DNA helix

MPhil, PhDChemistry

Research opportunities

You can study an MPhil over the course of one year or a PhD over the course of three or four years.

These degrees are available for study within any of our five research groups:

PhD students: become more employable

Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD) programme 

As part of your PhD degree, you'll be enrolled on the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PG Cert RPD). This certificate is designed to support you with your research and rewards you for things you'll do as a research student here.

It'll help you improve skills which are important to professional development and employability:

  • the knowledge and intellectual abilities to conduct your research
  • the personal qualities to succeed in your research and chosen career
  • the standards, requirements and conduct of a professional researcher in your discipline
  • working with others and communicating the impact of your research to a wide range of audiences

All you have to do is plan these activities alongside your doctorate, documenting and reflecting your journey to success along the way.

Find out more about the PG Cert RPD programme.


Chemistry PhD supervisors

Dr Matthew Baker

Research methodologies & approaches used - spectroscopy, spectrometry, data analysis, experiemntal design.

Current PhD student topics - clinical spectroscopy, forensic analysis, drug detection, disease detaction, cellular quantiifcation, spectral analysis and biological interpretation.

Professor Nico Bruns

Research methodologies & approaches used - synthetic polymer chemistry, controlled radical polymerizations, polymer self-assembly, polymer nanotechnology, protein engineering, biocatalysis.

Current PhD student topics - engineering of enzymes for biocatalytic ATRP, Advanced polymerization methods for biocatalytic ATRP, Ultrasensitive malaria diagnostics by biocatalytic polymerizations, Light-responsive DASA block copolymers, Bio-inspired stimuli-responsive polymersome nanoreactors, Bio-inspired reinforced amphiphilic polymer conetworks, Cuticle-mimetic silk-polymer layered materials.

Dr Chrsitine Davidson

Research methodologies & approaches used - experimental research, quantitative analysis, method development, environmental studies.

Current PhD student topics - development of colorimetric sensors for field applications; geochemistry of potentially toxic elements in freshwater systems; sequential chemical extraction; microplastics as vectors for potentially toxic elements in the environment; phytoremediation of contaminated soil.

Dr Lynn Dennany

Research methodologies & approaches used - electrochemical analysis, cyclic voltammetry, electrochemiluminescence, chromatography, spectroscopic analysis.

Current PhD student topics - illicit drug detection, biomarker recognition, bacterial infection detection, portable drug screening, pharmaceutical drug detection, combined electrochemical & spectroscopic analysis.

Dr Robert Edkins

Research methodologies & approaches used - synthesis of organic and inorganic conjugated molecules, (time-resolved) fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy.

Current PhD student topics - photodynamic and photothermal therapy, fluorescent sensors, photoactive materials.

Professor Karen Faulds

Research methodologies & approaches used - Raman, surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), bionanotechnology.

Current PhD student topics - SERS bionanosensors for bioanalytical detection (e.g. for cancer, bacteria, sepsis, CVD), biomedical spectroscopy, nanoparticle synthesis and biofunctionalisation, towards in vivo detection of nanobiosensors (SESORS), Raman/SERS imaging.

Dr Penelope Haddrill

Research methodologies & approaches used - molecular biology, DNA profiling, RNA quantification, population genetics and genomics.

Current PhD student topics - analysis of DNA methylation to estimate age, RNA quantification for aging body fluid stains, population genetics and genomics of global human populations.

Dr Craig Jamieson

Research methodologies & approaches used - medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis, peptide chemistry, chemical biology.

Current PhD student topics - design, synthesis and evaluation of bioactive compounds; sustainable approaches to amidation chemistry; novel biomolecular labelling techniques.

Dr Alan Kennedy

Research methodologies & approaches used - X-ray diffraction, crystallography, structural analysis, solid-state analysis.

Current PhD student topics - pharmaceutical materials, dyes and pigments, correlation of solid-state structures with material properties, solubility.

Professor William Kerr

Research methodologies & approaches used - metal-mediated synthetic organic chemistry.

Current PhD student topics - hydrogen isotope exchange, C-H activation, natural product synthesis, asymmetric processes.

Dr K H Aaron Lau

Research methodologies & approaches used - control of peptide and peptide-mimetic (peptoid) material properties through sequence design of molecules, solid phase synthesis of peptide and peptoids, Nanostructure self-assembly (nanosheets, micelles, nanofibres), enzyme triggered self-assembly, protein separation using nanopores, HPLC, LC-MS, MALDI-MS, anodisation, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), ellipsometry, and related surface optical measurements, AFM, XPS, SEM.

Current PhD student topics - biointerfaces, (Stem) cell-surface and protein-surface interactions, transport/diffusion of proteins through nanopores, antifouling and antimicrobial polymer brushes and nanostructures, polyphenol surface modification, protein and enzyme assays, peptide characterization.

Dr John Liggat

Research methodologies & approaches used - polymer physical chemistry, physics and technology, including adhesion, crystallisation behaviour, physical ageing, nanocomposite technology and polymer processing. Elucidation of the mechanistic organic chemistry of polymer degradation processes, particularly in relationship to polymer durability, processing and fire response.

Current PhD student topics - physical chemistry of gelatin, fire-retardant polyurethanes, polymer photochemistry, self-healing coatings, fermentation-derived biodegradable polymers, composite materials.

Professor Robert Mulvey

Research methodologies & approaches used - main group chemistry, organometallic chemistry, structure and bonding, synthesis, catalysis.

Current PhD student topics - synergistic chemistry using bimetallics; sustainable homogeneous catalysis though earth abundant metals; trans-metal trapping.

Professor John Murphy

Research methodologies & approaches used - synthetic organic chemistry, chemical mechanism, physical organic chemistry www.johnmurphygroup.com

Current PhD student topics - electron transfer in chemistry and biology, radical ions, super electron donors, super electrophiles, C-H actvation.

Dr David Nelson

Research methodologies & approaches used - physical (in)organic chemistry, catalysis, organometallic chemistry, organic synthesis.

Current PhD student topics - reaction mechanisms and structure/reactivity relationships in nickel catalysis; odd-numbered oxidation states of nickel in catalysis.

Dr Alison Nordon

Research methodologies & approaches used - process analysis, chemometrics, in situ measurements, optical spectroscopy, acoustics, NMR spectroscopy.

Current PhD student topics - In situ monitoring of continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, advances in chemometrics for on-line mid infrared and low-field NMR measurements, advances in data pre-processing, compression and data fusion for assessment of tea products by hyperspectral imaging, advances in data pre-processing, compression and data fusion for assessment of tea products by hyperspectral imaging, process performance monitoring for the life sciences.

Dr Charles O'Hara

Research methodologies & approaches used - synthesis, catalysis, structural elucidation.

Current PhD student topics - main group catalytic applications; novel methodologies for the deprotonation of arenes; bimetallic asymmetric synthesis.

Dr David Palmer

Research methodologies & approaches used - theoretical and computational chemistry, molecular informatics, molecular simulation, quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistical mechanics, solution-state theory.

Current PhD student topics - molecular integral equation theory in drug discovery, protein allostery, chymosin biochemistry, artificial intelligence for molecular property prediction.

Dr John Parkinson

Research methodologies & approaches used - applications using and developments of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy methods.

Current PhD student topics - complex mixture analysis, metabolic profiling, reaction process monitoring, AI in NMR, photo-active process monitoring, biomolecular structure elucidation, molecular recognition and related molecular assembly processes, venom chemistry.

Dr Stuart Robertson

Research methodologies & approaches used - inert atmosphere synthesis, Solid state and solution structure elucidation, organometallic complex design.

Current PhD student topics - secondary magnesium battery electrolyte design and synthesis, bimetallic main group chemistry.

Professor Nicholas Tomkinson

Research methodologies & approaches used - synthesis, isolation, purification and analysis of small organic molecules.

Current PhD student topics - chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, synthetic methodology.

Professor Christopher Tuttle

Research methodologies & approaches used - development and application of computational methods including, density functional theory, atomistic MD simulations, coarse grain methodology, and multi scale methods.

Current PhD student topics - directed discovery of functional peptide-based materials, catalyst design, rationalising reactivity, exploiting experimental and computational chemistry synergy.

Dr Alastair Wark

Research methodologies & approaches used - bioanalytical chemistry, nanotechnology, optical (Raman, fluorescence, surface plasmon resonance) and electrochmical sensors, confocal multiphoton microsopy including coherent Raman techniques, cell imaging, surface and interfacial chemistry.

Current PhD student topics - Biomolecular and enviromental sensor design, disease detection, multiplexed biomarker panel analysis, nanoparticle synthesis and functionalisation, single nanoparticle tracking, multi-modal optical imaging and mnitoring live cells.


Fees & funding


All fees quoted are per academic year unless otherwise stated.

2019/20 entrants may be subject to a small fee during the writing up period.

Scotland/ EU

  • £4,327

Rest of UK

  • £4,327


  • £18,950 (full-time)


Have a look at our scholarship search for any funding opportunities available.

Postgraduate research opportunities

Search for all funded and non-funded postgraduate research opportunities.

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.

How can I apply?

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

Entry requirements

You'll need a first or 2:1 UK Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, in a chemistry-based discipline from a recognised academic institution.

If English isn't your first language, you'll also need to have a recent UKVI recognised Secure English Language Test (or a SELT) qualification.

The application

During the application you'll be asked for the following:

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if English isn't your first language
  • two references, one of which must be academic
  • funding or scholarship information
  • research proposal of 250 to 1,000 words in length, detailing the subject area and topic to be investigated

By filling these details out as fully as possible, you'll avoid any delay to your application being processed by the University.


Research supervisors are assigned to you by the Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry.

We ask that you highlight a potential supervisor in your application but the department will team you up with the best supervisor for your project.

Once we've received your application, your research proposal is passed to potential supervisors for consideration. 

If it's not compatible with the researcher's current projects and they can't supervise then it's passed along to another supervisor for consideration.

If they can supervise you then the supervisor will confirm and nominate a potential second supervisor.

As soon as a second supervisor is confirmed, an offer will be sent to you through Pegasus, our online application system.

If you accept our offer of study, you'll then be sent a full offer in writing via the email address you provide.

Accepting an offer

Once you've accepted our offer, we'll need you to fulfil any academic, administrative or financial conditions that we ask.

UK or EU students

If you're applying as a UK or EU student, you'll then be issued with your registration documentation.

International students

An ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate is a mandatory requirement for some postgraduate students in science, engineering and technology.

Find out if you need an ATAS certificate.


You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

Support & development

Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development (PgCert RPD)

Our PgCert RPD programme aims to ensure you get the most out of your current research activities at Strathclyde and help you prepare for your future career as a researcher.

We'll help you recognise and develop your transferable skills that'll have a positive impact on your research, now and in the future.

Find out more about the PG Cert RPD programme.

Student support

From financial advice to our IT facilities, we have loads of different support for all students here at our University. Get all the information you need at Strathlife.

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