MSc Pharmaceutical Analysis

Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time
  • 1st in the UK for Pharmacology & Pharmacy (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024)

Study with us

  • gain skills in the analytical techniques used to detect, identify and quantify drugs and related substances
  • examine strategies for analytical research and development 
  • gain experience in instrumentation and techniques
  • gain specialised knowledge of the analytical techniques used to detect, identify and quantitatively determine drugs and related substances
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Why this course?

The course provides specialised knowledge of the analytical techniques used to detect, identify and quantitatively determine drugs and related substances. You'll be introduced to techniques for evaluating analytical data and validating analytical methods and examine strategies for analytical research and development.

You’ll gain practical experience in a wide range of modern instrumentation and techniques.

What you’ll study

The course consists of four theory and two practical modules running between October and April followed by examinations.

If you pass all exams and wish to proceed to the MSc, you’ll undertake a 10-week research project. This will be in the University or at an external company or organisation. You’ll submit your thesis at the end of August.

Course video

Find out more about our Pharmaceutical Analysis course:


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Course content

Essential Skills and Employability for Masters Students (20 credits)

This module will illustrate the many sources of scientific information available electronically. It will also show how to construct effective search protocols to find relevant information and present it using graphical means and oral presentations.

It will enable you to understand, choose and use appropriate statistical methods to aid the collection and interpretation of data in biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, and associated industries.

You'll be encouraged to engage in debate on:

  • scientific hypotheses
  • regulatory affairs & research funding
  • in vivo experimentation
  • human stem cell therapies

You'll be introduced to the concepts of:

  • skills evaluation and personal effectiveness
  • time management, planning and Gannt charts
  • decision-making processes and review
  • information and data management
  • good laboratory practice
  • peer interaction, communication and networking
  • preparing a CV, career planning and applying for future positions

Chemical Analysis: Principles, Applications & Methods (20 credits)

In this module you'll develop an integrated knowledge and ability to apply the principles of chemical analysis (titrimetry), gaining theoretical and practical skills in the quantitative/qualitative analysis of drugs and related substances, including their effectiveness.

It also aims to provide an understanding of:

  • the physicochemical properties of drug substances
  • the stability of drugs or formulations
  • the basic calculations used in the analysis of drugs
  • the principles and application of method validation in analytical procedures

Spectroscopy: Principles, Application & Methods (20 credits)

This module will provide you with detailed knowledge of a variety of spectrophotometric techniques used in the quantitative/qualitative analysis of drugs and related substances. The lectures are integrated with 'real world' examples in the use of each technique in the quantitative/ qualitative analysis of pharmaceuticals and related substances to ensure you have the ability to apply learnt principles.

Techniques studied include:

  • UV/visible spectrophotometry
  • fluorescence spectrophotometry
  • infrared spectrophotometry
  • near infrared spectrophotometry
  • raman spectrophotometry
  • nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • mass spectrometry - lectures and workshops cover both electron impact and atmospheric ionisation techniques (electrospray and chemical ionisation)

The module also provides an understanding of the application of UV, IR, NMR and MS techniques in the structural elucidation of known (and new) drugs and/or chemical entities.

Principles, Application & Method Development in Chromatography (20 credits)

In this module you'll develop an integrated knowledge and ability to apply the principles of separation (chromatographic) techniques and methods in the quantitative/qualitative analysis of drugs and related substances. Techniques studied include:

  • thin Layer Chromatography
  • gas Chromatography
  • high Performance Liquid Chromatography
  • capillary Electrophoresis

Bioanalysis, Biotechnology & Quality and Management (20 credits)

This module aims to give you a thorough understanding of the procedures used to analyse drugs in biological matrices. You'll also obtain a thorough understanding of the procedures used to assure quality in both synthetic and biotechnologically produced drugs.

Bioanalytical & Chromatographic Methods (20 credits)

This module is laboratory based and is used to develop practical lab skills of relevance to current industrial and academic practice. It has been designed to enable you to develop an integrated knowledge base and critical understanding of the practical skills relating to the pharmaceutical analysis and quality control of medicinal products, as preparation for progress to practice as a pharmaceutical analyst.

The module provides an appreciation of chromatographic techniques used in the qualitative, quantitative analysis of pharmaceutical substances and ingredients in formulations.

Research Project (60 credits)

Students who pass the necessary number of modules passes are eligible to do a research project to gain the required number of credits for an MSc.

The research project takes place over ten weeks from May until the end of August. Projects can be internal (within SIPBS) or external.

We have external placements within pharmaceutical companies, other Universities, government/European bodies and other industries. We aim to place as many students as we can in external placements. Internal placements are conducted with members of staff from SIPBS, usually within an area of active research within the department. These internal projects are by no means inferior to external placements, and students regularly achieve their name on scientific publications from these projects.

Learning & teaching

The course is taught by experts based in the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences.

Teaching of theory and applications is through lectures, tutorials and web-based learning. The material is further reinforced with practical sessions which provide you with hands-on experience in a wide range of modern instrumental techniques.


Assessment is through written and practical exams and submission of a thesis (MSc students only).


On this programme you'll benefit from regular laboratory sessions in our refurbished and well-equipped teaching laboratories within the institute. In addition, together with our industrial partners Shimadzu, we have established a new state-of-the-art high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectroscopy laboratory. As Pharmaceutical Analysis students you'll benefit from extensive use of these facilities to further develop and refine your analytical skills. This enhanced practical experience makes our graduates extremely attractive to potential employers.

Teaching staff

Dr David Breen, Course Leader - Dr Breen leads the team which delivers the MSc Pharmaceutical Analysis. On this course he teaches chemical and spectroscopic analysis and method development and validation. David also has an interest is the development of bioanalytical methods and coordinates and delivers a class on this topic. His research interests are focussed on the development of sustainable analytical development, and the implementation of green analytical principles.

Dr Iain D H Oswald - Dr Oswald is part of the team that teaches spectroscopic methods such as IR, spectrofluorimetry and circular dichroism. His research focuses on materials at high pressure and he has a general interest in the solid-state and polymorphism/co-crystallisation of materials.

Dr Christine Dufès - Dr Dufès teaches Binding Assays on the MSc course. Her research interests are:

  • design and development of novel tumour-targeted anti-cancer therapeutic systems
  • design and development of novel therapeutic systems able to reach the brain after systemic administration, with the ultimate aim to facilitate drug delivery to brain tumours and neurodegenerative disorders

Dr RuAngelie Edrada-Ebel - Dr Edrada-Ebel teaches NMR spectroscopy and Mass Spectrometry in Pharmaceutical Analysis. Her research focuses on natural products chemistry of macro-organisms and micro-organisms from both the marine and the terrestrial habitats.

Guest lectures

Students on this course will have the opportunity to learn from a range of external sources. As part of our Chromatography module, you'll spend some time working with Professor Mel Eurby, an internationally recognised leader in the development of new chromatographic methods and technologies.

As part of our Bioanalytical & Quality Management module you'll have the opportunity to interact with Dr Chris Burgess, Managing Director of Burgess Analytical Consultancy, who has worked with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies to develop robust and effective quality management systems. Professor Alistair Davidson and Professor John Miller will also contribute to the quality management content on the course, having both spent several years involved in developing and producing the British and European pharmacopeia, with roles across a range of regulatory bodies.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Minimum second-class (2:2) honours degree, or international equivalent, in an appropriate science.

English language requirements

You must have an English language minimum score of IELTS 6.0 (with no component below 5.5).

We offer comprehensive English language courses for students whose IELTS scores are below 6.0. Please see ELTD for full details.

As a university, we now accept many more English language tests in addition to IELTS for overseas applicants, for example, TOEFL and PTE Cambridge. View the full list of accepted English language tests.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non-UK/Ireland) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde.

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Please note: Previous Maths & English qualifications and your undergraduate degree must meet GTCS minimum entry requirements as well as the pre-Masters course and an interview will be conducted before an offer can be made.

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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year (or studying standalone modules) should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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England, Wales & Northern Ireland




Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Additional costs

Course materials

You'll have to pay extra for your lab coat and safety goggles. All recommended textbooks are available in the library (and some freely available as online resources). However you may wish to purchase your own copies.

Other costs

There are returnable deposits for entry keycards and lockers (depending on your project location within Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences).

International students

If you are an international student, you may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information. 

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

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Many of our graduates obtain positions in the pharmaceutical & chemical industries and some have continued into PhD research. Previous graduates of the course include a number of world-renowned academics and leaders of international organisations such the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Pharmacopoeia Laboratory.

Where are they now?

88.9% of our graduates are in work or further study.*

Job titles include:

  • Analyst of Pharmaceutical Products
  • Analytical Assistant
  • Lab Scientist

Employers include:

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ferring Pharmaceuticals
  • Ministry of Health
  • Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare Ltd

*Based on the results of the Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19 by the Higher Education Statistics Agency

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There is currently no deadline for submitting applications. However, we encourage you to apply early as we consider applications on a first come, first served basis, and may introduce an application deadline due to high demand.

Start date: Sep 2024

Pharmaceutical Analysis

Start date: Sep 2024

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Contact us

PGT Admissions Team

Telephone: +44 (0)141 553 6023


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