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Chemistry

Develop your understanding of matter and molecules
Chemistry is the central science. From the development of new treatments for disease to the design of new highly efficient batteries, an understanding of molecular science is essential.

What is chemistry?

Chemistry underpins many other sciences with some of the most interesting developments in science occurring at the interface of chemistry with other areas.

In taking a major in chemistry, you will come to understand the impact that chemistry has on the world around us, including the production of dyes, paints, medicines, silicon chips, artificial hips, synthetic fibres for clothing, energy storage and optical fibres.

Why study chemistry with us?

Here are a few good reasons to study chemistry with us:

  • You will develop a fundamental understanding of chemistry with the opportunity to specialise in areas that interest you.
  • We’ll help you discover the breadth of chemistry including the design of new pharmaceuticals to treat disease, new catalysts for environmentally friendly chemical production, new materials for gas storage in hydrogen power cars and new probes to study chemical reactions in cells.
  • Our research leadership is enhanced by a collective expertise with industry partners such as the Australian Synchrotron, ANSTO Opal Research Reactor and Australian National Beamline Japan, NIST Centre for Neutron Research USA and the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory UK.
  • We are ranked first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability, according to 2018 QS Graduate Employability Rankings.
  • You may have the opportunity to take part in the Year in Industry program:

Year in Industry

One of the most exciting opportunities available to students studying Chemistry is the chance to undertake the elective Year in Industry program. This program allows students to undertake their third year of study in full-time employment in the chemical industry or a government scientific laboratory. The work ranges from the analysis of industrial chemicals to the testing of new pharmaceutical products and will expose you to the use of a wide range of instrumentation and techniques.

This opportunity not only allows students to broaden their skills and gain experience, but also opens up opportunities for future employability and research projects.

At the end of the Year in Industry participating students return to the University to complete the requirements of their course. In many cases, they then proceed to their honours year.

Participating companies

Employers participating in the scheme in 2018 (with one to three placements) are:


For more information contact:
Associate Professor Chris McErlean

Where can chemistry take you?

A chemistry major opens the door to many careers, as training in chemistry is essential for many positions in industry.

Industry is being transformed as it moves to a molecular-based understanding of materials. Currently the growing areas of employment opportunities for chemists include biotechnology and nanoscience.

Both the public and the private sectors increasingly draw their higher management employees from chemistry graduates.

Our graduates can be found in many settings and roles, including:

  • Petrochemicals, metals and polymers
  • Medicine and pharmaceuticals
  • Forensic and analytical laboratories
  • Scientific journalism

How can I study chemistry?

Course options

Undergraduate courses
Programs, majors and minors

Available in the courses above:

Many of these subjects can be taken from the shared pool of majors available to students in many university courses.

See all of our undergraduate courses.

An honours year will see you undertake a research project under the supervision or co-supervision of a member of staff, write a thesis and attend advanced courses and seminars. This year introduces you to research, which is all about designing experiments so that you can find out more about yourself and the world in which you live.

For more information visit the chemistry section of the honours page.

As a postgraduate student, your training will be intimately linked with research activities. You can take advantage of the school’s collaborative links with industry through our Advanced Catalysis for Sustainability Lab and the Key Centre for Polymers and Colloids.

Research the big questions in chemistry by doing a research degree, such as a

Research degrees in chemistry are offered by members of our academic staff in all areas of contemporary chemistry, including:

  • 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

To find a potential supervisor, either visit the University's Research Supervisor Connect site or visit chemistry research areas for a list of staff working in a particular area.