Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry Masters/MSc

Postgraduate degree course in Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry  Masters/MSc:

This multidisciplinary one year programme is intended to act as a springboard into the fine chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech sectors for those with a good first degree in chemistry.

You will widen your knowledge of chemistry and will develop new skills and competencies in a range of areas key to drug discovery, including synthesis, molecular modelling, toxicology, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry and information science.

The programme includes a multidisciplinary project, and has course components delivered by industry experts. 

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Edgar de las Heras Ruiz

MSc Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry, 2014

“The best points of the course are that it provides a broad perspective of the whole drug discovery process, a deep knowledge in terms of parameters and factors to consider in the design of drugs and their synthesis and background about existing alternatives for a selective delivery of drugs by means of drug delivery systems.”

The course is designed to give chemists with a first degree a good understanding of how synthetic organic chemistry provides the foundation for the discovery of new medicines. 

Course content is aimed at developing chemistry skills in the context of drug design, for example through lectures and interactive sessions with industry experts, molecular modelling and an extended multidisciplinary project.

Topics span chemistry, natural products and synthesis, through to metabolism, pharmacology and information, patents and IPR. 

Why study this course

  • This course has been designed for those targetting a career in the fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biotech and associated custom research organizations (CROs).
  • Key course components in medicinal chemistry and information/patents/IPR will be delivered by industry experts.
  • Learn about the whole ‘Bench to Bedside’ scientific landscape, including chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and information science.
  • A perfect transition programme towards industry or a PhD. 


Modules include:

Total Synthesis of Natural Products 

Natural products and their analogues are an important focus for the pharmaceutical industry, and synthetic methodology employed in academic synthetic work is important in making drug candidates. 

Bio-related Chemistry

Overview of bioinorganic chemistry, metals in medicine, biological carbohydrate chemistry. 

Molecular Modelling in Drug Discovery

An interactive and practical course on molecular modelling. 

Metabolism and Excretion of Xenobiotics

The module describes the disposition of foreign compounds within the body of living organisms.  It covers the methods used to study xenobiotic metabolism; their absorption and distribution and excretion, and includes the application of molecular biology techniques to drug metabolism and pharmacogenetics. 

Pharmacology of Drug Discovery and Development

Including aspects of lead compound identification, preclinical assessment, clinical trials.

Essentials of Medicinal Chemistry R&D and Process Development

Delivered by industry experts, this course will take students through the scientific, inventive and commercial aspects of turning an organic ‘hit’ molecule into a clinical medicine. 

Information, Patents and IPR in the Pharma Sector

Delivered by industry experts, this course will help students to understand information, sources of information (databases), search strategies, intellectual property and patents. 

Research Project

An extended multi-disciplinary project. 

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to keep them up-to-date, which may require changes to module content. Also, key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for home/EU students (2016/2017)

  • £7,650

Tuition fees for international students (2016/2017)

  •  £20,250

Further funding information

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

The University of Birmingham is committed to promoting and nurturing excellence. To reward and encourage excellence in entry, we are delighted to be able to offer the following scholarships for 2016 entry on our MSc and MRes programmes.

Students attracting overseas fees

A £3,000 scholarship will be awarded to a number of privately funded, full fee paying, international Master’s students. The scholarship is awarded to applicants who have demonstrated excellent academic results in their previous degree studies.

Students attracting home/EU fees

A £1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a number of privately funded, full fee paying, Home/EU Master’s students. The scholarship is awarded to applicants who have demonstrated excellent academic results in their previous degree studies.

Applicants to the courses will be considered for these awards at application stage and if you are successful you will be notified when your offer is made.

For further information contact the Admission Tutor or email financialsupport@bham.ac.uk

Entry requirements

Applicants must have a minimum of a high 2(i) degree in chemistry, or equivalent

Learn more about entry requirements   

International students
We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements.
Standard English language requirements apply 

Additional information:

Those interested in conducting the research project in industry will be given support to secure a placement (although these cannot be guaranteed). 

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

The programme will be delivered in a flexible and multi-faceted fashion, with learning delivered through lectures, workshops, computer-aided sessions and practical work. 

An extended project will enable students to put theory into practice, learning will be reinforced with a synoptic module, and some projects may be available with industrial partners.   

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.