25. April 2023
MSc Green Chemistry – Student Interview
Elias from Germany is studying the new English-language Master’s Programme Green Chemistry at TU Wien, BoKu and Uni Wien in Vienna. We asked him some questions about his experiences:

Elias Horn standing in the lab wearing lab coat

Why did you want to do a joint programme with three Austrian universities?

The greatest benefit for me is clearly that the three most interesting scientific universities in Austria merged their most green and sustainable lessons into one, huge curriculum. This offers me a broad spectrum for specialization in important and future-oriented topics, but it was also very challenging for us to organise this in one single student week.

For me personally, it was my logical next step to have a greener and more sustainable chemistry education than the classical quick and dirty chemistry.


How are the studies?

Laboratory work is quite interesting as always in Chemistry, but afterwards there is more focus on calculating metrics and looking how well the synthesis worked. In addition to the basic evaluation via yield analysis, we now have options for calculating the effectiveness, sustainability and safety of the reactions and can thus compare different reaction procedures. The practical part is as always, quite interesting, and sometimes frustrating. But we have very interesting experiments with carrots or photo catalysis which keep us excited.

Right now, I’m finishing up my semester by writing some protocols from our first Green Chemistry laboratory last semester, and next week I will start preparing the next semester, lessons and hopefully some exams.


What is the difference between a normal Chemistry Master and a Green Chemistry Master?

The main difference is the broad and future-oriented curriculum. This impressed me a lot when it was first published and I am still very enthusiastic every day, so it is hard for me not to take too many courses. And finally, the green factor also shows itself in practice in the lab. Here, the focus lies on doing chemistry at milder reaction conditions like at room temperature or atmospheric pressure. And we don’t use the very strong, hazardous or toxic chemicals like we would in normal Organic Chemistry. Interesting is also that it utilizes more common items like PET bottles or carrots, so we fused our everyday stuff with Chemistry work. That is quite interesting and a new way of doing chemistry.


As the programme is based on three Campuses, do you lose a lot of time by travelling around the city?

Well for me as a biker it’s nice riding on my bike between the three universities. It’s a nice thing to be more on the move. Sometimes in the winter months I use the Öffis* more. Personally, I’m really enjoying biking from campus to campus especially in the coming summer months.

*Öffis is the colloquial term for public transport in Vienna (Öffis stands for “öffentliche Verkehrsmittel”)


What is your impression of Vienna?

When I was here with the school on visit, I thought that you can live here well. After five years that I now live and study here, my first impressions have been confirmed. After a certain initial phase, I have managed the balancing act between focusing on my studies and enjoying the city – and that is really very doable here. For example, the Danube Island Donauinsel for relaxing afternoons at the beach and barbecue, the Prater Park among many other parks for walking, running, Frisbee or picking wild garlic in the spring like I did last weekend. But besides the nature – yes, I like it very much – I must of course also praise the nightlife with all the different restaurants and especially for me bar culture. It’s a bit more expensive here and there but with time you find ways like toogoodtogo, a food rescue app, that allows you to do a lot of things in bigger cities like Vienna. So, as you can see, there are really countless good things here and you’d have to do an extra interview for that. *laughs*


Do you have a favourite place in the city?

My most favourite place in the city is very clear and even very near to TU. It’s at Karlsplatz in front of the Karlskirche, because over ten years ago I was the first time in Vienna on a school trip, and I didn’t imagine that ten years later I would be here again studying Green Chemistry. So, every time I sit there, like I was before preparing for this interview, I feel like I can take a good break and reflect on my uni work and everyday life. So, it’s always, for me, a very nice place. With sometimes good coffee by a mobile coffee station.


Is there any advice you would like to give others who are thinking of studying the programme?

Well, the most important recommendation is to get your documents and information, to familiarise yourself with the student’s offices and websites of the three different universities. And as always: start early. But this is honestly something I can recommend to my Zukunfts**-Elias as well.

**Zukunft means future in German


Thank you very much Elias and we hope that we could provide some information for all interesting students and maybe welcome you at TU Wien, BoKu and Uni Wien in Vienna!