Keystone logo
University of Nottingham, Faculty of Science MSc in Drug Discovery and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Nottingham, Faculty of Science

MSc in Drug Discovery and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Nottingham, United Kingdom

12 Months


Full time

Request application deadline

Request earliest startdate

Request tuition fees



Explore scholarship opportunities to help fund your studies


Learn how to develop treatments for some of the world’s most challenging diseases of our time. You will develop key aspects of the drug discovery journey, from initial concept through to clinical treatment.

You will establish practical and professional skills from both the School of Pharmacy and the School of Life Sciences. You'll have:

  • Exposure to a variety of teaching experiences;
  • Staff working in or collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry;
  • Access to both schools seminar programs including reputed scientific speakers;
  • Use of a variety of laboratories across both Schools and the University of Nottingham Biodiscovery Institute.

A dedicated supervisor will support you during your research project. You will work alongside our researchers who are transforming lives and improving societies.

Previous topics have included:

  • Evaluation of new computational methods to predict bioactive conformations of cyclic peptides;
  • Targeting protease inhibitors to the gut-associated lymphoid tissues for improved treatment of HIV/AIDS;
  • Investigating the role of protein kinase C (PKC) in the breast cancer cell.

142319_pexels-photo-3825529.jpeg / pexels

Why choose this course?

Loan an iPad to all

students for the duration of the course to enhance your learning experience.

Academic expertise

from both the School of Pharmacy and the School of Life Sciences.

Joint 1st in the UK

on quality of research for Pharmacy Schools in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework and is the only School of Pharmacy to have 100% of research at 4* in the 'Impact on Society’ category.


by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Top 10

A world top 10 university for pharmacy and pharmacology (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020)

£30k starting salary

100% of postgraduates from the school secured work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016/17)

Course content

You will learn about:

  • The historical and modern-day drug discovery process
  • Organic chemistry relating to currently marketed drugs
  • Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK)
  • Clinical usage of current drugs
  • Pharmacotherapy of major human diseases and disorders
  • An understanding of disease biology and how it impacts human health
  • An understanding of how and why drugs fail or succeed in the drug discovery process
  • Apply solutions to practical problems in pharmacology, drug discovery and pharmaceutical science


Core modules

  • The Fundamentals of Drug Discovery
  • Drug Targets and Pharmacodynamics
  • Drug Discovery and Development 1
  • Drug Discovery and Development 2
  • Research Project

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Lab sessions
  • Past papers
  • eLearning

Core modules are typically delivered by Professors, Associate and Assistant Professors. Our extensive links with the pharmaceutical industry means we can offer a selection of lectures and workshops which are delivered by external speakers, with field-leading expertise in the area. Some practical laboratory sessions and research projects may be supported by postgraduate research students or postdoctoral research fellows.

We use Moodle, an e-learning package for the core parts of the course. For interactive sessions, we use in-class polling platforms e.g. Socrative. We supplement face-to-face teaching and innovative assessment methods. All students have the option to borrow an iPad for the duration of their studies.

For the research project, you will complete a report in the style of a scientific publication and discuss your research in a short viva. You will present your research in the form of a scientific poster.

How you will be assessed

  • Written exam
  • Oral exam
  • Poster presentation
  • Essay
  • Coursework
  • Online workbook
  • Online exams

Assessments will vary in number and styles across each module being studied.

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. For the taught-stage of the course, you will spend approximately a third of your time (around 400 hours) in lectures, tutorials, workshops, practical classes, including the directed study which is necessary for preparation for workshops/practical classes. Our class sizes stand at approximately 20. The remaining time will be completed as an independent study. Tutorial sessions are built into the timetable and there are several groups and individual meetings timetabled throughout the year. We hold a minimum of four to six tutor meetings throughout the year. Additional meetings can be requested as needed.

The research or project stage has an initial period of training. You will need to complete several assessment components for the module. There will be an element of independent research. Efficient time management during the project period is essential. For this course, the research project represents one-third of the entire course (60 credits or approximately 600 hours). We hold a minimum of five formal meetings with your research supervisor throughout the duration of your project.


Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Home/ UK students

Undergraduate degree2:1 related to biology or chemistry including (but not restricted to) pharmacy, pharmacology, biochemistry, genetics, life sciences, natural sciences, biomedical sciences

EU/ International students

Undergraduate degree2:1 related to biology or chemistry including (but not restricted to) pharmacy, pharmacology, biochemistry, genetics, life sciences, natural sciences, biomedical sciences
International and EU equivalentsWe accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.
IELTS7.0 (6.0 in each element)
English language requirementsAs well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications. This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

English language support

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

For presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

Where you will learn

Pharmacy laboratories

Improve your practical skills in some of the many research areas:

  • A molecular biology laboratory
  • Computational chemistry laboratory
  • Quarantine cell culture facility
  • An automated stem cell culture platform
  • Synthetic organic chemistry laboratories

University Park Campus

University Park Campus covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK's most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.


Careers advice

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Job prospects

Graduate destinations

We have seen a number of alumni progress into a range of scientific careers, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, academia, other related industries (e.g. scientific writing) or have continued their studies by starting a PhD.

Both Schools work and collaborate with strong industrial links, such as Sygnature Discovery Ltd and GlaxoSmithKline. We have hosted guest lectures with these companies providing an industrial insight to further enhance student's employability.

Career progression

81.3% of undergraduates from the School of Pharmacy secured graduate-level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £30,500.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.


Royal Society of Chemistry


This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

About the School


Similar Courses

  • International Master in Sustainable Drug Discovery
  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology
    • Siena, Italy
  • Research Master in Cognitive & Clinical Neuroscience: Drug Development and Neurohealth
    • Maastricht, Netherlands