Study Chemistry in Australia
Thinking about studying Chemistry? Thinking about studying abroad? Why not combine the two and come and study Chemistry in Australia? Australia – the smallest of the continents, but the biggest island – has it all.
Study Chemistry in Australia
Australia is about as large as continental Europe or the 48 continuous states of mainland USA with intriguing geological formations, an abundance of minerals, a unique flora and fauna, an enviable, almost never-ending coastline and an unrivalled biodiversity of its marine environment.
Chemistry, like all sciences, and many other human endeavours, has become a global discipline. Increasingly, advances in the discipline are made by multinational teams of researchers working across borders or continents. For that reason many countries are very generous with scholarships for their citizens to study abroad and you should investigate whether you qualify for any of those grants. Studying chemistry abroad will certainly be a first step towards an international science career.
Australia is above all a country where pragmatism wins over established rules and routines. That is why Australia is such an innovative country, one where you will be able to influence your academic education so that it suits your needs and aspirations and one where your creativity will flourish. The flexibility combined with high standards of the education system at universities will allow you to gain an education that is recognised and appreciated worldwide. The Australia Government actively encourages diversity amongst universities, so a chemistry degree at one university may differ from one at another university, providing you with a rich choice of university offerings throughout various locations in Australia.
There are about 40 universities in Australia ranging from large ones with over 30,000 students to small universities with only a few thousand students. You have a choice between established sandstone and more recently established universities or between city based and regional ones. Most of these offer Chemistry in one form or another from minerals processing and solid state and materials science to biochemistry and the discovery and development of new classes of pharmaceuticals from natural products. The Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) accredits undergraduate chemistry degrees at thirty-four of our universities. The RACI is the professional association for chemistry, and is equivalent to the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), the American Chemical Society (USA) and similar bodies.
Accreditation ensures that our courses meet strict academic standards. A complete list of accredited degree courses and all universities can be found on the RACI’s website (http://www.raci.org.au).
Most of the Australian population live on or near the coast and most of the universities are located there as well, particularly along the southeast coastal fringe of the continent (from Brisbane to Melbourne). The major metropolitan universities may have a wider range of academic expertise and academic offerings, while then regional universities, although having smaller classes in niche markets instead. A distinctly Australian experience is to undertake an undergraduate chemistry research project addressing various aspects of the Great Barrier Reef marine park (James-Cook University, Townsville), investigating natural products from deep-sea organisms (University of Wollongong) or improving Australian wines (Charles-Sturt University has its own vineyard), amongst others.
The Royal Australian Chemical Institute organises student conferences in many areas of chemistry, including polymer chemistry, synthetic chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, analytical and environmental chemistry and physical chemistry. Usually, these annual conferences are held in exotic locations and attendance fees are minimal for students. In addition, there are research teams and more extensive networks that provide students with access to academics from a variety of institutions around the country.
Australia is a very open, truly multicultural society and this is reflected in university life, where both students as well as academic staff often have their roots overseas. Visitors are openly welcomed into society so you won’t experience any problems finding your place in university life, be it studying or in its social context. Most universities have an active campus life with many opportunities for sporting, cultural or other engagements.
Australian universities are also quite informal. Academics often have an open-door policy for any questions you may have and it is not unusual to address even senior academics by their first names. Staff-versus-student sports are common on many university campuses and barbecues (“BBQs”) are very popular; most chemistry departments or their student clubs would hold a number of BBQ’s during the academic year.
Studying Chemistry in Australia will be a unique and enriching experience. The study of chemistry is of relevance in many scientific careers and even if you enter a career outside science, the skills you will have gained during your chemistry degree, both specific and generic, will always serve you well. Australia is an excellent place to conduct your overseas study because you can combine a high-quality academic programme with the opportunity to explore a scenic and beautiful country.
Whether you go back to your home country at the end of your degree, move somewhere else or – as many do – stay in Australia for much longer, you will have had the time of your life. Don’t miss out!