MSc Drug Discovery and Design (PgCert, PgDip)

Study mode

Full-time (1 year)

Start date(s)

September 2019

Tuition fees 19/20
Home (full-time, per year): £7,100
International (full-time, per year): £14,450

General enquiries:

0151 231 5090

Faculty of Science:

0151 231 2888

International admissions

+44 (0)151 904 6499

Got a question? Fill out our form

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About this course

LJMU's Masters-level Drug Discovery and Design course enables you to gain hands-on lab experience, carry out novel research and enjoy excellent employment prospects.

  • Explore molecular chemistry and the drug creation aspect of the pharmaceutical industry as you train to become a qualified pharmaceutical scientist
  • Gain hands-on experience in relevant laboratory techniques with a 12 week research project
  • Benefit from LJMU's £12 million investment in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities
  • Enjoy excellent graduate employment prospects

This course is developed in association with industry leaders and promotes a critical awareness of the most recent advances in the field of Drug Discovery and Design.

The programme is one of two new Masters courses offered by the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences. Drug Discovery and Design is aimed at molecular chemists with a passion for drug creation and offers an integrated, stimulating and challenging programme of study, informed by contemporary research and responsive to the changing nature of the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical Manufacture and Quality Control targets industrialists interested in moving newly developed drugs into the mass manufacturing arena. 


You will learn using industry-standard apparatus, including chromatographic equipment and spectrometers, tableting and particle sizing equipment, computing laboratory, molecular modelling software, electron spin resonance spectrometers and thermal analysis equipment – including dynamic differential scanning calorimetry – plus chromatography, LC-MS and NMR instruments.

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 use your own)
  • mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
  • field trips (travel and activity costs)

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  • 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.


Further your career prospects

LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2017) 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.

This programme offers a coherent and progressive education, providing the cutting edge, research-based training required to become a qualified pharmaceutical scientist ready for employment in the pharmaceutical and related industries.

You can look forward to excellent employment prospects. Many applicable roles exist within molecular design, lead compound discovery and API synthesis at large pharmaceutical companies as well as specialist small and medium sized enterprises.

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Although the majority of graduates will go on to secure employment in industry, concentrating on drug development, you may choose to progress to further study.

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Course modules

Discover the building blocks of your course

Your programme is made up of a number of core modules and a research project.

Students in classroom - Course modules
Core modules

Research Methods
20 credits

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

Analysis, Structure and Function in Organic Molecules
20 credits

This module will help you understand the application of analytical chemistry to pharmaceutical materials, and the effect of functional group chemistry on both the structure and consequent properties of relevant molecules.

Physicochemical Properties of Therapeutic Agents
20 credits

This module will help you to understand the physical and chemical properties of both small molecules and macromolecules and how these influence their in vitro and in vivo behaviour as active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Medicinal Chemistry
30 credits

This module helps you understand the application of medicinal chemistry to the drug discovery process and the requirement for a modern synthetic approach to the supply of relevant molecules.

Natural Products
30 credits

This module will enable you to understand various aspects of chromatographic, spectroscopic and assay techniques and approaches pertinent to natural products drug discovery, and the chemistry of natural products.

Research Project
60 credits

This module provides an opportunity to complete an independent, in-depth, 12 week scientific study on an agreed aspect of biotechnology and related areas.


An insight into teaching on your course

Study hours

Teaching for full-time students is on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There are a mixture of teaching hours from 9am to 6pm, which vary across semesters. Formal teaching occurs in semester 1 (September to December) and semester 2 (January to May), although you are required to attend university to meet with your dissertation supervisor and to attend presentation days, etc until your final research project submission date at the end of August. Around 35 hours' student learning per week is recommended.

Teaching methods

The programme is delivered via lectures, workshops and tutorials and is supported by extensive online learning materials.

Applied learning

You will have the opportunity to develop your practical skills and gain first-hand experience of industrially relevant techniques via structured laboratory sessions and a 12 week research project. 

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Throughout the programme you will need to demonstrate initiative and present original work reflecting your problem-based learning and self-directed study. You will reflect on and communicate your research findings, receiving appropriate support as you build the knowledge, understanding and skills to become a successful independent learner.

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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. Assessment techniques vary from module to module to reflect relevant assessment approaches and the key learning points of each topic.

Assessment methods include: formative VLE interactive self-assessments; summative written assignments such as laboratory reports, essays and case studies; problem solving exercises; written exams; project reports and oral presentations.

Course tutors

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

Francesca Giuntini

Francesca Giuntini

Programme Leader

Francesca is a porphyrin chemist. She completed a PhD at the University of Rome, before starting work at a pharmaceutical company near Florence. She then worked as a post-doctoral scientist at universities in Italy, Portugal, Bath and Hull, before joining LJMU.

I particularly enjoy the diversity of people I get the chance to meet every day as part of my job. Students and staff come together with hundreds of different stories, backgrounds and aspirations – this makes my job different every day which I love.

School facilities

What you can expect from your School

This programme is based in the Faculty of Science at the City Campus. The School's laboratories are currently undergoing a £12 million upgrade. Here you’ll find chromatographic equipment and spectrometers, tableting and particle sizing equipment, computing laboratory and state-of-the-art molecular modelling software, electron spin resonance spectrometers and thermal analysis equipment, including dynamic differential scanning calorimetry plus chromatography, LC-MS and NMR instruments. In terms of independent study support, the Avril Robarts Library, open 24/7 during semesters, is located just minutes away on Tithebarn Street.

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Entry requirements

You will need:

  • a minimum 2:2 honours degree in a chemical, biological or related science

Additional Information:

  • IELTS 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in each component)
  • Pearson 58-64 (minimum 51 in each component for UKVI purposes)
  • RPL is accepted on this programme
  • All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC
  • If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate.
  • Contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance

If you have any specific queries, please contact

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Please note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

View country specific entry requirements

Contact LJMU's International Admissions Team for guidance on visa information. Further information is also available from our international web pages.

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Application and selection

Securing your place at LJMU

You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the 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.