Frequently asked questions
Please note that the FAQs below are in the process of being updated. Some details may differ from those listed, in part due to moving of our interview programme online last academic year and changes to the 2022 entry application cycle.
There are further FAQs related to the UCAS application at the bottom of the Application and Entry Requirements webpage.
Visiting the Chemistry Department before application
When can I visit the department?
The College usually hosts undergraduate open days three times a year; two in June and one in September. These are currently virtual, supported by the Imperial360 website. You can view open day details, book to on to online open day and College events and talks, or take a virtual tour, navigating from our ‘Visit’ Imperial page.
We are currently unable to accommodate visits to the Department of Chemistry due to current COVID guidelines and our undergraduate students who are now studying back on campus. We are investigating the possibility of running visit days for offer-holders from March/April 2022 in the first instance. The Chemistry Admissions Team should be able to provide more information early in 2022.
Can I look around accommodation?
Unfortunately at the moment we are unable to facilitate this due to current COVID guidelines, and as the accommodation is in use during term time by our current students, and we would wish to not disturb them! 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 2022 entry is 15th January 2022.
Please ensure you apply by this date so that your application may be appropriately considered. We will be unable to accept applications after this date and we do not take part in UCAS Extra, nor Clearing or Adjustment.
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 between BSc and MSci can be processed 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 to the BSc as this tends to make things easier from a funding/tuition fee loan perspective. We have two transfer periods during each year, and we provide guidance on what transfers are possible, depending on your current degree programme and year of study. For Tier 4 overseas students, there will be visa considerations with transfers between BSc and MSci programmes to consider.
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 apply for more than one?
Our courses have broad appeal to students, so you might want to apply for more than one. However, we strongly recommend all applicants ONLY apply for ONE course. We consider all applications for our courses in the same way, all courses have the same broad entry requirements, and share the same core Chemistry modules. It is possible to transfer onto another course in your first or second year, provided you meet the pre-requisites for that course (for example, A level physics is required for transfer to the MSci Chemistry with Molecular Physics programmes during year 1; transferring to MSci Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry in year 2, would require having taken Medicinal Chemistry 1 in year 1).
Education and Exams
Does the department recognise the Extended Project Qualification?
The extended project qualification (EPQ) is a really 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. An EPQ would also not form part of an offer nor be used in making adjusted offers. It is of immense value though in terms of your own personal and skills development, and can provide additional support to your personal statement. The EPQ does not offer any intrinsic advantage to applicants though.
I have decided to resit an exam (or some exams) - will this affect my application?
No. We will consider the final grades you achieve without discrimination over those applying without resits. Each year we welcome students resitting exams, including students reapplying to us after a gap year. You should make it clear on your UCAS application what you are re-sitting. You should do this by detailing your qualifications in the ‘Completed qualification’ (with your current grade) section and ‘Not yet completed’ qualification sections.
Do you accept non-science subjects like Business Studies, English Literature, History, Geography, Music etc. as a third subject alongside Chemistry and Maths?
Whilst we do not currently specify a ‘required’ third subject for most of our degree programmes (*with the exception of our ‘...with Molecular Physics’ programmes), our preference is for a third scientific subject. Our preferred third subjects are Biology, Economics, Further Maths and Physics. Additionally, we are able to consider French, German or Spanish only for the relevant MSci Chemistry with a Language for Science degree (F1R1, F1R2, F1R4).
We will only be able to consider a third subject in another area under very limited circumstances (e.g. if you meet our widening participation criteria or have experienced significant disadvantage in your education). In practice, due to the increasing level of competition over recent years, it would be unlikely we would be able to shortlist such an application. You are welcome to get in touch with our Chemistry Admissions Team to discuss your situation and for advice on subject choices.
For qualifications such as Advanced Placements, Irish Leaving Certificate and Canadian High/Secondary School Diploma, we often or usually require more than 3 subjects. Some qualifications, such as the European Baccalaureate, Romanian Baccalaureat and Polish Matura, usually only allow Chemistry and Maths to be taken (often alongside a compulsory language). In these cases, the third subject discussion does not apply, except if applying for MSci Chemistry with Molecular Physics, where Physics is required.
Are there any course-specific restrictions for my third subject?
The “MSci Chemistry with Molecular Physics” degree programmes (F1F3, F1FH) will require that you have Physics as your third subject (at A-level, IB Higher Level, Extended/Advanced level or equivalent).
“MSci Chemistry with a Language for Science” degree programmes (F1R1, F1R2, F1R4) will require that you attain at least a grade B in the appropriate language to AS level. An A-level or equivalent is preferred, but language ability will also be assessed at interview.
There is a preference for Biology for the “MSci 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. We provide support resources in molecular biology and introduce new concepts slowly throughout the 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. Some students may have studied school diplomas or SATs/ACTs elsewhere before studying A-levels, for example, so educational backgrounds can be very diverse. You must satisfy the conditions for college requirement for English Language (Chemistry requires the college's Higher Level). Obtaining a GCSE in English Language or iGCSE in English as a First Language is one way of achieving this, and there are other English language qualifications or proficiency tests that you could take instead.
Will the department require applicants taking A-level Chemistry to pass the A-level practical certificate?
Yes. We will require all Chemistry A-level students studying in England to pass the A-Level Practical endorsement in Chemistry. This does not apply for Wales or A-levels taken internationally (CAIE, Pearson). We appreciate COVID has caused disruption for some students in obtaining their practical endorsement, so do contact us if this is the case.
Employment and placements
Do I need to have done a work experience placement? Is an EPQ helpful to my application?
As with the the EPQ, a work experience placement has enormous value for your personal and skills development, but this is also not available to everyone.
Obtaining relevant work experience is not a specific requirement for studying Chemistry with us. You should certainly mention CREST awards, EPQs and work experience in your application if relevant to your application to us and where it supports your personal statement. However, we don't accept them as part of an offer, and we cannot make adjusted offers based on performance in an EPQ or other aw.
What do you look for in an application?
Your predicted grades should at least meet our minimum entry requirements, and we prefer students to be taking Biology, Physics, Further Maths or Economics alongside Chemistry and Maths, as this combination provides a more comprehensive scientific training overall. Other third subjects are only considered under limited circumstances, and only where they directly support the degree programme. You can find further details in the Education and Exams section above.
Your personal statement should convey strong enthusiasm and commitment towards studying Chemistry at University, discussing what you enjoy doing/reading/studying, what you have learned and what skills you have gained from the experiences you have had (both in Chemistry, in other subjects). Discuss your hobbies and interests that are personally important to you, but importantly, what you have gained from those experiences or skills you have developed.
Please see the section on Personal Statements below for more information.
Personal Statement and applying for other subjects
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 motivations 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.
As described in the previous section, your personal statement should convey strong enthusiasm and commitment towards studying Chemistry, but do discuss your other subjects too and how they link together (important if applying for a combined/joint honours degree). Think about how Chemistry links to wider global issues that engage your interest. Whatever experiences or opportunities you have had, whatever books/journals/websites you read, podcasts you listen to, or video channels you follow, talk about what has been important and valuable to you, and what you have learned.
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, you should draw from your other subjects and interests in this. However, we are unable to accept alternative personal statements, and would use the statement submitted with your UCAS application as part of our interview shortlisting process.
Will applying for other subjects/courses affect my application for Chemistry?
Motivation and enthusiasm for Chemistry are particular important to us, and one factor we look for when shortlisting applicants for interview. Due to the high level of competition, with over 1000 applications per year, we will not be able to consider applications from Medicine applicants selecting Chemistry as their fifth choice.
Chemistry applicants who have also applied for other subjects, such as Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science or Biomedical Engineering, are unlikely to be shortlisted for interview. For Natural Sciences applicants, we will be looking specifically for students who show strong motivation towards chemistry.
Other application questions
I want to defer my entry until next year - is this OK?
You can apply for deferred entry via UCAS from the outset, something we are happy to accommodate. Applicants who defer are required to fulfil all conditions of their offer and meet all relevant deadlines within the same year / UCAS cycle that they apply.
Applicants may decide to defer their entry at other stages. In principal, this is not usually a problem, but each request would need to be considered and approved by the department and by Registry.
If you submit an application for the upcoming academic 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 (e.g. re-taking time-dependent English proficiency tests or reapplying for ATAS). Where these requirements are not met, the College reserves the right not to confirm your admission.
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. The college supports a range of online courses, including an EdX Maths course for Year 12 and 13 students. These are completely optional, but you may find the this useful or of interest.
How many students do you take into the department, and how many applications do you receive for Chemistry?
We usually have over 1000 applications per year, and this has slowly increased over the last few years. Prior to the 2020 entry cycle, each year we aimed to take in around 160-170 students. Our 2020 and 2021 intakes into year 1 have been much higher. Our 2022 intake will be closer to that in previous years. The most recent figures on the central college website can be found here. We aim to offer places based on academic merit and potential, rather than to maintain a certain ratio of applications to places, or based on student residency or fees status.
Interviewing at the Department of Chemistry
Is everyone interviewed?
We interview all applicants who demonstrate a sufficient level of academic merit and potential to meet our entry requirements, based on their application. We require all students who are shortlisted in this first step of the Admissions process to attend an interview as part of an interview day. During the 2021-22 UCAS application cycle, all interview days will be online and interviews will be offered via Microsoft Teams. In previous years, we have shortlisted up to 70-80% of applicants for interview, though this varies each year.
NOTE for 2022 entry: for those reapplying to us who were made an offer in a previouis application cycle, you will not be required to attend an interview again. We will use your previous interview feedback in combination with your current application to inform our offer-decision process. If reapplying and you were not previously made an offer, you will need to attend an interview.
Please see the Admissions and Interview Process section on Application and Entry Requirements webpage for more information.
When do interviews run?
We interview from early November through to the middle of February. Most interviews will be offered in the afternoon on Wednesdays. Some will take place in the mornings on different days throughout this period, to accommodate overseas applicants in certain time zones.
What happens when I attend for interview?
In addition to a 20 minute online interview (~35 mins for Language for Science degree applicants), there will be informative pre-recorded talks on studying at Imperial College, student finance, accommodation, student life and our White City campus, available on a special webpage hub for Chemistry UCAS applicants. There will be the opportunity to meet and talk to current undergraduate students and to the admissions tutor at online Q&A sessions in the morning, specifically for those invited to attend an interview.
What will I be asked in the interview?
The interviewers will start by discussing your motivations and interests in Chemistry and for studying at the college. The Chemistry discussion will start from either topics from your personal statement or those that particularly interest you. It will then develop towards other topics and/or unseen material, to see how you use your existing knowledge and apply it in solving problems. We aim to see your thought-process and to 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, to guide you if you are unsure, 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 ask our academics any questions regarding the course and College, to help you in making your decision of where to study.
I cannot attend the interview, what can I do?
We will be offering you a choice of three interview dates/times from which to choose one preferred option. 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.
What will happen after the interview?
We will be in contact after the interview about the offer-making process and when you can expect to receive a decision. See the Receiving your Offer section below for more information.
Receiving your offer
The entry requirement advertised is AAA, why is my offer A*AA / A*A*A?
The College publishes minimum general entry requirements online and through UCAS. These reflect the minimum standard of academic achievement that the Department will consider. In practice, we reserve our minimum (contextual) offer for applicants who meet our widening participation criteria, or who have experienced significant disadvantage in their education. The Faculty of Natural Sciences have approved a widening participation (WP) policy as part of a wider WP policy for the college. To find out more information, please visit the Admissions Schemes webpage.
The majority of applicants, will receive an offer above AAA (or equivalent qualification/grades). 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 and interview performance, but will always be at or above the minimum entry requirements published.
When will I find out if I have been made an offer or not?
Please look for details of changes to the timeline for offer decision-making this year (2022 entry), in The Admissions Process and Interviews section of our Application and Entry Requirements page.
How do I find out the specific conditions of my offer?
The Department will contact you by e-mail after your interview, to confirm whether or not we are able to make you an offer. We are unable to communicate the specific conditions of your offer though, as per UCAS guidelines. After we contact you, you will be able to see your offer-status and conditions of your offer by logging into UCAS Track. It may take up to 10-14 days for UCAS Track to be updated.
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 to other 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, to enable you to follow the path best tailored to your developing interests. We offer two "transfer windows" during each year, in which students may transfer between degree programmes. There are some pre-requisites for certain transfers, such as what modules or previous qualifications you have taken, and the stage you are at in your degree.
You can transfer from one of our combined 'MSci Chemistry with...' degrees to our 'MSci Chemistry' programme (F103) up until the end of Year 2. Transfers onto our 'MSci Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry' or 'MSci Chemistry with Molecular Physics' degrees, require you to have studied the relevant ancillary module in both year 1 and 2 (e.g. Medicinal Chemistry 1 and 2, or Maths & Physics 1 and 2).
You may transfer onto or from an MSci degree with a year in industry up until the middle of Year 3. BSc to MSci and MSci to BSc transfers are also possible up until the end of Year 2.
Other transfer options are possible, and we provide detailed information on your options at each stage. There may be visa considerations with certain course changes (e.g. between MSci and BSc, or changing course length). You may be required to apply for a new visa, either in the UK or in your home country.
What are the recommended texts for your courses?
We do not teach directly from any one textbook, but make recommendations across a range of titles through advertised reading lists for each module. All recommended textbooks are available as hard copies, e-books or online copies through the College library. We therefore encourage students to wait until they arrive before purchasing any.
We try to encourage students to find a textbook that they like referring to from our recommendations. 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 usually run a second-hand book sale early in the Autumn Term where you can often pick up a bargain!
Suggested texts you might wish to explore are:
- Inorganic Chemistry: Inorganic Chemistry (Weller, Rourke and Overton, 6th ed, OUP); Inorganic Chemistry (Housecroft and Sharpe, 4th ed, Pearson).
- Organic Chemistry: Organic Chemistry (Clayden, Greaves, Warren and Wothers, 2nd ed, OUP).
- Physical Chemistry: Physical Chemistry (Atkins, de Paula and Keeler, 10th or 11th ed, OUP); Physical Chemistry (Engel and Reid, 3rd ed, Pearson).
- All main areas: Chemistry3 (Burrows, Holman, Parsons, Pilling and Price, 2009, OUP).
- Medicinal Chemistry: An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (Patrick, 6th ed, OUP).
- Other: Study and Communication Skills for the Chemical Sciences (Overton, Johnson and Scott, 3rd ed, OUP); The Chemistry Maths Book (Steiner, 2nd ed, OUP).
Is there anything else I should know before I arrive?
A 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 choosing 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.
If you are looking for inspiration, you are welcome to check out the Outreach STEM book list: a list of recommended books from students and researchers across the college covering spanning the sciences.
My question is not listed - can you help?
Certainly - please e-mail the Chemistry admissions team and we would be happy to help.