The School of Chemistry at UNSW is recognised nationally and internationally, for producing world-class fundamental and applied research in the field of Chemical Sciences to address real-world challenges. The School's research is focused on four key themes: Nanoscience, Catalysis & Industry, Energy & Metabolism, and Medicinal Chemistry.

Chemical Science at UNSW consistently ranks in the top 100 in the world in major league tables such as the QS ranking (2011-2014) and the Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities in Chemistry (2009-2011 and 2013). It was also ranked no 1 in Australia and no 8 in the Asia-Pacific Region in terms of publication impact 2000-2010 by the Times Higher Education World Universities Ranking. The Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) gave Chemical Science at UNSW a rating of 5 - the highest rating possible and well above world standards. The ERA ranked the University's performance as at, above or well-above world standard in all the subdisiplines of Chemistry.

The School is home to leading academics including Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science and Members of the the Order of Australia (David Black - FAA & MBO, Les Field - FAA & MBO), two winners of the 2013 NSW Science and Engineering Award (Justin Gooding and Martina Stenzel) and two recent winners of the Australian Academy of Science Le Fevre Memorial Award (Martina Stenzel and Pall Thordarson).