“A sign of progress and ambition”: Swansea University to re-introduce chemistry degrees

Swansea University is to re-introduce chemistry degrees from 2017, after a 12 year gap, following discussions with the Royal Society of Chemistry. Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies described the move as “a sign of Swansea’s progress, ambition and confidence”, in the wake of the University breaking into the top 25 in the UK for research.

New chemistry BSc and MChem programmes have been established, focusing on teaching excellence, student experience and employability.

Based in the College of Science, the programmes will have strong links to engineering and medicine. They will provide students with the breadth of knowledge required to practise chemistry professionally, teaching them laboratory skills and giving them the depth to enable them to specialise in particular areas.

Engineering-project-specificSwansea University already has extensive expertise in chemistry, with chemists holding key roles in theEnergy Safety Research InstituteSPECIFICproject designing renewable energy materials,Centre for Nanohealth, Biochemistry section of theMedical School, Bio-chemical engineering, and the Institute of Mass Spectrometry.

Picture:  a photovoltaic cell from the SPECIFIC project, one of many at Swansea that draws on the University's expertise in chemistry

Thanks to the University’s strong industry links, students will be able to take up placements with companies in the field, boosting their employability, as well as having the option of spending a year in industry, like many other College of Science students.

Swansea University is currently top in Wales, and 16th in the UK, when it comes to graduates getting professional level jobs.

Postgraduate opportunities within the chemical sciences already exist in the University’s Medical School and College of Engineering. Further opportunities will now be created in the new Chemistry Department.

MRSA bacteriaChemistry degrees were withdrawn at Swansea University in 2004, at a time when science and technology subjects had fallen in popularity.

The new degrees are being introduced at a time when the demand for chemistry degrees is increasing: with undergraduate enrolment in the subject up 4% nationally in the last 2 years.

‌The College of Science at Swansea, which will be the home for chemistry, is also growing rapidly: with undergraduate applications rising 15% overall in 2015/16 on top of a 20% increase in 2014/15.

Picture: the MRSA bacterium; Swansea University Medical School has wide-ranging biochemistry expertise

Swansea University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies said:

"Reintroducing chemistry degrees is a sign of our progress, confidence and ambition at Swansea University.

The University has changed and the world has changed since 2004.  Swansea University is in a far stronger position. We are now in the top 25 universities for research in the UK. We have far more space, with a whole new £450 million campus, and applications to study here are soaring.

The wider context has also changed, with higher demand for chemistry and other science subjects, including from overseas students. 

All of this means it is the right time to restore chemistry at Swansea University.  I welcome the support that the Royal Society for Chemistry and the wider scientific community have given us in making this decision.”    

Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas, the former Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain and former Head of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, who is also a Swansea University alumnus, said: 

“I am immensely pleased that Swansea University has made this investment to re-introduce chemistry degrees and is committed to using its expertise, top facilities and industry links to make it possible for a new generation of students of chemistry to forge a career in research or industry.”

Professor Steve Wilks, Swansea University Pro Vice Chancellor for Science & Engineering, said:

“We are delighted to be able to offer chemistry as a subject within the College of Science at Swansea University, following our discussions with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

This is an interdisciplinary initiative supported by the Colleges of Science, Engineering and Medicine.  We already have a lot of expertise in the subject across the University, and there is real enthusiasm at the prospect of the subject being reintroduced.  

Waterproof nanomaterialThe new multimillion pound Chemistry Department will create a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. Our students will have access to excellent labs and a modern syllabus.

It will expand and strengthen the ambition of both the College and University, and boost the expertise available in the region.” 

Picture:  a microscope image of a new ultra-waterproof material developed at the Energy Safety Research Institute, where the team includes chemistry experts

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said:

“It is hugely encouraging to see chemistry returning to Swansea. This decision recognises that in a complex and changing world, chemistry and the chemical sciences are vital for life and will play a huge role in helping societies face some of their biggest challenges.

At the Royal Society of Chemistry, we are committed to advancing professional standards in chemistry and we look forward to working with the university on supporting students and staff with their career development.

Chemistry is exciting, creative and dynamic, and people who understand science are important ambassadors in a world that needs to understand science better.” 

Posted by Kevin Sullivan
Wednesday 23 March 2016 10.32 GMT
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