Cosmetic Science BSc (Hons)

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If you are applying for this course from within the UK/EU, click apply now.

Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

If you are applying for this course from outside the UK/EU, click apply now.

Course starts: 14 September 2020Apply now

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Gain expertise in the formulation and manufacture of cosmetic, fragrance and personal care products. Join an exciting and growing industry that offers creative and scientific careers and generates billions of pounds a year.

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This course introduces relevant aspects of chemistry, physiology and dermatology as well as the regulatory marketing and business framework for cosmetics. You’ll also be introduced to the principles of formulation, with an emphasis on those related to cosmetics.

During the second year, you will undertake a more in-depth exploration of formulation, dermatology and professional practice in the cosmetic industry. This will include the importance of colour in these formulations and the differences between industrial and lab scale manufacture.

The final year culminates in a science-led project that can be tailored to your interests. Through the project you will demonstrate your capacity to address a particular issue in a rigorous, research-enabled way. The project can be linked to your placement or other work experience, making it a useful way of catching the attention of potential employers.

Why us?

  • Make extensive use of the advanced technology and laboratory infrastructure in our Sciences Complex
  • We encourage you to apply for an optional 1-year placement between year 2 and 3
  • The University has over 100 years of expertise in teaching science
  • Teaching at Sunderland is kept fully up-to-date through our strong links with employers who help guide the content of the course
  • A unique curriculum which captures all aspects of Cosmetic Science

Course structure

In year one you will become familiar with the range of raw materials, cosmetic formulations and formulation techniques in the cosmetics field.

This will then feed into your year two modules where your knowledge and formulation skills will build up to the formulation and quality control of specific cosmetic products. In your final year you will study modules which involve the design of more challenging and sophisticated formulations, awareness of formulation protocols and the use of statistics in formulation design.

During the course you will also become aware of the diverse global legislative and regulatory framework surrounding cosmetics and perfumes, and acquire fundamental knowledge of the physiology of the skin, eye, nail, oral cavity and hair, alongside the role of the endocrine system. 

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Introduction to Chemistry Principles in Cosmetic Science (30 credits)
  • Introduction to Physiology (30 credits)
  • Introduction to Cosmetic Formulations and Perfumes (30 credits)
  • Introduction to Regulation / Legislation of Cosmetic Products (30 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Formulation and Quality by Design of Cosmetics and Perfumes (30 credits)
  • Manufacture and Quality Control of Cosmetics and Perfumes (30 credits)
  • Industrial and Professional Practice in the Cosmetics Industry (30 credits)
  • Dermatology (30 credits)

Optional placement year

  • Optional year on placement in the cosmetics industry

Final year (national level 6):

  • Advanced Cosmetic Formulations (30 credits)
  • Research Methods and Professional Practice (30 credits)
  • Research Project (30 credits)
  • Regulatory Aspects and Quality Management (30 credits)

A key aspect of your course is the development of your knowledge and understanding around the key themes of formulation, legislation, and physiology.

More about BSc (Hons) Cosmetic Science at Sunderland

Discover more articles
  • Our state-of-the-art spectroscopic facility allows us to investigate the structures of raw materials and individual components in the cosmetic, fragrance and personal care formulations. We are equipped with Liquid Chromatography-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectroscopy (LCNMR/ MS) platforms, low and high resolution mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance and elemental analysis equipment.

    Gain hands-on experience of a wide range of analytical techniques such as atomic absorption spectroscopy, UV and infra-red spectroscopy.

    You will also gain experience of revolutionary protein and DNA separation techniques, as well as Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography for separating unknown chemical mixtures.

    Facilities for chemical analysis
  • Our highly technical apparatus will help you gain a better understanding of the effects of cosmetics on the skin. In addition to equipment for standard formulation processes, such as mixers and homogenisers, we also have highly sophisticated quality control test methods. These include rheology, thermal analysis (differential scanning calorimetry and hot stage microscopy), dynamic vapour sorption analysis, texture analysis, tests for powder flow, laser diffraction, photon correlation spectroscopy, SPF measurement, image analysis and laser confocal microscopy.

    Facilities for formulation and quality control
  • The University boasts a collection of more than 430,000 books in total, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format. Each year the University invests around £1 million in new resources. As a student, you will have access to a huge range of online databases such as:

    British National Formulary:
    Compiled with the advice of clinical experts, the British National Formulary (BNF) provides up-to-date guidance on prescribing, dispensing and administering medicines.

    The British Pharmacopoeia:
    The British Pharmacopoeia (BP) is the authoritative collection of quality standards for UK medicines and is an essential reference for anyone involved in pharmaceutical R&D, manufacture, testing and regulation.

    CINAHL with Full Text is the world’s most comprehensive source of full text for nursing & allied health journals, providing full text for more than 600 journals indexed in CINAHL.

    The Cochrane Library:
    The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.

    PubMed Central:
    PubMed Central is a service of the US National Library of Medicine that includes over 25 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles and includes links to full text articles and other related resources.

    ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters covering physical sciences, life sciences, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.

    Library Services - pharmacy, health and wellbeing
  • The Sciences Complex is based on our City Campus. It has benefited from multi-million pound investment in modern facilities in recent years and continues to develop as our health sciences offer grows.

    It is the central hub for many of our health and sciences courses and is made up of a variety of teaching and learning spaces, including labs, problem-based learning classrooms and facilities that encourage interprofessional learning. A lot of academic staff offices are based here, with an open-door policy in place.

    The Sciences Complex
  • Map and directions


Sunderland's exceptional facilities include excellent laboratories and cutting-edge equipment thanks to a multi-million pound investment.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

which must include Chemistry.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £12,000 if you are an international student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

City Campus by night


As a Cosmetic Science graduate, you'll have a wide range of employment options in the cosmetic and related pharmaceutical industries.


Career options

Cosmetic scientists can earn starting salaries of around £20,000, moving up to over £50,000 a year for senior chemist and R&D managerial roles. You could also explore positions in business, sales and marketing. With the sector thriving in the UK, cosmetic science is a great area to qualify in for those that want creative and diverse career options in science.

Career opportunities include research and development, perfumery, marketing and product claims and media and TV. 


Meet the students

  • I secured the placement at Bria to get that practical experience and they asked me to come back.
    Paige Fern Square

    Paige Fearn

  • Our lecturers are very supportive and always willing to give advice and help whenever we need it.
    Sabrina Baharin Square

    Sabrina Baharin

Meet the team

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