Introduction

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

Study 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
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

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.

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.

View detailed information about this course
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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Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

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Frontiers in Biological Sciences (BI1009)

15 Credit Points

Five themes, critical to understanding biology and life, will be explored – Developmental Biology, Microbiology and Disease, Evolution and Behaviour, Immune Systems and Environmental Physiology. Each theme is structured to provide you with core knowledge, insight into how science is practiced, an introduction to current research topics and skills that are useful for investigating, recording and analysing information. The course will be delivered using a blended learning approach and can be taken by students who will be on campus in first semester, or those who may choose to stay at home

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses
Ecology (BI2020)

15 Credit Points

This course builds on themes from introductory ecology courses. You will develop your abilities to interpret data by applying theory discussed in classes to real-life data sets using short problem-solving exercises linked to each topic. Feedback will help you improve writing and interpretation skills. Extended problem-solving exercises will improve your communication skills, scientific writing and introduce you to valuable approaches to summarising complex datasets in Excel. A series of tutorials will allow you develop critical thinking as you explore specific themes in more detail. You will also consider issues around experimental design.

View detailed information about this course
Chemical Kinetics and Thermodynamics (CM2015)

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 Chemistry and Spectroscopy (CM2016)

15 Credit Points

In this course you will learn how to determine trace element patterns or the presence of a compound by using modern analytical methods. The course covers the underlying theory for analysis and identification 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.

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Organic & 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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Inorganic Chemistry (CM2519)

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

CM3540 - Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry

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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Organic & 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.

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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Professional Skills for Physics and Chemistry (CM30PS)

15 Credit Points

This course will give students opportunities to develop technical and

professional skills necessary for success in Honours level

Chemistry/Physics and beyond. The course will include working with

scientific literature, computer programming and the use of software

tools in research and activities to enhance employability.

Students will develop an appreciation of the power of state of the art

computer programs to assist the user to understand complex data sets.

Students will also become more confident in communicating and

assessing scientific ideas.

By considering their own skills development, students will feel more

able to identify and compete for exciting graduate employment

opportunities.

View detailed information about this course
Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses
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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Remediation Technology (EV4501)

15 Credit Points

Case studies of contaminated land and the science underlying the remediation strategy employed provides you a broad understanding of the sources, fates, effects and assessment of pollutants.

Lectures covering legislation for the assessment and treatment of contaminated lands develop your understanding of how and why techniques are applied.

Online course material provides scope for independent study and pursuit of specialized knowledge.

Coursework designed to replicate tasks that one would encounter in an environmental consultancy provide you with transferrable, employability skills.

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Honours Inorganic & Physical Chemistry (CM4037)

15 Credit Points

Honours level topics in inorganic and physical chemistry. This course will cover important aspects of physical chemistry such as chemical bonding and catalysis, and the structure and properties of inorganic compounds.

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Integrated Chemistry (CM4538)

15 Credit Points

This module aims to help students assimilate materials studied at different points during the whole undergraduate Chemistry degree programme. The course consists of a series of lectures 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. Reflective writing will ask students to look at the ‘big picture’ of chemistry in context and their own chemical identity.

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Honours Analytical & Organic Chemistry (CM4038)

15 Credit Points

Honours level topics in environmental-analytical and organic chemistry. This course will cover analytical methods related to environmental chemistry, and the organic reactions and structures in synthetic compounds, as well as the use of spectroscopic methods to determine the structure of organic molecules.

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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.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select 15 credit points from courses of choice at Level 3 or Level 4.

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

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

2020 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in Chemistry and one other Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in Chemistry and one other Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL*.

* Including good performance in Chemistry and one other Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

Irish Leaving Certificate

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 one other Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 54 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2021/22
EU / International students £20,700
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

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.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

The Aberdeen Global Undergraduate Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

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

Image for useful fact about this Degree

1st in Scotland for Chemistry Research Impact

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

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.

Features

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Chemistry Student Society

Chemistry Student Society

Student-led social and employability events and seminars.

Image for Learn from research active staff
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

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. 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