MSc by Research –Sustainable Chemistry and Catalysis
Sustainable Chemistry provides many of the crucial underpinning technologies and solutions that enable the responsible production and use of chemicals that we all rely on in our daily lives, which are fundamental in delivering vital global Net Zero targets to tackle climate change proactively. Research in sustainable chemistry is an essential component for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which emphasise the necessity of using nature’s resources efficiently and responsibly, eradicating waste and hazardous substances in chemical production and usage, promoting their reuse and recycling (circular economy), and safeguarding and enhancing the environment.
Catalysis is one of the key tools for delivering these vital sustainability goals. It plays a critical part in driving the urgent transition from reliance on finite fossil resources to sustainable raw materials for energy generation and chemical, pharmaceutical and materials manufacture. Catalysis enables highly efficient chemicals manufacture under mild conditions with high atom economy and less waste. Furthermore, catalysis research is crucial in delivering key enhancements in environmental protection, which include emission control technologies and clean energy generation.
Examples of current research in Sustainable Chemistry and Catalysis at Durham include:
new approaches in synthetic process chemistry (g. microfluidics, microwave-assisted and flow chemistry, reaction optimisation using robotics and automation)
development and use of sustainable (bio-derived) feedstocks for chemicals manufacture
design and application of tailored ligands in homogeneous catalysis for commodity chemical synthesis
applications of kinetics and quantitative structure-activity approaches to determination of mechanism in bio- and organocatalysis
synthesis and applications of stable organic radicals
use and modification of porous catalysts such as zeolites
catalytic hydrogen production
conversion of carbon dioxide to fuels and chemicals
bio-derived polymers and materials
application of state-of-the-art analytical techniques including lab-based XAS
MSc by Research - New Projects for 2023
We are excited to offer new Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry projects as part of the MSc by Research departmental programme. These projects offer graduate students year-long research opportunities that span a range of areas including synthetic inorganic, organometallic and organic chemistry, materials synthesis, homo- and heterogeneous catalysis, and process chemistry. They provide excellent preparation for later interdisciplinary PhD studies spanning a range of sub-disciplines including environmental protection technologies, materials science, energy generation, and industrial chemicals and materials manufacture. Much of the Department’s on-going research in the areas of sustainable chemistry and catalysis are being undertaken in close collaboration with industrial partners. Consequently, this provides students opportunities to meet with industry leaders and gain insight into commercial R&D environments and career opportunities.
For more information about the wider research interests of those offering projects please use the links below:
Title – Laboratory based X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy for understanding the genesis of heterogeneous catalysts (background)
The course is a self-contained one-year research project (or 24 months part-time) based in the laboratories of your supervisory team. During this period students are encouraged to attend and contribute to research seminars, symposia, and workshops. To broaden their general chemistry knowledge students are required to attend a minimum of four lecture courses of relevance to their own research area(s), which provide additional tailored academic and scientific development opportunities. These are chosen by the student in consultation with their supervisor from a portfolio offered for students at this level. In addition to these there are many wider student experience activities, as well as non-credit bearing skills development courses delivered through the Chemistry Department and other Department’s across the University including Biosciences, Maths, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Engineering and Physics. Training in a wide range of transferrable skills is also provided via our Durham Centre for Academic Development, our aligned Centres for Doctoral Training and through our Department Early Career Researcher group.
How we Support our Postgraduate Students
Mutual respect and support are at the core of how the Department of Chemistry functions. MSc by Research students are a valued part of our interdisciplinary community, and are encouraged to take part in all of our activities, particularly our Early Career Researcher Group. All postgraduate students are assigned a “supervisory team” comprising their supervisor and a second member of academic staff, providing both scientific direction and more general support.
We offer an enhanced range of opportunities for MSc by Research students to develop as professionals (see list below). In addition, we offer many wider student experience activities, as well as non-credit bearing skills development courses delivered through the Chemistry Department and other Department’s across the University including Engineering, Biology, and Earth Sciences, and Physics.
Project-specific technical training from the MSc supervisory team.
Weekly seminars in the Department of Chemistry covering a diverse range of topics.
Monthly Sustainable Chemistry and Catalysis research meetings.
Industrial engagement and careers events.
Durham Chemistry’s MSc by research gives graduate students year-long research opportunities, increasing their research skills and independence. They are excellent preparation for an R&D career in industry or an interdisciplinary research PhD and the specialist training provided further develops valuable transferable skills.
How to Apply
Expression of interest: via email to Postgraduate Admissions. Please include a CV and a statement (no more than 1 page) of why this course is right for you. This statement should include the titles of two projects of interest to you.
The Supervisors of your chosen projects will review your application and may then invite you to attend an in-person or on-line interview.
Following a successful interview you will receive an invitation to submit a formal application for postgraduate study using the link on the Department of Chemistry Postgraduate Opportunities pages.
Applications are now being accepted for both October 2023 and January 2024 start dates.
Academic qualifications: We ask for a minimum of 2:1 BSc, 2:2 MChem (or equivalent) in a related subject.
English Language requirements: For students whose first language is not English or whose first degree was awarded by a University not delivering the courses in English, postgraduate students must demonstrate proficiency in English Language. For postgraduate study and research in the Department of Chemistry the requirement is here.
Fees and Financial Support
General University information on tuition fees and funding for postgraduate research is located here. Specific information on tuition fees for this programme can be found here ("Laboratory Based (PGR)" fees apply). There may be a requirement for bench fees although this varies depending on the nature of the project and the support status available to the student.