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Course content

Pharmacy at Sunderland is ranked sixth in the country, according to The Guardian University Guide 2013.

Course overview

Do you want to contribute to the discovery and development of drugs that could potentially improve the health and well-being of millions of people? The UK has long been a leader in this complex technical area, in which each new drug requires around $1 billion of development work.

Our research-led teaching and state-of-the-art facilities make the University of Sunderland one of the UK's top locations for pharmaceutical science. Our strong links with the pharmaceutical industry ensure a flow of guest speakers and good contacts for your chosen Masters project/dissertation. Previous projects have involved collaborations with companies such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Helena Biosciences.

The course covers advanced pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical analysis, drug design, pharmacology, proteomics and pharmacogenomics. You will also cover regulatory processes for medicines, in line with ICH guidelines. The course is a direct response to employers’ search for postgraduates who have a mix of theoretical and practical skills and who will push boundaries in drug development.

With a Masters course, it’s important to consider the relevance of the research interests of tutors who will supervise your dissertation. At Sunderland, our interests include pharmaceutical analysis, process chemistry, various drug discovery programmes, and drug delivery systems, including those for large biological pharmaceuticals. Our academic team have produced some ‘world-leading’ research, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (2014).

Course content

The course mixes taught elements with self-directed research. The topic of the project / dissertation is negotiated to fit both your personal interests and the expertise of Sunderland's supportive tutors. Modules on this course include:
Core modules
-Essential Research and Study Skills (20 Credits)
-Fundamentals for Pharmaceutical Science (20 Credits)
-The Pharmaceutical R&D Cycle and its Regulation (20 Credits)

Choose four out of the five following modules
-Advanced Pharmacology (15 Credits)
-Pharmacogenomics and Proteomics (15 Credits)
-Advanced Pharmaceutical Analysis (15 Credits)
-Advanced Drug Design (15 Credits)
-Advanced Pharmaceutics (15 Credits)

Choose one Masters option
-Double Project (60 Credits)
Or
-Double Dissertation (60 Credits)
Or
-Single Project (30 Credits) and Single Dissertation (30 Credits)

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, open learning, laboratory work and group work.

The Masters project may involve collaboration with a pharmaceutical company. Previous projects have involved collaborations with companies such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Helena Biosciences.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working and problem solving. Assessment methods include laboratory reports, oral presentations, case studies, critical reviews, examinations and the Masters project.

Facilities & location

This course is based in the Sciences Complex at our City Campus, which boasts multi-disciplinary laboratories and cutting-edge equipment thanks to multi-million pound investments.

Facilities for Pharmaceutics
We have pharmaceutical-related equipment for wet granulation, spray drying, capsule filling, tablet making, mixing inhalation, film coating and freeze drying. As well as standard pharmacopoeial test methods, such as dissolution testing, friability and disintegration, we also offer highly sophisticated test methods. These include rheometry, thermal analysis (differential scanning calorimetry and hot stage microscopy), tests for powder flow, laser diffraction, photon correlation spectroscopy, image analysis and laser confocal microscopy.

Facilities for Medicinal Chemistry
Our state-of-the-art spectroscopic facility allows us to confirm the structures of new molecules that could be potential pharmaceutical products and to investigate the structures of potential medicinal substances that have been isolated from plants. We are equipped with Liquid Chromatography-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectroscopy (LC-NMR/MS) platforms; this is an exceptional facility for a university. We also have low and high resolution mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance and elemental analysis equipment. Our facilities allow you to gain hands-on experience of a wide range of analytical techniques such as atomic absorption spectroscopy and infra-red spectroscopy, which are of great importance in determining both ionic/metal content of pharmaceuticals and simple chemical structures respectively. You will also gain experience of revolutionary protein and DNA separation techniques, as well as Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography (x8) and Gas Chromatography for separating all kinds of samples of pharmaceutical or biomedical interest.

Facilities for Pharmacology
Our highly technical apparatus will give you first-hand experience of the principles of drug action and the effects of drugs on pharmacological and cellular models. As a result, you gain a better understanding of the effects of drugs on specific receptors located throughout the human body and related physiological effects.

University Library Services
We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on pharmaceutical and biomedical science, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles. Some of the most important sources for your studies include:
-Embase, which is a complex database covering drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine and biomedical engineering/instrumentation
-PsycINF, which includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
-PubMed, which contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
-Science Direct, which offers more than 18,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
-Web of Science, which covers a broad range of science areas

Learning Environment
Sunderland Pharmacy School has a rich heritage in scientific studies and our degree courses are extremely well respected in the industry. We are fully plugged into relevant medical and pharmaceutical industry bodies, with strong links and an exchange of ideas and people. Your Masters project may involve collaboration with a pharmaceutical company, including working at their sites.

Employment & careers

Graduates from this course can pursue a variety of careers in the following areas; Drug Design, Pharmaceutical Analysis and Research, Pre-clinical Research in Experimental and Biological Studies, Formulation and Product Development, Pharmacogenomics and Proteomics, Clinical Research, Product Registration, Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Previous Sunderland graduates have been employed in companies such as GSK, Eisai, Reckitt Benckiser, Merck, Sharp & Dohme and Norbrook Laboratories.

Some students may apply for a PhD programme or those who already hold a Pharmacy degree can pursue MSc/PG Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP) and go through one-year pre-registration training.

Visit the Drug Discovery and Development - MSc page on the University of Sunderland website for more details!

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