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Durham University

Department of Chemistry

Career Options and Employability

Postgraduate study at Durham presents an opportunity to develop a range of higher level research skills that can be transferred to the wider graduate job market. The specific learning and skills opportunities presented by Chemistry are relevant to a diverse range of careers and employment sectors. Many postgraduate students apply their academic study directly within a number of relevant sectors including pharmaceuticals, process industry, FMCG, health, environment, petrochemicals and food. Examples of high profile recent employers include Procter & Gamble in the private sector and the National Centre for Scientific Research (France) in the public sector. Continued academic research is another option for postgraduate students in the form of postdoctoral research projects spanning organic, physical, inorganic, bioactive and computational chemistry, through to catalysis, nanoscience and materials. Technical University Eindhoven, Guelph, Herriot Watt and Liverpool are recent examples of institutions where Durham postgraduate students have taken up postdoctoral positions. Some postgraduate students progress into unrelated areas including banking, law, PR, third sector, consultancy, insurance, civil service, education and real estate.

“I really enjoyed the time I spent in Durham completing my PhD. It was a wonderful experience to work with such talented chemists amongst the academics and students in the department. I also benefited from the opportunity to attend and present my work at a number of British and international conferences. Aside from the chemistry, I loved being part of the community of international and local postgraduate students, and having the opportunity to explore all the beautiful areas around Durham.”

Elizabeth New, PhD in Chemistry

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works with closely the department in facilitating student access to job and work experience opportunities, careers and employability events, employer workshops and presentations, skills programmes and tailored individual careers guidance.

The department delivers a number of events in partnership with the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre including mock interviews for year in industry students, careers presentations and a chemistry careers evening. 

Further study

A number of students progress onto PhD level study following their Masters in Chemistry. This presents an opportunity to remain within their academic field of interest and pursue higher level research, notably at Durham but also other institutions. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in both relevant (pharmacology, medicine, public health, science communication) and non-relevant fields (law, finance, teaching, HR, marketing).