Masters by Research

The MSc by Research is a 12-month program in which the student joins one of the groups at the School of Chemistry to conduct research on a particular project.

Research at the School of Chemistry is very diverse, with over 40 world-leading academic staff working on topics including synthesis and catalysis, biocatalysis, materials sciences, environmental and sustainable chemistry, polymers, functional materials, chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, physical chemistry and computational chemistry. MScR students join one of the research groups in the School to work on a project for a period of 12 months, gaining extensive training in doing scientific research, in specific techniques, practical skills, problem-solving, scientific writing and team working.

Pursuing a research degree at the School of Chemistry can help enhance your career options and enable you to take the next step on your chemistry education. In addition to gaining research skills, making friends, meeting eminent researchers and being part of the research community, a research degree will help you to develop invaluable transferable skills which you can apply to academic life or a variety of professions outside of academia.

Key Features

  • Spend 12 months conducting scientific research in a world-leading group;
  • Extensive training in research, practical chemistry, presentation skills, problem-solving, scientific writing and team working;
  • Access to world class research facilities, including: mass spectrometry; NMR; research computing facilities; X-ray diffraction facilities for powder and single crystal diffraction; spectroscopy techniques including FTIR, Raman and UV-Vis; and electron microscopy;
  • Attend research seminars from academics across the world;
  • A large and diverse chemistry community with over 50 academic staff with international reputations in their research fields.
  • In addition to research, MScR students attend regular research talks, visiting speaker symposia, specialized training in techniques and safety, and have access to a variety of courses on transferrable skills offered by the Institute of Academic Development

The agreement of a supervisor is required to be accepted into the programme. When enrolling, applicants are requested to provide a preferred research area/topic or a list of preferred supervisors. Applicants may also directly contact a supervisor before applying.

At the end of the 12 months, students must submit an MScR thesis summarizing their work, which is then assessed by two examiners.

My experience at the University can be described as a 0th year of a doctoral programme. It allowed me to explore an entire field of chemistry and familiarise myself with “standard operating procedures” in the scientific community. I can hardly imagine a better step into the world of science than my degree programme.

Why Study With Us?

A Chemistry-based degree gives you an excellent qualification for a wide career choice within science, industry, commerce and many more areas. The valuable skillset of our Chemistry graduates is in demand from employers. At the end of your studies you will have developed excellent analytical and practical skills, as well as problem solving, presentation and communication skills that will have you prepared to continue towards a PhD degree or for a career outside academia.

Our research groups are led by scientists with international reputations in their fields, each supervising dynamic teams of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from the UK and abroad and forming a large, diverse and vibrant chemistry community.

  • The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh is regularly voted as the best city to live in the UK and also one of the top cities in the world to live, study and work.
  • The University of Edinburgh is ranked 16th by QS World University Rankings 2022.
  • Edinburgh is ranked the 2nd best student city in the UK and 12th in the world - QS Best Student cities 2022
  • The University of Edinburgh is ranked 18th in the Times Higher Education: The World's Most International Universities 2021. Since 2010 we have taught students from 160 countries.

Research Areas

The Chemistry/Biology Interface

This is a broad area, with particular strengths in the areas of protein structure and function, mechanistic enzymology, proteomics, peptide and protein synthesis, protein folding, recombinant and synthetic DNA methodology, biologically targeted synthesis and the application of high throughput and combinatorial approaches. We also focus on biophysical chemistry, the development and application of physicochemical techniques to biological systems. This includes mass spectrometry, advanced spectroscopy and microscopy, as applied to proteins, enzymes, DNA, membranes and biosensors.

Experimental & Theoretical Chemical Physics

This is the fundamental study of molecular properties and processes. Areas of expertise include probing molecular structure in the gas phase, clusters and nanoparticles, the development and application of physicochemical techniques such as mass spectroscopy to molecular systems and the EaStCHEM surface science group, who study complex molecules on surfaces, probing the structure property-relationships employed in heterogeneous catalysis. A major feature is in Silico Scotland, a world-class research computing facility.


This research area encompasses the synthesis and characterisation of organic and inorganic compounds, including those with application in homogeneous catalysis, nanotechnology, coordination chemistry, ligand design and supramolecular chemistry, asymmetric catalysis, heterocyclic chemistry and the development of synthetic methods and strategies leading to the synthesis of biologically important molecules (including drug discovery). This includes the development of sustainable synthesis routes to prepare new small molecules and macromolecules, underpinned by catalyst design and the use of earth abundant elements. The development of innovative synthetic and characterisation methodologies (particularly in structural chemistry) is a key feature, and we specialise in structural chemistry at extremely high pressures.

Materials Chemistry

The EaStCHEM Materials group is one of the largest in the UK. Areas of strength include the design, synthesis and characterisation of functional (for example magnetic, superconducting and electronic) materials; strongly correlated electronic materials, battery and fuel cell materials and devices, porous solids, sustainable materials, fundamental and applied electrochemistry polymer microarray technologies and technique development for materials and nanomaterials analysis.

International Students

We have a large number of students from all corners of the globe. Studying at Edinburgh really is a great way to meet people from all over the world and if you are an international student you certainly won't be the only one on your course.

All our staff are friendly and happy to help during your time in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Global offers help and advice to all our international students.

Application and Entry Requirements

A UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in chemistry or a related field. If you successfully complete the MScR programme, you may be eligible for the PhD programme.

Language Requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • We accept an undergraduate degree, PGCE, PGDE or postgraduate degree, including a one-year Masters degree, that has been taught and assessed in English, either: In a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI).
  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section
  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

Find out more about our language requirements: