Polymer and Biopolymer Science

Polymer and Biopolymer Science

MSc Polymer and Biopolymer Science

This course trains graduates with a chemistry background specifically for a career as a polymer or biopolymer scientist. The course content reflects the renewed global interest in sustainably-derived polymers which are in increasing demand in applications including food and beverages, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, personal care, paints and inks.

It is taught within the world-leading Centre for Water Soluble Polymers, by a research group with over 25 years of expertise in this area.



Water soluble polymers are widely used in a broad range of retail and  industrial products because of their abilities e.g. to thicken and gel aqueous solutions and to stabilise dispersions and emulsions.

Our MSc Polymer and Biopolymer Science course will equip you with the knowledge to understand the behaviour of both naturally occurring and synthetic water soluble polymers at the molecular level, and how this influences their bulk behaviour.  Lectures are reinforced and expanded by study of real-life polymer systems in the laboratory.

Key Facts

You will learn about the vital roles played by polymers in a diverse range of high value products – e.g in mayonnaise, sun tan lotion, wound gels, liquid pharmaceuticals, paper, ink, water based paints and flotation aids in mining to name just a few.

You’ll gain first-hand knowledge of biopolymer modification, polymer synthesis, and a wide range of specialist characterisation techniques.

In your Research Project you will interface with specialists from manufacturing industries and undertake a programme of experiments designed to develop the skills you want to learn.

Through case studies and your research project you will learn how to apply acquired knowledge in real world industrial scenarios, leading the way to success in subsequent employment.

Course Content

The course comprises 6 x 20 credit modules of taught content and a 60 credit research project. The taught element is delivered by a varied programme including lectures, seminars, practical classes and may be studied on a full time or part time basis to suit you. There is a strong emphasis on development of hands-on practical skills using a wide variety of advanced instrumentation.


  • Advanced Materials Science
  • Chemistry & Technology of Water Soluble Polymers
  • Formulation Science
  • Polymer Characterisation Case Study
  • Research Methods
  • Structure and Function of Industrial Biopolymers

The lectures and workshops are designed to train you in understanding polymer molecules themselves, and the way they interact with each other, and with solvents, surfactants, particles and surfaces.

You will:

  • Study the basic principles of polymer characterisation through a range of analytical techniques including FT-IR, UV-vis, NMR, ESR and fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Master the measurement of molar mass distribution using gel permeation  chromatography with multi angle laser light scattering (GPC-MALLS), and gel electrophoresis
  • Use particle sizing techniques such as digital imaging and laser diffraction to measure aggregates, flocs and emulsion droplets
  • Discover Green Chemistry - exploring a whole range of  biopolymers  extracted from natural resources….including antimicrobial polymers from shellfish waste, gelling agents from seaweed, and oligosaccharides from locally grown grasses
  • Learn about man-made polymers and importantly, chemically modified biopolymers
  • Measure the viscosity and rheology of liquid formulations and see how this can be interpreted to yield structural information on thickened systems and gels
  • A module in research methods provides training in all aspects of undertaking research, from project management, through data analysis and statistics to communicating your results and writing your dissertation to ensure you are well equipped to undertake your project.

Your research project

The course culminates in an industry-focussed Research Project. For full-time students this may be partly or wholly undertaken within a local manufacturing company. For part-time students the project provider may be your         current employer. The Research Project gives you the opportunity to undertake a           piece of novel research, and will often be based around solving a polymer application / characterisation      problem for the project provider. It allows you to put into practice the knowledge and skills gained in the taught elements of the course.

Because of the individual nature of the research projects, no two projects are the same. Below are some of the titles of previous research projects undertaken by previous Masters students in our department:

  • Aspects of Adhesive Bonding of Low Energy Polymers
  • The effects of Surfactants on the Rheological Properties of Hydrophobically Modified Cellulose
  • Extensional Rheometry and Dynamic Light Scattering of Telechelic Associating Polymer Solutions
  • Simple chemical syntheses of polymer/silver nanocomposites
  • Phase separation of Gum Arabic and Hyaluronan in  Aqueous Solution
  • Shear and extensional Rheology of Electron Beam (EB) Curable Paint

Career Opportunities

The EU is the leading chemical production area in the world and the chemical industry is the UK's largest manufacturing export sector.

MSc Polymer and Biopolymer Science combines delivery of key theoretical knowledge with hands-on application in extraction, modification and testing of polymers / biopolymers.

You’ll learn how to develop experiments at bench scale through to processes at pilot and manufacturing scale. A Masters degree in Polymer & Biopolymer Science from Glyndwr University gives you the skills employers are looking for.

You'll be ready to step confidently into a world of manufacturing with a wealth of information and skills to offer. The course provides excellent career opportunities across a wide range of industrial sectors. Graduates can expect to obtain a research and development position in areas related to biomedical devices, pharmaceutical formulation, food and beverages, petroleum recovery, agrochemicals, functional polymers/speciality chemicals, inks, paints and coatings or cosmetics and personal care products.  

The course also provides a direct route to doctoral study, for those wishing to undertake further research training or pursue an academic career.

Meet the Team

Meet the lecturers:

  • Dr. Ian Ratcliffe , Lecturer in Science / Programme Leader / Module Leader
  • Prof. Peter Williams, Professor of Polymer & Colloid Chemistry, Academic Head of Chemistry / Module Leader
  • Dr. Jixin Yang, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry/Analytical Chemistry/ Module Leader
  • Prof. Saphwan Al-Assaf, Professor of Hydrocolloids and Analytical Chemistry
  • Amiya Chaudhry, Senior Lecturer in Science
  • Prof. Stuart Irvine, Research Professor In Opto-electronics Materials for Solar Energy

Support Staff:

  • Dr. Rachael Rowlands-Jones, Research Assistant

The lecture programme will also include guest lectures from subject specialists from an industrial background.

Employability & Assessment


Glyndŵr University is committed to ensuring all of our graduates are well-equipped for the world of work. Click here to read more about the success of our employability support.


Assessment of the taught modules is intended to allow the learner to demonstrate skills that cover the entire breadth of the programme aims – knowledge and understanding, key practical skills, intellectual skills in planning experiments/interpreting data and communication of information in writing and verbally.

The research project is examined by a final dissertation. 

Entry Requirements & Applying

Normal entry requirements will be an honours degree with at least a 2:2 classification (or an equivalent qualification) in an appropriate chemistry discipline or relevant professional experience.

In addition to the academic entry requirements, international students whose first language is not English require a Secure English Language Test  as evidence of English language abilities.  A list of approved tests can be found here.

If you are an international student please visit the countries page and select your country to see the relevant Academic and English language entry requirements.

Find out more

For further details please contact the Programme Leader, Dr. Ian Ratcliffe ratcliffei@glyndwr.ac.uk

If you have any questions or would like further information about this course, entry requirements or application process, please contact our Admissions and Enquiries Team.

Applying for the course

If you are applying as a home or European Union student, you should make your application through the direct application form. This is an editable PDF file and can be completed electronically or by hand on a printed version. A paper version is available upon request from the Admissions and Enquiries Team.

If you are applying as an International Student, you should make your application through our online application system, Centurus. You will also be able to track your application status and receive your offer letter and CAS letter here.


Course Duration & Fees

MSc Polymer and Biopolymer Science is a one year course if studied on a full-time basis; alternatively it can be studied on a day-release / part-time basis over three years.


Full information can be found on our fees & finance pages.

Alternative Courses

You may also be interested in the following courses:

Course Links with Business & Organisations

The Chemistry department undertakes collaborative research with a wide range of companies – some examples of past and current industrial partners include:

Allied Colloids Ltd.;  Almac Group Ltd;  Almetron Ltd; BP; Cellpath Ltd; Chesham Chemicals Ltd; Ciba; Colgate Palmolive; Corus; Croda; Danisco Cultor; Degussa Texturant Systems; EOC Belgium; Findus; GlaxoSmithKline; ICI Ltd; Lallemand UK Ltd; Maelor Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Marks and Spencer PLC; MI Swaco; Morgan Electro Ceramics; Optokem Instruments Ltd.; Pilkington Technology Ltd; PJ Colours; Quay Pharmaceuticals; Reckitt Benckiser; Roger Needhams Ltd; Russell IPM Ltd; San Ei Gen FFI; Seagarden ASA; Unilever.


chat to admissions
Open EveningHow to ApplyPrintUniversity open day