Drug Discovery and Design

Drug Discovery and Design MSc, PgDip, PgCert

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £6,500
International full time annual tuition fee: £14,450

Course type





Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Study mode

Full Time (1 year)

About your course

Train as a pharmaceutical scientist at Liverpool John Moores University on this Masters-level Drug Discovery and Design course. Gain hands-on laboratory 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
  • Complete this masters degree in one year (full time) 

This degree is informed by ongoing research and links with industry which means the curriculum is positioned at the leading edge of developments in the field.

The advanced theoretical background coupled with practical involvement in each module and an in-depth research project, will allow the student to be a well-rounded pharmaceutical analyst and practitioner in their chosen area of study.

Professor Alexander Gray, Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde.

Introduction to the School

The multidisciplinary School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences is one of the oldest providers of Pharmacy education in the world and has been delivering industry-relevant courses since 1849.

We guarantee all of our students a supportive, flexible academic environment, well-structured programmes and 24/7 access to extensive resources.

The School offers high quality education and training in areas including Pharmacy, Applied Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Forensic Science and Biochemistry.

We also have an established reputation for supporting postgraduate students returning to education after a break and for delivering professionally-orientated courses that can be studied alongside full time employment.

All of our courses are influenced by the latest research, ensuring that course content is at the forefront of developments in the field. Indeed, in the 2014 REF, some 68% of LJMU’s health-related research was considered world leading or internationally excellent.

Why study this course at LJMU?

Developed in association with industry leaders, this specialist course 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.

The Pharmaceutical Manufacture and Control course targets industrialists interested in moving newly developed drugs into the mass manufacturing arena, this programme however is aimed at molecular chemists with a passion for drug creation.

In the first semester, students on both programmes study together to gain a solid grounding in Pharmaceutical Science and its various branches.
The course offers an integrated, stimulating and challenging programme of study, informed by contemporary research and responsive to the changing nature of the pharmaceutical industry.

Programme outline and structure

Enhance your subject knowledge and gain hands-on experience with this new Masters course, taught by tutors with personal industry experience and strong manufacturing connections.

Completing a PG Cert by the end of the first semester on this course, you will devote the next semester to Diploma level study and then undertake a 12 week laboratory project for the final part of your MSc.
There are opportunities for topic specialisation and the chance to undertake cutting edge research.

You will learn in a supportive, flexible academic environment, studying at the Byrom Street site, right in the heart of Liverpool city centre.

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.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.

  • Research Methods
    Gain the necessary core skills to effectively design, plan, perform and report scientific research.
  • Analytical Techniques, Structure and Function in Organic Molecules
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Complete an independent, in-depth, 12 week scientific study related to the pharmaceutical sciences.

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled ‘What you will study’ is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Please email courses@ljmu.ac.uk  if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

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

You will also 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.

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.

Staff research interests

The School carries out research in a number of areas, under the direction of internationally recognised researchers.

Specialist topics include:

  • Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products Research focussing on prevention and cure of human diseases
  • Delivery and Formulation especially focussing on nanopharmaceutics
  • Biomedical Sciences focussing on oncology, toxicology, cell-signalling, immunity and infections
  • Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Forensic Analysis
  • Chemoinformatics focussing on prediction of toxicity, ADME properties and pharmacological activity
  • Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics focussing on various aspects of clinical pharmacy

We offer researchers access to outstanding facilities and exceptional expertise. Research funding is obtained from sources including the British Council, Research Councils, Department of Health, European Commission, Swiss Government and, reflecting our particular interests in the applied aspects of the subjects, directly from industry.

We are also part of an established international network of university research groups with associates in Bangladesh, India, China, France, Libya, Spain, Slovakia, Iran, Thailand and beyond.

Entry requirements (Home)

You will need an Honours degree (minimum 2:2) in a chemical, biological or related science.

Industry experience: Please contact the Faculty Admissions team for more details.

International applicants

You will need a good degree in a chemical, biological or related science plus an IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each category.

Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.0-6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence. 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. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.

Will I be interviewed?



6.5 (Min. 6.0 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


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

Financial support

Tuition fees

All students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or in instalments. If you need advice about how to pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team.

Funding sources

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From Postgraduate Masters Loans and Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Graduate employment

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 anticipate 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.

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.

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting www.ljmu.ac.uk/international for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here: www.ljmu.ac.uk/international

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

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.

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