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Frequently Asked Questions

Although Lancaster Chemistry is new, there are already a lot of questions about our department. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about us, our courses, and Chemistry at Lancaster.

You don't appear in league tables... why is that?
Our absence from the league tables is no reflection of our quality; it is simply that we are a new department! It takes time to be recognised, and for the data needed to compile a league table entry to be available. Lancaster University itself performs incredibly well in the league tables, and our ambitions are to at least maintain (if not exceed) the University-wide standard.
What about Royal Society of Chemistry accreditation?
RSC accreditation requires us to be running a complete course; accreditation is something that will come in the future. We anticipate this well before our first students near completion of their degree.
What can we expect from a degree in Chemistry at Lancaster?
The Lancaster Chemistry course is being developed to be competitive with the best the UK has to offer. As such, it will be a rigorous and challenging course. That does not mean that we will do it in the same way as everyone else! We believe chemistry is an integrated subject, not something divided solely along inorganic, organic and physical chemistry boundaries (which we call IOP).
What do you mean by "Chemistry as an Integrated Subject"?
Chemistry is often divided along historical boundaries. Organic is C, H, N, O chemistry. Inorganic is everything else, and Physical is spectroscopy, thermodynamics, kinetics etc. Increasingly, these divisions are arbitrary and do not represent the realities of modern chemistry research. For example, if you do research on transition metal complexes, you would synthesise "organic" ligands, react them with metals, characterise them with spectroscopic techniques, and examine their photochemical behaviour. This work would not fit nicely into one of the IOP divisions, and in fact spans all of the IOP categories.
Does that mean I won't learn as much about "X" as someone doing an IOP course?
In a word, no! Our courses begin with a broad introduction covering all of the fundamental areas of chemistry, including all the areas you are familiar with and that would be covered in an IOP context, and additionally some that you may be less familiar with, such as analytical and theoretical chemistry. It will be packaged differently, which will hopefully make it more intuitive, and highlight the connection between different areas of chemistry more clearly. In later years, as with all courses, you will have more opportunity to specialise, with advanced topics being offered that are taught by leaders in their respective fields, and the opportunity to undertake research projects in the research groups of our academic staff. More details are available at Chemistry teaching at Lancaster.
The UKs top Chemistry departments offer small group teaching. What about you?
As you might expect from our ambitions to become one of the UKs top Chemistry departments, all our staff recognise the importance of small group teaching, and it will form an integral part of our course. Sometimes there is no substitute for small group tutorials as a means of learning.
And what about your staff-to-student ratios?
Chemistry at Lancaster will have some of the best staff-to-student ratios in the country. Although we are a relatively small department, we also have relatively small class sizes, and an open and dedicated staff who are friendly and approachable. The undergraduate experience in Chemistry at Lancaster may therefore be different to that in other universities, but we hope that this is in our favour.
Will there be a lot of lab work?
That depends somewhat on your definition of "a lot". Practical work is an integral part of chemistry, and practical skills are valuable to potential employers. For RSC accreditation, roughly 100 hours of practical are required per year, so all Chemistry courses contain a large practical element. Our courses will also involve a significant proportion of lab-based practicals, together with lectures/ tutorials/ seminars etc, and computer-based lab sessions.
Will a Chemistry degree help me to get a job?
Chemists are very employable. Employers recognise the value of a Chemistry degree; it doesn't only provide you with skills that are relevant for a career in Chemistry. The encouragement to develop many transferrable skills that are relevant for other careers is an important part of a degree in Chemistry from Lancaster. For further information about career choices, you should look at the Careers and Employability page.
Can I study Chemistry with another subject?
Your options depend on how much of another subject you want to study. Historically, Lancaster has offered a flexible first year. In keeping with this, you can take 1/3 of your first year in another subject, for instance you could take some additional physics modules, maths modules, environmental science modules,... If you are looking for a degree course that enables you to take more than one subject for the duration of your degree, then you should consider the Natural Sciences programme at Lancaster; a wide range of our chemistry modules are available as part of that degree scheme.
It would be nice to know a bit about your staff. Where did they go to Uni?
We don't necessarily want to advertise the names of all our competitors, but we represent a good selection of the top of the UK Chemistry league table! Cambridge, Durham, Imperial,...
What research interests do your staff have?
Our research interests are varied and diverse, covering many areas of chemistry. For more details, you should look at the individual people pages, where you can find research profiles for our staff, details of their publications, and some biographical information.