Peter Quayle

The chance to do a research project in world class research groups is one of the major attractions of our course.


How do you make sure that the course is up-to-date and relevant?

The courses which our students follow while abroad are regularly monitored for content and suitability. Students are asked to maintain a learning log while studying abroad; we request that they supply us with copies of lecture notes, reading lists, handouts and exam papers so we can determine the level and style at which the material has been delivered.

Students who complete a research project are requested to submit a project report; grade conversion forms are also sent to staff at the host university in order to aid in our moderation process. Students are invited to a debriefing session when they return home and are encouraged to pass on their experiences to our 1st and 2nd year students in order to prepare them for what is ahead of them.

What kind of balance do you strike between teaching facts and developing skills?

The focus of the study abroad year is concerned with the development of the students’ personal skills: dealing with new situations, fitting into new teaching and learning styles, interacting with others and taking charge, to a much larger extent, of their programme of study.

Students are required to be more self reliant during their year abroad – although there is always help on hand from the School and Course Director.

Students are required to attend theory classes, but the research exercises are devised such that the students powers of observation are utilised to the full.

How does research feed into the syllabus?

Partner institutions have been chosen which have a proven track record in chemical research; wherever possible students are asked to carry out a research project during the course of their placement year. This usually takes place within the research laboratories of one of the research groups. The chance to do a research project in world class research groups is one of the major attractions of our course.

What structure does your course have?

The course follows our standard MChem Chemistry structure during years 1, 2 and 4. Students spend their 3rd year studying at a foreign university. While studying abroad, students follow a course prescription which, by and large, parallels the 3rd year course at Manchester – with the added bonus that specialisms peculiar to the host institution can also be followed.

We like our students to take a mix of formal lectures, problem classes, laboratory classes and a research project while on their year abroad so as to maximise their educational experience while they are away.

Typically students at US universities will take eight modules – one of which can be other than a chemistry-related topic. This facilitates participation in the wider cultural and educational experience while abroad.

Students studying in France or Germany spend 50% of their time on a research project. A similar mix of formal lectures and research projects are also prescribed for students visiting Spain – although the exact mix can vary from year to year depending on course options which are available.

What are the key features of your course?

  • Study at a world class university overseas
  • Develop key personal skills such as independent learning and self reliance
  • Cultural exchange: awareness of other people and customs
  • Opportunities for travel

What kind of employment do graduates go into following this degree?

A very broad range of careers are followed by our graduates. Some stay in academic chemistry or go into industrial research, while others find jobs in the City, in teaching, law, or the media.

The skills which our graduates possess – powers of analysis, numeracy, ability to understand a wide range of scientific issues, combined with good communications skills and a heightened ability to think for themselves, are all in demand by many areas of the economy.

What kind of industry relations do you have?

The Chemistry with Study in Europe [MChem] does have one placement with L’Oreal (Paris). This is administered through the Chemistry with Industrial Experience [MChem] course unit.

What distinguishes this course from similar ones in other institutions?

The year abroad is embedded into the middle of our course – and is not simply a unit which is bolted on to the end of the MChem degree programme; and any difficulties or changes in a student’s performance while they are away can therefore be monitored and addressed upon their return to Manchester (Year 3 is worth 20% of the degree for this option, compared to 50% for year 4).

The study abroad year is integral to the overall degree programme – skills which have been learnt during the year abroad are built on and utilised during year 4 of the programme (PASS schemes for students in years 1 and 2, research capabilities etc.)

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