2024/25 entry Applications also open for 2025/26

MSc Natural Products Discovery

Start date(s):
Study mode:
Course duration:
1 year

Tuition fees

Home fee
International full-time per year
General enquiries:
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About this course

This new MSc is designed to train graduates to fulfil the increased worldwide demand for experts in the development of natural medicine.

  • Enrol on this research-led course specialising in the discovery, formulation and analysis of natural medicines
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the stepwise approach for the discovery of drugs from natural sources, semi-synthesis and/or total synthesis of their analogues and the formulation and quality control of natural medicines used for the treatment and management of diseases
  • Use state-of-the-art equipment
  • Explore the latest developments in the field with student-led sessions, seminars and workshops
  • Prepare for competitive jobs in pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetic companies
  • Provides hands-on experience in the effects and formulation of natural ingredients for the wellness industry (supplements and cosmetics)

The Natural Products Discovery MSc focuses on the extraction, isolation and identification of natural products for use in modern medicines, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals. One of just a handful of courses of this type in the world, this masters is taught by leading experts in the field.

This is a very practical based programme and you will have access to state-of-the-art instruments including: 300 and 600 MHz NMR, UV, IR, HPLC, UPLC, GC-MS and LC-MS, X-Ray crystallography, analytical and preparative HPLCs with various detectors, microscopy suits and several in vitro and ex vivo bioassay facilities.

As a student on the programme you will have access to the Research Centre for Natural Products Discovery which was founded at LJMU in 2019. The Centre is a unique platform for multidisciplinary and collaborative research, incorporating various aspects of synthetic organic medicinal chemistry, natural products drug discovery, photochemistry, nutraceuticals and food supplements, pharmacology and toxicology.


Fees and funding

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students


The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:

  • library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
  • access to programme-appropriate software
  • library and student IT support
  • free on-campus wifi via eduroam

Additional costs

Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:

  • accommodation and living expenditure
  • books (should you wish to have your own copies)
  • printing, photocopying and stationery
  • PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
  • mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
  • field trips (travel and activity costs)
  • placements (travel expenses and living costs)
  • student visas (international students only)
  • study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
  • academic conferences (travel costs)
  • professional-body membership
  • graduation (gown hire etc)


There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.


Further your career prospects

LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.

Graduates with adequate skills in natural drug discovery and hands-on experience in operating state-of-the-art equipment would be well placed in Pharmaceutical, Phytopharmaceutical, Chemical, food and cosmetic industries and also in the regulatory sector and academia. There is also an increasing demand for Masters level students in the general business sector. Skills such as formulating a well-justified case, using carefully assessed data sources, planning and executing projects etc are highly useful generic skills. Some graduates may prefer to continue their studies in the area of Natural Products at PhD level rather than embark on a career in industry.

The student experience

Discover life as a postgraduate student at LJMU.

Course modules

Discover the building blocks of your programme

Your programme is made up of a number of core modules and a Research Project.

Core modules

Research Methods
20 credits

Gain the necessary core skills to effectively design, plan, perform and report scientific research.

Research Project
60 credits

This module will provide you with the opportunity to conduct an independent, in-depth study of an agreed topic of research, carried out in an appropriate manner.

Analytical Techniques in Natural Products
20 credits

This module covers: techniques used for the extraction (cold extraction, Soxhlet extraction and fractional distillation) of natural products, chromatographic techniques (Flash Chromatography, Column Chromatography, TLC, Analytical and preparative HPLC, GC, GC-MS, LC-MS) for the isolation and purification of compounds and spectroscopic techniques (UV, IR, 1D & 2D NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography) for the identification of compounds.

Natural Products Formulation
20 credits

This module covers natural products in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and cosmetic science focusing on the formulation, manufacturing and quality control of natural products in various dosage forms e.g. tablets, capsules, solutions, suspensions, emulsions, ointments, lotions, shampoos, etc.

Natural Products Pharmacology and Toxicology
20 credits

This module covers traditional medicine, sources of natural antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antimalarial and antioxidants compounds.

Approaches to Natural Products Discovery
20 credits

This module covers the systematic approach in drug discovery from natural sources, from the rain forest to the deep oceans and how we sustainably scale up their obtention in full adherence to the biodiversity conventions.

Natural Products Chemistry
20 credits

This module covers the main classes of natural products, their chemical and physical behaviour and total/semi-synthesis.


An insight into teaching on your course

Teaching methods

You will learn via lectures, workshops, seminars, tutorials, lab-based practicals and external visits as well as the practical research project.

Applied learning

The focus of the programme is on practical work and learning through lab experience. By the end of the course you will have the skills you need to operate complex instrumentation in this area.


How learning is monitored on your programme

To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme.

With traditional exams testing course knowledge and lab reports assessing practical work, there is a balance of theoretical and practical assessment on this course. You will also create a portfolio during your studies to chart your development.

Course tutors

Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning

I enjoy finding new ways to improve people's lives with the application of natural products to health and wellness. It's also particularly rewarding when I help my students to find their dream job.

School facilities

What you can expect from your School

You will study at the Byrom Street site in the University's City Campus. With an ongoing £12 million investment in laboratory facilities here and state-of-the-art research facilities you'll enjoy a first class study environment.

Entry requirements

You will need:

Qualification requirements

Undergraduate degree

  • A minimum 2:2 honours degree in pharmacy, pharmaceutical science, chemistry or a related field

Additional requirements

  • Relevant work experience

    • Alternative qualifications with a significant period of relevant work experience

International requirements


    • IELTS 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component) or equivalent

Application and selection

Securing your place at LJMU

To apply for this programme, you are required to complete an LJMU online application form. You will need to provide details of previous qualifications and a personal statement outlining why you wish to study this programme.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.

Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.