Why Study Chemistry

Information for prospective students about what is Chemistry, the skills you'll develop and employment prospects.

What is Chemistry?

Chemistry is the science describing matter and its transformations. It is the science that defines molecules, nanostructures, and extended solids, and their properties, reactions and applications. This empowering science is central to virtually all areas of modern science and technology, especially the new, exciting inter- and multi-disciplinary areas of molecular genetics, molecular biology, nanotechnology, medicinal chemistry, drug design and development, and green (environmentally sustainable) chemistry/industry.

Chemistry is called the central science because all scientists study chemicals at some level. Geologists examine the way chemicals come together to form rocks. Biochemists and pharmacologists study chemicals that cause and cure diseases. Astronomers study the chemical compositions of stars, planets and galaxies. Geneticists study the chemicals of biological inheritance. A background in chemistry is useful in a career in all these disciplines.

Chemistry is an area of specialisation (major) possible within a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne. Fourth year and graduate programs leading to Masters and Doctoral degrees are also available.

What skills will I develop?

Studying Chemistry will give you the specialist and general skills you'll need to build a secure, satisfying and productive career.

Aside from a solid training in chemical principles, chemistry graduates from The University of Melbourne leave with a range of generic skills. Chemists can write clearly and succinctly on technical topics and can condense complex information into simpler forms. Chemists have excellent numeracy and are highly computer literate. Chemists also have sophisticated problem solving and research skills. Non-scientific employers value all these skills.

What are my job prospects?

The study of chemistry provides global work opportunities. Chemistry underpins understanding and progress in almost every sphere of science, technology and industry. It also makes a vital contribution to the economy, commerce and industry.

While many careers involve graduates using their chemistry skills directly, many employment destinations do not involve doing chemistry on a day-to-day basis. Not all chemists wear white coats!

Instead, employers value the generic problem solving skills of chemistry graduates, and graduates use their talents in a variety of career areas such as: scientists, educators, project managers, consultants, patent attorneys, entrepreneurs, sales/service people, policy makers, analysts, writers, editors.

Find out more about careers and read some of our graduate profiles.

Chemistry today and in the future

Nations around the world are increasing their investment in science and technology. Australia's initiatives are indicative of future directions. See the Australian government's strategic research investment initiative 'Industry & Science'.

Chemical discoveries and their applications have played a pivotal role in the advancement of humankind, and will continue to have a profound impact on health, the environment, industry, agriculture, science and technology.