Chemistry, Pharmacy

When the industry develops new plastics, pesticides or medicines, the basis comes from chemical-pharmaceutical research. Classical chemistry, on the other hand, generally covers the structure, properties, composition and transformation of substances.

The field of study at a glance

Chemists deal with the structure, properties and transformation of substances. They analyze the composition of different compounds in order to produce new, non-naturally occurring substances through synthesis. Classical chemistry is dedicated to organic or inorganic compounds as well as phenomena that underlie chemistry, such as thermodynamics or the course of chemical reactions. Macromolecular chemistry (polymer chemistry) deals with the synthesis of new plastics.

In terms of application, chemistry is essential, for example in pharmaceuticals, food chemistry or the chemical industry.

Course offered

Chemistry courses can be divided into the following categories:

  • Classical chemistry courses impart scientific and practical knowledge to investigate chemical substances. A possible specialization is molecular or polymer chemistry.
  • Applied chemistry makes scientific knowledge from chemistry usable for many areas of human life. This is done by developing methods for the industrial production of plastics and synthetic fibers, mineral fertilizers or pesticides. There are numerous transitions to process engineering or chemical engineering.
  • Pharmacy deals with drugs and medical devices, their development, production, testing and quality assurance. It is also about measures to protect patients and care for the population, as well as providing appropriate information for those involved in the healthcare system. Commercial and legal aspects are also included in the course. Pharmacy graduates are only allowed to work as pharmacists after passing the pharmaceutical examination. However, there are also undergraduate pharmacy courses that do not lead to the pharmaceutical examination (state examination). Pharmaceutical technology, on the other hand, deals with the production of medicines.
  • The subject of food chemistry is food and its ingredients. These are analyzed in terms of composition, changes during storage and processing. In addition, physical properties, such as color or consistency, are also checked. Food chemistry also deals with additives, tobacco products, cosmetic products and food packaging. It should not be confused with food technology, which deals with technical processes for producing and processing food. The independent university course in food chemistry ends with either the first state examination or a bachelor's degree and Masters. Anyone who wants to hold the title of “state-certified food chemist” must take the second state examination after the practical year. There is also the option of studying food chemistry as a focus as part of the chemistry or pharmacy degree programs.
  • Chemistry also plays a key role in many interface courses. This includes, for example, biochemistry, which forms a transition from organic chemistry to biology, geochemistry, which deals with the chemistry of the soil and the earth's surface, and pharmaceutical chemistry. Another sub-area is (eco-) toxicology, which develops methods for determining environmental chemicals in ecosystems and fundamentals for assessing chemical environmental risks. Other disciplines include agricultural, construction, nuclear, electrical, textile and detergent chemistry. Chemical engineering combines scientific and technical knowledge. Another interface course is business chemistry, which lies between chemistry and economics.

While university studies focus on the scientific principles and methods of chemistry in research and development, the more technically oriented and application-oriented chemistry courses at universities of applied sciences enable students to work in the laboratory as well as in the production and operational areas.

Contents of the course

In the bachelor's degree in chemistry, modules provide basic training in subjects such as: general, organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, analytical chemistry and biological chemistry. There are also mathematics and physics for chemists (e.g. experimental physics), technical chemistry, biochemistry, macromolecular chemistry and theoretical chemistry, toxicology, spectroscopic methods, security and law. The focus is set according to the specialist interests, e.g. in theoretical chemistry, biochemistry, quality assurance, radiochemistry, environmental or water chemistry or from the courses offered in other departments such as materials research, structural biology or chemical information. There are interdisciplinary modules on topics such as ethics, foreign languages, business administration and patent law.

In the master's program, a profile is developed through elective modules or specialization in the core subjects (inorganic, organic, physical chemistry), as well as theoretical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry/environmental technology, systems engineering, polymer chemistry, chemical/biological process engineering, textile chemistry, nuclear chemistry, materials science or business chemistry.

The pharmacy course covers the basics of chemistry, pharmaceutical biology, human biology, physics, physical chemistry, dosage forms and pharmaceutical analysis. During the basic course, an internship lasting eight weeks must be completed under the supervision of a pharmacist during non-event periods. The first and second examination sections of the pharmaceutical examination are completed during your university studies. The third must be taken after completion of the practical training.

Pharmaceutical engineering students acquire interdisciplinary knowledge in chemistry and pharmacology, biology and pharmaceutical technology. Join in Engineering course content such as industrial and mechanical engineering as well as legal and business subjects.

The food chemistry course has a strong analytical focus and also takes into account biological and microbiological methods as well as food law aspects Students are often required to complete an internship during their studies.

Admission criteria & application for study

Approximately two thirds of bachelor's degree programs in chemistry have no admission requirements. Some universities require a relevant internship lasting several weeks before starting your studies. The pharmacy course, which ends with the pharmaceutical examination (state examination), is, however, subject to nationwide admission restrictions Here, the application is made via the application portal of hochschulstart.de.

Career opportunities after graduation

Chemists work primarily in research departments in the chemical industry, at manufacturers of paints and varnishes, in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, and at manufacturers of fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, they find employment with adhesive manufacturers, manufacturers of detergents and cleaning agents, fire retardants, in the food and beverage industry and in the building materials and cement industries. Companies in other industrial sectors are also possible, in particular the paper, glass, ceramics, mineral oil, electroplating industries, etc. Other possible employers include manufacturers of laboratory supplies, universities and research institutes as well as chemical investigation offices. There are also job opportunities with authorities responsible for enforcing environmental regulations. Many chemists work freelance as assessors, experts and in an advisory capacity.

Pharmacists' areas of activity include, in particular, public pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Increasingly, companies that deal with the development and production of medicines based on biotechnology and genetic engineering are also being considered as employers for pharmacists. There are also job opportunities in authorities, institutions and administrations such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe or the World Health Organization. There are also fields of activity in science, in medical laboratories, in specialist journalism and in the area of management consulting.

Food chemists work mainly in the area of official food monitoring, in the food and beverage industry, the cosmetics industry and in food research. There are also employment opportunities at agricultural research institutes and as sworn experts.

Incidentally, the majority of chemists with a master's degree go on to complete a doctorate, which is expected in particular in industry and research.