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MSc Chemical Biology and Drug Design

Course Description

This course focuses on using chemical methodology to tackle complex biological and medical problems. You will be taught by experts in chemical biology, biophysics and medicinal chemistry using a "problem-based" approach. In addition, visiting lecturers from the pharmaceutical industry provide expertise in industrially-relevant applications of chemical biology and drug design.

The programme will highlight the interdisciplinary and 'problem-based' nature of research in chemical biology.
On graduation, you will be ideally placed to undertake interdisciplinary research in academia or the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry, or to pursue a science-related career such as patent work, scientific publishing or scientific administration.
This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, meaning that graduates from this programme with an appropriate first degree in chemistry satisfy the academic requirements for the award of Chartered Chemist (CChem) status.

Visit the MSc Chemical Biology and Drug Design page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Ololade Adeniji

5033.jpg What made you decide to study for a Masters degree?

I want to have a career in academia and research. An MSc is the best route through to PhD and further research.

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

Many reasons. A friend from home had visited and said it was lovely. The academic rating. I also took time to look at the lecturers’ profile. There is a lot of research going on here. I loved the Astbury centre. I wanted something cutting edge. All these made me choose Leeds.

How does it compare to your undergraduate degree?

It is a lot more challenging. You are expected to do a lot of independent thinking. You have so much work to do that time management is really important else you miss the deadlines. It is also a lot more in-depth. Some things over looked in undergrad become really critical at this stage.

What kind of topics have you been studying?

I have been studying courses involving protein-protein interactions, organic synthesis and scale-up, medicinal chemistry, diversity oriented synthesis and catalysis.

What really interests you about this course and chemistry in general?

The fact that it is the future. New molecules have to be discovered for the next generation of drugs. The course focuses a lot on identifying molecules with therapeutic characteristics. I do not like routine and chemistry is not routine. Chemistry is like a mystery to be unravelled. New things come up every day. The deeper you go, the more you want to know. That makes it exciting.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

The work is a lot but it is interesting. Trying to meet the numerous deadlines and the reading lists makes it fun. It is not possible to be bored because there is so much to do and the lecturers are enthusiastic about the course trying to engage everyone so you really are gaining a lot of knowledge.

What are your plans for the future?

I am trying to keep my options open for the next few months. I just got on the course so I want to see the opportunities available and the area of research that interests me the most. A PhD is definitely part of the plan.

(Student Profile)

Michael Rugen

5034.jpg Where are you from and what are you studying?

Originally I am from Cheshire. I did my undergraduate at Leeds, I did Bio-Chemistry for three years and then I decided to do a Masters in Chemical Biology to gain a deeper understanding of the chemistry side of things.

Why did you want to do a Masters?

Well, I did a lab-based dissertation during my first degree and it was a case of asking myself whether I wanted to continue on to PhD. I enjoyed the lab work but my dissertation didn’t give me a full taste for it and so I took this particular Masters course because I got to spend five months of it in the lab which is fantastic. So this Masters really confirmed my direction and I have now graduated and moved into a PhD in Norwich.

What about the quality of the teaching?

The teaching was fantastic and it was very organised between Chemistry and Biology. I was the only biologist on the course and so for me to understand some of the chemistry was sometimes a bit tricky but the teachers were always there if you had questions and the door was always open if you had any problems.

What was it like being a student for the Masters year?

It was a bit more hard work than undergraduate but you would expect that. I relished the hard work to be honest and my marks actually went up from my undergraduate studies and so I was pleased with that. I really enjoyed the lab work which I did. My supervisor was there on a day-to-day basis and I got so much knowledge from having the hands-on sessions in the lab. I was getting on with the work but there was always someone there to support me.

What did you think of the facilities?

They were fantastic. If you wanted an experiment which required some technique, they either had it present or they had access to it through somewhere else. There never seemed to be any barriers to the equipment needed.

(Student Profile)

George Karageorgis

5035.jpg So why did you decide to study for the MSc in Chemical Biology?

I did my undergraduate degree in Greece and I majored in both bio-chemistry and organic-synthesis and I just wanted something which fell into the interdisciplinary field; into the interface between chemistry and biology and understanding the chemistry of what cells use as products and how they conduct their chemical reactions. It’s quite fascinating. So that was the main reason but the University of Leeds was also proposed to me by one of my supervising professors in Greece. I applied to other universities as well but this was my main goal.

So what made you decide to do a Masters specifically then?

I wanted to do a PhD as I had an idea that I wanted to follow an academic career but I wasn’t totally sure about that and so I thought that I would do a Masters first and see how that went. It was a great decision as I have now been accepted for a PhD and I am about three months into my PhD.

How have you found the teaching?

Well, there were ups and downs. I can remember at first having difficulties expressing myself in English but that didn’t go on for long. I didn’t have problems understanding the professors though. The level of teaching however, was amazing. Of course I can’t compare it with a Masters in a Greek university but I had suggestions that I didn’t have during my undergraduate degree. So the lecturers would put some references on a slide so that I could go and look them up if I was interested in them. It was great.

What would you say to other students thinking of coming to study a Masters at Leeds?

Don’t give it a second thought, come here, you will love it. I truly loved it. I had my second thoughts of course as everybody does but it’s not until you get here that you realise ‘phew I made the right choice’.


Dean's International Postgraduate Masters Scholarships - 10 Awards

These awards are competitive, based on high achievement.

Value of Scholarship(s)



here are up to 10 partial-fee scholarships available worth £3,000 each. These awards are open to international candidates who have been accepted for admission onto a full-time MSc programme in the School, and who are eligible to pay tuition fees at the full international rate.

Application Procedure

Eligible applicants will automatically be considered for these awards at the time of application, so are not required to complete an application form.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

BSc(Hons) 2.1 or equivalent in Chemistry, Biochemistry or a related subject.

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