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Pharmaceutical Science MPharmSci(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code Year of entry
4 years full time B204 2017

Why choose this course?

Pharmaceutical science is concerned with the design and development of new drugs for clinical purposes. It explores the different sources of medicine, how they work and how they can be formulated (eg tablet, cream, inhaler), analysed and tested. This four-year course is ideal if you see yourself as a research scientist working in areas such as drug discovery and delivery.

What you will study

Year 1 provides a general introduction to biology, chemistry and physiology, as well as to pharmaceutical science itself. The Foundation Chemistry for Pharmaceutical Science module introduces formulation science, pharmacokinetics and molecular modelling, while the importance of practical work and instrumental techniques is also emphasised. You will also study a module that covers mathematics, statistics, generic study skills and information technology. This module gives you those life-long learning skills that employers value.

Year 2 places more emphasis on organic chemistry and on pharmaceutical analysis, which is important in relation to the characterisation of drugs and how they act on the body. You will build on the pharmaceutical chemistry learned in Year 1 by studying the properties and formulation of pharmaceuticals. The course also covers the effect of drugs in living systems and the principles of the immune system, along with an introduction to micro-organisms in relation to human disease, their control and safe working practices.

In Year 2 there is a large element of experimental pharmaceutical chemistry. This provides you with the necessary practical and organisational skills to conduct independent laboratory investigations. You will also have the opportunity to develop other transferable skills, important to improving your employability and career planning.

Year 3 shares some modules with our BSc(Hons) Pharmaceutical Science degree, including a module that will deepen your knowledge base in natural product chemistry, and another that will develop and enhance your analytical skills.

In Year 4, you will spend half of your time working on your research project, enhancing your skills in experiment design, critical analysis, problem solving and laboratory work. The project also provides an opportunity to display initiative and creativity. In addition, you will take advanced masters-level modules in the Manufacture and Clinical Trials of Medicines and Advanced Organic and Medicinal Chemistry.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

  • On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Explain the purpose and principles of basic laboratory manipulations and calculations.
    • Explain clearly, the origin of the NMR, IR, UV and MS phenomena.
    • Apply knowledge to the interpretation of characterisation data published in spectroscopic correlation tables.
    • Apply  knowledge to confirm the presence of known organic compounds, and to identify unknown groups and compounds.
    • Perform laboratory procedures and preparations of simple compounds.
    • Apply  knowledge of spectroscopy to identify the products of the laboratory preparations.
  • This module aims to give a thorough grounding in mathematics, statistics, key and transferable skills (eg exam strategy, effective use of calculators, library and referencing, avoiding plagiarism, problem solving and personal development planning etc) and IT skills.

  • This module builds upon prior knowledge gained at A-level with respect to: atomic and molecular structure within various bonding models; nomenclature and chemistry of organic functional groups, as well as inter-conversion and synthesis and the laws of kinetics and thermodynamics and its application within simple chemical and pharmaceutical systems.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Determine the nuclear and electronic structure of atoms and use this knowledge to predict the properties of the elements. Predict the bonding and structure of simple organic and inorganic molecules.
    • Name mono- and multi-functional organic molecules, and distinguish and identify stereoisomers using cis/trans, E/Z and R/S notation.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of the reactions and associated mechanisms of alkenes, alkynes, benzene and alkyl halides. Describe synthetic routes towards, and typical reactions of alcohols, amines, ethers, epoxides, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, acid chlorides, anhydrides, esters and amides
    • Perform simple synthesis experiments in a safe manner. These include refluxing, liquid/liquid separations, recrystalising and melting point determination; Write a structured scientific practical report.
    • Explain the significance and perform calculations using the laws of thermodynamics, and correctly use the term entropy and enthalpy.
    • Evaluate and explain the kinetics and rate constant for an unknown reaction, classifying it as zero, first, second or 'other' order; Perform Born-Haber cycle calculation on simple chemical examples; Identify heat and work terms and apply them to simple first-law calculations.
  • This module introduces the fundamental principles of the biochemical processes that occur within the cell.  he module deals with prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure, basic tissue types, microbial entities and organisms that include; viruses, bacteria and fungi. In addition, It is designed to introduce cell biology and microbiology, particularly with reference to human physiology and the pathological microorganisms affecting it. The module progresses from the subcellular through to the cellular and then to tissues and a few selected organ systems; examining the mechanisms that maintain homeostatic balance.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the major cell components of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, their chemical metabolites and macromolecular components, together with the structure and composition of cellular entities including; chromosomes, genes, membranes and organelles.
    • Describe the variety of organisms studied in the discipline of microbiology and the fundamental aspects of disease caused by microbial organisms.
    • Explain the common metabolic pathways involved in the anabolism and catabolism of simple and complex molecules and their control and regulation.
    • Describe information storage and utilisation within cells.
    • Discuss the structural and functional characteristics of major tissue types of the human body and relate the importance of the variety of organ systems in the body to homeostatic mechanisms.

Year 2

  • This module aims to develop the knowledge of both organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry in organic chemical reactivity as well as the basic mechanisms of drug addiction. The module deals with the methodology of organic synthesis following concepts dealt with at Level 4 to include important organic chemistry topics such carbanion reactivity of carbonyl compounds, the reactions of aromatic and heteroaromatic compounds, stereochemistry, asymmetric synthesis and retrosynthesis. In addition, the module deals with complex biological response, drug design and the role within the pharmaceutical industry. The use of spectroscopic techniques structure elucidation is also studied.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the synthesis, properties, reactivity and applications of aromatic and carbonyl compounds, particularly enolates, in synthetic and pharmaceutical chemistry.
    • Discuss advanced stereochemistry concepts including the importance of stereochemistry in the design of drugs and the resolution and the synthesis of chiral compounds.
    • Describe the structures and properties of simple molecules of biological importance such as proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids.
    • Apply the principles of retrosynthetic analysis, chemoselectivity and protecting group strategy to devise potential routes for the synthesis of organic compounds.
    • Discuss the role of SAR, organic synthesis and other approaches to drug design and drug delivery and the structure, function and mode of action of therapeutic drugs.
    • Contribute to team work and present the team results using key communication skills.
  • This module incorporates elements of pharmacology, toxicology, immunology and pharmaceutics (including formulation science). The module gives a grounding in the processes of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion which underlies many of the toxicological and pharmacological effects of biological agents. In addition, how drug formulation affects the bioavailability of a drug and how the physiology of the human system affects these processes will be discussed. The module includes an introduction to immunology which is considered important as recent developments in drug development involve antibodies as therapeutic agents. Major factors involved in the effective and safe delivery of therapeutic agents to human populations will be reviewed.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate how different formulations of a medicinal product affect pharmacodynamics (how drugs cause change in the body) and pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion).
    • Outline the concepts of both the innate and adaptive immune system.
    • Examine the effects and response to environmental, chemical and microbial toxins.
    • Discuss the various types of dosage form design and explain the relevant physico-chemical principles involved in the choice of dosage form.
  • This module introduces the applications of analytical science within analytical biochemistry and builds upon the knowledge, practical skills and interpretation of skills whilst implementing the analytical process with scenario-based learning. The module deals with understanding sampling methods, sample preparation, errors and statistics and data recording as well as providing a theoretical understanding  and practical experience of the underlining principles of a range of analytical techniques instrumentation.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Use the application of the analytical process model, including method development to solve analytical problems.
    • Describe and explain the various chromatographic separation techniques (GC, LC, TLC and electrophoresis), as applied to pharmaceutical, life sciences and forensic applications.
    • Describe and explain the various spectroscopic and spectrometric techniques (IR, UV-VIS, and NMR).
    • Understand the principle of absorption and emission of light as applied to AES and AAS to carry out elemental analysis of samples.
    • Understand the importance of hybrid techniques within analytical science.
    • Produce clear and comprehensive (unambiguous) raw data by working safely in a laboratory, carry out calculations from those results and draw valid conclusions to present a report carrying out the necessary statistical analysis.
  • This module deals with new laboratory techniques to enable development of practical skills and data interpretation through a range of experiments that encompass organic synthesis, drug formulation and pharmacology/immunology. The module aims to provide the skills and methodologies to partake in a research programme, such as literature searching, data analysis and producing a short critical analysis of a research article.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Employ a variety of practical techniques to prepare isolate, purify and identify synthesised compounds and/or drugs/metabolites.
    • Use appropriate computer-aided resources to complete assignments, draw chemical structures; to retrieve information from databases and analysis of data and/or research paper.
    • Demonstrate an awareness for research planning and execution.
    • Produce a short critical analysis of a current/topical research journal article.
    • Carry out research on potential careers open to pharmaceutical science graduates and to present and explain findings to peer group.
    • Plan and report practical work in a manner appropriate to the pharmaceutical industry.

Year 3

  • This module deals with aspects pertinent to a career in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The module aims to cover a wide range of topics and introduces macromolecules and biomaterials as part of drug delivery systems by viewing each step from synthesis, properties to final product to include polymers and biomaterials, green chemistry, patents, intellectual property, health and safety, and legislation.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Discuss specialised dosage forms eg drug-device combinations, sterile implants, transdermal patches, etc. 
    • Evaluate the issues affecting drug substance and drug product stability, including justification of packaging systems chosen as well as decomposition and drug-excipient interactions.            
    • Appraise the function of in-process testing, operational ranges and limits set for analyses during production, batch release, and shelf-life studies.
    • Understand the basics chemistry of what polymers are and discuss the range of physical and chemical properties which may be needed in commercial polymers and biomaterials, and describe how the required properties can be realised by choosing appropriate materials and processing in biomedical and industrial applications such as drug delivery, ophthalmology and medical prosthetics.
    • Understand the nature and structure of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry as well as how management and operational aspects of the industry is implemented, including patents and licences, legislation, health and safety, ethics and quality assurance.
    • Develop a knowledge of the fine chemical industry and to appreciate the principles of sustainable development, and what is meant by green chemistry, including recent successful developments in the fine chemical industry.
  • This module deals with the pharmacology involved in the treatment of various disease types and details the synthetic chemistry behind the development of drug molecules and evaluates the structure activity effects from pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic perspectives. The module also outlines the process for intellectual property protection and exploitation, toxicological events that might affect the body and the body's immunological response to toxic insult or disease.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a sound knowledge of the mode of action of a range of modern drugs against a number of disease states.
    • Demonstrate practical skills in drug synthesis and spectroscopic characterisation.
    • Critically evaluate the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic effects of changes to the structure of certain drugs and suggest appropriate synthetic methodology to accomplish this.
    • Describe a range of toxins and their effects on the body and how the body may respond.
    • Explain the process for patent protection and the steps involved in bringing a drug from bench to market.
  • The module builds upon and develops further, topics studied at Level 5, for example, stereoselective synthesis and retrosynthetic analysis. In addition, new topics are introduced such as pharmacognosy, combinatorial chemistry, photochemistry, free radical chemistry and pericyclic reactions. The lectures and associated workshops will encourage the development of problem solving and team working skills, in preparation for the workplace. These skills will be practised during laboratory-based exercises involving  group work with 'mini-projects" which will be assessed using a range of methodologies that include oral presentations, report writing and poster presentations.

    • Identify different types of natural products isolated from various sources and their mode of action.
    • Explain what is meant by polymer support synthesis and combinatorial chemistry using suitable examples from drug discovery and peptide synthesis.
    • Apply semi-synthetic, retrosynthetic and stereoselective strategies to selected case studies within drug development
    • Describe pericyclic reactions; (cycloaddition reactions, electrocyclic reactions and sigmatropic rearrangements) in terms of their Frontier Orbital interactions
    • Understand free radical chemistry and photochemistry (in terms of fluorescence, phosphorescence, Jablonski diagrams etc), and be able to apply these in the synthesis of organic compounds.
    • Develop problem solving and team-work skills.
  • This module deals with the themes of spectroscopy in the development of a more rigorous theoretical footing and advanced applications. In parallel to this, there is an introduction to  analytical themes covering radiochemical analysis, electroanalysis and thermal analysis.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of quality management systems relating to the analytical laboratory.
    • Apply the techniques and methods studied to routine and non-routine chemical problems, in various situations.
    • Critically compare and assess a variety of analytical techniques with regard to performance and applicability.
    • Design and carry out experiments to measure and subsequently interpret data, using techniques and concepts directly or indirectly related to those developed elsewhere in the module.

Year 4

  • This module expands on previously taught material to give a detailed understanding of the chemistry, processes and methodologies involved in developing modern pharmaceuticals from lead identification, medicinal design principles and process development leading up to industrial scale synthesis of the active ingredients. Detailed case studies of example diseases will be used to highlight the methodologies utilised by modern pharmaceutical companies in the design of current and future drugs.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of a number of key organic reaction mechanisms; examples include pericyclic, organometalic, and multicomponent couplings, with particular emphasis given towards methods for the efficient synthesis of chiral molecules.
    • Show a detailed knowledge of the general strategies utilised by modern pharmaceutical companies in the development of treatments for disease.
    • Have an awareness of target therapeutic areas and show a detailed knowledge of major cellular components of key diseases as foundation for identifying and rationalising 'drugable' targets.
    • Rationalise the mode of action of a selection of important drugs, for example anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressants.
    • Show an advanced understanding of a selection of modern spectroscopic and synthetic techniques used within modern pharmaceutical companies.
  • This module introduces you to the different phases and types of clinical trials and the associated legal, regulatory and ethical issues. This includes statistical data analyses and how to manage and review clinical trial data in relation to evidence- based medicine. The technology and application of the manufacture of various medicine formulations are discussed and the place of biotechnological products introduced. The module also covers elements of medicines regulation with particular reference to the UK and European Union. Regulations are dealt with both within a general framework and specific areas including manufacturing, dealing with specialist products, regulation in clinical use, and licensing. 

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Explain the different types of preclinical and clinical trials, their application in terms of comparative values and safety and the associated ethical considerations.
    • Correlate and analyse data from and assess outcomes of both clinical trials and post-marketing pharmacovigilance data.
    • Critically evaluate clinical trial procedures to ensure compliance with Good Clinical and Manufacturing Practices and legislation (European and other).
    • Link the role of trials to the introduction of medical products and devices that have been granted Marketing Authorisations ie the approved uses, including the limitations that trial results may have on the commercial products
    • Review and design a viable strategy for targeting disease states that are appropriate for successful therapeutic management.
    • Contrast drugs belonging to a designated therapeutic area but originate from different sources, in terms of production, mode of action, and efficacy in the patient including regulatory concerns.
  • This module is designed to foment the necessary conceptual and practical skills in research, which are immediately applicable across disciplines and to enable the development of communications skills for the dissemination of the outcomes of research. Where possible, research should be communicated via publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Locate and use a variety of online databases to access the leading research within a given subject area and use the literature to identify gaps in our understanding.
    • Design robust experiments and have the necessary skill to setup the practical elements and follow COSSH and HSE guidelines.
    • Critically analyse the results of experiments and comprehensively interpret the data obtained.
    • Draw conclusions and evaluate the limitations of the results obtained and prepare and disseminate this information through a variety of media.

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Study abroad as part if your degreeMost of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

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