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HSE University Launches New Master’s Programme in Chemistry

HSE University Launches New Master’s Programme in Chemistry

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In 2023, the first Master's programme 'Chemistry of Molecular Systems and Materials' at the HSE Faculty of Chemistry will enrol students. Half of the study time will be devoted to research projects in the field of modern fundamental and applied research on the topics studied at five institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dmitrii Roitershtein, Academic Supervisor of the programme and Associate Professor at the Joint Department of Organic Chemistry with the RAS Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry, spoke about the programme to the HSE News Service.

— The Faculty of Chemistry at HSE University was established four years ago. Why did you decide to launch the master's programme now?

— The first undergraduate enrolment at the Faculty of Chemistry took place in 2019, and in 2023, the first bachelors will get their degrees. By opening the Master's programme, we give them an opportunity to pass the exams and immediately continue their education in chemical sciences at HSE University. At the same time, the master's programme will be open to graduates of other universities.

The main task of the Faculty of Chemistry at HSE University is to train staff for academia so that our graduates come to institutes ready for research activity. Despite the fact that our bachelors have been engaged in research since the first year, the qualifications they receive formally do not allow them to be research associates. The Master’s programme represents a natural superstructure over the bachelor's degree, which gives students an opportunity to get a narrower specialisation in their research field.

— How will the master's programme be structured? What forms of work are most important?

— The master's programme will include five modules: key seminars, an internship module, a professional module (major), an additional module (MAGOLEGO) and a final certification, including the thesis defence.

Our training is based on key seminars, each of which is led by a teacher who is also a researcher at one of the basic institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The lecturer in the seminar will help students to correct the chosen direction, if they need it, and advise on the issues complementing the expertise of academic supervisor.

In the seminars, students will discuss each other's research works. This is extremely important, because it is one thing when students see the achievements of a doctor of sciences who is forty years older than them, and quite another when their peers demonstrate research results.

Master's students will conduct research both at HSE University and at the sites of our partner institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The current trend of master's degrees in chemistry around the world is an increased research component outside the university. Some programmes even involve obtaining a Master of Science degree only following the results of a two-year research project.

— What sections of chemistry will the key seminars be devoted to?

— The key seminars include elective research seminars. Our students will be able to choose from three seminars as part of their individual educational trajectory: inorganic chemistry and materials science, organic and organoelement chemistry, and chemical engineering.

© HSE University

— The master's programme is focused on training academic staff. Do students still have the opportunity to gain the necessary competencies to work, for example, in the chemical industry?

— Yes, we take this into account.

It is obvious that some students will realise during their studies that it is better for them to work not in scientific institutes, but in the R&D divisions of state corporations and high-tech companies, in R&D centres of high-tech business in the chemical and petrochemical industries. There is a shortage of personnel there, and their representatives turn to us with a request to recommend employees, even for top positions.

— Could you tell us about the programme lecturers?

— To teach and guide the research part of the programme we have invited chemists that are well-known in the world scientific and expert community. The ideology of the faculty is that all teachers are active scientists; it is an integral part of the bachelor's programme and will be part of the master's programme.

— Can we speak about the growing demand for graduates of the chemical master's degree, taking into account the trend towards ensuring Russia’s technological sovereignty?

— Of course, our graduates have great prospects in science, technology, and high-tech business. Deep oil refining is actively developing in Russia, and the scientific base for it is insufficient. We need to develop organic chemistry to create medicines and vaccines, and inorganic chemistry to create new materials, for example in the field of electronics and optics. In general, new materials are a new stage of our current development: ten years ago, carbon fibre was exotic, and now we use it to make bumpers for cars.

— Will the programme’s graduates have an opportunity to continue their research at HSE University?

— We already have a doctoral school in chemistry at our faculty, and we plan to switch to a single ‘master's—doctoral studies’ track of training. Doctoral studies are an optional, but still natural, stage of career development.

The launch of our master's programme is an important element of continuing chemical education, which we previously lacked.

— You said that the master's programme will be open to graduates of other universities. What conditions will be created to balance their level of training with graduates of HSE bachelor's programme?

— When developing the master's programme, we took into account the courses we deliver on the bachelor’s programme (there are courses which are not available in other universities). A list of elective general faculty courses will be provided for graduates of other universities, and everyone will be able to choose what they need. We make sure that this list includes not only courses for advanced students, but also simpler courses that will help them to fill in the gaps.

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