MChem Chemistry with Drug Discovery


Key facts

  • UCAS Code: F190
  • Accreditation: Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Ranked: 3rd for Pharmacology & Pharmacy (Complete University Guide Subject Tables 2024) / Top 10 for Chemistry (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023)

  • Work placement: 12-month paid placement - UK or abroad

Study with us

  • the only course of its kind in Scotland
  • trains a new generation of biologically and pharmaceutically-aware chemistry graduates whose mission is to invent better, safer drugs to fight and cure disease
  • 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
  • we have a strong relationship with GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, which improves job prospects after graduation
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Why this course?

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.

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

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

What you’ll study

You'll study foundation classes in Chemistry and Mathematics, and Physics or Biology at an 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.

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)
  • Group third-year Poster Competition sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline
  • 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


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

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Course content

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.

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

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

Core Chemistry for Drug Discovery

Information to follow.

Work placement

You’ll undertake a paid 12-month placement in the pharmaceutical industry, either in the UK or abroad. Research and Knowledge Exchange placements within the Department's '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.

More about the industrial placement scheme

The Chemistry Clinic

Find out more about the work of the Chemistry Clinic.

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. 


Assessment methods include short answer class tests, multiple-choice tests, end of year examinations, oral presentation and group project work.

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.

Our students

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Entry requirements

Entry requirements are for September 2023 entry.

Required subjects are shown in brackets.

Students joining our MChem Chemistry with Drug Discovery may transfer into the following BSc degrees from year 2 onward:

  • Chemistry
  • Chemistry with Drug Discovery
  • Forensic & Analytical Chemistry

Standard entry requirements*:

Year 1 entry: AABB/AAAC

(Chemistry B, Maths B, and Biology/Human Biology)

Advanced Higher Chemistry and Maths recommended for S6 study and to compensate for missed Higher grades in S5.

Minimum entry requirements**:


(Chemistry B, Maths B and Biology/Human Biology)

Advanced Higher Chemistry and Maths recommended for S6 study and to compensate for missed Higher grades in S5.

Applicants with grades slightly below the minimum requirements may be considered for admission subject to successful completion of the Strathclyde STEM Summer School.

Advanced Highers

Year 2 entry: ABB

(Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Biology)

A Levels

Standard entry requirements*:

Year 1 entry: ABB

(Chemistry and one of Maths, Physics or Biology)

Year 2 entry: ABB

(Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Biology)

International Baccalaureate

Standard entry requirements*:

Year 2 entry: 34

(Chemistry, Maths, Physics or Biology all at HL)

Year 1 entry: 34

(Chemistry at HL and one of Maths, Physics or Biology at HL)


Year 1 entry: relevant HNC, A in Graded Unit

Year 2 entry: relevant HND, AAA in Graded Units

International students

View the entry requirements for your country.

Deferred entry


*Standard entry requirements

Offers are made in accordance with specified entry requirements although admission to undergraduate programmes is considered on a competitive basis and entry requirements stated are normally the minimum level required for entry.

Whilst offers are made primarily on the basis of an applicant meeting or exceeding the stated entry criteria, admission to the University is granted on the basis of merit, and the potential to succeed. As such, a range of information is considered in determining suitability.

In exceptional cases, where an applicant does not meet the competitive entry standard, evidence may be sought in the personal statement or reference to account for performance which was affected by exceptional circumstances, and which in the view of the judgement of the selector would give confidence that the applicant is capable of completing the programme of study successfully.

**Minimum entry requirements

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

Contextual Admissions for 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.

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'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

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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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 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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  • 2024/25: TBC
  • 2023/24: £1,820

Fees for students who meet the relevant residence requirements in Scotland are subject to confirmation by the Scottish Funding Council. Scottish undergraduate students undertaking an exchange for a semester/year will continue to pay their normal tuition fees at Strathclyde and will not be charged fees by the overseas institution.

England, Wales & Northern Ireland


Assuming no change in fees policy over the period, the total amount payable by undergraduate students will be capped. For students commencing study in 2024/25, this is capped at £27,750 (with the exception of the MPharm and integrated Masters programmes), 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.



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.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Additional costs
  • lab coats and safety goggles (approximately £30)
  • molecular modelling kits are recommended but are not a compulsory requirement (£20)
  • class materials (such as lecture notes and exercise sheets) for PAC classes are freely available for download
  • for some classes students may wish to supplement their material by accessing textbooks which are in the range of £40 to £80 - however all recommended reading texts are available in the library

International students: International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

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?

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Students from Scotland

Fees for students who meet the relevant residence requirements in Scotland, 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.

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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.

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International Students

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

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

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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.

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Start date: Sep 2024

Chemistry with Drug Discovery (1 year entry)

Start date: Sep 2024

UCAS Applications

Apply through UCAS if you are a UK applicant. International applicants may apply through UCAS if they are applying to more than one UK University.

Apply now

Direct Applications

Our Direct applications service is for international applicants who wish to apply to Strathclyde University at this time.

Apply now

Start date:

Chemistry with Drug Discovery (1 year entry)

Start date: Sep 2024

Chemistry with Drug Discovery (2 year entry)

Start date: Sep 2024

UCAS Applications

Apply through UCAS if you are a UK applicant. International applicants may apply through UCAS if they are applying to more than one UK University.

Apply now

Direct Applications

Our Direct applications service is for international applicants who wish to apply to Strathclyde University at this time.

Apply now

Start date:

Chemistry with Drug Discovery (2 year entry)

Back to course

Contact us

Find out more about the programme

Roslyn Nimmo

Admissions Assistant

Telephone: +44 (0)141 548 2282


Dr Fraser Scott

Academic Selector

Telephone: +44 (0)141 548 2800


Charlie O’Hara

Director of Teaching

Telephone: 0141 548 3537