BSc Chemical Physics


The School of Chemistry prides itself on research excellence across its spectrum of activities, from synthetic chemistry and drug discovery to spectroscopy and analytical and biophysical chemistry, as confirmed by successive Research Assessment Exercises.

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Key facts

(Guardian, 2016)

Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)

Recognised by the Institute of Physics, this interdisciplinary degree brings together chemistry, physics and mathematics to create a challenging and exciting programme of study. Chemistry at UEA has a prestigious reputation – in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014) we ranked 4th in the UK for research outputs. It is this cutting-edge research in chemical sciences which underpins the teaching of the course, ensuring your learning is at the forefront of scientific thought.

The course will give you a deep understanding of topics like nanoparticles, laser systems and their applications, microsensors, computational modelling and photonics. You will develop your practical expertise in lab classes, which will introduce you to specialist equipment. During your final year, you will be able to carry out a research project with one of the School’s many research groups, or elsewhere within Norwich Research Park – a global centre of biochemical research.


Chemical Physics is a major subject, established at UEA nearly fifty years ago. Today, a great deal of the most adventurous scientific activity is to be found in the wide field it embraces. The UEA degree course draws on topics in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, leading into rapidly developing interdisciplinary areas such as nanotechnology, quantum computing, laser processes and molecular modelling. Students on the course acquire expertise and transferable skills in these and many other topics, built on firm foundations across the whole subject area.

The three-year Honours degree programme comprises core Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Physics and Mathematics modules, plus laboratory work providing access to sophisticated instrumentation.

UEA offers a positively integrated approach by delivering the primary Chemistry and Physics teaching for this degree programme within a single department.. The Course Director is a Professor of Chemical Physics; all other lecturers in the School of Chemistry are also professionally qualified chemists and physicists. As an internationally recognized centre of interdisciplinary research, this provides a richly research-led context for state of the art teaching.

Course Structure

Chemical Physics is an exciting and intellectually challenging area and you will be introduced to topics that reflect its full scope, such as the fabrication and properties of nanoparticles, laser systems and their applications, microsensors, computational modelling and photonics.

Year 1
First year modules include mathematics for scientists, an introduction to laboratory-based work and special topics in chemical physics, as well as modules in basic organic, inorganic and physical chemistry and quantum mechanics.

Year 2
The second year consists of laboratory work, including a specialised laboratory module on Chemical Physics, teaching in the core chemistry topics and additional lectures in Mathematics and theoretical chemistry.

Year 3
The final year involves a research project in chemical physics focusing on one of the key areas of modern chemical physics, such as laser interactions, surface chemistry, light harvesting and smart materials. For this you will spend time in a research group, usually alongside doctoral researchers working on research council-sponsored projects, in areas at the forefront of their field. Many students have found that as well as completing a project that helps them to achieve a good degree, this module can lead onto a research degree. There are further modules of core material in physical chemistry and analytical chemistry with a range of optional modules.

Course Modules

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


After an introduction to chemical bonding (taught jointly with CHE-4101Y), atomic and molecular structure and chemical principles, this module will provide an introduction to the structures, properties and reactivities of molecules and ionic solids. The latter part of the course will concentrate more on fundamental aspects of inorganic chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on the relationships between chemical bonding and the structures and properties of molecules. This module is the prerequisite for the 2nd year inorganic module CHE-5301B. The first few lectures of this module are integrated with CHE-4101Y. The course is supported and illustrated by the bonding, structrure and periodicity experiments of the first year practical modules, CHE-4001Y and CHE-4602Y.




This is a laboratory based module covering experimental aspects of the "core" chemistry courses CHE-4101Y (Chemistry of Carbon-based Compounds CCC), CHE-4301Y (Bonding, Structure and Periodicity BSP) and CHE-4202Y (Light, Atoms and Materials LAM). A component on Analytical Chemistry is also included. The use of spreadsheets for analyzing and presenting data is covered in the LAM section of the course.




After a shared introduction to atomic structure and periodicity (taught jointly with CHE-4301Y), 4101Y introduces the concepts of # and # bonding and hybridisation, conjugation and aromaticity, the mechanistic description of organic reactions, the organic functional groups, the shapes of molecules and the stereochemistry of reactions (enantiomers and diastereoisomers, SN1/SN2 and E1/E2 reactions, and epoxidation and 1,2-difunctionalisation of alkenes). These principles are then elucidated in a series of topics: Enolate, Claisen, Mannich reactions, and the Strecker amino acid synthesis; the electrophilic substitution reactions of aromatic compounds, and the addition reactions of alkenes, and the chemistry of polar multiple bonds. Organic synthesis and spectroscopy are discussed, with a survey of methods to synthesise alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, alcohols, alkyl halides, ethers, amines and carboxylic acids, and the use of IR, UV and NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry to identify the products.




This module introduces students to the major areas of classical physical chemistry: chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, electrolyte solutions and electrochemistry as well as spectroscopy. Chemical kinetics will consider the kinetic theory of gasses and then rate processes, and in particular with the rates of chemical reactions taking place either in the gas phase or in solution. The appropriate theoretical basis for understanding rate measurements will be developed during the course, which will include considerations of the order of reaction, the Arrhenius equation and determination of rate constants. Thermodynamics deals with energy relationships in large assemblies, that is those systems which contain sufficient numbers of molecules for 'bulk' properties to be exhibited and which, are in a state of equilibrium. Properties discussed will include the heat content or enthalpy (H), heat capacity (Cp, Cv), internal energy (U), heat and work. The First Law of Thermodynamics will be introduced and its significance explained in the context of chemical reactions. It is very important that chemists have an understanding of the behaviour of ions in solution, which includes conductivity and ionic mobility. The interaction of radiation with matter is termed spectroscopy. Three main topics will be discussed: (i) ultraviolet/visible (UV / Vis) spectroscopy, in which electrons are moved from one orbital to another orbital; (ii) infrared (vibrational) spectroscopy, a technique which provides chemists with important information on the variety of bond types that a molecule can possess; (iii) nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), which allow chemists to identify 'molecular skeletons'.




THIS MODULE CANNOT BE TAKEN WITH ENV-4014Y OR ENV-4013Y. This module is designed for students with maths A2 level (grade C or above) or IB SL (grade 4 or above). It is also for students transferring from the SCI Foundation year who have taken MTHB0002B Basic Mathematics II. It covers differentiation, integration, vectors, partial differentiation, ordinary differential equations, further integrals, power series expansions, complex numbers and statistical methods. In addition to the theoretical background there is an emphasis on applied examples. Previous knowledge of calculus is assumed. This module is the first in a series of three maths modules for students across the Faculty of Science that provide a solid undergraduate mathematical training. The follow-on modules are Mathematics for Scientists B and C.




This module gives an introduction to important topics in physics, with particular, but not exclusive, relevance to chemical and molecular physics. Areas covered include optics, electrostatics and magnetism, and special relativity. The module may be taken by any science students who wish to study physics beyond A-Level.



Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


The module describes the structure, bonding and reactivity patterns of inorganic compounds. The aspects covered are set out in the content summary. The module is a prerequisite for the 3rd level inorganic course CHE-6301B. Further details will be provided in the course information booklet.




An introduction to the basic principles of polymer synthesis is presented, together with a discussion of their physical properties. Speciality polymers are discussed. Materials chemistry is developed further with the introduction of inorganic structures and the concept of ferroelectric properties together with powder x-ray diffraction as applied to cubic crystals. Ion conductivity and basic band theory are also discussed. Semiconductivity is introduced and related to the band description of these materials. A series of practical experiments in polymer and materials chemistry supports this module and are designed to improve and enhance laboratory skills through experiments, which cover important topics in modern chemistry.




Quantum mechanics, one of the key scientific ideas of the 20th century, has had a wide impact in chemistry. In the first part of the module you will be introduced to the language and methods of quantum mechanics. In the second part, the close relation between spectroscopic measurements of small molecules and quantum theory will be discussed. Further methods of spectroscopy will then be introduced, beginning with the most widely used of all techniques in structure determination, NMR spectroscopy. This will be followed by a discussion of molecular electronic spectra which are widely used in chemical analysis.




This course builds on CHE - 4101Y (the first year organic chemistry course). Four main topics are covered. The first "Aromaticity" includes benzenoid and hetero-aromatic systems. The second major topic is the organic chemistry of carbonyl compounds. Spectroscopic characterisation of organic compounds is reviewed and the final major topic is "Stereochemistry and Mechanisms". This covers conformational aspects of acyclic and cyclic compounds. Stereoelectronic effects, Neighbouring Group Participation (NGP), Baldwin's rules, Cram's rule and cycloaddition reactions are then discussed.




The module covers a number of areas of modern physical chemistry which are essential to a proper understanding of the behaviour of chemical systems. These include the second Law of thermodynamics and entropy, the thermodynamics of solutions, chemical kinetics, surface chemistry and catalysis. The module includes laboratory work. Due to the laboratory-based content on this module students must have completed at least one level 4 module containing laboratory work.




This course covers the foundation and basics of quantum theory and symmetry, starting with features of the quantum world and including elements of quantum chemistry, group theory, computer-based methods for calculating molecular wavefunctions, quantum information, and the quantum nature of light. The subject matter paves the way for applications to a variety of chemical and physical systems - in particular, processes and properties involving the electronic structure of atoms and molecules.



Students must study the following modules for 60 credits:

Name Code Credits


The module will consist of topics covering important areas of modern physical chemistry and chemical physics. The material will blend together experimental and theoretical aspects of photonics, condensed phase dynamics in molecular and macromolecular fluids and quantum and classical simulations.




This module concentrates on two important themes in contemporary inorganic chemistry: (i) the role of transition metals in homogeneous catalysis (ii) the correlation between the structures of transition metal complexes and their physical properties, specifically electronic and magnetic properties. The structure and bonding in these compounds will be discussed as well as applications in materials chemistry and synthesis. There will be a series of problem-solving workshops interspersed with the lectures. As each of the three lecturers completes their material, there will be a formative course test of short questions in exam format.




The module covers fundamental material in Physical Chemistry including statistical thermodynamics, plus specialist topics such as lasers and photochemistry, diffraction methods, interfacial kinetics and dynamic electrochemistry.



Students will select 20 - 40 credits from the following modules:

One of CHE-6001Y or CHE-6002Y MUST be taken (ie is Compulsory). Students who achieve a year aggregate of at least 50% in Year 2 are expected to take CHE-6001Y, those who do not achieve 50% must take CHE-6002Y.

Name Code Credits


A supervised literature-based project available only to students registered for the BSc programme.




A supervised research project available only to students registered for the BSc programme.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This 20 credit module gives an overview of astrophysics through lectures and workshops. Assessment will involve some coursework and a coursetest. The module assumes previous study of either A level physics or an equivalent course. Topics covered will include some history of astrophysics, radiation, matter, gravitation, astrophysical measurements, spectroscopy, stars and some aspects of cosmology. Some of these topics will be taken to a more advanced level. The more advanced topics will include workshop examples and course test questions at level 5 standard.




This module covers several key topics required to plan the synthesis of organic compounds, and to understand the properties displayed by organic compounds. The first topic is on synthesis planning, strategy and analysis, supported by a study of further important oxidation and reduction reactions. The second topic is on the synthesis of chiral non-racemic compounds, and describes the use of chiral pool compounds and methods for the amplification of chiral information. The third topic is on the use of organometallic compounds in synthesis with a particular emphasis on the use of transition metal based catalysts. The fourth topic is on the various types of pericyclic reactions and understanding the stereochemistry displayed by an analysis of frontier orbitals. The final topic is on physical organic chemistry and includes aspects of radical chemistry.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the developing landscape and challenges in the broad area of energy generation and transduction. It has a particular emphasis on the science that underpins emerging technologies related to the hydrogen economy, photovoltaics and biological or solar fuels. Necessarily it encompasses cross-discipline aspects of chemistry, physics materials and biological science with the students gaining knowledge of how these disciplines interplay in the design and construction of new devices for energy harvesting and utilisation.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

Fees and Funding

Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support: Home and EU Students

Tuition Fees

Please see our webpage for further information on the current amount of tuition fees payable for Home and EU students and for details of the support available.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that costs do not act as a barrier to those aspiring to come to a world leading university and have developed a funding package to reward those with excellent qualifications and assist those from lower income backgrounds. 

Home/EU - The University of East Anglia offers a range of Bursaries and Scholarships.  To check if you are eligible please visit 


Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support: International Students

Tuition Fees

Please see our webpage for further information on the current amount of tuition fees payable for International Students.


We offer a range of Scholarships for International Students – please see our website for further information.



How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with the Admissions Service prior to applying please do contact us:

Undergraduate Admissions Service
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

Please click here to register your details via our Online Enquiry Form.

International candidates are also actively encouraged to access the University's International section of our website.

    Next Steps

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