Chemistry Industrial placement scheme

Our Industrial Placement Scheme is one of the largest and longest established in Europe. We place students with over 30 companies, across all branches of the chemical industry, every year.

Both employers and students have repeatedly hailed the availability of our integrated Industrial Placements as one of the most valuable aspects of our Chemistry degrees. These placements help to arm our students with the hands-on skills, competencies and experience that make them stand out from the crowd following graduation.

We work with a wide range of businesses, including:

  • small and medium sized enterprises
  • multi-nationals
  • government organisations
  • charities
  • universities
  • research establishments

Placing students

The Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry has a Placement team who know the students, the companies that we work with and the demands of the placements. Students are aligned with the most suitable opportunities that are consistent with their subject specialisation and interest. The Department and the University careers service are on hand at each step to help students find the most appropriate placement, with industrial partners having the final say on which students they take on. Students are taken on under normal terms and conditions of employment and the student fits in with the normal work practices of the employer.

The placement

The placement is undertaken during year 4 of an MChem degree course and is compulsory for the following courses:

Students have the opportunity to pursue either a paid industrial placement with one of our many highly regarded industry partners (including companies such as Sosei Heptares, Astra Zeneca, Charles River, GSK and Pfizer), or an in-house research project as part of our Chemistry Clinic during Year 4 of their studies.

Our MChem Chemistry with Teaching students undertake the education component of their course in Year 4,  including teaching practice in schools. Our MSci Applied Chemistry & Chemical Engineering students undertake an engineering design project in Year 4.

Industrial Placements are usually 12 months long although they can also take between nine and 15 months.

During the placement, students are given both an academic and an industrial supervisor who work together to support both the student and organisation. The academic supervisor will visit the student on site during the placement.

Preparing from day one

Students work towards their placement from the first day of their course. In year 2, they’ll submit a CV along with
their areas of interest with a view to securing a suitable position.

Before applying, we help students write their CVs and prepare for interviews. We also help them prepare for
activities they might be likely to do on placement, along with the placement itself.

The Chemistry Clinic

Find out more about the work of the Chemistry Clinic.

What do Industrial Placement employers say?

At Sosei Heptares we immerse the placement students fully within the company so in a busy and dynamic year they will have the opportunity to work closely with an excellent team of medicinal chemists, analytical chemists, computational chemists, molecular biologists and pharmacologists.

They will have a defined project with significant importance to the on-going research portfolio of the company.

Placement students will gain relevant experience and transferrable skills through active project engagement and general exposure which will be of significant value for the next stage of their career.

Non-technical experience and skills will also be obtained, such as:

  • knowledge of the process of drug discovery from early stage research to later stages of clinical
  • development
  • exposure to an industrial research environment focused on GPCRs
  • setting up experiments and problem solving
  • data analysis and record keeping
  • scientific writing and presentations
  • literature searches and critical reading of the scientific literature
  • teamwork and time management.

Significant technical experience and skills can also be obtained:

  • modern synthetic organic methods - inert atmosphere reactions, cross-couplings etc
  • medicinal chemistry analytical thinking and application
  • database searching / visualisation using relevant software (Dotmatics and Vortex)
  • use of chemical drawing packages (ChemDraw)
  • use of chemical search engines (Scifinder and Reaxys)
  • wide range of analytical techniques such as TLC, LCMS, HPLC, SFC and NMR
  • exposure to cutting edge structure-based drug discovery.

Mark Pickworth

Senior Scientist, Sosei Heptares

We value greatly our relationship with our academic partners, and offering year-long industrial placements is a great fit for our growing business.

We’re proud to share this opportunity as the experience gained from a year within our heavily regulated industry laboratory cannot be replicated in academia. On placement, the students spending time with us get enthusiastically involved in a wide variety of tasks and contribute actively to bringing new therapies to life.

A willingness to work hard work and achieve has been a key feature of all Industrial Placement students we’ve employed and, without exception, each has been a credit to their institution.

Upon graduation, evidence of an industrial placement such as is offered at Charles River Edinburgh is very attractive to employers. We are proud to have been able to extend full time opportunities to past Industrial Placement students with each going on to contribute to our business and mission in many positive ways.

Ian Love

Head of Chromatographic Bioanalysis, Charles River

What our students think

Fraser Gunn, MChem Chemistry graduate

Fraser Gunn

The industrial placement year was invaluable as it allowed me to grow in confidence and also improved upon my understanding of chemistry both in the real world and in research.
Naomi Mackay, MChem graduate

Naomi Mackay

In my first post-university job, my experience from industrial placement saw me “hit the ground running” and earned me an early promotion!

Denise Wilson-Logue

Having a full year’s experience of doing relevant and meaningful work really helps to set you apart from other graduates when applying for a job.
Sam Russell, Chemistry graduate

Sam Russell

During my time within the pharmaceutical industry, I gained invaluable experience working both independently and as part of a team within a professional environment.
Andrew Nolan, chemistry graduate

Andrew Nolan

I would say that the placement year has been crucial for both my personal and professional development. In terms of personal development, I became more independent, got to explore a lot of southern Germany and made a lot of new friends. As for professional development, it was the opportunity to put theory into practice and work as part of an international team.
Henni-Karoliina Ropponsen, chemistry graduate

Henni-Karoliina Ropponsen

During my industrial placement year at Roche, Switzerland, I was able to put all the learnings into practise and it helped me to take the first step as a scientist. The connections created during the placement year enabled me to build the network for my current positions.
Roxanne Motaghian, Chemistry student

Roxanne Motaghian

In fourth year, I was on industrial placement with Bayer AG CropScience in Frankfurt. During my time in Germany I worked with a small group of scientists in a research laboratory making herbicides and safeners for crops. My role involved synthesising, isolating, purifying and characterising small organic molecules.
Victoria Thomson, chemistry student

Victoria Thomson

The placement gives you a real understanding of how the chemistry learned on the course is put into place within a company. You learn so much more than just how to do the job. There are lots of opportunities to work with so many people from a variety of countries and chemistry backgrounds from all levels in the company.

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