Why study chemistry?

We all do chemistry every day! As soon as you wake up in the morning, you start doing chemistry. Chemistry explains why an egg changes when you fry it and why your non-stick pan is non-sticky. Chemistry explains how soap and shampoo make you clean, why you feel tired before coffee and alert after it, and how the petrol in your car gets you to work. One of our first year labs helps you understand why perfumes smell the way they do. In fact you start doing some chemistry yourself as soon as your eyes open - your sense of vision works because a small organic molecule changes shape in the back of your eye when light hits it.

Chemistry is truly the "central science". New breakthroughs in fields such as genetics, biochemistry, medicine, materials science, forensics, nanotechnology, drug discovery, the environment and next-generation computer hardware are all driven by chemistry.

Chemistry is about the molecules all around us. It is about matter: specifically how matter changes. Doing a degree in Chemistry will allow you to learn about why the things around us behave the way they do.

A sound knowledge of chemistry is required to fully understand most other areas of science, and this is why the study of chemistry is either compulsory or recommended by many other disciplines in the University.

Chemistry 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 echelons from chemistry graduates.

But, most importantly, it is just so fascinating! If you want to understand the workings of the world around you - then chemistry is for you!

Why study chemistry at Sydney?

Sydney University's School of Chemistry is recognised as one of the top Chemistry Schools in Australia and is acknowledged internationally for the high calibre of its staff. Two Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have come from the School – Sir John Cornforth and Sir Robert Robinson. The high quality of the School's teaching program has been recognised through its many Teaching Awards. In addition, the School has an active research program in the area of chemical education and this has translated into innovations in both the practical and lecture programs.

Through the practical program, you will have access to state-of-the-art equipment and learn techniques that will be invaluable to you in your scientific profession, irrespective of the area in which you end up working. And not just in the sciences. A major in chemistry not only trains you to become a skilled chemist but also teaches you important attributes such as problem solving, team work and critical analysis - useful in any career.

The School offers a wide range of units of study to cater for all interests and levels. It runs a Bridging Course in February for those entering Junior Chemistry without having studied chemistry before. Its core Junior units are offered at all levels from Fundamentals (for those with little or no Chemistry background) up to the innovative Special Studies Program (for the truly exceptional Chemistry students). Click on the Undergraduate Guide to Chemistry booklet for more information.

The core Intermediate units are likewise offered up to the Special Studies level. In addition, elective units are offered in the areas of Forensic and Environmental Chemistry and in Biological Molecules.

The Junior and Intermediate Chemistry units provide you with a broad and solid chemical understanding. As your study in chemistry progresses, you will find that your interests will begin to crystalise. In the Senior year, you can now focus your efforts more towards particular areas of chemistry, and to allow you to do this, the School offers eight Senior units.

Many students with a major in chemistry then go on to a fourth Honours year. During this year, you will have the opportunity to become involved in a research program in an area that interests you as well as receive training in research techniques and experience with modern research instrumentation. The Honours year adds a new dimension to the skills that you have acquired during your undergraduate years and enhances your immediate employment prospects and future career potential.

The experience of research gained through the Honours year often leads students on to postgraduate study for a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Most postgraduate students are supported by tax-free scholarships for these degrees.

If you will be taking the HSC exams in the near future, then the Faculty of Science has a website that contains lots of useful information about choosing a degree, ATARS, etc.

Information for school students

Dr Jeanette Hurst

Dr Jeanette Hurst

The Undergraduate Guide to Chemistry booklet contains more information on courses for intending students of chemistry.

Our Studying Chemistry pages contain more information on why you should study chemistry, the various units of study on offer, careers in chemistry, bridging courses, prizes and other useful information for high school students. Students should also visit the Faculty of Science's website for information on science events and programs run by the University.

If you will be taking the HSC exams in the near future, then the Faculty of Science has a website that contains lots of useful information about choosing a degree, ATARS, etc.

The School's contact person is Dr Jeanette Hurst. Her contact details are:

Phone: +61 2 9351 3105