Catalysis (MSc) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

The MSc in Catalysis provides students with specialised advanced knowledge and skills in modern catalysis. It includes a research project leading to a dissertation. The course details the role catalysis plays in improving sustainability and solving environmental issues in chemical manufacture.

Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2025
One year full time
School of Chemistry

Application deadline

Thursday 8 August 2024

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

“The staff are very supportive and I truly feel like I am part of the academic and research community. Support from other postgraduates has been incredibly helpful in handling stressful periods or just looking for a way to wind down.”
- Vilnius, Lithuania

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date. 
  • two original signed academic references 
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates 
  • letter of intent (optional)


For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability.  See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MSc in Catalysis is a one-year taught programme run by the School of Chemistry. It is designed to equip students and professionals who have a degree in Chemistry or an allied subject with a range of analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills. 

The course provides students with specialised advanced knowledge and skills in modern catalysis with the ability to undertake a significant research project for their dissertation.

The course aims to introduce awareness of the role catalysis plays in improving sustainability and solving environmental issues in chemical manufacture. 


  • Provides you with an understanding of the science of catalysis in the context of its impacts on industry and academia. 
  • You will gain knowledge in all major branches of catalysis, including homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, organocatalysis, biocatalysis, asymmetric catalysis and ligand design.
  • Skills acquired in the taught element will be applied in a short, intensive research project.
  • This research project is aligned with the interests of the School's world-leading research groups.  
  • St Andrews has extensive expertise in catalysis research; this has been recognised by the award of the EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Critical Resource Catalysis and the recently established EaSI-CAT Centre for doctoral training.  


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.

Students will take six compulsory and three optional modules during the course. 


  • Contemporary Research Awareness: research colloquia and seminars delivered by external speakers and covering areas within current chemical science research. 
  • Homogeneous Catalysis: demonstrates the links between catalyst structure, performance, commercial utilisation and sustainability. 
  • Literature Review for MSc: an in-depth survey of the published literature within a specified research area which is related to the prospective research project, including peer-review-like assessment and a short oral presentation.
  • Natural Products, Biosynthesis and Enzyme Co-factors: introduces the origin of natural products and the diversity of enzyme reactions. 
  • Research Skills in Chemistry: develops knowledge of specialised research techniques for the prospective research project. 
  • Surface Science and Heterogeneous Catalysis: introduces the important general concepts of the chemistry of heterogeneous catalysis. 

Here is a sample of optional modules that may be offered. 

Semester 1 – students typically choose one optional module for the first semester. 

  • Advanced Metal Chemistry and Green Chemistry
  • Advanced Spectroscopic Methods
  • Asymmetric Synthesis 
  • Electrochemistry and Computational Chemistry
  • Heterocyclic and Pericyclic Chemistry 
  • Nanostructured Materials
  • Processing of Materials 

Semester 2 – students typically choose two optional modules for the second semester. 

  • Advanced Main Group Chemistry 
  • Advanced Physical Inorganic Chemistry 
  • Blockbuster Solids 
  • Chemical Applications of Electronic Structure Calculations 
  • Chemical Biology 
  • Energy Conversion and Storage  
  • Fragrance, Food and Colour Chemistry 
  • Functional Materials and Electrons in Solids 
  • Fundamentals of the Spectroscopy of Molecules and Solids 
  • Molecular Recognition 
  • Reactive Intermediates  

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development). 

During the final three months of the course, students undertake a research project finishing in a 15,000-word dissertation. The project is supervised by a member of the academic staff, and the project topic and aims will be selected by both supervisor and student.  

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc. 


The course consists of two semesters of taught modules followed by a significant research project and dissertation (15,000 words) focused over the summer months. 

Teaching methods include: 

  • lectures 
  • practical laboratory work 
  • consultation sessions with supervisors. 

Typical class sizes range from around 5 students for seminars and tutorials and around 40 students for lectures.  

Modules are assessed through coursework, written examinations, or a combination of both. 


The School of Chemistry is accredited through the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

Supported by a worldwide network of members and an international publishing business, its activities span education, conferences, science policy and the promotion of chemistry to the public.

The RSC often organises events and conferences in the Tayside area.  




Application fee

Before we can begin processing your application, a payment of an application fee of £50 is required. In some instances, you may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Details of this, along with information on our tuition fees, can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances.

See the University's postgraduate Scholarship web pages.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


Chemistry graduates have gone on to successful careers in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries with companies such as: 

  • AstraZeneca 
  • BP 
  • GSK 
  • Johnson Matthey 
  • Pfizer 
  • Shell 
  • Siemens. 

Other career routes outwith a research environment include scientific publishing, patent law, forensic science, IT and energy consultancy. 

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

In addition to the taught MSc, the School offers a one-year research MSc (Res) and a two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in Chemistry. 

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere. The School of Chemistry offers a large number of fully-funded PhD studentships each year. Key areas of PhD research include: 

  • catalysis and synthesis 
  • energy, environmental and sustainable chemistry 
  • functional materials 
  • synthetic chemistry and chemical dynamics 
  • chemistry biology interface. 

The School hosts the EaSI-CAT Centre for doctoral training, which provides studentships and innovative training in catalysis research.  

Postgraduate research

What to do next

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We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 3816
School of Chemistry
Purdie Building
North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9ST

School of Chemistry website