School of Chemical Sciences

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry is a vibrant science that profoundly affects the world we live in

As a fundamental science, it is involved in every facet of life. So many diverse sciences - physics, engineering, forensics, environmental and biomedical science - share an essential tie to chemistry. By its very nature, chemistry is the central science that provides answers to countless fundamental questions asked by scientists and philosophers dawn the ages, and today in our current laboratories. By studying chemistry, you can learn to use the powerful language and ideas that have evolved to describe and enhance the world's understanding of matter. Chemistry plays a significant role in everyone's future. From the Renaissance to rockets, from microchip technology to mapping DNA, chemistry is a central thread in the fabric of society. Almost every new technological challenge and important discovery has a foundation in chemistry.

Chemistry is an enabling science

One of the fundamental sciences that is utilised in all areas of endeavour. But in addition, chemistry is a broad discipline offering many exciting avenues and challenges. To illustrate the diverse nature of Chemistry and its impact on the world, one only has to glance at cutting-edge areas of chemistry that our staff members are directly involved in: from designing smart biomedical sensors & fabrics using intelligent polymers (intelligent polymer research has been awarded a nobel prize recently: www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/index.html), on-chip separations with mass spectrometric detection for application in the Irish pharmaceutical industry, biophotonics for application in molecule-based electronics and display devices , and sophisticated detection systems for application in environmental (e.g. industrial waste streams) and biological samples.

What will I do when I graduate from DCU?

DCU has an excellent track record for successful uptake of their science graduates into industry and including world-class pharmaceuticals and biomedical diagnostic companies, environmental consultancy agencies and both the second and third level education sector.

Listen to what our graduates have to say:

Kathleen Grennan

"The degree in Analytical Science at DCU provided me with a diverse range of specialised skills across all the science disciplines, which offered me great flexibility in choosing a career. The fact that I chose to pursue postgraduate study in the Chemical Sciences department after my degree is a testament to the support and dedication of departmental staff, as well as the superb research facilities there."

Kathleen Grennan, Lecturer, Department of Chemical & Life Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology. 1999 BSc in Analytical Science graduate, 2003 PhD graduate.

Geraldine Dowling

"My time at DCU was very memorable. I had great encouragement and support from my academic supervisors and this gave me the confidence to make great progress and complete my studies. My postgraduate degree earned at DCU has given me the chance to work with some fascinating people in different countries on some interesting scientific problems."

Geraldine Dowling, Senior Analyst in Forensic Toxicology at The State Laboratory 2006, MSc graduate.

"Studying in DCU Chemistry gave me a wide range of valuable laboratory skills as well as asignificant understanding of environmental chemistry. Completing my research project inDCU Chemistry really taught me how to work in a co-operative and professional research environment,giving mea veryrewarding experience."

Robert Kane, Environmental Officer, Access Waste Recycling 2008 BSc in Environmental Science and Health graduate.

"The "Chemical and Pharmaceutical" degree in DCU impressed me because of its broad scope, incorporating both analysis and synthesis. The six month experience in industry was a great insight into the type of jobs available in the area of science at degree level. Also, the 12 week research project in fourth year is very interesting and allows us to use and fully understand everything that we had learned over the four years. This aided my decision to take on a PhD position, as I was better informed as to the advantages this further qualification could provide."

Emma Harvey, postgraduate research student, DCU 2007 BSc Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

"I found the analytical science programme to be a challenging degree, with cutting-edge modules, top class lecturers and most of all has provided me with a wide breadth of knowledge across many disciplines."

Eimer O'Malley, medical postgraduate student, UL 2007 BSc in Analytical Science.

"Even as a teenager in St. Oliver's Community College Drogheda, I've had an interest in forensic science – the science of trace analysis, of identification, the science of crime-busting. As the Leaving Cert loomed, I remember searching the CAO listings, but without a dedicated course in Ireland at the time, I began to doubt this career option. However, I then discovered that the B.Sc. in Analytical Science in DCU covered so many aspects needed for forensics, I decided that this would be the best choice for me to kickstart my career into forensics.

During the four-year degree course, the emphasis was always on helping us to develop as scientists, to be problem-solvers and competent in a wide range of laboratory techniques. I got the opportunity to test my skills while on INTRA placement with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) in Swords Co. Dublin. I think that DCU's INTRA Programme is a very important and beneficial aspect of their academic approach. Not only did it give me insight into the day-to-day operations of an international pharmaceutical laboratory, but it also acted as the stepping stone to my future career. Upon graduating from DCU, I returned to BMS as a Quality Control Chemist, where I frequently called upon my skills in a variety of chromatographic techniques to ensure the stability of samples, as well as the integrity of the production facilities on site. Over the years I was also involved in the review and approval of analytical data pertaining to technology transfers of analytical methods for new products and stability testing in the QC laboratory.

The lure of forensics science, however, always persisted and in January 2008, I took up a position with the Drugs Section of the Forensic Science Laboratory at Garda Headquarters in Phoenix Park Dublin. The purpose of the Forensic Science Laboratory is to assist Gardaí and the Department of Justice, by providing scientific analysis and objective expert evidence that meet international standards. The Forensic Science Laboratory is divided into four sections: Biology, DNA, Chemistry, and Drugs/Toxicology.

Biology: The Biology section deals largely with crimes against the person. Items submitted to the laboratory are examined for the presence of body fluids; (blood, saliva etc) or the transfer of trace evidence such as hairs and fibres. Scientists from the biology section often attend crime scenes.

DNA: If a biological fluid is identified, then it is sent to DNA to establish its origin and/ or for profiling. With current techniques a profile can be constructed from the smallest or even partially decayed trace of DNA. The results are often used to eliminate or identify individuals suspected of being involved in a crime with high probability.

Chemistry: The chemistry section deals mainly with crimes against property. There are 2 common types of cases examined:
1: Trace evidence cases e.g. paint, glass, fibre samples, such as occur in hit and run accidents.
2: Bulk evidence cases e.g. explosives, unknown substances.

Drugs: The Drugs section examines and analyses substances seized, that are thought to contravene the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Drugs section will also examine items thought to have come into contact with substances, such as weighing scales, knives etc., monitor trends in drug use in support of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and conduct analysis on blood and urine samples in support of Garda investigations.

We are continuously reminded that we must adhere to the highest regulations during our analysis, since all our results could be presented as evidence in the court and used to convict or exonerate the accused. From concluding my Leaving Cert to working in the Forensic Science Laboratory, the knowledge and experience DCU has provided to me to meet this challenge has been an important enabler to fulfilling a life-long ambition".

Paula Clarke, Drugs Section of the Forensic Science Laboratory at Garda Headquarters in Phoenix Park Dublin, MSc graduate.

Professional Recognition

The Analytical Science (Chemistry Option) and Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences degrees are the first in Ireland to be awarded the prestigious Eurobachelor label.

The Analytical Science (Chemistry option) and Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences degrees are approved by the Council of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland for entry to Graduate Membership of the Institute (GradICI). This can later lead to the award of Member (M.I.C.I) or Fellow (F.I.C.I).

The Analytical Science (Chemistry option) and Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences degrees satisfy the academic requirements for Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (AMRSC). Following relevant experience this can lead to Membership (MRSC).

Career Opportunities

The curriculum is designed to permit the student a wide range of career choices including, but not limited, to chemical and pharmaceutical industry, analytical chemistry and quality control, environmental science, university teaching and research.Depending on your qualifications, knowledge and abilities, you will have the potential to be employed in possibly a research-based, testing, technical or managerial-type of position. Take a look at where our graduates are employed currently:

There is a large number of companies that hired our chemistry graduates. Globally some of the biggest known chemistry employing companies includes:

and others.

See also our Recruitment page

Chemists influence our lives and make the world a better place to live in.