Chemistry at Trinity

The Fellows in Chemistry at Trinity lead active research groups in the University: Professor Charlotte Williams’ work bridges catalysis and polymer chemistry. Recent highlights include developing catalysts that allow carbon dioxide transformation into polymers and developing new biodegradable plastics. Professor Susan Perkin works on the physics of liquids, in particular liquid electrolytes, focusing on new classes of electrolytes suitable for use in next-generation batteries. Professors Williams and Perkin regularly welcome students into their research groups for vacation projects and Part II projects, allowing undergraduates a first-hand experience of this research.

Trinity has a long and distinguished history of chemical research: the Balliol-Trinity Laboratory, in what is now Trinity’s back yard, was one of the first dedicated chemistry laboratories in Oxford and many advances in the subject were born there. These include Cyril Hinshelwood’s Nobel Prize-winning work in chemical kinetics, and Henry Moseley’s work on X-ray diffraction by metals which rationalised the concept of atomic number and provided experimental evidence in support of the Bohr model of the atom. The laboratory was later moved to a University building, the Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, which now bears the crests of Trinity and Balliol colleges in recognition of this history.

The course is fast-paced, and the overview it gives both of Chemistry and its interplay with the other sciences has been incredibly satisfying.
Jamie
A set of glass pipettes with colourful tops and labels sits in a box.

Admissions

At Trinity we welcome applications to the MChem from enthusiastic and dedicated students of all educational backgrounds. We strongly value diversity in our student cohort. At interview we are looking for ability to work through a problem, with guidance, and to make inferences from scientific information. We look for interest and enthusiasm for science; you don’t need to be an expert yet but you’ll need to be ready to work hard and to make the most of the world-leading resources on offer

Chemistry freshers in Trinity's front quad.
Our third-year Chemistry students
A female student in a chemistry lab consults a textbook with a researcher. Both are wearing lab coats and gloves.
In the lab

Teaching Structure

Lectures and laboratory classes are arranged by the department, while tutorials are arranged in Trinity. Tutorials are a special feature of your time in Oxford: you will meet with one of our tutors in a small group (usually 3-4 students) each week for an in-depth discussion on a particular topic for which you prepare well in advance. Tutorials provide an opportunity to discuss and deepen your understanding of a topic with your tutor and tutorial group, engaging actively with challenging questions, posing your own questions, and testing your knowledge. First-year students have at least one tutorial in chemistry and one maths class each week; second- and third-year students have one tutorial each week and some supplementary classes or revision sessions.

A female student in a lab coat and goggles mixes chemicals at a lab stand.
The tutors I’ve had have been really supportive of me throughout my degree and their passion for the subject has been contagious.
Penny

Course Details

In the first year you will study a broad spectrum of introductory topics in maths, physics, biochemistry and all areas of chemistry. This is followed in the second and third years by a specialised course in chemistry (“Part I”): you will retain coverage of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry but with optional topics at more advanced level.  Throughout the first three years, you will be offered practical classes in the teaching laboratories in parallel with the theoretical course which is taught through lectures and tutorials.

The fourth year of the MChem degree, ‘Part II’, consists of a full academic year (38 weeks) spent carrying out full-time research within one of the research teams and producing as an end-result an independent research thesis. Usually this will be in one of the research groups in Oxford Chemistry, although students can also complete their Part II research in other departments in Oxford or in another university overseas. Oxford Chemistry is one of the leading chemistry research departments worldwide and can provide expertise and facilities across most areas of modern chemistry research. As a Part II student you will be immersed in this exciting environment and free to follow your interests and exercise your scientific imagination.  Most students really enjoy their Part II year and find it teaches them many transferable skills as well as an in depth insight into research Chemistry. It’s a good opportunity to work in a team, design a project, solve problems, work at the forefront of knowledge, and make discoveries!

More information about the MChem course and how it is examined can be found in the course handbook and on the Oxford Chemistry website.

 

Trinity Chemistry Tutor Charlotte Williams and a male student in a lab holding a plastic bunny.
Over the past five years, over 50% of our chemistry students achieved 1st class degrees.
A close-up of bicycles parked in Trinity college.
Google Maps
Trinity and the Inorganic Chemistry Lab

Career Prospects

Our Chemistry students graduate with deep knowledge across the central sciences as well as highly practical and transferrable skills in quantitative reasoning, data analysis, and strong verbal and written argumentation. This provides an outstanding basis for many career directions and will stand you in good stead no matter what career you choose! The majority of our graduates go on to careers in science, whether that’s in further study and research, industry, scientific journalism or even patent law.