Pharmaceutical Chemistry MSci 2017-18

This course also available for 2018-19 entry

Want to join us in September? You can now apply via Clearing

Here’s what student Jamie has to say about his course in the subject area of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Find out more about Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Huddersfield


About the course

This course is designed for those aiming for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. It offers you the opportunity to develop your logical reasoning and establish an imaginative approach to solving problems. Pharmaceutical chemistry covers the fundamental aspects of organic chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology. It provides the knowledge base and skills required to understand the complexities of drug action and drug design, including new drugs such as anti-cancer and anti-viral agents.

This undergraduate Master's degree provides you with the opportunity to gain academic knowledge combined with real-world experience gained from a placement in the third year of your course. This could also help you to gain relevant real-world experience and enhance your future employment prospects. Our teaching staff are educated to doctoral level in their respective subject areas. You'll also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience using scientific instrumentation in our modern chemical sciences labs.

Course scholarships available – up to £3000. More details.

UCAS code:

Start date:
18 / 09 / 2017


4 years inc. placement year

Course type:

Inc. placement year


Clearing helpline:
03301 232 277

Course content

Watch our Chemistry and Chemical Engineering subject area video to hear how student Jamie has found his course at Huddersfield.

Year one offers you the opportunity to develop a foundation in chemistry, biology and pharmaceutics. Year two builds on these areas of study and also includes topics such as pharmacology and pharmaceutics. There's the option to gain real-world experience through a placement in year three. And in the final year, you'll have the chance to engage in a research project, and investigate advanced topics such as drug design, drug analysis and analytical chemistry.

Year 1

Core modules:

Analytical Science 1

In this module you’ll be introduced to analytical science. In the first half of the module you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the basic statistical concepts important in analytical science before going on to an introduction to a series of physical and spectroscopic analytical techniques. The second half of the module focuses on the use of various spectroscopic methods for the characterisation of known compounds and for the identification of unknown compounds. You will be assessed by coursework and exam.

Organic Chemistry 1

In organic chemistry, the focus is on the element carbon. The chemistry of carbon compounds is central to all living organisms. However, thousands of nonliving things (such as drugs, plastics and dyes) are also carbon compounds. This module focuses on the fundamental principles of organic chemistry including structure, bonding, functional groups and the basic language of chemical change. You'll have the opportunity to enhance your learning in a designated block of practical exercises (this element of the coursework is worth 20% of the module mark), which also helps you to develop your hands-on practical skills. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Physical Chemistry A

This module introduces you to the basic concepts of physical chemistry, covering the behaviour of gases and the reaction of acids and bases in solutions. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the kinetics of reactions and what has an effect on the rate of a reaction, in addition to thermodynamics, which explains why a particular reaction may, or may not, take place. The lecture material is supported by laboratory practical sessions, which help to reinforce and aid your understanding of the theory delivered in lectures. The module is assessed by coursework, practical reports, an in-class test and an assignment, or second in-class test and an exam.

Pharmaceutics 1

This module is designed to introduce you to pharmaceutics and formulation. Firstly, lectures will cover the basics of physical chemistry to ensure you have access to all the necessary background knowledge to then go on to study pharmaceutics including preformulation, formulation and related topics. As part of the module you’ll have the chance to prepare some pharmaceutical formulations in the laboratory sessions. The module is assessed by coursework and examination.

Biochemistry 1

This is a fundamental module for all biological sciences courses. Lectures and seminars provide insight into (i) the structure and function of biological macromolecules, including proteins and DNA; (ii) the processes by which the central biochemical pathways make energy, and build new cells from raw materials. Basic concepts in metabolism and metabolic regulation are introduced to show how biochemistry underpins a multitude of processes from athletic performance to human disease. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Physiology 1: Structure and Function

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to normal and abnormal human bodily functions. The module introduces basic physiological concepts and the clinical relevance of these will be highlighted using clinical examples. This insight into human physiology is designed to enhance your understanding of related subject areas such as pharmacology . A variety of teaching activities will be used on this module including lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes. The laboratory sessions help you to gain basic laboratory skills in physiological measurement through assessed written practical reports. You’ll also be assessed by a final examination.

Year 2

Core modules:

Organic Chemistry 2

The module builds on the fundamental principles explored in the Organic Chemistry 1 module. The knowledge and ability to form carbon-carbon bonds under controlled conditions is an essential skill that all aspiring organic chemists should possess, and this is a major focus that you’ll have the opportunity to explore in this module. You’ll also delve into other aspects of synthetic chemistry, such as the use of a wide range of inorganic compounds that provide a valuable resource to the organic chemist. The skill of designing logical processes to synthesise target molecules is also introduced. A short series of related assessed practical exercises take place in term two. At the end of term one, a written assignment will be set. The module assessment culminates in a final exam.

Analytical Science 2

This module builds on your knowledge of molecular and atomic spectroscopy techniques. You’ll have the opportunity to develop more in-depth interpretation skills for spectroscopic data and be introduced to a range of separation techniques. You’ll also examine the principles and applications of a range of instrumental methods such as differential scanning calorimetry, atomic absorbance spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and polarography. The application of advanced statistical analysis to analytical data will also be introduced. The module is assessed on a mixture of coursework and a final exam.

Microbiology for the Pharmaceutical Industry

The module provides you with a general introduction to microbiology and the opportunity to gain an understanding of the main groups of disease causing microorganisms. You'll also have the chance to gain an understanding of the major microbial infections and an in-sight into pharmaceutical methods to produce antibiotics. The module has a strong practical component, which complements and consolidates the theoretical aspects of the course by providing you with the opportunity to gain hands on experience with the manipulation and growth of microorganisms. It also emphasizes the need for Good Laboratory Practice and Safety. You'll make an oral presentation, so there's also a focus on presentation skills.

Pharmaceutics 2

This module builds on the pharmaceutics provided in the first year Pharmaceutics 1 module. You’ll be introduced to the pharmaceutical dosage form, design of tablets and capsules, and have the opportunity to gain an understanding of biopharmaceutics together with an appreciation of bioequivalence, which supports the choice of medicines. You’ll also be introduced to the basics of pharmaceutical industrial practice. Assessment is by coursework and an exam.

Molecular Aspects of Drug Action

The module will start with an overview of fundamental concepts in pharmacology including the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of drugs (ADME). The module will then explore the molecular aspects of drug action, with detailed examples of various targets (including receptors, ion channels, enzymes and transporters). You'll then have the opportunity to investigate the theoretical relationship between ligand concentration and binding-site occupancy (Hill-Langmuir equation). This will be combined with discussion in lectures of protein-ligand interactions and what factors may influence binding affinity. You'll also have the chance to learn about biopharmaceuticals and gene therapy. The module will conclude with a brief overview of the drug discovery industry and technologies involved (chemical screen libraries, assay development), including high throughput screening. The stages of development of a new drug with details of initial lead-finding, optimization, pre-clinical development, phase I, II, III trials and regulatory approval will be discussed.

Biochemistry 2

This module expands on your previous knowledge of protein structure and function. This is followed by an account of protein folding and how mis-folded proteins can cause disease. You’ll be introduced to more advanced techniques for studying protein structure such as X-ray crystallography, NMR and circular dichroism. The advantages and limitations of each technique are discussed. The structure and functions of mitochondria and chloroplasts are covered, including respiration and photosynthetic pathways, focusing on electron transport chains. The design of enzyme assays and kinetics of enzyme catalysis are described in lectures and problem based tutorials. You will be assessed by exam and practical laboratory exercises.

Year 3

Core modules:

Laboratory Techniques

This is a practice-based training module which normally takes place across a 48-week period in a suitable organisation, usually a university laboratory. The exact nature of the training will vary depending on the specific background and requirements of individual students and the opportunities available within the differing laboratory environments.

Investigative Project and Drug Degradation

You'll carry out a substantial research project, under supervision, in an industrial or research laboratory environment, during the course of the third year. The subject of the research may be any relevant and topical area of pharmaceutical chemistry, or related subjects, but must be agreed in advance between the you, your employer or research supervisor, and University project leader. Alongside the practical work a distance learning component will be taken, which will discuss the common degradation courses of biologically active pharmaceutical molecules. The module is assessed by coursework, a placement report and continual assessment of project work.

Business Aspects of Science

This module is also designed for students who are in Year 3 of the MChem/MSci degrees. Part of this module is specific to the organisation in which you’ll be working and involves you carrying out a review of the organisation, and a review of the sector that the organisation operates in (e.g. the pharmaceutical industry, analytical service providers or the higher education sector), and a critical analysis of the success and competitiveness of the organisation within that sector. Alongside this, you’ll carry out a series of assignments designed to give you the opportunity to improve your wider understanding of certain aspects of science-based businesses such as green chemistry/environmental issues, project planning and scheduling and marketing. Assessment is by coursework.

Scientific Communication

This module covers three aspects of communication of importance in science – the ability to read and understand scientific journal papers, the ability to write a scientific journal paper and the ability to give oral presentations. Assessment is by coursework and oral presentation.

Final year

Core modules:

Research Project

A chemically-based, independent, double-module research programme. Supervisors will outline the aims of the project and direct you to the most recent literature. Before undertaking experimentation, you’ll be expected to undertake a comprehensive review of the literature related to your project and to evaluate this literature. You’ll then plan your project in light of the current state of the field of research. You’ll be given some advice on research methods but will be expected to lead the planning yourself. The projects will show depth and will involve advanced laboratory and instrumental techniques. They will be open ended and you’ll be expected to review progress regularly and modify research plans accordingly. Group projects will be encouraged, though you’ll work independently. You’ll be required to outline your research plans in the early stages of the project and then present your results, your interpretation and your conclusions on a poster, which you’ll defend at a poster day once the project is completed. The module is assessed by practical work and a written report.

Chemical Therapeutics

Society needs new medical advances to combat the diseases that surround us. In this module, we’ll highlight the chemical and biological principles that you’ll require to design new potential drug molecules. You’ll have the opportunity to look at areas of therapy including antibacterial agents, drugs that act on the nervous system, anti-cancer drugs, anti-viral drugs, anti-ulcer drugs and drugs used to treat cardiovascular disease. Assessment is by coursework and an exam.

Analytical Science 3

In this module, you’ll have the chance to learn advanced theory of chromatography, with a particular emphasis on techniques that are applicable to toxicological analysis. A range of different chromatographic methods will be presented, with examples of their uses. Principles of analytical toxicology will be introduced, including absorption, distribution and metabolism of drugs in the body and sample collection and preparation. The module is assessed by coursework and a final exam.

Molecular Targets and Drug Design

This module covers the molecular and cellular targets of medicines and focuses on the biological macromolecules that they interact with. All classes of biological macromolecules are covered including: proteins (enzymes and receptors); nuclei acids (DNA, RNA and their biosynthetic machinery) and carbohydrates. The main focus of the lectures and tutorials is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the general principles of drug action for those students with a chemical and biological background. It is of interest to those wanting to learn about drug design and the molecular mechanisms by which drugs act. Assessment is by coursework and an examination.

Option modules: Choose one from the following modules:

Pharmaceutics 3

This module gives you the opportunity to extend your understanding of pharmaceutics and biopharmaceutics, and your knowledge of all the different dosage forms not covered in years 1 and 2. Different delivery methods, routes of delivery and formulation type will be individually reviewed including oral and aerosol formulations. Formulation approaches to targeting the different routes of delivery (buccal, colon, rectal, nasal, ophthalmic, pulmonary and transdermal) will also be covered. Assessment is by coursework (including laboratory reports) and an exam.

Organic Chemistry 3

This module draws together the basic concepts of synthesis and reaction mechanisms in the context of providing methods for designing synthetic routes to target compounds. You’ll be able to learn how to differentiate between competing reaction mechanisms. You’ll also be introduced to contemporary preparative methods for the synthesis of organic compounds. The module will be assessed via coursework and an examination.

Analytical Science 4

This module builds on your knowledge of mass spectrometry, NMR, electroanalysis and sensors. You’ll consider a range of advanced experimental methods for enhancing the capabilities of both mass spectrometry and NMR. You’ll examine the principles underpinning several potentiometric and voltammetric techniques, which will lead into an explanation of how different sensors and biosensors operate. You’ll also explore the role of nanotechnology in the development of advanced sensing devices. The module is assessed by coursework and a final exam.

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.

We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.

Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.

When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.


The course offers a compulsory one-year (48 weeks) placement after the second year. This may be in the UK in industry, a government agency or academic research group. This can be a valuable experience as it can help you to see your subject in action in the real-world, and it may provide that element of relevant real-world experience that could help to enhance your employability after graduation. We also provide guidance and support to help you secure a placement.

Career opportunities

Whilst this is a new course and therefore no graduate statistics for this specific course, 94% of graduates from courses in this subject area of chemistry go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.

Graduates can consider careers in the pharmaceutical industry in roles including research, development, management, production and process control. There are also opportunities in hospital laboratories.

Teaching and assessment

37.7% of the study time on this course is spent in lectures, seminars, tutorials etc.

You'll be taught through a series of lectures, tutorials, seminars, practicals and directed reading. Assessment will include written exams and coursework including problem solving assignments, laboratory reports, short tests, , and oral and poster presentations.

Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.

Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results.Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.

Huddersfield is the UK's only university where 100% of the permanent teaching staff are fellows of the Higher Education Academy.*

*permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching

How much will it cost me?

The full-time undergraduate tuition fee for 17/18 entry is £9,250.

Tuition fees will cover the cost of your study at the University as well as charges for registration, tuition, supervision and examinations. For more information about funding, fees and finance for UK/EU students, including what your tuition fee covers, please see Fees and Finance. Please note that tuition fees for subsequent years of study may rise in line with inflation (RPI-X).

If you are an international student coming to study at the University of Huddersfield, please visit the International Fees and Finance pages for full details of tuition fees and support available.

Please email the Student Finance Office or call 01484 472210 for more information about fees and finance.

Course scholarships available – up to £3000. More details.

Further study

Progression to a postgraduate course is dependent on successful completion of your undergraduate studies. There may also be minimum qualification requirements such as a first class or higher second (2.1) degree. Please check the course details to confirm this.


If you're an international student (including EU) you can check if you meet our entry requirements (both academic and English language) by visiting our country pages.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you can consider completing a degree preparation programme (if you are from a country outside of the EU) at the University's International Study Centre (ISC). You can call the ISC on +44 (0) 1273 339333 to discuss your options. You can also complete the online application form or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers.

If your English language is not at the required level (IELTS 6.0 overall), we have a range of Pre-Sessional English programmes that you can enrol on before starting your degree course. You will not need to take an IELTS test after completing one of our Pre-Sessional English programmes.

Research community

Research plays an important role in informing all our teaching and learning activities. Through research our staff remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which means you develop knowledge and skills that are current and highly relevant to industry. For more information, see the Research section of our website.

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