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Chemistry has been studied at King’s College London since its founding in 1829, with many distinguished chemists including Nobel Laureates joining our ranks over the last 200 years. 


Founding Chemistry at King's

John Frederic Daniell was appointed the first Professor of Chemistry and went on to found the first Chemical Laboratory in 1834. Daniell remained at King's until 1845 and in 1846 the Daniell Scholarship was founded in his honour.

Daniell invented the first electrochemical cell, laying down the foundations of the study of electrochemistry and influencing the study of physical chemistry. The “Daniell Cell” can be found in chemistry textbooks in schools and colleges the world over.

Today, King's celebrates his work with the annual Daniell Lecture. We were delighted that in 2019 10 descendants of Professor Daniell and their extended family attended the lecture, kindly bequeathing to the university an heirloom bust of Daniell, as well as four prestigious medals awarded to him.

Development of the Department

A Chair of Practical Chemistry was endowed in 1851 and later combined with the chair of Chemistry in 1870 under Charles Loudon Bloxam. It formed part of the Medical Department, but instruction was also provided in the Department of Applied Sciences and in Evening Classes. Classes in chemical engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences commenced in 1930, while chemistry classes formed part of instruction in physiology in the Faculty of Medicine. Chemistry finally became a discrete Department in 1958.

During a national climate of declining student numbers and reduced funding, in 2003 King’s was unable to sustain an independent Chemistry Department. Nonetheless high-quality chemistry-related research and teaching continued to thrive, noticeably underpinning areas across King’s Health Partners.

Chemistry today

In 2012 the department was re-launched within King’s Health Partners led by Professors Roger Morris and Phil Blower. It then moved into the Faculty of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, as part of a major expansion at King’s in natural sciences. The department moved into Britannia House - a new fully refurbished four-storey chemistry research building. This was accompanied by the appointment of the inaugural Head of the new department, Professor Paula Booth as the Daniell Chair of Chemistry.

Over the last 10 years, the department has seen rapid expansion and investment in talented early career staff to lead research and education. Today’s Department of Chemistry provides an exciting place to study modern Chemistry in the heart of London within a friendly, vibrant and inclusive community. Our department benefits from talented researchers both pushing the boundaries of the discipline, and innovating chemistry education as part of the King’s Academic Education Pathway, which includes a number of PhD students in chemical education research.

Continuing expansion is taking the department into new areas in chemical biotechnology and bioelectricity, emphasising the importance of computational approaches under the headship of Professor Martin Ulmschneider. An ambitious programme of science investment at King’s, will see the Department of Chemistry continue to grow, enabling us to further develop and apply cutting-edge chemistry to understand the fundamental principles of life and tackle sustainability challenges through green chemistry, to the benefit of society.





Find out more about the Department of Chemistry, King's College London.



Explore our research in the Department of Chemistry.



Meet the Department of Chemistry, King's College London.