University of Otago, New Zealand


Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

Studying Chemistry

Listed below are the details of all the courses and qualifications offered by the Department of Chemistry. If you have any further enquiries please contact the departmental course advisor.

BSc Chemistry Graduate Attributes

The University of Otago BSc Chemistry programme aims to develop:

Skills that are transferable to a variety of pursuits in life, including not only the specific knowledge and skills that will equip students for a future in chemistry, and an awareness of the ethical, social and cultural dimensions of the study of chemistry, but also the ability to solve problems, to communicate effectively in writing and in speech, to manage their time effectively and to work successfully independently and in teams.

Bachelor of Science Chemistry graduates will be able to demonstrate:

  • An in-depth knowledge of the basic principles of Chemistry, and the ability to acquire new knowledge.
  • Awareness of the contribution of research to the development of the discipline of Chemistry, the limits of current knowledge and that all knowledge is contestable.
  • Understanding of the place of Chemistry as an enabling science and its relationship to other scientific and social disciplines.
  • Awareness and understanding of the ethical, social and regulatory implications and obligations of Chemistry.
  • An ability to work successfully both independently and as part of a group of peers, and with support and technical staff within the department.
  • Personal skills in written and oral communication; time management, critical thinking and analysis, problem solving and decision making, gathering and presenting information, imagination, openness, curiosity and creativity.
  • Skills important for research in Chemistry, including not only the practical skills required for effective and safe activity in the laboratory environment, but also familiarity with electronic information systems, databases and appropriate computer applications.

A Chemistry degree also contributes to the development of University of Otago Graduate Attributes.

See the University of Otago Teaching and Learning Action Plan


Blackboard is the university's flexible e-learning software platform. A number of papers taught by the Department of Chemistry offer resources to students via the Blackboard platform. Access to this material is available to all students enrolled in these papers.

Login to Blackboard now ...

Chemistry catch-up

We offer two courses for students considering entry to undergraduate chemistry papers whose chemistry background is weak.

CHEM150 is a new course highly recommended for students with limited chemistry backgrounds who are looking to "catch-up" on material. The combination of theory and campus based labs and tutorials make this course an ideal preparation for 100 level chemistry study. This course can be credited to a university degree.

Introductory Chemistry is a not-for-credit, distance taught course. Students may enrol for this course at any time during the year.

BSc in Chemistry

Normally three years of study to accumulate a total of 360 points of which at least 180 must be above 100 level and 72 above 200 level. Up to 90 points from other Divisions may be credited to the degree. You require a total of 90 points from 100- and 200-level chemistry papers to proceed to the final year of the BSc degree. To complete a BSc degree with a major in Chemistry, at least 72 points must be obtained from 300-level chemistry papers.

More information on the Bachelor of Science(BSc) can be found on the University of Otago website

^ Top of page

BSc(Hons) in Chemistry

The Honours degree (Chemistry) is a postgraduate degree, requiring an additional one year of study after completion of a three-year Bachelor of Science degree majoring in chemistry. A total of five 300-level papers must have been passed, including at least four CHEM 300-level papers with an average grade of at least B+. A fifth 300-level paper in Chemistry (or related subject) is strongly advised for students planning to enrol in an Honours degree in Chemistry.

Students who have completed a BSc majoring in chemistry at another NZ university (with at least a B+ average in 300-level chemistry papers) are encouraged to apply for admission to an Honours degree at The University of Otago.

The BSc(Hons) degree consists of three 20-point papers covering 12 lecture modules of the student's choice (CHEM 461-463), combined with a 60-point research component (CHEM 490) comprising a written research report and an oral presentation. Allocation of research projects is based on student preferences as indicated at the beginning of the year. The class of Honours awarded is determined by combining the assessment of the coursework and research components.

More information on the Bachelor of Science with Honours, BSc(Hons) can be found on the University of Otago website.

^ Top of page

Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci)

The PGDipSci is a one-year course for students who have a BSc degree and wish to have an introduction to research. The diploma can provide entry to the MSc degree by thesis only. PGDipSci students take 120 points of papers comprising equal coursework and research components.

The research project is assessed in the papers CHEM 464 (20 points) and CHEM 480 (40 points). In addition to the 20-point coursework papers that are available to BSc(Hons) students (CHEM 461-463), PGDipSci students may also select papers from HAZX 401 (20 points) and HAZX 404 (20 points), to a total of 60 points.

More information on the Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) can be found on the University of Otago website

^ Top of page

Master of Science (MSc) in Chemistry

An MSc in Chemistry can be obtained in two ways:

  1. A 12-15 month research project, for candidates who have already completed a BSc(Hons) or PGDipSci. Results are based entirely on the thesis report of the research.
  2. A 24-27 month course, for candidates who have completed a BSc. The first year involves written papers. A research project is undertaken throughout, culminating in a thesis. The papers component (50%) consists of courses totalling 60 points chosen from CHEM 461-463, HAZX 401, HAZX 404 (20 points each). The thesis contributes a further 50% to the overall assessment.

All students undertaking an Masters degree by papers and thesis must enrol for CHEM 464 and CHEM 495 Masters Thesis Preparation in their first year of MSc study, along with coursework papers. Students need to enrol in CHEM 5 for their second year or for MSc by thesis only.

How to Proceed:

There are two steps to take to gain admission to our MSc programme which require to be carried out at the same time:

(International Students) Contact the University's International Office OR (Domestic Students) contact the Science Divisional Office to obtain the required forms for admission.

More information on the Master of Science can be found on the University of Otago homepage

^ Top of page

PhD in Chemistry

The PhD is the internationally recognized research degree in the scientific community, and the Department of Chemistry is committed to the provision of facilities and intellectual stimulation that allow the student to achieve a research training comparable to that received in overseas universities. Assessment by means of a thesis is the only formal University requirement, but the progress reports and seminars are required during the course. Students must have a BSc(Hons), MSc, or equivalent, to be admitted to the PhD programme.

More information on the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is available from the University of Otago Website

^ Top of page

The Application Process (MSc & PhD)

To gain admission to the MSc or PhD programmes

International Students:

It is important at an early stage to contact the University's International Office. This site has an interactive form for inquiries about post-graduate study for international students.

The university also has approved agents overseas for intending international students

Information about the English language requirements for intending international students is available from the University of Otago website

Domestic Students:

You should contact the PhD Office who will guide you through the enrolment process.

^ Top of page

Scholarship information

Scholarships currently available within the chemistry department

rss feed icon Subscribe to be alerted about new scholarships

More information on available scholarships are available on the University of Otago website

^ Top of page

Information about Academic Staff

For further information about Academic Staff and the range of research activities that the Chemistry Department has visit the staff listing page.

If you identify a particular staff member whose research interests you contact them by email for further information. If you have any queries about potential MSc or PhD research topics or would like suggestions on suitable supervisors please email your questions to:

Professor Lyall R. Hanton
Professor Lyall R. Hanton
Tel: +64  3  479 7918
Location: Science II, Gc7

^ Top of page