Frequently asked questions
Please note that the FAQs below are in the process of being updated. Some details will differ from those listed, in part due to moving of our interview programme online in the 2020-21 academic year.
Visiting the Chemistry Department before application
When can I visit the department?
The College hosts undergraduate open days three times a year; two in June and one in September. You can view open day details, book to attend an open day and book College visits/tours at other times through our ‘Visit’ Imperial page. If you wish to visit the Department of Chemistry at other times, please contact the Chemistry Admissions Team to find out when the next available opportunity might be.
Chemistry days: Can I look around accommodation?
Unfortunately at the moment we are unable to facilitate this as the accommodation is in use during term time by our current students, and we would wish to not disturb them! However, tours of accommodation are organised centrally and are available to view during the College Open Days.
Completing your application
When is the application deadline?
The UCAS application deadline for 2020 entry is 15th January 2020.
Please ensure you apply by this date so that your application may be appropriately considered. All applications are treated equally, based on their individual merits, regardless of date of application.
I am not sure whether I should apply to do a BSc or MSci chemistry course can I change during my course?
Transfers can be processed up to any point until the degree courses diverge; for MSci / BSc transfers this is normally at the end of year 2. We would normally recommend people apply for the MSci course and then transfer down to the BSc as this tends to make things easier from a funding perspective.
I see that you offer an MSci, rather than an MChem degree programme. What is the difference between these qualifications?
The decision to offer an MSci (rather than the MChem offered by some other institutions) is an institutional decision. There is no distinction in level, status or professional acceptability of the two awards which are both level 7 integrated Master’s degrees. If applicants want further details about the two awards they should look to the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree Awarding Bodies (FHEQ).
I am interested in more than one chemistry course that you offer - should I put them all down?
Our courses have broad appeal, and it is not surprising that you might want to apply for more than one. We consider all applications for our courses together and so we recommend that you put down the course that interests you the most. It is possible to transfer onto another course in your first year provided you meet the pre-requisites for that course (for example, A level physics is required for transfer to the Chemistry with Molecular Physics programmes).
Education and Exams
Does the department recognise the Extended Project Qualification?
The extended project qualification is a positive addition to your education, however we do not use it to shortlist candidates for interview as we recognise that this option is not available to every student. It is of immense personal value, and can provide additional support to your personal statement, however the EPQ does not offer any intrinsic advantage to applicants.
I have decided to resit an exam (or some exams) - will this affect my application?
No; we will consider the final grade you achieve without prejudice. However, you should make it clear on your UCAS application what you are re-sitting. You should do this by detailing the qualification in the ‘Completed qualification’ (with your current grade) section and ‘Not yet completed’ qualification section.
Do you accept Business Studies/English/Classics/Fine Art as a third A level?
Whilst we do not currently specify a ‘required’ third A level subject (*with the exception of our ‘With Molecular Physics’ programmes), our preference is for a third scientific subject. Whilst you can still apply with a third subject in another area, in practice due to the level of competition we experience it would be unlikely that you would receive an offer.
Are there any course-specific restrictions for my third A-level?
The “Chemistry with molecular physics” programmes will require that you have Physics as your third A-level.
“Chemistry with <language> for Science” programmes will require that you attain at least a grade B in the appropriate language to AS level.
There is a preference for Biology for the “Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry” programmes, however this is not a requirement and students without A level Biology (or equivalent) can be admitted onto this course.
I do not have any GCSEs or similar secondary education qualifications; does this stop me applying?
We accept students with a wide range of qualifications; we are proud to be an international department and so we consider a huge number of qualifications. You must satisfy the conditions for ENGLISH at GCSE level (or equivalent).
Will the department require applicants taking A-level Chemistry during or after 2017 to pass the A-level practical certificate? (2017 admissions)
Employment and placements
Do I need to have done a work experience placement?
As with the the EPQ, a work experience placement has enormous personal value, but again is not available to everyone. If the work experience is relevant and provides additional support to your personal statement, please do include it, but we do not make offers based on whether you have done a work experience placement.
What should I put on my personal statement?
Your personal statement should be an honest, reflective statement about you and your motivation to study chemistry at university level. How you choose to convey this is entirely your choice, and we accept that your motivation might not solely include your learning in chemistry, but your other subjects too, and any extra-curricular activities, hobbies or interests. Your motivation and interests are unique to you, consequently we know that every personal statement will necessarily be different and individual.
If I have applied for different subjects can I submit more than one personal statement?
We understand and appreciate that some applicants may have several UCAS choices to different subject areas, such as Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry or other subjects, in addition to Chemistry. You can only submit one personal statement on UCAS, which should highlight your main subject focus, but of course drawing from your other subjects and interests.
We are unable, however, to accept alternative personal statements, and would use the statement submitted with your UCAS application as part of our interview shortlisting process.
Other application questions
I want to defer my entry until next year - is this OK?
Applicants may decide to defer their entry at different stages. In principal this is not usually problematic, but each request would need to be considered and approved by Registry. You can apply for deferred entry via UCAS from the outset.
If you submit an application for the upcoming year and wish to defer your entry prior to receiving Imperial’s decision on your application, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org and request that your year of entry is amended to the subsequent academic year.
If you decide to defer your entry after receiving an offer from Imperial, you should email email@example.com to request a deferment and outline the reason for your request. Applicants are usually only permitted one deferment for one academic year. The College may consider requests for a 2 year deferment due to enrolment in military service (formal evidence required).
Applicants who defer their entry may be subject to repeating certain admission requirements where appropriate (for example; re-taking time-valid English proficiency tests or reapply for ATAS). Where these requirements are not met, the College reserves the right not to confirm your admission.
Applicants who defer are require to fulfil all conditions of entry and meet all relevant deadlines within the year / UCAS cycle that they apply.
We recommend that students taking a “gap year” spend some time revising their chemistry and maths knowledge in the run-up to starting with us.
How many students do you take into the department, and how many applications do you receive for Chemistry?
Each year we aim to take in around 160 students. The number of applications we receive vary year by year, however the most recent figures are available from the central college website here . The fluctuations in application numbers mean that this number also varies, and we aim to offer places based on merit, rather than to maintain a certain ratio.
Interviewing at the Department of Chemistry
Is everyone interviewed?
We interview all applicants demonstrating a sufficient level of academic potential to meet minimum entry requirements; all these candidates will receive an invitation to interview. Candidates currently resident or studying within the UK and Europe are required to attend an interview day, while for non-UK, non-EU students who are unable to attend in person we will arrange for a Skype conversation at a mutually convenient time.
When do interviews run?
We interview from early November through to the end of February. Normally we conduct interviews on a Wednesday.
What happens when I attend for interview?
In addition to a 30 minute interview there will be a tour of the department, informative talks on studying at Imperial College including a question and answer session, and the opportunity to meet and talk to current undergraduate students informally over lunch. Again, remember that the interview is your opportunity to meet academics from the Department to help you in your decision making.
What will I be asked in the interview?
The interview will be informed by what you write in your personal statement; the interviewers will look to start with your existing knowledge and teach you something new - and hopefully useful! - through structured questioning. This gives you an impression of how we teach, and it will give us an indication of your learning and ability to adapt to unfamiliar problems. Our aim is not to give you a hard time, rather to use the interview time constructively and hopefully to give you a new insight on an area of chemistry you already have some knowledge of. It also gives you the chance to experience our teaching and to ask our academics any questions regarding the course and College, which will help you make the decision of where to study.
I can’t attend the interview, what can I do?
This year we will be allowing you to select your preferred interview date/time from a shortlist of available dates. If none of the dates presented are feasible for you please get in touch with our admissions team (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible so that alternative arrangements can be made.
Receiving your offer
The entry requirement advertised is AAA, why is my offer A*A*A?
The College publishes minimum general entry requirements. These reflect the minimum standard of academic achievement that the Department will consider. In practice, all applications are considered in full and individually, as well as in relation to the competitiveness of all applications received in any given year. As such, offers will also reflect the individual nature of a given application but will always be at or above the minimum entry requirements published.
Arriving to study
If I change my mind, can I transfer to a different department once I arrive at Imperial College?
In certain circumstances it may possible to transfer Departments within the College. This will depend on whether you meet the requirements for the Department you wish to transfer to and whether they have any capacity to accept you. This would also be subject to the approval of your current Department. In principal, the earlier you make a clear decision on what you want to study, the more likely we will be able to support your request.
Can I transfer my course after I arrive?
We aim to be as flexible as possible for our students and so we will process course transfers between any of our courses at any point until the courses diverge. The date for this depends on the courses involved (for example, transferring from MSci Chemistry to MSci Chemistry with a year in industry can usually be done at any point to the middle of Year 3, while transferring between MSci Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry to Chemistry with Molecular Physics must be done before the start of year 2). The same applies to BSc / MSci transfers.
What are the recommended texts for your courses?
We do not teach directly from any one textbook, so we try to encourage students to find a textbook that they like referring to! Please use our library to explore a textbook and see if you like using it. If you find one you like, and use a lot, you might wish to buy a personal copy. Our ChemSoc run a second-hand book sale early in the Autumn Term where you can often pick up a bargain!
Suggested texts to explore are:
- Inorganic Chemistry: Weller, Rourke, Overton (Inorganic Chemistry, 6e, OUP); Housecroft, Sharpe (Inorganic Chemistry, 4e, Pearson);
- Organic Chemistry: Clayden, Greaves, Warren (Organic Chemistry, 2e, OUP);
- Physical Chemistry: Atkins, de Paula (Physical Chemistry, 10e, OUP); Engel and Reid (Physical Chemistry, 3e, Pearson);
- Other: “Study and Communication Skills for the Chemical Sciences”, Overton, Johnson, Scott (2e, OUP)
Is there anything else I should know before I arrive?
The Chemistry Student Welcome Handbook 2017-2018 will provide you with information you need to prepare for your arrival, settle in and make the most out of your Department.
What books should I read?
There are a huge number of books around the topic of “chemistry”, however when reading a book you should be doing it because you “want to read it”, not because you feel you “have to read it” in order to demonstrate an interest in chemistry. If you have read something that you found interesting, and it is relevant to your application, by all means include it. It is far more valuable for you to read something that you enjoy and find interesting.
My question is not listed - can you help?
Certainly - please e-mail the Chemistry admissions team and we would be happy to help.