How to get into Oxford for Chemistry

Oxford is recognised as one of the best universities in the world, especially for its Department of Chemistry. Oxford places 2nd in the UK for Chemistry according to The Complete University Guide (2024) and 5th in the entire world according to QS Top Universities (2023). Hence, it is no wonder why the Chemistry course at Oxford is competitive. 

The acceptance rate for Oxford’s MChem falls between 19-23%. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this number is inflated by demanding entry requirements. So, the amount of applicants is limited by capability and the number of students who are successful in receiving an offer remains small. Moreover, the application process itself is far from simple.

If you’re pursuing studying at Oxford University, or you’re just curious about what it takes to get into one of the most prestigious and academically rigorous Chemistry courses in the UK, then this guide contains everything you need to know – from entry requirements to tips on what you need to do to get into Oxford.

The Profs’ Chemistry tutors have first-hand experience with the admissions process and what is required to succeed at each stage. 

Thanks to our expert support, students who work with The Profs are over three times more likely to receive an offer from Oxford University. Reach out to our team today to maximise your chances of success. 

You should also check out our related articles to this one:

What is the Chemistry course at Oxford like?

Chemistry is a Physical Science course. Oxford is ranked 2nd in the UK for Chemistry by The Complete University Guide (2024), and it consistently ranks among the world’s best. 

Oxford’s Chemistry department prides itself on pioneering research facilities, with the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory and the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory being notable highlights. These facilities provide students with opportunities for hands-on exploration and experimentation.

The department is home to renowned academic staff, like Professor Ben Davis and  Professor Peter Hore. Davis has achieved groundbreaking work in organic chemistry, whilst Hore is a leader in the field of magnetic resonance.

Oxford’s Chemistry students have the opportunity to join the Oxford Electrochemistry Group, which focuses on advancing energy storage technologies. The annual Undergraduate Research Symposium showcases the remarkable work of students engaged in research projects, fostering a culture of inquiry and discovery.

In addition, Oxford Chemistry students benefit from the extensive resources of the Radcliffe Science Library, which holds a wide range of scientific literature and digital resources. 

At Oxford, undergraduate courses in Chemistry can be attained through two different 3-year degrees:

  • Chemistry: This a 4-year course (MChem), offering a comprehensive exploration of chemistry, covering synthesis, structure, reaction mechanisms, material properties, analysis, and transformations. Students engage in advanced laboratories and delve into key areas such as synthesis, medicinal chemistry, sustainable energy, and theoretical chemistry. Notably, the course’s unique structure includes a dedicated fourth year exclusively for research, a tradition since 1916. Emphasising practical experience, innovation, and commercialisation success, Oxford’s MChem programme prepares students to be integral contributors to advancements in chemistry and related industries.
  • Foundation Year (Chemistry, Engineering and Materials Science): This is a 5-year course (MChem or MEng), offering a unique opportunity for UK students facing challenges in meeting standard entry requirements. The free, one-year intensive programme focuses on building study skills, subject knowledge, and academic confidence. Successful completion leads to a nationally recognised Certificate in Higher Education (CertHE). Passing at the required level grants automatic admission to Oxford’s undergraduate programmes without re-application.
  • Biochemistry (molecular and cellular): This is a 4-year course (MBioChem). This course explores life at the molecular level, delving into molecular methods to investigate, understand, and manipulate biological processes. This field’s dynamic expansion, fueled by cutting-edge techniques like genome editing and super-resolution microscopy, offers profound insights into life’s intricacies. The Oxford Biochemistry Department, among Europe’s largest, excels in diverse research areas, including cell biology, genetics, infection, and structural biology. 

Oxford is currently reviewing the MChem course. For the latest updates on any changes, check out Oxford’s Chemistry website. Please note that the course content and format might undergo modifications in certain situations. For more details on possible course changes, see Oxford’s course changes page.

Oxford values Chemistry students with strong mathematical and analytical skills. These skills are honed throughout the course and apply to various career paths, including roles as chemists, researchers, or analysts in industries such as pharmaceuticals, materials science, or environmental science.

At Oxford, students studying Chemistry will graduate with one or more of the following degree titles depending on the course: Master of Chemistry (MChem), Master of Engineering (MEng), Master of Biochemistry (MBioChem) or Master of Science (MSc). This is because Oxford only offers its undergraduate courses as Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees plus its Chemistry courses have a built-in Master’s year.

Need help choosing your course or building your application? Reach out to our expert Oxbridge admissions team. 55% of our Oxbridge applicants get their spot; that’s 3x the national average!

What are the entry requirements?

The specific entry requirements to study Chemistry as an undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford are high as Oxford is one of the most competitive universities to get into. 

A levelA*A*A
Advanced HighersAA/AAB
International Baccalaureate  40

Please note: For A level, Oxford specifies that applicants should have A*s in Science and/or Maths subjects. For IB, Oxford expects applicants to have a 766 in HL Mathematics (with 7 in HL Chemistry and 6 in HL Mathematics) or a 776 in SL Mathematics (with 7 in both HL Chemistry and a second HL science subject, and 7 in SL Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches).

If you need more information regarding grade requirements, such as European Baccalaureate and international qualifications, take a look here. It’s super important to brush up on your English language proficiency if English is not your first language, for the interview as well as to keep up during your course. Reach out to our expert English Language tutors for help!

Worried that you won’t achieve the necessary grades to study Chemistry at Oxford? The Profs’ A level and IB tutors can help. We have extensive experience helping students excel in their coursework and final exams and achieve entry grades for this competitive course. Reach out to our team for support. 

What subjects are recommended?

There are a few subjects that are required for admission, or advised.

Chemistry and Mathematics are closely related. Hence, Oxford deems it mandatory for its Chemistry applicants to have studied both Chemistry and Maths. Oxford specifies that for IB, Maths 7 at SL is only acceptable if students have taken Analysis & Approaches.

These STEM subjects are as far as specific subject requirements go, however, it is also highly recommended that applicants have taken an additional science subject or Further Mathematics.

Need to get your Chemistry grade to an A* for your application? We’ve got tried and tested methods to get you to your goal. 

You’ll also need an A* in Maths to get your offer, as well as excellent Maths skills to equip you for your Chemistry degree. So, if you’re worried about your Maths grades being up to par, please contact our excellent Maths tutors who can help you. 

What admissions tests are there?

Oxford’s Chemistry course does not require applicants to complete an admissions test or written work. 

However, it’s worth noting that Oxford is currently reviewing its admissions tests. So, you should keep an eye on Oxford’s admissions test page in case this is updated. 

We’ve also got an article on Oxford’s admissions tests that we aim to update regularly. 

If you do end up needing to take an admissions test for this course or another one, then reach out to our expert admissions test tutors who have outstanding track records at helping students come out on top. 

How hard is it to get into Chemistry at Oxford?

Applying for Oxford is no simple feat. Getting into Oxford’s Chemistry course is particularly competitive and challenging. If you’re thinking about applying to Oxford, take a look at the table below to get a clear understanding of the competition: 

Chemistry Course TypeInterviewedSuccessful
Chemistry 67%19%
Biochemistry 44%13%

The Profs’ Oxbridge admissions tutors can help you triple your chances of getting into Oxford to study Chemistry. Thanks to our network of experienced tutors, many of whom are Oxbridge graduates and ex-admissions officers themselves, we have the very latest and best knowledge on what Oxford is looking for in top Chemistry applicants. Get in touch with us today to chat with a member of our team about how we can help with your application to Oxford.

Interested in also applying to study Chemistry at an Ivy League school in the United States, like Harvard University? We have an expert team that specialises in US college applications. Why not go for it? We can secure your success. 

What are the fees for Chemistry at Oxford?

 The table below shows the annual course fees for Oxford’s Chemistry students:

UK StudentInternational Student

You can find out more information about what fees you will pay on Oxford’s fee status page. You can also use Oxford’s fees, funding and scholarship search to see the funding options available to you.

4 tips on how to get into Chemistry at Oxford 

1. Prepare thoroughly for each stage of the admissions process

When applying to study Chemistry as an undergraduate degree at Oxford, there are many stages of the admissions process to consider, and you should prepare for each one thoroughly.

  • Your grades: Preparation for your Oxford application starts from the moment you start secondary school. You should have robust GCSEs; A-A*s in your Science and Maths GCSEs are especially important. Excellent A level grades are essential to be considered for a place at Oxford, so you should be aiming for A*A*A in your A levels (or equivalent) at a minimum. Reach out to our dedicated and skilled GCSE, A level and/or retake tutors for help.
  • Your UCAS application: The first official stage of your Oxford application is submitting your UCAS, which includes a personal statement. This is the first chance you’ll get to showcase your suitability for Chemistry at Oxford and prove that you are interested and committed to the subject areas. Find out how to write a stand-out personal statement in this helpful guide. We also have expert personal statement tutors.
  • The interview: If your UCAS application and test scores are impressive enough, you may be invited to an interview at Oxford. This is your last chance to impress the university and prove that you are an excellent candidate for Chemistry. Oxbridge interviews are like oral admissions tests. There is often even a mark scheme your interviewers will be scoring you against, so it’s important to seek professional help to prepare effectively. Here at The Profs, we have excellent interview tutors, experienced in Oxbridge admissions.

Please note that all students applying for university in 2023 for courses beginning in 2024 will be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from 2024/25 onwards, there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

2. Show evidence of your love for Chemistry 

Given how competitive Oxford’s Chemistry course is, it’s crucial that you do everything possible to make your application stand out from the crowd. Your academic ability might get you on the shortlist, but it’s not what secures your place. Oxford particularly looks for applicants who have a true interest in the subject as well as exceptional abilities and dedication. There are many ways you can show this, such as:

  • Conducting wider reading, beyond your school syllabus – Self-learning demonstrates a desire to learn higher-level Chemistry. You can discuss theoretical, computational or mathematical concepts and demonstrate an understanding at university level. Demonstrate that you genuinely enjoy Chemistry. Perhaps choose a specific area within Chemistry, such as Quantum or Supramolecular Chemistry, and read widely about your chosen topic. Also, Oxford’s chemistry degree requires students to memorise the chemical elements of the periodic table, so maybe you can illustrate that you’ve already done so!
  • Participating in relevant competitions, clubs or challenges – Show that your interests expand beyond the topics covered in the school curriculum. You could participate in the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Competitions, the British Chemistry Olympiad, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge or you could even write for a science journal at your school. There are also free Chemistry MOOCs and webinars online that you can study or attend. If you’d rather do something in person and hands-on, you could take on an independent project or Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in a Chemistry subject, enrol in a Chemistry course at Summer School or apply for work experience in a STEM setting.
  • Showcasing practical applications of your writing, analytical, or mathematical skillsDiscuss instances where you’ve applied your chemistry problem-solving skills in real-world contexts, such as conducting experiments, designing procedures, or analysing chemical data sets. Provide examples of projects or research papers where you’ve demonstrated your analytical abilities, explaining how you approached and solved complex problems. Additionally, emphasise any involvement in chemistry-related clubs, competitions, or challenges that require a combination of theoretical understanding and practical application. By detailing concrete experiences that reflect your expertise and passion for chemistry, you can effectively demonstrate your skills!
  • Constructing models or simulations of physical systems – This also demonstrates your potential for the highly quantitative work expected at Oxford. Participation in Chemistry research programmes or internships will provide hands-on experience that establishes your suitability for advanced study in Chemistry.
  • Make the right impression – Express a clear understanding of the course structure, research opportunities, or unique aspects of Oxford’s Chemistry programme in your personal statement. You’re sending the same statement to five universities, but you can insinuate your preference for Oxford or reference factors specific to Oxford indirectly. Also, ensure that your referee speaks to your enthusiasm, work ethic, and potential in the field of chemistry.

Our Oxbridge admissions team can help you tailor your application for your course at Oxford so that you can stand out amongst the sea of applicants. Say the word to get started.

3. Have a 5-year plan

Another factor that can set you aside from other applicants is having a 5-year plan. This doesn’t have to be a plan that you necessarily stick to – in fact, it is expected that your interests and ambitions change as your knowledge and experience grow. Having a plan is simply a great way of demonstrating to Oxford that you are committed to pursuing Chemistry and that you are motivated to succeed at your degree, and thus would be a valuable Oxford student.

The first step to having a plan is to understand the industries a Chemistry degree can lead to and the specific areas you can specialise in. For example, identifying an interest in pharmaceutical research, environmental analysis, chemical engineering, forensic science, or earning a PhD in organic synthesis shows you are a forward-thinking candidate who is serious about your career.

Relating your areas of study, activities and personal passions to potential careers is essential to presenting a targeted, future-focused candidate profile in just a few sentences. 

Our expert Oxbridge admissions consultants know exactly how to craft an impressive 5-year plan that’s personal to your abilities and passions yet also impresses the Oxford admissions committee as well as Oxford’s Chemistry department. Get in touch.

4. Seek help from an expert Oxbridge admissions tutor

If you want to apply to Oxford it’s important to be aware of how competitive the Chemistry course is.

Your application requires you to perform well in multiple stages to be in with a chance of securing an offer. Shortlisted candidates can often fall at the last hurdle of admissions. Unfortunately, schools and colleges are oftentimes not equipped to provide specialist Oxford and Cambridge preparation due to a lack of experience, expertise or resources. As a result, we advise seeking a professional Oxford admissions tutor to help you through the process.

The Profs’ Oxbridge admissions tutors have many years of experience helping students smash their A levels, tailor their application to Oxford’s admissions criteria, curate the perfect personal statement, and excel in their admissions interview.

More than 95% of students who work with The Profs get into their first or second choice university. At The Profs, you’ll gain invaluable independent study skills that will prepare you for study at an elite UK university, as well as a deeper and broader understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to study Chemistry at degree level. Reach out to our experienced team today to get started.