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Degree : Master of Science
Application: mandatory
Course commences: winter semester / summer semester
Standard course duration: 4 semesters
Format options: full-time only
Language requirements: none
Language of instruction: German
Other features: postgraduate / consecutive  


Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Course outline

Chemistry is largely an experimental science. Chemists investigate the composition and properties of substances.

Traditionally, the subject is divided into three sectors: Organic Chemistry (the chemistry of carbon compounds, from which all living organisms develop), Inorganic Chemistry (the chemistry of the other elements and their compounds) and Physical Chemistry (experimental investigation of material properties, chemical laws; theoretical chemistry; development of theoretical systems, models and methods). Then there are the more specialised subjects Analytic Chemistry, Macromolecular Chemistry, Chemical Technology, Radiochemistry and Biochemistry.

Studying chemistry means not only acquiring the requisite knowledge of the subject (which in view of the pace of scientific progress can only be imparted on an exemplary basis), but also focusing on experimental and theoretical methods for investigating chemical reactions (chemical change) and determining chemical structures. As in all experimental sciences, the “hands on” method of acquiring knowledge and skills is of major significance in this subject. Accordingly, practical classes take up as much space (and time) in the curriculum as the theoretical approach to the subject (lectures, seminars etc.).

The boundaries between chemistry and neighbouring science and engineering subjects are fuzzy. This is true notably of mathematics, physics, biology, mineralogy, pharmacy and process engineering. Accordingly, chemistry students should not only relish the opportunity for experimentation and critical observation but also take a keen interest in subjects like the ones referred to.

From the outset, one essential objective of the course is to instil in the students a responsible attitude to the substances they are called upon to deal with. This includes an awareness of how environmental damage and accidents can be avoided/prevented.

Much of the literature on chemistry is published in English, so students crucially require a good working knowledge of that language.


Course structure

The consecutive, research-oriented M.Sc. course in Chemistry builds on the knowledge and methodological skills previously acquired in a B.Sc. programme on the same subject, which it sets out to deepen and enhance. As well as attending obligatory (elective-obligatory) classes in Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry, students are called upon to select an area for specialisation.

The modular programme totals 120 CP. Prominent in the overall curriculum are the research practicals in Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry (35 CP) as well as the M.Sc. examination (18 CP) and the M.Sc. thesis (30 CP) at the end of the course.

The lectures the students attend (27 CP; elective-obligatory) can be selected individually. The classes offered discuss complex chemistry and supramolecular chemistry, the chemistry of main-group elements, physical and theoretical methods in inorganic chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, reactivity of organometallic complexes and molecular catalysis, materials chemistry, energy-structure reactivity, heterocycles, metal-induced organic syntheses, natural substances, stereochemistry, synthesis and retro-synthesis, statistical theory of matter, introduction to quantum theory, structure of matter and spectrums, molecular kinetics, surface chemistry, biophysical chemistry.

At present, students can choose from the following sectors for specialisation in a freely selected subject (10 CP):

  • bioinorganic chemistry
  • biochemistry
  • biophysical chemistry
  • homogeneous catalysis
  • molecular modelling
  • sustainability in organic chemistry – resources and energy efficiency
  • radiochemistry
  • theoretical chemistry

Students successfully completing the M.Sc. course in Chemistry can go on to work for a doctorate in the same subject (Dr. rer. nat.).

Main interests in research and teaching

  • Inorganic Chemistry:
    organometallic chemistry, complex chemistry, chemistry of main-group elements, bioinorganic chemistry, spectroscopy and structure determination, molecular modelling, catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry:
    preparative organic and organometallic chemistry, catalysis research, enantioselective and metal-induced organic synthesis and natural-substance chemistry, physical organic chemistry, spectroscopic methods, applied quantum chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry:
    reaction kinetics (notably in combustion processes), chemistry of surfaces, (non-linear) laser spectroscopy, scanning probe microscopy, bioengineering with single molecules, electrochemistry and radiochemistry, chemical technology and theoretical chemistry.

In addition, the Department cooperates closely with the Faculties of Biosciences, Physics and Medicine, with the Heidelberg Biochemistry Centre, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing, the Max Planck Institutes for Nuclear Physics and Biomedical Research, the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research (Stuttgart), the German Cancer Research Centre, the Institutes of Chemical Technology and Nuclear Waste Disposal at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Institute for Transuranic Elements (Karlsruhe). Chemists can write their doctoral dissertations at these institutions. Vice versa, many physicists come to us to do a doctorate in Physical Chemistry.

Formal requirements

Application and admission

Access to the course is restricted. Early application is essential due to selection tests. The current Admission Regulations are available here.

Both German and international prospective students must apply online to the Central Administration of Heidelberg University.

Application deadlines

15 May for following winter semester

15 November for following summer semester

Further Information

Current information on precodure
Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.Sc. (21 January 2009)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

Academic advisor

apl. Prof. Dr. Hans-Robert Volpp
INF 229, R 038
phone: 06221 / 54 5041


Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Im Neuenheimer Feld 234
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0)6221 544844
fax: +49 (0)6221 544589


Student representation

Im Neuenheimer Feld 272
Office 402

Editor: e-mail
Latest Revision: 2017-04-25
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