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Durham University

Department of Chemistry


You can find full information about studying in Durham via the Department's undergraduate, postgraduate and University web pages.

If you have any further questions, please contact our International Coordinator, Dr. Ivana Evans or the relevant admissions team, Dr. Paul Hodgkinson for undergraduate courses or Dr. Steven Cobb for postgraduate study.

Here is what some of our current and recent international students say. 

Ishika Saha (India), MChem student

My first weeks at Durham were beyond anything I had ever hoped for. Between academic advisors, tutors, college mentors, college parents and the college executive, it was impossible to not feel instantly at home.

Even though I have always enjoyed Chemistry, my studies at Durham have made me look at the subject in an entirely different light by exposing me to aspects of the subject I had never before considered. One of the things I have come to particularly appreciate is the way the course is structured. Between lectures, tutorials, problem classes and ready advice from professors, it is possible to explore study material to a great degree of detail. 

The conditions at Durham are ideal for having an all rounded student experience. Durham allows one to explore aspects of both academic and general learning outside one’s comfort zone. 

You can read the full interview with Ishika here.

Arthur Lit (Singapore), MChem student

A Durham Chemistry degree builds and refines students to be versatile. This skill is particularly important to me as I aspire to carry out independent research and work alongside other research groups. Furthermore, I feel that the critical thinking and problem solving skills developed throughout the course, especially during the practical laboratory course, will have various useful applications to my life and academic career.

I believe that the key to success for an international student studying Chemistry is to get involved and have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone. Durham offers many opportunities for one to expand his/ her horizons both academically and personally. The challenge is to find the confidence to seize the opportunities given to us.

You can read the full interview with Arthur here.

Cen Chen (China), MChem graduate and PhD student

Durham is a pleasant and peaceful city that is excellent for academic study and research. Overall the high teaching quality, excellent research facilities, and good graduation job aspects encouraged me to choose Durham. What I enjoy most about studying here is the academic environment. Most of the students at Durham are very hard working; and this generates a very positive attitude and a good atmosphere for our study.

I would like to follow a career in academic research after my PhD, as this has been my dream and goal for years. A Durham Chemistry degree is well-recognised around the world due to the Department's fame in teaching and research quality. As a result, it is one of my main strengths in competing with other candidates in a similar area.

You can read the full interview with Cen here.

Valentina Erastova (Russia), MChem graduate and PhD student

I would highly recommend Durham for doing an undergraduate degree. It is a top university, with the Chemistry department being one of the best in UK. Staff in the department are very helpful and friendly. Colleges also offer a lot of support and advice if you need it.

Durham has been a leading University in Chemistry for many years. Having a degree from here will most definitely widen my range of opportunities. A degree from such a University does not only provide the knowledge of the subject, but also develops other transferable skills that will be helping a graduate through whole of their life.

Durham is a truly beautiful city. Even though it is a very small place, after living here for quite a few years I am still not bored of it. It is a very safe and friendly place, which is very important for undergraduates. It is possible to walk everywhere in Durham, which makes meeting friends very likely. This should always be taken into account when estimating the journey time!

You can read the full interview with Valentina here.

Wee Kian Pek (Singapore), MChem student

Being an undergraduate in Durham University we learn how to be more independent in our degree.

The mixture of individual and group work allows us to learn how to work independently as well as cooperatively with others. Durham Chemistry strikes a balance between time-tabled academic commitments as well as time for independent research and the building up of life-skills essential to professional life in the future.

The people here, both the staff and my course-mates, are warm and welcoming. I remembered I felt slightly awkward being an international student amongst all the locals, but we made friends easily and that helped me assimilate into the culture here in Durham. 

Living in a college is part and parcel of most Durham undergraduates' lives. College life is as amazing as one allows it to be. The Formals, Balls, Socials, or even just the company of friends make college life interesting. [There is] a balance of education and activities in which we can participate out of the classrooms. There are a thousand and one societies ranging from cheese/wine appreciation, to martial arts and sky-diving.

I believe most Durham students have 'study-life' balance, where they juggle their academic commitments with the activities they do out of the classroom.

You can read the full interview with Wee Kian here.

Darius Rackus (Canada)
MSci graduate and PhD student

Durham has so much to offer its students. As a postgraduate, I get to work alongside world-class researchers who are leaders in their fields, with all the support from a top chemistry department. As an undergraduate, I felt that Durham was successful at creating an environment where I felt safe to try new things. I had the opportunities to design and coordinate the largest fireworks display in the county, conduct a university orchestra, and have a go at research as a summer placement student. These are all things I never would have felt I could have done before coming to Durham.

My biggest challenge and greatest success in Durham was organising my college's annual fireworks display. You could say that it was chemistry in action! This took a whole year to prepare and involved nitty-gritty health and safety, design and choreography of the show, and organising a whole team of students to set off the pyrotechnics at the precise moments. In the end, having a crowd of over 2,000 people go 'oooo...' and 'ahhhhh...' at my work was a fantastic experience.

During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to work as a Student Associate in a local school attached to their science department. I got to work alongside students, plan and deliver lessons, and work to raise aspirations for higher education. This was a really rewarding experience and gave me a lot of insight into a career in teaching.

You can read the full interview with Darius here.

Julie Thye (Denmark), MSci graduate and PhD student

The student community at Durham is tight-knit; for most people, college becomes family. People have come to Durham because they're intelligent, and it's interesting how many random people with completely different interests and lives you can make friends with. People are here to get a degree, but also to have a good time, which can be seen in how many things people get involved in and how many crazy ideas come true. One of my friends got an idea for a society and after a few weeks of gathering signatures and planning it, he set it up. It's amazing how much is going on and I love the fact that everyone's encouraged to get involved. So, the student's social life is great (it's hard to wander through town at night without seeing at least one club/committee/ group of friends out in fancy dress!).

Students want to make the most of their time here and the collegiate system as well as lectures are great for ensuring that you meet a variety of people with similar and different interests, doing different degrees, members of different colleges and people from all over.

My degree also includes many other skills, so that my studies will have provided me with the ability to work as part of a team, analytical skills, communication skills, etc. Basically, all the skills employers look for will have been encountered at some point during my degree either through the department or through extracurricular activities.

You can read the full interview with Julie here.