Royal Society of Chemistry

Last updated
The Royal Society of Chemistry
RSC-brand-guidelines-2019 tcm18-246471.svg
The RSC's logo, updated in 2019
MottoPro scientia et humanitate
(For the sake of knowledge and for the benefit of mankind)
Formation1980 (1980) (1841) [1]
Type Learned society
Headquarters Burlington House
  • United Kingdom
50,000+ [2]
Official language
Tom Welton
Gillian Reid
Key people
Robert Parker (CEO) [2]
£65.7M [2]
RSC London Headquarters RoySocChem 5770.jpg
RSC London Headquarters

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is a learned society (professional association) in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences". It was formed in 1980 from the amalgamation of the Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society, and the Society for Analytical Chemistry with a new Royal Charter and the dual role of learned society and professional body. At its inception, the Society had a combined membership of 34,000 in the UK and a further 8,000 abroad. [3] The headquarters of the Society are at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. It also has offices in Thomas Graham House in Cambridge (named after Thomas Graham, the first president of the Chemical Society) where RSC Publishing is based. The Society has offices in the United States at the University City Science Center, Philadelphia, in both Beijing and Shanghai, China and Bangalore, India. [4]


The organisation carries out research, publishes journals, books and databases, as well as hosting conferences, seminars and workshops. It is the professional body for chemistry in the UK, with the ability to award the status of Chartered Chemist (CChem) and, through the Science Council the awards of Chartered Scientist (CSci), Registered Scientist (RSci) and Registered Science Technician (RScTech) to suitably qualified candidates.

The designation FRSC is given to a group of elected Fellows of the society who have made major contributions to chemistry and other interface disciplines such as biological chemistry. The names of Fellows are published each year in The Times (London). Honorary Fellowship of the Society ("HonFRSC") is awarded for distinguished service in the field of chemistry.


The president is elected biennially and wears a badge in the form of a spoked wheel, with the standing figure of Joseph Priestley depicted in enamel, mainly in red and blue, on a hexagonal medallion in the centre. The rim of the wheel is gold, and the twelve spokes are of non-tarnishable metals.

The current president is Dame Carol V. Robinson (2018–). [5]

Past presidents of the society have been:

Membership grades and post-nominals

The following are membership grades with post-nominals (designatory letters): [17]


The qualification GRSC (Graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry) was awarded from 1981 to 1995 for completion of college courses equivalent to an honours chemistry degree and overseen by the RSC. [21] It replaced the GRIC offered by the Royal Institute of Chemistry.


The society is organised around 9 divisions, based on subject areas, and local sections, both in the United Kingdom and overseas. Divisions cover broad areas of chemistry but also contain many special interest groups for more specific areas.

There are 12 subjects groups not attached to a division.

Local sections

There are 35 local sections covering the United Kingdom and Ireland. In countries of the Commonwealth of Nations and many other countries there are Local Representatives of the society and often some activities.


Thomas Graham House - from where the Society's publishing arm operates - in 2014 Thomas Graham House - 2014-10-09 - Andy Mabbett - 03.JPG
Thomas Graham House – from where the Society's publishing arm operates – in 2014

The society is a not-for-profit publisher: surplus made by its publishing business is invested to support its aim of advancing the chemical sciences.

In addition to scientific journals, including its flagship journals Chemical Communications , Chemical Science and Chemical Society Reviews , the society publishes:

Subscriptions to the journals are available individually, or "all-in", under a provision called "RSC Gold". [23]

Burlington House

Burlington House
Location Piccadilly, London W1, England

The London offices of the Society are in Burlington House, Piccadilly. Events are hosted here for the public, RSC member groups and external organisations including regular lectures on the chemical sciences. The free lectures take an interesting look at the chemical aspects of a wide range of topics from curry to the enjoyment of music.

The events have attracted notable science writers such as Philip Ball, Antony John Williams, and John Emsley to give public lectures.


The Royal Society of Chemistry has been resident at Burlington House since 1857 (at which time it was known as the Chemical Society) – at the heart of which is the RSC's Library and Information Centre which itself dates back to 1842. Over the years, the library for the RSC has received many gifts from notable fellows including Michael Faraday. The library became a centre for information on the chemical sciences during the 1st and 2nd world wars when extensive use was made on the chemical reference material available.

Library and information centre

The society has a large library covering mainly chemistry-based subjects, including online access for members, housed at the Chemistry Centre at Burlington House. It is part of the Chemistry Centre and is a resource for RSC members, although the public are also welcome.

Benevolent fund

The staircase at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, designed by the partnership of Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry, Jr. RSC Staircase.jpg
The staircase at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, designed by the partnership of Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry, Jr.

The Chemists' Community Fund, the working name of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Benevolent Fund, supports the members and their families during difficult times, through advice and guidance, financial and volunteer support. [24] It dates back to 1920 when the Institute of Chemistry (later the Royal Institute of Chemistry) established it as a memorial to its members who died in the First World War. It had an aim "to help necessitous persons who are, or have been, Fellows or Associates of the Institute, their wives or children, and the widows and dependent relatives of deceased Fellows and Associates" through voluntary contributions from members. The Fund's ethos of "members helping members" stems from the Institute of Chemistry's Council raising money for members in need from other members prior to the fund being formed. [25]

In 1960, the benevolent fund introduced a volunteer visitor system, where members were asked to visit applicants, beneficiaries, elderly and housebound members in their area. Each local section was also appointed a fund representative. [25]

A major review of the fund to modernize it took place in 2003–2004, forming a new strategy document that is updated every three years. It underwent another review in 2014 with the aim to widen its reach to include the prevention of poverty and provide a more holistic support wider than financial assistance to Royal Society of Chemistry members and their families. [25]

The Benevolent Fund Grants Committee, formed of volunteer members of the Royal Society of Chemistry, oversees the fund and meets every three months. [25]

Prizes and awards

The RSC awards a variety of prizes and awards each year that include awards for excellence in any area of chemistry, in specialist areas or for achievement at particular stages of a chemist's career. [26]

Medals are awarded centrally by the RSC and by the divisions of the organisation. There are also awards that are administered by RSC interest groups.

The centrally awarded medals include the Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prizes which are awarded to a British chemist who is under 32 years of age for promising original investigations in chemistry [27] and the Corday-Morgan medals which consist of three separate awards made for the most meritorious contributions to experimental chemistry (including computer simulation). [28] The Tilden Prize, previously known as the Tilden Lecture, consists of three awards annually to scientists in mid-career for advances in chemistry.

Previous winners of the Harrison-Meldola Prize (known as the Meldola Medal and Prize prior to its merger in 2008 with the Edward Harrison prize) include Christopher Kelk Ingold (1921, 1922), Cyril Norman Hinshelwood (1923), R.H. Stokes (1946), D.H. Williams (1966), and J. Evans (1978).

Corday-Morgan medal recipients include Derek Barton (1949), Ronald Sydney Nyholm (1950), Frederick Sanger (1951), John Cornforth (1953), Rex Richards (1954), and George Porter (1955).

The Faraday Division annually awards the Marlow Award for contributions to physical chemistry or chemical physics by members of the Faraday Division under the age of 32. [29] Recent recipients include Andrew Orr-Ewing, (1999), Jonathan A. Jones, (2000), Helen Fielding (2001), Jonathan Essex (2002), Daren Caruana (2003), Jonathan Reid (2004), Julie Macpherson (2005), Fred Manby (2006), and Alessandro Troisi (2007).

#RSCPoster Twitter Conference

The RSC operates an annual Twitter conference. [30] [31] [32] The event is held entirely online over 24 hours. The aim of its unique format is to remove the environmental and financial costs of attending a traditional scientific conference, and help researchers share their work and network across disciplines, wherever they are in the world. [33]

Coat of arms

The RSC has its own coat of arms. Two forms exist: the full coat of arms has lion and unicorn bearers, and the Latin motto "Pro scientia et humanitate" (For the sake of knowledge and for the benefit of mankind). The smaller version uses just the central shield, which is similar to that in the Royal Institute of Chemistry's arms.

Other resources

The Interactive Lab Primer is a site developed to provide tips to a variety of chemical experimentation skills. [34] The site covers basic lab safety tips, demonstrates primary lab techniques, introduces a couple common lab apparatus in lab, and provides other references.

The society's ChemSpider is a database of chemicals and chemical properties.

The society operates a blue plaque scheme, "Landmarks of Chemistry", erecting plaques at places associated with notable chemical events or people. [35] Recent plaques are hexagonal.

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Rebecca Jane Miriam Goss is a professor of organic chemistry at the University of St. Andrews who won the 2006 Royal Society of Chemistry Meldola Medal. She is known for combining synthetic biology and chemistry for medicinal purposes.

Helen H. Fielding is a Professor of physical chemistry at University College London (UCL). She focuses on ultrafast transient spectroscopy of protein chromophores and molecules. She was the first woman to win the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize (1996) and Marlow Award (2001).

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Coordinates: 51°30′32″N0°08′20″W / 51.5089°N 0.1390°W / 51.5089; -0.1390