• Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Nuclear Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Applied Surface Chemistry
  • Environmental Inorganic Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Industrial Materials Recycling
The graduate school is organised within the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Director of Graduate Studies: Joakim Andréasson


(approved by the Pro-Vice-President on May 17, 2005. Ref. nr. C2005/604)
(revised May 21, 2008)
(revised August 1, 2012)
(revised September 25, 2015)

1 Subject description and programme aims

Chemistry is the area of knowledge which deals with the composition, structure and features of substances, the reactions which transfer substances to other substances and the different types of energy changes which accompany these reactions. Chemistry is a basic natural science, which among other things means that research and doctoral programmes are mainly governed by intrascientific arguments and criteria. This of course does not prevent industrial and social needs from playing a major role when research problems are formulated and projects organised.

The extremely broad scope of the field of chemistry has during the 20th century led to a division into a number of subjects which are to a varying degree sharply delimited from each other. For inorganic and organic chemistry as well as biochemistry the basis for division is the substance classes dealt with by the subjects whilst the division into subjects such as analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, nuclear chemistry and theoretical chemistry is based more on common working methods and applications. At present there is a tangible tendency, internationally but also at Chalmers, to give research in chemistry (and thus also doctoral programmes) an interdisciplinary orientation, e.g. directed at areas such as bioorganic chemistry, molecular biophysics, geochemistry or atmospheric chemistry. The basic subjects in chemistry that are represented at Chalmers University of Technology are analytical chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, nuclear chemistry, inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry. The special orientations at the graduate school of chemistry at Chalmers are presented in the following sections.

1.1 Special research orientations

1.1.1 Analytical chemistry
Analytical chemistry aims to develop methods for the determination of basic substances and chemical compounds. It is important to be able to make these determinations with a high degree of accuracy and precision, often in complex mixtures and in very small amounts. The research in chemistry is conducted within electroanalytical chemistry and atomic spectroscopy with applications within, among other things, the immediate environment and the marine chemistry field. Within separation chemistry, chromatographic and capillary electrophoretic methods are being developed as well as new detectors for applications, particularly in the pharmaceutical field. Multivariate data analysis methods are applied, among other things to improve reliability in spectroscopic methods in process analytical applications.
1.1.2 Biochemistry
try concerns the study of the chemistry of life itself and the many molecular processes involved. Examples of topics for study are the structure and function of different classes of biomolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids and lipids, as well as the interactions between such molecules that are important in understanding biochemical processes. The subject is cross-disciplinary and is connected to many of the other areas in the research school of chemistry in the form of sub-areas such as biophysical chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, bioorganic chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry.
1.1.3 Physical chemistry
Traditionally, physical chemistry covers the theoretical basis for chemistry, particularly the interaction between energy and materials. The following areas form the basis for teaching and research: thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, quantum chemistry, molecular spectroscopy, photochemistry and electrochemistry. The research in physical chemistry is conducted within photochemistry and photophysics, as well as in biophysical and bioanalytical chemistry. Research projects include the study mechanisms for energy- and electron-transfer, of importance for harvesting solar energy and for photocatalytic reduction of carbon dioxide. Other topics of interest are photochromic systems with applications in biochemistry and molecular logics, spectroscopic methods for investigating the interactions of nucleic acids with drugs and enzymes, as well as the use of microscopic techniques and nanofluidics for lipid membranes.
1.1.4 Nuclear chemistry
Nuclear chemistry, which has its roots in both chemistry and nuclear physics, deals with the chemical aspects of nuclear science and plays a central role in nuclear power technology. The subject has a distinct interdisciplinary character and covers the study of mechanisms and products in conjunction with nuclear reactions and radioactive decay, production of radioactive nuclides, separation of isotopes, the chemistry of the radioactive elements, interaction of ionising radiation with materials, the measurement of ionising radiation, radiation protection, the use of radioactive tracers etc. Nuclear chemical methods are used in a large number of other scientific areas, including archaeology, astronomy, biochemistry, genetics, geology, medicine and engineering.
1.1.5 Inorganic chemistry
Inorganic chemistry strives for a fundamental understanding of reactions, structure and bonding in inorganic, organometallic, metal-organic and bio-inorganic compounds, molecules, substances and materials. This knowledge is important in a number of more applied disciplines and research areas such as catalysis, energy conversion and energy storage, clean and efficient process technology, sensors, corrosion, metallo-proteins, pharmacology, implants, biological process, electronics, information and communication technology and nano-science.
1.1.6 Organic Chemistry
Organic chemistry concerns the synthesis, reactions and properties of carbon compounds. Research at the department is conducted within the areas of physical organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry, asymmetric synthesis, modification of cellulose, as well as the synthesis of biologically active compounds. Green chemistry is the basis for developing new technologies for sustainable materials/chemicals and for supramolecular gels. A new and exciting area of research is graphene chemistry, with a highly interdisciplinary character connected to the EU funded graphene flagship. Cellulose research involves refinement to bulk chemicals and functional materials, including theoretical and practical studies of molecular properties and how these affect the physical and mechanical properties of materials. Within the field of supramolecular chemistry, research is directed towards design and synthesis of biomimetic systems intended for systematic studies of excitation energy and electron transfer phenomena, of fundamental importance in the development of future molecular electronics
1.1.7 Applied Surface Chemistry
Applied Surface Chemistry covers technical applications of surface chemistry. Surface chemistry has its theoretical basis in physical chemistry and can be divided into 1) surface and colloid chemistry, mainly comprising solutions, and 2) solid surface chemistry. Surface chemistry can be found as part of technical solutions within many industries, from the food industry and pharmaceuticals to paper and mining industries, as well as in industries where the nature and reactivity of solid surfaces is crucial, such as in large parts of materials technology, where superabsorbents, catalysts, fuel cells, batteries and biomaterials are examples with extensive research in this field. The term surface and colloid chemistry includes the physicochemical properties and applications of surfactants and suspensions. The area is a central part of nanomaterials chemistry including the production of nanomaterials where the size and structure is controlled at the nanometer scale. In this area, the research pace is very high, and many high-tech materials are based on practices in this field. A further field concerns supramolecular chemistry and special investigations of structure as well as structure dynamics of such systems. Biopolymergels and cellulose fibers are examples of supramolecular systems studied. Transport of both water and substances dissolved in water in these systems are investigated with the help of, among other things, NMR diffusometry and various microscopy methods.
1.1.8 Environmental Inorganic Chemistry
The overall research strategy within environmental inorganic chemistry is to contribute with chemical and material-chemical aspects to bring about sustainable development in society. Our basic areas of expertise are mainly within theoretical chemistry, structural chemistry and the synthesis of new materials with specific properties. Research is conducted, among other things, into perovskite-related super-conductors and materials which demonstrate different forms of magnetic arrangement. Another highly topical research area is magnetoelectric systems, an example of a multifunctional system where electric and magnetic arrangements coexist in the same compound. Double perovskites are the most promising class of materials for the stabilisation of magnetoelectric properties. This type of materials research is of basic significance for electronics and IT systems.
1.1.9 Pharmaceutical technology
Pharmaceutical technology concerns the manufacturing and studies of different kinds of drug formulations as liquids, gels and tablets. A modern drug contains not only the active compound but also a number of additives to give the product the desired properties for storage and use, and also to facilitate the preparation of the compound. Pharmaceutical technology is therefore to a large extent involved in the characterization of the additives and their properties using a variety of different methods. The additives are in general different kinds of polymers and lipids, and the methods range from X-ray crystallography, via NMR to rheology and dissolution and swelling experiments.
1.1.10 Industrial materials recycling
Industrial materials recycling cover in principle all disciplines of chemistry and in addition on all levels from basic science to development of industrial processes. The main direction is recovery of metals from waste flows but also other kinds of wastes such as e.g. plastics are handled. To be able to achieve this it is often required that several elements are separated from each other. Typical methods to achieve this separation are solvent extraction, electrochemistry and pyrochemistry. Other important aspects are the development and use of separation equipment such as e.g. mixer-settlers and columns.

1.2 The aim of the PhD studies

The programme should acquaint the student with principles and working approaches within modern chemical research and provide in-depth knowledge within one or more of the special orientations. The programme also aims to provide skills in research methodology and experience of independent research. The programme will prepare the doctoral student for later professional work as a researcher or as a teacher in industry, the education sector or some other sector in society.

2 Qualification and admission

To qualify for admission to the postgraduate program in chemistry a student must have completed a Master of Science in Engineering (Civilingenjör) or a Master of Science (Filosofie magister), or the equivalent. Students with equivalent degrees can be accepted to the program after special consideration. The student should also be judged to have the capacity to successfully complete a postgraduate research education. The decision of admission to the graduate program is taken by the Deputy Head of the Department after check-up and approval from the Director of Studies for the Graduate School in Chemistry. For more details about admission requirements, see Chalmers web site Education - Doctoral Programmes – From Admission to Graduation.

3 Organization and structure of the program

For full-time students the programme is expected to require a net period of four years for a PhD and two years for a licentiate degree. The latter degree is strongly recommended as a stage along the path towards a PhD.

The programme includes teacher-led courses, reading of literature independently ("reading course"), thesis work and active participation in the seminars run at the graduate school and within the person's own subject specialisation. The emphasis in a doctoral programme should be on research which will lead to a PhD or a licentiate thesis. The research should be equivalent to at least 75% of the nominal programme time. Testing of knowledge following courses can take place through written or oral examinations, submission of assignments, essays and seminars or in another appropriate manner. The grades for courses are either Pass or Fail.

3.1 Seminars

The doctoral students should actively participate in the seminars given in their own research field and in the seminar series run jointly for the department.

3.2 Courses

For details of the current range of courses, see the web site of the Department (the Swedish web site): Utbildning - Forskarutbildning - Kurser.
3.2.1 Mandatory courses at Chalmers
Common Chalmers courses: three higher education credits in education, three higher education credits in ethics and zero higher education credit for the ”General introduction for doctoral students”.

Doctoral students admitted after September 1, 2012, are required to take 15 credit points from the area of Generic and Transferable Skills during their graduate studies. Of these, 9 credit points are mandatory for the licentiate degree, and another 6 credit points for the PhD degree.

In addition to the courses within Generic and Transferable Skills, the student is also required to participate in the introduction day for doctoral students (before the licentiate examination, at latest). Further requirements are an oral popular science presentation to be performed prior to the PhD thesis defence and a written popular science presentation to be published on the back of the PhD thesis.

4 Theses

4.1 Licentiate thesis

A licentiate thesis requires that the scientific work is presented in the form of a report, which may either be in the form of a monograph or a collection of articles together with an introduction. The requirements of independence and scientific stingency are similar to those applicable to a doctoral thesis but are applied to a lesser degree. Before the printing of the licentiate thesis it should be examined by the Director of Graduate Studies in Chemistry if at least half of the articles are published in peer reviewed journals. If this is not the case, the licenciate thesis should be examined by two referees. A licentiate thesis is presented at a public seminar and according to the regulations of Chalmers University of Technology. For more details, see the Chalmers web site Education - Doctoral Programmes – From Admission to Graduation.

4.2 Doctoral thesis

A doctoral thesis requires that the scientific work is presented in the form of a report, which may either be in the form of a monograph or a collection of articles together with an introduction. The thesis should be written in English. The quality of a doctoral thesis should be such that it can be published in a high-standing, international journal and stand up to peer review. The thesis should demonstrate a high level of independence and scientific stringency. The thesis will be publicly defended in accordance with rules of Chalmers University of Technology.

In order to assure the quality of a thesis before the public defence, a preliminary version of the thesis should be previewed by the opponent and the graduate committee. The thesis should be sent for preview no later than three months before the defence, and written statements should be returned to the department no later than two months before the defence. There are special rules for a doctoral thesis at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

For more details, see the Chalmers web site Education - Doctoral Programmes – From Admission to Graduation.

5 Requirements for the degree

5.1 Licentiate degree

The licentiate degree program consists of 120 higher education credits. Course work amounting to at least 30 higher education credits, but up to 60 higher education credits, and research work amounting to at least 60 higher education credits, but typically 90 higher education credits, and culminating in a licentiate thesis report, should be completed for the licentiate degree.

5.2 Doctoral degree

The doctoral degree program consists of 240 higher education credits. Course work amounting to at least 30 higher education credits, but up to 60 higher education credits, and research work amounting to at least 120 higher education credits, but typically 180 higher education credits, and culminating in a doctoral thesis report, should be completed for the doctoral degree.

6 Supervision

A postgraduate student is entitled to receive academic advice and guidance from the department at which he or she is pursuing doctoral work for the equivalent of four years' full-time study, or two years' full-time study for students pursuing the licentiate degree.

Each postgraduate student is assigned an examiner. The student shall also have a main advisor (supervisor) who should have expertise in the subject area of the thesis work, and at least one additional co-advisor. The examiner and supervisor can be the same person.

Following admission to the graduate program, the student, in consultation with the supervisor, examiner, and the Director of Studies of the Chalmers Graduate School in Chemistry, must formulate an individual plan of study and a time plan for the student’s education.

7 Examination of proficiency

The content of courses is tested by written and/or oral examinations. Postgraduate students can receive the grades of pass or fail.

8 Organization of the Graduate School in Chemistry

The Deputy Head of the Department is responsible for the doctoral education at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. The Director of Studies is responsible for the Graduate School in Chemistry. There is also a Committee for Research and PhD studies at the Department.

Page manager Published: Wed 17 Jun 2020.