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Drug Design and Discovery (MSc)

Course Description

Designed with industry input, and with industry placement opportunities available, this programme prepares you for a career in the pharmaceutical industry or in academic research.

About the programme

The programme – which reflects the approaches taken by modern pharmaceutical companies – provides theoretical and practical training in the strategies and techniques by which novel drugs are designed. This involves the study of synthetic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and chemical analysis. The latest strategies and technologies involved in the discovery and testing of novel
drug candidates are explored.

Practical experience

You may take a work-based learning module involving industry placement for approximately one day per week during the second trimester. Placements will be with pharmaceutical, chemical or bioscience companies.

Your learning

The MSc consists of six taught modules over two trimesters followed by a substantial research project.

Core modules include:
• Drug Discovery and Development
• Drug Research Methods
• Computer-Aided Drug Design
• Preclinical Drug Testing
• MSc Science Research Project
• Pharmaceutical Synthesis

Optional modules:
• Placement Learning
• Drug Design and Development


You will conduct a research project to complete the MSc, involving the application of knowledge and practical techniques covered in the modules. There are various exciting research projects ongoing in this area, including testing of potential anti-tumour agents, and enkephalin analogs, design and synthesis of opioidmimetics, and compounds used against Alzheimer’s disease.

Our Careers Adviser says

UWS graduates possess expert knowledge and practical experience of the most relevant techniques used in drug design and discovery, preparing you for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Graduates will find employment in drug synthesis, computer-aided drug design, drug formulation and regulatory affairs.

Financial support

In session 2015/16 the Postgraduate Diploma element of this programme carried SAAS postgraduate loan funding for eligible students. Check http://www.saas.gov.uk for 2016/17 loan info.

Note: To obtain the MSc, students will usually take 9 months to gain the Postgraduate Diploma and then normally an additional 3 months of study to gain the MSc, from the date of commencement of the project.

First-class facilities

Get the hands on experience you need to succeed. We have excellent specialist facilities which support our research students and staff. These include an advanced chemical analysis lab: with state-of-theart chemical analysis for isotopic and elemental analysis at trace concentrations using ICPMS/OES and the identification of organic compounds using LCMS; and the Spatial and Pattern Analysis (SPAR) lab: providing high specification workstations, geographical information system (GIS) software, geochemical and image processing facilities to support data management in science research.

Visit the Drug Design and Discovery (MSc) page on the University of the West of Scotland website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Graeme Morris

I have learned a lot about medicinal chemistry and the drug development process. We had a guest speaker from a major pharmaceutical company who was a real inspiration to us and I have been able to go on a work placement gaining valuable industrial experience. At UWS, the lecturers are all very friendly and approachable, and the facilities are modern.


Entry Requirements

Candidates must normally possess a good first degree in chemistry, pharmacy, or a bioscience with substantial chemistry content. Other professional qualifications equivalent to a degree, or a lesser, appropriate qualification and experience gained in industry will also be considered.The programme is available to EU and overseas students (full-time only). Overseas students must meet UWS English language requirements.

Course Fees

Scottish/EU Students £3,400, Rest of UK Students £3,400, International Students £11,000

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