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Chemistry (MSc)

Leiden University's MSc Chemistry programme is firmly rooted in the chemistry research carried out at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC). Research in the LIC concentrates on the two research areas of Chemical Biology (CB) and Energy & Sustainability (ES). These two areas guide the courses and research training projects offered in MSc Chemistry. An attractive feature of the Chemistry master at Leiden University is the great flexibility of the study programme, allowing students to tailor a programme based on their personal interests.

Yael Kerstholt


Yael Kerstholt

I was mainly interested in the biological side of Chemistry: the chemistry of living systems. This was why the Chemistry Master in Leiden really appealed to me, as it offers a nice combination of chemistry and biology. During my Master program I deepened my knowledge of biochemistry, cell biology and immunology and I gained research experience during my research project and industry internship. I really enjoyed the master and it prepared me very well for my current job as a researcher in a biotech company that develops antibody therapies against cancer.

What does this master’s programme entail?

Over the years, MSc Chemistry courses evolve along with LIC's research strategy and are adapted to developments in research areas at the forefront of science. The emphasis of the programme is on motivating and encouraging students to work as young academics and develop to their full potential. The two-year programme consists of 120 EC and offers four specialisations. Students spend 30 – 80 EC on research training projects, depending on their specialisation and use of electives.

Read more in About the programme

Our four specialisations

Work in one of the research themes to become an independent and creative scientist. You will learn to find solutions for complex societal problems as encountered in chemical biology or energy & sustainability.

The research specialisation in Chemistry offers the student the opportunity to spend two full years on training and specialisation to become not only an independent and creative researcher, but also someone who can use their analytical skills to resolve challenges in their career in science or in society. The majority of the students from the research specialisation will continue their career in a PhD position.
The programme consists of:

  • 60 EC research training project 
  • •6 EC academic development 
  • 24 EC core courses 
  • 6 EC specialisation-specific components
  • 24 EC electives 

The research training component is the core of the research specialisation and comprises at least 60 EC (one whole academic year).

Prepare for a career in teaching secondary education. After completion you obtain the qualifications to be a chemistry teacher.

The specialisation Education (EDU) prepares students for a career as a teacher qualified to teach in Dutch secondary education. The programme is designed to obtain the so-called “eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid” which qualifies for teaching at all levels in Dutch high schools. Students in the Chemistry programme are prepared for the school subject of 'scheikunde' (chemistry).The specialisation module comprises courses and teaching practice at a Dutch school for secondary education. 
The programme consists of:

  • 30 EC research training project 
  • 6 EC academic development  
  • 24 EC core courses 
  • 60 EC specialisation-specific components 

Students who already have completed the minor Education in their BSc study only need 30 EC of the specialisation module. Of the remaining 30 EC, they are required to use at least 10 EC for their research training component. The final 20 EC is used as free elective space. 

The language of the specialisation-specific components is Dutch. Apart from the general qualifications that apply for the MSc programme, applicants must provide proof of proficiency in Dutch (“Toelatingsexamen Universiteit Leiden – gevorderd, met spreekvaardigheid minimaal een 7.5”).

Combine research with programmes in different aspects of science communication, such as journalism.

The MSc specialisation in Science Communication and Society (SCS) offers students the opportunity to combine chemistry research training with programmes in different aspects of science communication, such as journalism, new media, museology and information visualisation. The programme prepares students for a career in popularisation of science, for example, as a science communicator, a science policymaker or a public relations or health communication officer, or for a career as a scientist with a communicating mindset.
The programme consists of:

  • 30 EC research training project 
  • 6 EC academic development 
  • 24 EC core courses 
  • 20 EC electives
  • 40 EC specialisation-specific components 

This specialisation starts in September.

Combine training in chemistry with learning about business and entrepreneurship.

The business specialisation offers the opportunity to combine training in chemistry research with education in business and entrepreneurship. It enables science students to understand the fundamentals of business management and innovation. The emphasis is on science-driven organisations and on establishing new businesses based on the outcomes of scientific research. The BS programme is geared towards pursuing future career opportunities both in academia and in industry. About 40% of the former BS-students continued in a PhD position, where most of the others found employment in industry as a consultant or in a managerial position.

The programme consists of:

  • 30 EC research training project 
  • 6 EC academic development 
  • 24 EC core courses 
  • 20 EC electives 
  • 40 EC specialisation-specific components 

The specialisation is open to students from MSc programmes from the Faculty of Science and the MSc programme in Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine (LUMC). This specialisation starts in September and February.

About the programme

Want to know more about the courses we offer, the research areas we focus on, and the specialisations you can follow? Read more in About the programme.

Discover why our students choose the Chemistry master's programme

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Why study Chemistry at Leiden University?

  • Our MSc Chemistry programme is highly flexible: you can tailor your programme to your ambitions and interests within the research areas Chemical Biology or Energy & Sustainability.
  •  You work and study in a vibrant chemistry institute, where talented students and experienced staff work side by side to discover and develop solutions for healthy living in a sustainable society.
  • During your studies, you will be part of a multidisciplinary research team of internationally renowned researchers in which you will carry out your MSc research project. Join our world-class electrochemistry group to contribute to sustainable energy, or our leading interdisciplinary research teams in chemical biology, using chemical tools to study disease-related problems.
  • You will be personally mentored by one of our research group leaders during your studies.

Find more reasons to choose Chemistry at Leiden University.

Chemistry: the right master’s programme for you?

Research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) covers a wide range of topics and expertise, ranging from physical and theoretical chemistry in ES to organic synthesis and molecular cell biology in CB. 

If you want to contribute to a more sustainable world, the research area ‘Energy & Sustainability' within the MSc Chemistry programme might be the right choice for you. Research in ES is aimed at obtaining fundamental understanding of matter in relation to the transition toward sustainable energy production, including artificial photosynthesis and electrolysis for a hydrogen-based society. The LIC houses a large, and one of the most famous and successful electrochemistry groups in the world. The study of interactions of atoms with metal surfaces is a central theme in this research, approached experimentally as well as with computational methods. 

Of the various MSc programmes at Leiden University related to the study of health and disease, the MSc Chemistry – within the research area ‘Chemical Biology’ – is the right programme for you if you are interested in gaining insight at the molecular level, and want to do research with a strong focus on the design and synthesis of new molecules that can be used as drugs or biomarkers for the treatment or study of diseases. MSc LST and MSc Chemistry students meet each other in this Chemical Biology research area: LST and Chemistry students work on the same scientific problem in various research groups. While chemistry students usually focus on the molecular level by synthesising new biomarkers or drugs, LST students typically work at the cellular level testing these drugs or markers in different cell lines to investigate their toxicity or effectiveness. 

The MSc Chemistry is open for students with a BSc degree in Molecular Science & Technology, an internationally recognised BSc degree in chemistry, or a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry. It is the right MSc programme for you if you are interested in fundamental chemistry and applied research. You will be trained for a career inside or outside academia. You can also opt for a specialisation combining one year of Chemistry research and courses with up to one year of training in business, communication or education.

Read more about the entry requirements for Chemistry.

Chat with a student

Do you have a question about studying at Leiden University or student life in Leiden? Do you want more information about the Chemistry programme? Chat with a current student for answers to your questions!

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