MChemChemistry with Drug Discovery

Why this course?

This course is unique in Scotland. It trains a new generation of biologically and pharmaceutically-aware chemistry graduates whose mission is to invent better, safer drugs to fight and cure disease.

This Integrated Masters degree is taught in partnership with the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and is designed in consultation with the major UK drug manufacturers. Researchers at Strathclyde have made real and significant contributions to the fight against disease.

In this course, you’ll study core chemistry classes blended with specialist courses on disease targets, design of selectively-acting prototype drugs, synthetic and mimetic strategies in producing drug prototypes, and the refinement of promising compounds.

We have a strong relationship with GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, which improves job prospects after graduation.

Graduates of this course have excellent opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry as well as all the usual careers open to a professionally-accredited chemist.

You can study at a European university for one year of your degree. You can also spend your placement year abroad.

It’s possible to switch between the other MChem courses and also the following shorter BSc degrees within the first three years:

  • BSc (Hons) Chemistry
  • BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Analytical Chemistry
  • BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Forensic Chemistry
  • BSc (Hons) Chemistry with Drug Discovery

What you’ll study

You'll study foundation classes in Chemistry and Mathematics, and Physics or Biology at introductory or advanced level. You'll also attend specialist classes such as Use and Abuse of Drugs in Society and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Development.

In later years, you'll study subjects including Fundamental Inorganic, Organic and Biological and Physical Chemistry and laboratory work increases.

In Year 4, you'll undertake a paid 12-month industrial placement, normally in the pharmaceutical industry.

In Year 5, you'll specialise in the areas and applications that interest you most and undertake a research project.

Work placement

You’ll normally undertake a paid 12-month placement in industry, normally in the pharmaceutical industry, either in the UK or abroad. Research and Knowledge Exchange placements within the Chemistry Clinic are also available.


The Strathclyde chemistry industrial placement scheme is one of the longest-running in the UK and more than 70 students are placed with companies each year.

High Flyer Programme

Well-qualified applicants with appropriate A Levels and Advanced Highers will be admitted to the Faculty of Science prestigious 'High Flyer' Programme, which allows students to complete an Honours degree in three years and an Integrated Masters degree in four. If you are studying the relevant subjects you may receive a dual offer, specifying grades to direct entry to Year 2 as a High Flyer and also standard Year 1 entry.

Find out more about our High Flyer Programme.

Major projects

You’ll complete a research project in one of our specialist research laboratories in your final year when you'll work with full-time researchers on real chemistry challenges.

Postgraduate study

Many graduates from this course go on to complete a PhD in chemistry at Strathclyde or elsewhere. This course equips you for life after graduation, be that employment or further study.

Student competitions

Strathclyde chemistry students also compete successfully for national awards. In recent years, our students have won:

  • Salters’ Graduate prize (£1,000)
  • Low Carbon Undergraduate of the Year Award
  • Carnegie Scholarship
  • Most Meritorious Student award from the Forensic Science Society

The Dean of Science recognises exceptional performance each year through the Dean’s certificate for the best students in the Faculty. Students can also win prizes including:

  • P&G Bursary (£1,000 a year plus a one-year paid Industrial Placement)
  • Chemistry International Alumni Ambassadors UG award for overseas travel (£1,000)
  • The RSC Prize in Analytical Chemistry
  • Andersonian Centenary Medal Prize
  • Beilby and Huddleston Prize
  • ICI Chemical and Polymers Group Andersonian Centenary Prize
  • GlaxoSmithKline Prize
  • Syngenta Prize
  • Group third-year Poster Competition sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline


Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry for the purpose of fully meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Chemist.

Course content

Year 1

Personal Development Planning (PDP)
You normally have the same Personal Development Adviser (PDA) throughout your degree. PDP is an important part of learning and personal development. It's not only associated with your university course, it allows you to plan for the future.
Chemistry: Principles & Practice 1 & 2
These lectures and tutorials cover all the broad areas of chemistry including: Analytical Chemistry, Structure & Bonding, Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Spectroscopy.
Practical & Transferable Skills
All students have one laboratory class per week which runs in both Semester 1 and Semester 2.
Aims to give a basic understanding of mathematical functions, differentiation, integration, complex numbers, matrices and vectors.
Molecular Bioscience
Covers cellular structure and function and is concerned with the chemical basis of life and the fundamentals of cell biochemistry. The molecular basis of inheritance, human genetics, genes and the environment are also covered.
Elective classes

You can select elective classes freely from the University timetable subject to your possessing appropriate entrance qualifications, there being places available, and the times do not clash with compulsory chemistry classes.

Subjects are available in:

  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Arts & Humanities

Chemistry students are provided with a list of classes where the timetable is suitable, although other options are also available. Students often choose a language class as an elective.

Year 2

Inorganic Chemistry
Aims to provide a broad knowledge of the important concepts in inorganic chemistry from which more specialist topics can be tackled. This includes investigation of the chemistry of the main group and transition metals and introduces topics at the forefront of inorganic and materials chemistry.
Fundamental Organic Chemistry
Covers the fundamental principles of infra-red, ultra-violet, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy; develops competence in the interpretation of spectra and the students’ awareness of the role of spectroscopic techniques. It will also develop knowledge of reactions, understanding of mechanisms and appreciation of the role of reactivity in organic chemistry.
Physical Chemistry 1

This class provides a broad knowledge of the important concepts in Thermodynamics, investigating the major features as applied to chemical systems. Topics include:

  • the importance of reaction rates in chemical systems
  • concepts of the electrode/solution interface
  • equilibrium and electron transfer kinetics
  • mass transport
  • the composition and utilisation of fossil fuels with their environmental pollutants
  • nuclear and renewable energy sources

This class provides an introduction to:

  • thermodynamics, and its application to pharmaceutical systems
  • chemical kinetics, and the stability of drug molecules
  • the solid state, where a knowledge of crystal structure often explains drug properties
  • dissolution and solubility, and their importance to drug absorption
  • surface chemistry, and the role of surface-active compounds in formulation in the solubilisation of drug molecules

Year 3

Study abroad

Students have the option to spend third year studying abroad in a sister University in the European Union or the European Free Trade Area.

We're leading practitioners of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), designed to simplify and facilitate the planning and recognition of periods of study in other universities. Additional EU funding under the ERASMUS programme may be available to some students each year to supplement their SAAS grants.

There will also be opportunities to spend third year at one of the premier universities in the USA or in Canada, but you'll have to find some money towards the costs.

Physical Chemistry 2

Provides an understanding of intermolecular forces and their importance in defining key aspects of chemical behaviour and molecular organisation. The class introduces:

  • surface chemistry and the common systems in which it plays a major role
  • the electronic structure of atoms and molecules through the prism of quantum chemistry
  • group theory and how it can be applied to the determination of the symmetry of molecules and their properties
  • the principles of bonding in molecules as described by valence bond and molecular orbital theories
Practical Physical, Applied & Drug Discovery Chemistry

Students conduct experiments in physical and applied chemistry and in chemistry relating to drug discovery, gaining practical experience of theoretic aspects of physical, applied and synthetic medicinal chemistry covered in lectures.

You'll develop:

  • laboratory skills
  • skills in physical chemistry & analytical observation
  • the use of statistical methods
  • synthetic medicinal chemistry & analysis
  • applications of spectroscopy & common instrumental techniques
  • the writing of laboratory reports
Practical Organic & Inorganic Chemistry
You'll receive a practical demonstration of topics contained in the lectures. You'll develop basic laboratory skills in preparative chemistry and analysis, and gain experience in the applications of spectroscopy and common instrumental techniques.
Chemical Biology

This course will provide a detailed overview on the structure, function and chemistry of biological macromolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates. Topics include:

  • protein & nucleic acid folding
  • energetics of macromolecular interactions (kinetics & thermodynamics)
  • mechanistic enzymology

The overarching theme in this course is that structure and function are intimately linked.

Intermediate Organic Chemistry & Spectroscopy

This class teaches modern NMR spectroscopy as it is applied to chemistry. It covers skills for handling and interpreting NMR data for the purposes of chemical structure elucidation.

The theoretical basis of the NMR experiment using the vector formalism. The reactivities of organic molecules. Organic syntheses using the disconnection approach. The synthesis and reactivities of electron-poor and electron-rich heterocyclic molecules. Also provides an insight into the role of computational chemistry in chemical research and training in the use of modern computational chemistry software.

Inorganic Chemistry, Structures & Spectroscopy
This class provides a more advanced view of main group and transition metal coordination and organometallic chemistry. Themes covered include:
  • ligands & their influence on complexes
  • trends in structure & bonding, stereochemistry
  • reactivity & the application of spectroscopic & other methods of identification
  • modern spectroscopy as it is applied in chemistry

Year 4

Core Chemistry for Drug Discovery
Information to follow.


Assessment methods include short answer class tests, multiple choice tests, end of year examinations, oral presentation and group project work. Good performance in chemistry classes in Year 1 leads to exemption from the final exam.

Learning & teaching

Each year contains compulsory classes and some years contain either optional classes, which relate to different areas of chemistry and/or elective classes from other subject areas in the University.

In Years 1 to 3, lectures give you the essential knowledge and understanding required by all chemistry graduates. This is supported by small and large group tutorials. Chemistry is a practical subject and you'll gain training in all branches of mainstream practical chemistry.

Your fourth year is a 12-month industrial placement. You’ll continue your studies through distance learning assignments.

In your final year, you’ll study advanced chemistry and complete an independent research project in your chosen field.

Guest lectures

The Andersonian Chemical Society (the longest-running student organisation in the UK) organises guest speakers and other events, including very popular social events.

Entry requirements

Required subjects are indicated following typically accepted grades.


Standard entry requirements

Year 1 entry: AABB or AAAC (Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Biology/Human Biology, English preferred as fourth subject)

Advanced Higher Chemistry and Maths recommended for S6 study

A Levels/Advanced Highers*

Year 2 entry: ABB (Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Biology)

Typical entry requirements: AAA

Please note if you are taking the newly-reformed Chemistry A Level, we will require you to pass the practical assessment included in the A Level.

International Baccalaureate*

Year 2 entry: 34 (Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Biology all at HL)


Year 1 entry: possible with relevant HNC, A in Graded Unit

Year 2 entry: possible with relevant HND, AAA in Graded Units

*Those with A Levels, Advanced Highers or IB HL in only two of the preferred subjects will be considered for Year 1 entry

Additional information

  • Deferred entry accepted
  • UCAS personal statements and references will also be taken into account

Widening access

We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. Strathclyde selects our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer. We look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.

Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.

International students

Find out entry requirements for your country.

Degree preparation course for international students

We offer international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing an Undergraduate Foundation year programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.

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

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

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


  • 2019/20: £1,820

Rest of UK

  • 2019/20: £9,250

Assuming no change in Rest of UK fees policy over the period, the total amount payable by undergraduate students will be capped. For students commencing study in 2017/18, this is capped at £27,750 (with the exception of the MPharm and Integrated Masters courses); MPharm students pay £9,250 for each of the four years. Students studying on Integrated Masters degree programmes pay an additional £9,250 for the Masters year with the exception of those undertaking a full-year industrial placement where a separate placement fee will apply.


  • 2019/20: £18,950

University preparation programme fees

International students can find out more about the costs and payments of studying a university preparation programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.

Additional fees 

Course materials & costs

Lab coats and safety goggles:

  • approx £25

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

How can I fund my studies?

Students from Scotland and the EU

If you're a Scottish or EU student, you may be able to apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Scottish students may also be eligible for a bursary and loan to help cover living costs while at University.

For more information on funding your studies have a look at our University Funding page.

Students from England, Wales & Northern Ireland

We have a generous package of bursaries on offer for students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales

You don’t need to make a separate application for these. When your place is confirmed at Strathclyde, we’ll assess your eligibility. Have a look at our scholarship search for any more funding opportunities.

International Students (Non UK, EEA)

We have a number of scholarships available to international students. Take a look at our scholarship search to find out more.

Available scholarships

We have a wide range of scholarships available. Have a look at our scholarship search to find a scholarship.


This course maximises your opportunity of employment in the medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical industries.

The degree was designed with advice from pharmaceutical companies resulting in graduates who are knowledgeable and accomplished practical chemists with good team-work and communication skills.

There’s a continuous demand for chemistry graduates. Our graduates compete successfully for jobs in all branches of the chemical industry. These are well-rewarded careers that allow you to go on to supervisory or management roles. Your chances of employment are substantially increased by the industrial placement and training.

Your skills will also be in demand in other areas. A study of chemistry helps you develop logical thought and numerical skills and the ability to write accurate and concise reports. As a result, our chemists are in demand in national and local government, in hospitals and in education at all levels.

This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry and graduates are eligible to apply for the status of Chartered Chemist, the qualification recognised in the UK and EU for professional chemists.

How much will I earn?

The average salary for a research scientist working in drug discovery is £34,000.*

*Information is intended only as a guide.

Contact us


How to apply – 10 things you need to know

  1. All undergraduate applications are made through UCAS
    Go to the UCAS website to apply – you can apply for up to five courses.
  2. It costs £12 to apply for a course
    The cost is £23 for two to five courses.
  3. The deadline is 15 January each year
    This is the application deadline for most courses. However, please check the details for your particular course. View a full list of UCAS key dates.

    Applications are still welcome from international students (non-EU) and those living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  4. You might be asked to attend an interview
    Most of our courses make offers based on the UCAS application. However some might ask you to attend an interview or for a portfolio of work. If this is the case, this will be stated in the prospectus entry requirements.
  5. It’s possible to apply directly to Year 2
    Depending on your qualifications, you might be able to apply directly to Year 2 - or even Year 3 - of a course. Speak to the named contact for your course if you want to discuss this.
  6. There’s three types of decision
    • unconditional – you’ve already met our entry requirements
    • conditional – we’ll offer you a place if you meet certain conditions, usually based on your exams
    • unsuccessful – we’ve decided not to offer you a place
  7. You need to contact UCAS to accept your offer
    Once you’ve decided which course you’d like to accept, you must let UCAS know. You don’t need to decide until you’ve received all offers. UCAS will give you a deadline you must respond by.

    You’ll choose one as your firm choice. If the offer is unconditional or if you meet the conditions, this is the course you’ll study.

    You’ll also have an insurance choice. This is a back-up option if you don’t meet the conditions of your first choice.
  8. You don’t need to send us your exam results (Scotland, England & Wales)
    If you’re studying in Scotland, England or Wales, we receive a copy of your Higher/Advanced Higher/A Level results directly from the awarding body. However, if you are studying a different qualification, then please contact us to arrange to send your results directly.
  9. We welcome applications from international students

    Find out further information about our entry and English language requirements.

    International students who don’t meet the entry requirements, can apply for our pre-undergraduate programmes.

    There’s also an online application form.

    For further information:
  10. Here’s a really useful video to help you apply

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