in chemistry and to further develop the skills for success in undergraduate Chemistry and beyond.

Students will develop an appreciation of the interconnected nature of the traditional branches of chemistry thus enhancing their confidence in using their basic chemistry knowledge. Lectures, workshops and directed reading will introduce and discuss a range of topics including some historical background and present day theories and applications of fundamental topics in Chemistry.

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Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students and above, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year

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Frontiers in Biological Sciences (BI1009) - 15 Credit Points
  • Eleven themes are explored in engaging lectures, exploring organismal biology and introducing you to the science that underpins current understanding of biology.
  • Structured practical sessions and class activities help you to develop your study and laboratory skills, and provide you with a strong foundation for a successful transition into university study.
  • Regular assignments, a mix of online tests, practical reports and reading assignments, structure your activities and help you progress through the course material.
  • Weekly guest lectures about current research helps you to see how basic biological concepts are being applied to real world problems.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice
Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Ecology (BI2020) - 15 Credit Points

A range of practical and workshop classes will enable you to consider information from lectures in more detail and develop ideas.

A range of types of continuous assessment allow you to consolidate learning throughout the semester.

Weekly opportunities to practice writing skills needed for the exam and regular feedback provided on writing exercises.

Detailed feedback on practical assignments will help you develop essential scientific writing skills

You will use Peerwise to write multiple choice questions, requiring thorough engagement with taught material and developing an extensive set of questions for use in revision

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Energetics of Change in Chemical and Biological Processes (CM2010) - 15 Credit Points

This course covers key concepts in physical chemistry which underpin our understanding and ability to control chemical and biological processes. The principal points include thermodynamics (enthalpy, entropy and free energies), chemical kinetics (zero, 1st and 2nd order reactions, rate laws and half-lives and the relationship of rate laws to reaction mechanisms), and basic principles of electrochemistry (redox chemistry and the Nernst equation). A strong emphasis on calculations helps students get to grips with the course material and develops numeracy skills. Laboratory experiments support and complement the taught material.

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Analytical Methods in Forensic Chemistry (CM2011) - 15 Credit Points

Has a suspect been at a crime scene? Has an accelerant been used in a fire incident? These questions can be solved by using modern analytical methods, which can determine trace element patterns or the presence of a compound used to start a fire. The course covers the underlying theory for identification and determination of, for example, drugs of abuse using structure determination by spectroscopic methods like UV, IR, NMR, mass spectrometry and chromatographic separations. Atomic spectrometry is covered for trace metal determination. In practical classes, students get hands-on training with modern analytical instrumentation, with experiments in a forensic context.

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Organic and Biological Chemistry (CM2514) - 15 Credit Points

Modern organic and biological chemistry comprise the chemistry of carbon-containing compounds, which are natural (e.g. foods, fuel, perfumes) as well as synthetic (e.g. soaps, textile fabrics, pharmaceuticals). This course investigates some key areas in organic chemistry: shape, conformation, stereochemistry, and chemical properties of organic and biological compounds. Reactions and reactivity of aliphatic derivatives, olefins and aromatic compounds will be considered with particular reference to spatial and electronic effects. The experiments performed in the lab will help students understand key organic concepts and develop their synthetic/analytical skills.

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Shapes, Properties and Reactions of Molecules (CM2516) - 15 Credit Points

This course investigates some key areas of inorganic chemistry. An introduction to simple crystal structure types is given and important solid state materials such as high temperature superconductors, photocatalysts and zeolites are described. The concept of symmetry is introduced. Redox chemistry is developed in terms of Latimer, Frost and Ellingham diagrams: their applications in modern technology and industry are emphasised, including batteries, fuel cells, corrosion, electrolysis and water purification. The key properties of transition metal complexes - shapes, colours and magnetism are described and analysed in terms of crystal field theory. Laboratory experiments are closely tied to the lecture materials.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice
Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

General Chemistry (CM3032) - 5 Credit Points

This module will help students refresh their knowledge of the first two years of study in chemistry and help them to prepare for the general exam papers in fourth year. There are no taught classes, but students are given four assessed homework exercises spread throughout the academic year.

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Solid State Chemistry (CM3036) - 15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to the fascinating properties of inorganic materials through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory experiments. An introduction to crystallography and crystal diffraction is given. The students will also learn about solid state synthesis and the properties of important solid state materials such as high temperature superconductors, zeolites and ferroelectric materials.

In the laboratory practicals the students will synthesise some of the key materials described within the course such as coloured glass, high temperature superconductors and photocatalysts. Students will also gain hands on experience in powder X-ray diffraction.

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Environmental Chemistry (CM3038) - 15 Credit Points

This advanced course describes, through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals, how state-of-the-art and conventional analytical techniques can be used to characterise environmental processes. Important chemical processes which impact the environment in which we live will be described. These include ozone generation and depletion in the atmosphere, an introduction to xenobiotics and the importance of metals in biomolecules.

Students will get the opportunity to use state-of-the-art analytical instruments, including chromatographic systems and trace element analysers during the laboratory practicals.

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Global Soil Geography (EV3001) - 15 Credit Points

Field based course that takes you across northeast Scotland exploring an ancient tropical rainforest, hill farming in action, survey techniques and soil formation.

A long tradition of soil science teaching at the University of Aberdeen assembled into lectures and field trips delivered by senior academics.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a field log book to teach survey techniques, a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work and a quiz on soil classification. An exam will also assessed.

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Organic and Biological Chemistry (CM3534) - 30 Credit Points

This course introduces important fundamentals of organic chemistry. You will gain a firm grounding in NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry which are vital analytical tools to determine if the correct organic molecule has been synthesised. Biological chemistry such as DNA/RNA and genome sequencing will be introduced. Organic synthesis lectures will concentrate on chemistry of the carbonyl group, aromatic synthesis and pericyclic reactions.

Students will gain expertise in the synthesis of a number of different organic compounds such as dyes, compounds that change colour with temperature and an antibiotic during the laboratory practicals which accompany this course.

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Molecular Structure and Reactivity (CM3536) - 30 Credit Points

This course deals with important aspects of physical chemistry through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory experiments. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of spectroscopy and will gain an understanding of the nature of chemical bonding. An introduction to the thermodynamics and applications of electrochemical systems will be given. We will show how variables such as pressure and temperature affect reaction rates and how this can lead to a better understanding of reaction mechanisms, in particular, industrially important polymerization reactions. The chemistry of liquid and solid surfaces will also be described with examples relating to the petrochemical industry.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice
Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

Advanced Chemistry 1 (CM4025) - 15 Credit Points

The Advanced Chemistry modules are composed of a series of high-level lecture courses usually closely related to the research specialities of the lecturers. The individual courses give students opportunities for in-depth study of advanced topics whilst the variety of inorganic, physical, organic, materials, environmental and analytical chemistry covered in the Advanced Chemistry modules ensure that students have a good breadth of experience in the subject.

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Advanced Chemistry 2 (CM4026) - 15 Credit Points

The Advanced Chemistry modules are composed of a series of high-level lecture courses usually closely related to the research specialities of the lecturers. The individual courses give students opportunities for in-depth study of advanced topics whilst the variety of inorganic, physical, organic, materials, environmental and analytical chemistry covered in the Advanced Chemistry modules ensure that students have a good breadth of experience in the subject.

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Honours Chemistry Research Project (CM4028) - 45 Credit Points

The final-year research project for BSc Honours students extends over both half-sessions and affords the opportunity to learn modern research techniques and to develop some expertise in the topic of the project. As far as possible, projects are allocated in accordance with student preferences. Every project has a named supervisor and there is considerable scope for students to use their initiative in experimental design and interpretation of results. The development of a variety of transferrable skills is an important feature of this module, including project planning, presentation of results, time management, report writing and verbal communication.

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Advanced Chemistry 3 (CM4518) - 15 Credit Points

The Advanced Chemistry modules are composed of a series of high-level lecture courses usually closely related to the research specialities of the lecturers. The individual courses give students opportunities for in-depth study of advanced topics whilst the variety of inorganic, physical, organic, materials, environmental and analytical chemistry covered in the Advanced Chemistry modules ensure that students have a good breadth of experience in the subject.

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Integrated Chemistry (CM4521) - 5 Credit Points

This module aims to help students assimilate materials studied at different points during the whole undergraduate Chemistry degree programme. Students will find this module particularly useful in helping them prepare for the general exam papers. The course consists of a series of written exercises and workshops, held in the second half session, covering material studied in the earlier years of the course. The workshops are intended to review fundamental topics and ideas in the context of the more advanced material studied at Honours level. Course assessment will include written homework and a short oral exam.

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Remediation Technology (SS5500) - 15 Credit Points

A highly interactive course, that uses extensively e-learning platforms to enable students to better understand the assessment of contaminated land. Students will learn how to interpret and apply current risk assessment regulations and predict as well as model contaminant pathways. Students will gain valuable experience in using the latest computer software and incorporate real data in order to quantify risk. Very importantly, students will be able to forecast remediation options for a variety of situations and consider the implications and processes involved.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Environmental Chemistry?

  • The programme challenges you to think independently and understand answers to fascinating questions. The Environmental Chemist has to know and understand the best methods to use to analyse and also be aware of the likely sources of specific situations in our environment. 
  • You will get the opportunity to be exposed to the workings of our Environmental Chemistry research group. Led by Prof Jörg Feldmann, the group’s special interests are the interactions of metals with biota, for which they use state-of-the-art advanced analytical equipment.
  • The skills and training of the programme mean that that you will graduate with excellent job prospects. For example, a BSc graduate would be well qualified to work for SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency), for a water or energy company to be responsible for environmental monitoring of the quality of water and industrial processes; or alternatively, as a chemist in a forensic laboratory, where well developed interdisciplinary skills and a high level of analytical understanding are required.
  • You will study the full Chemistry course at all levels, with particular emphasis on analytical chemistry, and in addition take courses on ecology, molecular and cell biology, microbiology, and soil science.
  • There is an active Student Chemistry Society, giving you the opportunity to develop your skills and connections away from the classroom.
  • Our teaching is research-led and all 1st year students have to opportunity to visit research labs. MChem and Honours project students work with PhD and post-doc scientists on 'world leading' and 'internationally excellent' research.
  • All lecturing staff are active researchers in one or more of the areas of research strength of the Department: Materials Chemistry, Biomolecular and Medicinal Chemistry, and Environmental Chemistry.
  • Innovative methods for learning and teaching ensure that students develop skills in computing and IT, problem solving, and personal skills, in addition to the core theoretical and practical principles of chemistry.
  • In the 2014 REF, our department was rated "1st in Scotland for Chemistry research impact".
  • 80% of research in Chemistry was rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' at 2014 REF.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

SQA Highers - AABB*

A Levels - BBB*
IB - 32 points, 5 at HL*
ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)*
*Including good performance in Chemistry and another Mathematics/Science subject.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers ABB, A Levels ABB, or IB 34 points (6 at HL), including Chemistry at A and another Mathematics/Science subject.

Further detailed entry requirements for Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £18,400
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

The skills and training of the Environmental Chemistry programme mean that that graduates have excellent job prospects. For example, a BSc graduate would be well qualified to work for SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency), for a water or energy company to be responsible for environmental monitoring of the quality of water and industrial processes; or alternatively, as a chemist in a forensic laboratory, where well developed interdisciplinary skills and a high level of analytical understanding are required.

Accreditation

This degree holds accreditation from

Our Experts

Head of Department
Professor Marcel Jaspars

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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1st in Scotland for Chemistry Research Impact

In the 2014 REF, our department was rated "1st in Scotland for Chemistry research impact". 

Features

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Chemistry Student Society

Chemistry Student Society

Student-led social and employability events and seminars.

Find out more
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Learn from research active staff

Learn from research active staff

Example - Two Chemistry teams at Aberdeen have developed a revolutionary new method for creating a new class of therapeutic drugs, called macrocycles, which are complex to create and can address a large number of poorly treated conditions.

Find out more

Key Information Set (KIS)

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX