School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

PhD Chemistry

The programme will provide you with the opportunity to conduct research alongside staff at the forefront of the chemistry subject discipline. Research project opportunities include combinations of laboratory and applied field/placement work with access to high specification analytical facilities. Working with a supervisor the programme offers you the flexibility to shape your research in an area of particular interest to you, alongside the opportunity to gain research skills from taught modules.

Key features

  • Conduct research alongside staff at the forefront of the chemistry subject discipline.
  • Access high specification analytical facilities:
    - analytical chemistry
    - air quality and human health
    - geochemistry and palaeochemistry
    - marine biogeochemistry
    - physical characterisation and modelling of porous materials
    - surface science and heterogeneous catalysis.
  •  The Doctoral College works with staff and students in all areas of the University’s research to ensure that our diverse community of postgraduate researchers are offered the best possible experience. 

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have completed an honours undergraduate degree with a 2:1 or first in an area of study appropriate to your project proposal. We are happy to consider equivalent qualifications (for instance, you may have studied different subjects at undergraduate and masters level but have worked in and/or developed an interest in your sector since then).
You will also need to provide evidence that you are ready to pursue the project you propose in your application. This will take the form of a research proposal.
If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.
For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. PhD Chemistry is in Band 2 for fees purposes.
If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for at least three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional writing up period of up to one year. The total period of normal registration will be 4 years.
If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for at least four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional writing up period of up to two years. The total period of normal registration will be 6 years.
You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.
Bench fees may be required depending on the project, detailed as part of the admissions process and indicated in full in the offer letter.
Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal. Your research proposal should outline your research topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, a brief literature review, your proposed methodology, and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.
Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community.
Submitting your application
Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.
Questions on the application process?
We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College and we'll be happy to assist you.
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Biogeochemistry Research Centre

Researching the environmental behaviour, fate and impact of nutrients, metals and pharmaceuticals in terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic systems.
The Biogeochemistry Research Centre comprises expert researchers and instrumentation, with acknowledged international leaders in organic geochemistry and environmental analytical chemistry and a strong focus on marine science and current and past ecosystems and climates.
Scientists working with a University of Plymouth team on sea ice in the Arctic (credit: Simon Belt/University of Plymouth)
Coastal Processes Research Group Perranporth beach
Postgraduate research students listening to a talk