Why UVic Chemistry?

Student and instructor working in a lab

Chemistry at UVic

Why study chemistry?

Chemistry is the science of the structures and the transformations of the material world. It's "the central science" that links fundamental ideas of math and physics to chemical systems which range in complexity from interstellar atoms and gases, to biomolecules in cells, to the substances of the global environment. In addition to studying chemicals from nature, chemists create the molecules and materials that we use in everyday life.

Undergraduate students in chemistry learn the practical skills and theoretical concepts needed to explore the reactions and properties of known and new chemical materials. They discover what happens at the molecular and subatomic levels and learn how things in nature really work.

Chemistry students get a head start on their careers with hands-on experience in modern laboratories, and can contribute to the creation of new chemical knowledge through research experience courses. As an additional bonus, study of chemistry teaches important skills useful in a wide number of careers – how to think critically, how to analyze data, and how to communicate findings.

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Why study chemistry at UVic?

"UVic Chemistry is a really great place to do an undergraduate program." That’s what our graduates tell us after they've moved on to careers with companies like Nova or Merck-Frosst or a host of smaller businesses, into provincial and federal departments and laboratories, or on to graduate programs across Canada and the US.

In a survey of recent graduates, more than 80% rated ten different aspects of our programs (lectures, teachers, labs, value of the degree) as “good”, “very good”, or “outstanding”. Graduates report that the lab program in particular has given them a competitive advantage in their subsequent work.

We recognize that student success is our success. Every program and course delivery change we implement is designed to improve student engagement and success.

Our very popular “drop-in” centre provides tutorial assistance for all first- and second-year courses. We have an extensive Teaching Assistant training program that ensures that the quality of the lab and tutorial teaching is at a very high standard. And UVic Chemistry staff and faculty have been recognized through institutional and national teaching awards. In fact, we have the highest proportion of award-winning teachers among our staff and faculty of any department at UVic.

UVic Chemistry has a distinguished history of innovation and excellence in undergraduate chemistry education. We founded the Co-operative Education program at UVic (in 1976) and our program innovations in the past decade have been widely copied by competing programs at other universities.

Our culture of excellence in undergraduate education ensures that our future graduates will continue to be enthusiastic supporters of UVic Chemistry.

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What can I do with a chemistry degree?

A chemistry degree is the entry to employment in a wide range of fields as well as an excellent preparation for graduate studies. Chemistry is the "central science," so a chemistry degree is ideal preparation for a career in a wide variety of allied disciplines and interdisciplinary areas.

Among many other things, chemists:

  • Sample and collect analysis data to identify and quantify environmental toxicants
  • Participate in interdisciplinary research and development projects with geologists, physicists, chemical engineers, biologists, agronomists, microbiologists and more
  • Conduct fundamental and applied research into the synthesis and properties of chemical compounds and reaction mechanisms
  • Analyse, synthesize, purify, modify and characterize chemical and biochemical compounds
  • Develop and conduct programs of analysis to ensure quality control of raw materials, chemical intermediates, and consumer products
  • Develop new chemical formulations and processes and devise new applications of industrial chemicals
  • Investigate the chemical aspects of the mechanisms of drug action, diagnosis and treatment of disease and the assessment of health

Chemistry degrees also provide excellent preparation for programs and careers that are not usually seen as chemistry, but which rely heavily on your background and interests in chemistry:

  • Admission to medical, dental and other professional programs leading to careers in medicine and other health-care disciplines.
  • Admission to law leading to careers in law, particularly patent and intellectual property law.
  • Educational professional programs leading to teaching careers in schools and colleges.
  • Post-graduate programs in oceanography, atmospheric science, environmental toxicology or risk assessment leading to careers in environmental consulting, remediation, regulatory compliance, and environmental management.
  • Technical and financial analysis. 
  • Technical writing and editing.
  • Technical support and sales of products ranging from laboratory instrumentation to pharmaceuticals.

Our programs are accredited by the Canadian Society of Chemistry. They meet and often surpass the educational requirements of professional chemical societies such as the Association of the Chemical Profession of British Columbia.

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Top ten reasons to take chemistry at UVic

10. Make stuff. Sometimes it’s colourful; sometimes it’s smelly; always it’s interesting.
9. Use your head AND your hands.
8. Learn about all the stuff that surrounds you. Whether it's paint, perfume, pills, or pizza, the materials of modern life are chemicals.
7. Broaden your skills in our joint programs with Biochemistry, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy.
6. Discover why chemistry is the central science.
5. Learn with our excellent and award-winning teachers.
4. Experience chemical research through courses and Co-op work experience.
3. Get your career off to an excellent start.
2. Become a professional chemist.
1. Become a better person – of course!

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