Chemistry is the study of many different things around us: the study of how one substance changes into another and the relationship between the nature and structure of molecules. It plays a key role in studying things like how to obtain metals from ores, convert oil into plastics and develop cures for cancer.

In taking a chemistry major, you will come to understand the impact that it has on so many things around us: dyes, paints, medicines, silicon chips, artificial hips, synthetic fibres for clothing, energy storage, optical fibres and rubber tyres. You will also have the opportunity to participate in the optional 'Year in Industry' program that involves spending one year during your course working in the chemical industry (at commercial rates of pay).

For more information on the program structure and content, view the Science Undergraduate Handbook.

Areas of chemistry at Sydney:
Computational and Theoretical Chemistry
Chemical Education
Molecular Design and Synthesis
Materials Chemistry
Green Chemistry and Renewable Energy
Molecular Spectroscopy and Photonics
Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry
Supramolecular Chemistry
Biological Chemistry/Chemical Biology
Soft Matter
Neutron and Synchrotron Diffraction and Spectroscopy

Major outline

If you are planning to take a chemistry major, you will need to take at least 12 credit points of junior chemistry and 6 credit points of junior mathematics in order to enrol in intermediate chemistry units. You will spend your first year learning about the composition of matter, the shapes of molecules, the physical and chemical processes that occur in nature and more.

You will take 2 intermediate core chemistry units and your other units will depend on which senior units you intend to complete. There are optional units in environmental and forensic chemistry, and the chemistry of biological molecules.

To complete your chemistry major, you must take 24 credit points from senior units of study. You can choose from 8 elective topics.

Course accreditation

Bachelor of Science graduates with a major in chemistry are eligible for membership of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).

Graduate opportunities

A chemistry major opens the door for many careers because training in chemistry is essential for many positions in industry, is highly desirable for science teaching, and is useful for careers in the public service and management. Both the public and the private sectors increasingly draw their higher management employees from chemistry graduates.

There are many employment opportunities for chemists, including industry, government laboratories, education and management. The industrial sector includes such diverse areas as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, medicine, food and drink, metals, polymers, computing and scientific journalism. Government laboratories include research, forensic and analytical laboratories and many statutory authorities.

Further study for major

Honours in the School of Chemistry provides the opportunity to be involved in a research program and provides training in research techniques and experience with modern research instrumentation. A year in honours adds a new dimension to the skills that you have acquired during your undergraduate years and enhances your immediate employment prospects and, more significantly, your future career potential.

In the honours year, each student undertakes a research project in a specialised area of chemistry under the supervision of a member of staff, writes a thesis which explains the problem, outlines the research undertaken and the results obtained, and also attends advanced lecture courses and seminars. This introduction to research is a particularly valuable experience and an honours degree is highly regarded by prospective employers. An honours degree widens the range of employment possibilities and it may lead to the opportunity to proceed to a postgraduate degree (MSc or PhD).

Related subject areas

Agricultural Chemistry
Medicinal Chemistry

Our courses that offer this major