Materials chemistry, MSc

120 credits (2 years)

Since the dawn of mankind, materials have played an essential role in human development. The Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age are part of our history and today we are heading towards the Nano Age.
Using all the tools in chemistry, such as material synthesis and chemical and physical characterization methods, this broad engineering master's programme aims at deepening the understanding of materials properties in order to design and develop the materials of tomorrow.

Materials chemistry​ master's programme at Chalmers

Society is increasingly relying on chemistry in creating materials that are more environmentally sustainable, more durable, lighter, consume less energy and are cheaper. 
Centred around organic- and inorganic chemistry, polymers and nanotechnology we train you in how to use these tools in tweaking molecules to give materials specific properties. This could range from high-temperature corrosion-resistant materials and materials for catalysts in a chemical process or in cars to nanomaterials that have unique traits and precision-targeted pharmaceuticals.

Evolving fields where materials chemistry stands for great opportunities are e.g. biodegradable detergents, solvent-free paints, polymers made of renewable recourses, polymer-based solar panels and diodes, thermoelectric materials that transfer heat to electricity and handling complex emissions from fuel-efficient engines that rely on biofuels instead of fossil fuels.

The master's programme provides you with an engineering education within the materials field where the emphasis is on synthesis, chemical characterisation, physical and chemical properties and applications, and top-down chemical nanomanufacturing. There is also a close connection to industrially relevant materials, including both present products and the materials of the future.

As a student, you will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are necessary to handle the complexity of materials related to problem-solving in products and processes. This includes the design, development of new and existing materials, synthesis and characterization of material’s properties. Several of the compulsory elective courses have a project-based part where teamwork and innovation processes are included. 

Topics covered

The subjects of materials chemistry, polymers and nanomaterials are fundamental areas in the Materials chemistry master’s programme. The courses included in the programme plan handle topics such as advanced catalysis, surface chemistry and nuclear chemistry. ​

Master's programme structure

The master's programme runs for a duration of two years, leading to a Master of Science (MSc) degree. During each year, students can earn 60 credits (ECTS) and complete the programme by accumulating a total of 120 credits. Credits are earned by completing courses where each course is usually 7.5 credits. The programme consists of Compulsory courses, Compulsory elective courses and Elective courses. The first semester of the programme only contains compulsory courses. There are 18 compulsory elective courses where at least four have to be selected. A master thesis project of 30 or 60 credits is required. If one conducts a 30 credit master thesis up to 30 additional credits can be selected from advanced courses on Chalmers or from the compulsory elective courses. For example, Project in Material Chemistry. If a 60 credit master thesis is conducted this only allows for the four compulsory courses and four of the compulsory elective courses.

Compulsory courses year 1

During the first year, the programme starts with four compulsory courses that form a common foundation in Materials chemistry. Each course is 7.5 credits. 

  • The synthesis, properties, and structure of solid-state materials
  • Surface chemistry
  • Polymer chemistry and physics
  • Advanced analytical chemistry

Compulsory courses year 2

In the second year, you must complete a master's thesis in order to graduate. The thesis may be worth 30 credits or 60 credits depending on your choice. A 60-credit thesis covers the entire second year and no additional courses are taken. A 30-credit thesis covers the last semester and you will take courses during the remaining time. 

  • ​Master’s thesis ​

Compulsory elective courses

Through compulsory elective courses, you can then specialize in one of the profile tracks, or a combination thereof. ​​During years 1 and 2,  you need to select at least 4 compulsory elective courses out of the following in order to graduate. 

  • Advanced organic chemistry
  • Corrosion
  • Surface engineering
  • Polymer technology
  • Catalysis
  • Applied optical spectroscopy
  • Applied organic molecular spectroscopy
  • Green chemistry
  • Design and analysis of experiments
  • Nuclear chemistry 
  • Tailored mater and commercialization
  • Materials in medicine
  • Nanomaterials chemistry
  • Waste management​

Learning objectives of profile tracks

Students seeking more in-depth knowledge in a selected field are recommended to select courses based on the three profile tracks within the program.​

Profile track: Pharmaceutical

  • Understand some key functions and properties important for pharmaceutical materials
  • Be able to choose and describe characterization methods relevant for pharmaceutical materials
  • Communicate experimental results and literature studies, both written and orally.

Profile track: Chemistry

  • Understand key functions and properties in organic and inorganic materials
  • Describe chemical reactions and behaviour in surface chemistry
  • Use, describe and explain common experimental techniques used in material chemistry.

Profile track: Polymers

  • Describe the definition of synthetic polymers and understand what distinguishes a polymeric material from other materials
  • Describe how different kinds of polymers can be synthesized and manufactured
  • Suggested suitable analysing methods to solve characterization problems.

Profile track: Catalysis

  • Describe the fundamental concepts of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis
  • Exemplify important reactions where catalysis is used
  • Communicate experimental results and literature studies, both written and orally.

Advanced materials

  • Describe important concepts of solid-state materials, surfaces and nanomaterials
  • Use, describe and explain common experimental techniques used to characterize solid materials
  • Communicate experimental results and literature studies, both written and orally.

Programme plan, syllabus, course description and learning outcomes


Sweden, and the Gothenburg region, in particular, has cutting-edge research in the characterization, design, and development of new materials. In industry and academia, scientists and engineers in materials science are active in fields ranging from fundamental materials development to the application of materials technology in products and processes.  Thus, the job market in Sweden has a continuous need for materials engineers with a sound chemistry background within the Swedish industry, such as automotive, rolling bearings, bioimplants, polymers, surface treatment, paint, packaging materials, pharmaceuticals, nuclear materials as well as hygiene and healthcare products.  

Chalmers has connected academic research in all these fields, often together with start-up companies. In addition, sustainable engineering opens up more opportunities such as catalysis, recycling, biodegradable materials, tailored nanomaterials, and corrosion-resistant alloys which can lead you to a career at Chalmers in Sweden or anywhere in the world. Around 30% of the graduated students from Materials chemistry move on to Ph.D. studies, in most cases at Chalmers but also elsewhere. 

Some examples of companies where the previous students have found positions include Powercell, AstraZeneca, ESAB, ST1, Emerson, Borealis, Rise,  Ringhals Nuclear power, Nouryon, Mölnlycke Healthcare, Elasto Sweden AB, Preem,  Tetra Pack, Intellego Technologies, Akzo Nobel, Oxeon, Vinci Technologies, Perstorp, Volvo, Volvo Cars, Alström Power, Inovyn or Adesso Bioproducts. 

There are also a large number of graduated students that work as consultants or in different parts of the public sector. Around half of the master thesis work conducted on the programme is done in different research groups at Chalmers and the other half is conducted at, on in connections with, companies and industries primely in the Gothenburg area. 

Research within Materials chemistry

Connections to research are strong within all areas of the master's programme. The teachers are always researchers who all take an active part in the research activities at the department. Laboratory supervision is done by PhD students doing research at the department and in quite many cases these PhD-students are former master’s students in the programme. This guarantees relevance, novelty and a connection to the frontier of research in the courses on the programme. The connection is strengthened through the Research School in Materials Science and the Area of Advance in Materials Science. In many of the courses, the students work on small research projects, which are directly related to the ongoing research Around half of the master thesis work conducted on the programme is done in different research groups at Chalmers and the other half is conducted as research projects at, on in connections with, companies and industries, primely in the Gothenburg area. 


Sustainable development 

When developing a new product, you always have to decide what material to use for that product and in many cases, the development of the product is material development. A better material can mean many things such as better comfort, that it's more durable, more economical, or even more esthetically pleasing.  But from the perspective of sustainable development, the material development should be more environmentally friendly, healthier, more energy-efficient, easier to recycle or reuse, or in general terms more sustainable and this is the main focus for our material research at Chalmers. 

Sometimes it is a direct effect, such as the development of biobased material that can replace plastics or surface development that prevents the growth of bacteria on medical equipment. But it can also be an indirect effect such as the development of material for energy applications such as fuel cells or lighter material for vehicles that provides an indirect effect in tuns of lower energy demand. Or the reuse of scrap metals or plastics that saves virgin material.  It is therefore natural that the programme is highly interlinked with the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).​

Materials chemistry SDGs
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
The courses in the programme for example deals with materials to achieve better biofuel combustion and CO2 capture, nuclear material, catalysts for pulutan reduction, and material for energy storage. The teachers in the programme are also researchers in these fields and your master's thesis can be conducted in the field of that research or in the industry related to it. 

Goal 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
A part of the infrastructure is the material used, concrete for buildings, cables for power, components for computers, or parts for vehicles or engines. This is all part of the programme. But also, entrepreneurship and innovation are needed to realize research. The programme clearly deals with material development but also encourages entrepreneurship and innovation in courses projects and thesis projects connected to the research at Chalmers and the industry in Sweden.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production 
A crucial part of any material research is how to use, reuse or recycle the material. To achieve a sustainable community the full life cycle of any material or material process needs to be considered. Several of the courses and thesis projects in the programme have this as their main topic and it is also a core part of all research and industrial collaboration done at Chalmers. 

Student interview

“I love how diverse my programme is
Jelka, Sweden, Materials chemistry

Why did you choose this programme? 
– For my bachelor's, I did Biotechnology at Chalmers, which was fun, but I realised that I’d rather study something more chemistry-related as I always found the chemistry parts in my courses to be the most interesting ones. As I looked through the programmes that I could study for my master's, I quickly realised that Materials chemistry was right for me. 

What have you been working on?
– Currently, I am working on a project in spectroscopy, meaning how can you study something with light. In my case, we want to study how one can see that two proteins are close to each other by measuring the light that is transferred between them. 

What do you like the most about your programme?
– I like that we have a lot of lab practice. In my advanced organic chemistry course, we got over 60 hours of lab work scheduled, which really helps you in becoming more confident in the lab. I also like that all courses have a straight-up application. Even if we are taught the basics, we often get examples of applications which makes me feel like we learn useful things. I like that the programme is so diverse and that we have courses on everything from solid-state materials to surface chemistry, catalysis, and polymers. It is a really diverse programme, and you really get to study stuff you didn’t know existed before. 

What do you want to do in the future?
– After I graduate, I want to do my PhD in organic synthesis. I want to look at things in a way no one has done before, solving problems, and finding new applications for existing materials. I am starting my master’s thesis work in the summer which I am really excited about as it is a big step in the right direction.

​​Student Blogs

Page manager Published: Wed 18 Jan 2023.