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Course content

The rapid transformation in the nature of drug discovery means that knowledge of related disciplines, and the technologies used, is essential for those considering a career in commercial or academic research.

This MSc will help you explore the latest methods of developing drugs and therapeutic compounds for humans and animals and disease control agents for plants.

You will learn about marketing, licensing and regulations, which are all part of the development process. Our multidisciplinary approach links structural biology, bioinformatics, chemistry and pharmacology.

You will investigate the fundamental scientific problems and techniques of drug discovery and design, alongside the challenges of developing principles for new therapeutic strategies.

You will have hands-on experience of crystallographic computer programming and computation for bioinformatics.

You will consider the moral and ethical aspects of the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries through case studies, seminars and discussions.

Programme structure

This programme consists of two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project, leading to a dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • Applicable Mathematics
  • Molecular Modelling and Database Mining
  • Quantitating Drug Binding
  • Protein Structure Determination
  • Commercial Aspects of Drug Discovery
  • Project Proposal and Literature Review
  • Preparative Methods for Structural Biology
  • Drug Discovery

Option courses:

  • Biochemistry A & B
  • Bioinformatics 1
  • Chemical Medicine
  • Functional Genomic Technologies
  • Biophysical Chemistry for MSc Biochemistry
  • Introduction to Scientific Programming
  • Practical Skills in Biochemistry A & B
  • Introduction to Website and Database Design for Drug Discovery;
  • Detailed Characterisation of Drug or Ligand Interactions Using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR);
  • Bioinformatics Programming & System Management
  • Bioinformatics Algorithms
  • Information Processing in Biological Cells
  • Bioinformatics 2
  • Protein Molecular Modelling Practical Skills
  • Tools for Synthetic Biology

Career opportunities

This MSc is designed to help you pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry or relevant government agencies, and it will provide a good background for managerial or technical roles in research, design and development. It is also a solid basis from which to continue your studies to PhD level.


Visit the Drug Discovery and Translational Biology (MSc/PgDip) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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