Undergraduate Admissions

Oxford seeks to provide an excellent general education in Chemistry ­ invaluable as an intellectual experience, but also equipping effectively its graduates for a subsequent career in chemical research or in technology, including management. No other university can match the simultaneous breadth and depth of the Oxford Chemistry experience, which also benefits from the stimulating atmosphere of an outstanding research school.

The course develops self-sufficiency and adaptability, and promotes the acquisition of communication skills. There are three distinctive features that make the Oxford course unique.

  • The tutorial system: students are set work by their college tutor every week, and then have a tutorial to discuss it with their tutor. This regular high-intensity close contact with the academic staff means that teaching is tailored to the individual student, and that students have an unrivalled opportunity to stretch their intellect to its limit.
  • The non-modular nature of the course: the course is not sub-divided into modules, and nor are the examinations. The subject is treated as a whole and examinations are synoptic, covering all aspects of the course covered so far. This means that students get a very deep understanding of how the subject fits together rather than a set of seemingly disconnected modules.
  • The fourth year, which is entirely devoted to a research project, with no additional teaching or examinations. Students benefit from being active members of their chosen research group, and have the opportunity to make a real contribution to chemical research. This is when many students make up their minds to pursue a career in research. There is nothing like the buzz of being the first person to do, make or understand something entirely new.

The HEFCE assessors describe the overall aims as "ambitious", but "accept that they are largely achieved. ...... There is considerable evidence of independent thought on the part of undergraduates, and clear evidence of the acquisition of transferable skills; oral skills and individual confidence are particularly strong features of Oxford students." The course "concentrates on intellectual development and the acquisition of skills sufficient to enable graduates to embark on research degrees or to enter a wide range of careers within or outside the subject."

The quality of attention students enjoy at Oxford is unrivalled, in both academic and pastoral respects. Applications all receive full and equitable consideration, regardless of background or circumstances. If you feel up to it, why not apply?

Almost all our Chemistry graduates secure immediate employment, or places for postgraduate study or further education for the professions.

Typically about 40% remain in the university sector in the first instance, the great majority for further training in research on doctoral programmes. Many of these will ultimately pursue careers in research and development (in both Chemistry and allied sciences), others in a variety of positions in management, administration and marketing. A further 5% to 10% enter conversion or training programmes for such professions as Law (CPE etc.), Patent agency, teaching (PGCE) and librarianship, mainly in a university environment.

Of those taking up employment right away (some 45 to 50%), a high proportion enter the financial services sector as trainee accountants or analysts of various kinds, mostly with the major firms or City institutions. Many choose Commerce or Industry, some to engage in chemical research or train in chemical technology. (However, the most demanding and rewarding jobs in "R &D" generally require postgraduate qualifications.) Oxford graduates also join Commerce and Industry in management, marketing, sales and financial administration. A substantial minority find appropriate employment in the computer applications (IT) industry. Otherwise, our alumni spread themselves widely in occupations varying from scientific journalism and social work to professional sport and the performing arts.

Whether directly or after post-graduate training, the vast majority of Oxford graduates in Chemistry obtain employment offering good career prospects, job satisfaction and long term security. Their employability, and the success they commonly enjoy in their chosen careers, owes much to the rigorous and wide-ranging Oxford course. and the skills it engenders. 

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