Faculty of Chemistry and Earth SciencesChemistry

Chemistry is primarily an experimental science which considers the development, characteristics and transformation of matter.

Traditionally, we distinguish between three main subdisciplines within the field of chemistry:  

  • Organic chemistry (chemistry concerned with the carbon compounds from which all living organisms are made)  
  • Inorganic chemistry (chemistry concerned with all elements and their compounds other than those containing carbon) 
  • Physical chemistry (experimental investigation of the characteristics of matter and their regularities) 

In addition to these three main subdisciplines, there are numerous specialised areas of chemistry, including analytical chemistry, biochemistry, radiochemistry and theoretical chemistry. 

Degree courses in chemistry equip students with subject knowledge, and a solid understanding of relevant experimental and theoretical methods. Courses focus on chemical reactions (transformation of matter) and structural clarifications. Alongside theoretical classes (lectures, seminars, practice classes), students also benefit from practical sessions in the laboratory, which make up around half of their total contact time throughout the degree programme. 

Special Features and Characteristics

Degree programmes in chemistry are hosted in close collaboration with the Faculty of Biosciences, Faculty of Physics and the Faculty of Medicine, as well as the Heidelberg Biochemistry Center (Biochemie-Zentrum Heidelberg, BZH), the Centre for Advanced Materials (CAM), the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für wissenschaftliches Rechnen, IWR), various Max-Planck Institutes, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), and the Institute for Technology, Karlsruhe (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, KIT). The Catalysis Research Laboratory (CaRLa) and the Innovation Lab ensure that the University maintains strong links with businesses in the region. 

Cooperation agreements with a number of universities abroad mean that students have various opportunities to spend a period of study abroad. As part of the ERASMUS programme, the University has cooperation agreements with a number of universities in France, Spain, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. In addition to this, the University maintains a cooperation agreement with the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA).


Students may select a specialism in the following fields: 

Inorganic chemistry:  

  • Metal-organic chemistry, complex chemistry, chemistry of main group elements, bioinorganic chemistry, spectroscopy and structural clarification, molecular modelling, homogeneous catalysis, complex chemistry of transition metals, synthesis of new materials, matrix isolations, chemistry of nano-scale clusters. 

Organic chemistry:  

  • Preparative organic and metal-organic chemistry, catalysis research, enantioselective and metal instigated organic synthesis and chemistry of natural material, physical-organic chemistry, methods in spectroscopy, applied quantum chemistry.  
  • Molecular dynamics of light-induced processes in condensed phases and at interfaces, laser optimised femtochemistry, linear and non-linear laser spectroscopy, cellular biophysics, biomaterials, biosensors, biotechnology and single molecule spectroscopy, high resolution microscopy, new nanomaterials for optoelectronic applications, radiochemistry, complex chemistry of actinins, modelling of reactive multiple phase currents, theoretical chemistry, development of quantum chemical methods.

Occupational Areas

Graduates of a degree programme in Chemistry are able to pursue a career in a variety of sectors. In many cases, however, graduates must first gain a doctorate. Possible areas of employment include:  

  • Research and development, analysis, production, marketing, environmental protection, process engineering in the chemical industry or related fields (pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and construction industries)  
  • Research and teaching at universities or other research institutions 
  • Public services (governmental, state or local agencies, clinics, police or fire services) 
  • Journalism 
  • Business consultancy 
  • Freelance employment (surveyor, or specialist)


I initially trained as a laboratory chemist and then decided I wanted to learn more about the subject. I especially enjoy the internships where I can apply my new knowledge.

Erik Wissig, 24, Chemistry, 3rd semester Bachelor