Master of Science in Physical Chemistry

This MSc degree programme is designed in order to create candidates with an indepth understanding, of how materials behave and how chemical reactions occur. Various topics, ranging from biochemistry to materials properties to the development of quantum computers will be discussed. After going through the programme students will be able to model molecular systems prior to synthesizing that molecule in the laboratory. The programme seeks to equip students with adequate technological-know-how that will motivate them to embark on cuttingedge research. With adequate tools, which this programme will offer, students will be able to understand the mysteries such as how proteins fold into their active state, how complex nanostructures can be formed and behave, and how global phenomena such as the stratospheric ozone hole originated. With an MSc in Physical Chemistry, students will be able develop theories about properties of materials, analyze them, and also discover their potential use. For physical chemists, the common goal is to discover, test, and understand the fundamental physical characteristics of a material. Precision and attention to detail makes a physical chemist’s work similar to analytical chemistry, although physical chemistry stresses the importance of applying knowledge of physics and mathematics to develop an understanding of the material. When we understand materials it will become easier to fabricate new ones or modify the ones we already have such that we end up with cheaper, more durable and greener materials. The programme also aims to prepare students for PhD studies.

The MSc degree programme is taught using the conventional and innovative methods including lecture sessions, laboratory practicals, individual research, tutorials / group discussions, seminar presentations, field excursions, journal paper discussion/presentation, and e-learning. As much as possible, the teaching of the course is student centred, where students will play a major role in their learning process. The aim is to roll out a group of highly motivated entrepreneurs, competent industrial employees and dedicated academicians.

This MSc programme is designed to produce highly skilled and competent chemists who will be able to effectively and efficiently deal with chemistry issues. It is a programme professionally designed to meet the increasing demand for well trained and skilled chemists, who can greatly address today’s global challenges. Successful inception of this programme will be crucial for the betterment and technological advancement of Zimbabwe.

After completion of their studies, graduates will be able to:

  • Conduct chemical engineering research using computers,
  • Develop sensors for environmental pollutants, bio-agent detection and/or for medical diagnostics,
  • Discover new enzymes with optimal surface interactions for pharmaceuticals,
  • Develop films that allow imaging on polyester materials,
  • Develop an understanding of pollutant movement in groundwater,
  • Inventing new applications of quantum mechanics in areas such as quantum computing.
  • Manufacture of the following materials like plastics, ceramics, catalysts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, surfactants and colloids, and personal care products.
  • Work in such areas as environmental and analytical chemistry.
  • Find work in the emerging fields of materials science, molecular modeling, and biosensor development, where their skills in analyzing and predicting the behavior of physical properties have exciting new applications.
  • Teach Physical Chemistry at tertiary institutions.

Entry Requirements

To be eligible for admission a candidate must have:

  • A pass in “A” level mathematics;
  • An Honours degree in the following areas of study: Chemistry, Applied Chemistry, Chemical Technology, Chemical Engineering, or any other relevant degree with strong chemistry background, with degree class 2.2 or better.
  • Applicants without an Honours Degree or with passes lower than 2.2 may be considered for the programme if they have at least two years relevant experience or after passing an entrance examination.


The MSc degree in Physical Chemistry degree is a two year programme, offered either on part-time or full-time basis.

The programme is made up of ten taught courses in Level I and a Dissertation in level II. Students shall take all core courses in level I semester I and semester II.

To graduate the student must have accrued at least 60 credits inclusive of all core courses and some electives.


Taught courses
Each course is assessed at the end of the semester in which it is taken and comprises of the continuous assessment (30%) and final examination (70%). At the end of each semester the Departmental Board of Examiners shall sit to consider the results.

The dissertation shall contribute 40% of the Programme. Each student shall spend the whole of level II doing a research project drawn broadly from any area of Physical Chemistry within our laboratories, or with any recognized external laboratory or organization.

A suitable Supervisor shall be appointed by the Department from amongst its staff while a Co-Supervisor may be selected from another relevant laboratory, Faculty or Organization where the student may choose to conduct his/her research.

The dissertation shall be presented both orally and in written form before a Board of Examiners. Oral presentation shall contribute 15 % to the final mark of the dissertation.

Code Course  Description CoreCredits 
Level 1. Semester 1    
CHP501 Quantum Mechanics Y4
CHP502 Statistical ThermodynamicsY4
CHP503 Advanced KineticsY4
CHP504 Advanced SpectroscopyY4
CHA530Research methods and StatisticsY4
Level 1 Semester 2    
CHP505 Computational Chemistry Y4
CHP506 Electrochemistry  4
CHP507 Material Sciences  4
CHP508 Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 4
CHP509 Catalysis 4
CHA500Laboratory Management and 2 Y4
Level 2. Semester 1    
CHP510 Physical Chemistry PracticalsY8
CHP600 DissertationY24