MSci Pharmacology and Drug Discovery

Full Time
Degree of Master of Sciences

UCAS Course Code
A-Level typical
AAB (2019/0 entry) See All Requirements
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How can we support an ageing population and fight the increasing number of cases of diseases such as cancer? How can we help the one in four people suffering from mental health issues? These are just some of the challenges you’ll explore on our pharmacology and drug discovery degree. You’ll be able to apply your passion for chemistry and biology and put it to use for the good of human health, developing the life-changing medicines of the future.

Study in the internationally renowned School of Pharmacy, with world-class research in areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, antibiotic resistance and tissue engineering.  Our research-rich environment is pivotal to the Pharmacology Drug Discovery course, which has been designed to prepare you for a career at the forefront of pharmaceutical research.


Pharmacology is the study of drugs and their effects on living organisms. You’ll examine the way drugs work to combat disease and, combined with drug discovery, you will learn how new drugs are designed, synthesised and manufactured. The Pharmacology Drug Discovery programme is the only MSci of its type in the UK and is innovative in it’s multidisciplinary approach.

The course brings together scientific disciplines - biology, chemistry and physical sciences – around the context of disease and medicines.  Within integrated modules, you’ll learn about the major diseases and science behind the drugs used to treat them. We also include business studies to provide you with an understanding of management practice focussed around the pharmaceutical industry; vital tools to working in today’s corporate world.

You’ll be taught by academic researchers including pharmacologists, cell biologists, medicinal and pharmaceutical chemists, whose own research is in pharmacology and drug discovery.  The course is designed to inform and inspire your journey to becoming a researcher in the pharmaceutical sciences.  For example, in practical classes you’ll gain experience of synthetic medicinal chemistry as well as techniques in current molecular pharmacology – the techniques used in the discovery of new medicines.  You’ll learn about designing experiments and how to write reports in the form of a scientific papers.  A highlight of the course will be performing your own original research in an individual project carried out within an active research laboratory.   

You’ll be taught by a dedicated team of academic staff, including pharmacologists, cell biologists and medicinal chemists. Their teaching and assessment methods include practical lab work, problem-based learning, research and business management projects. So you can be sure you’ll receive world-class teaching in biology, chemistry and pharmacology, preparing you for a range of exciting careers in academia, health or the pharmaceutical industry. 

Course Structure

Year 1

In your first year you’ll gain a solid base for understanding how drugs work, what they target, and how they’re developed. You’ll be introduced to medicinal chemistry, principles of pharmacology and neuropharmacology, drug delivery and pharmacokinetics.  You’ll then apply your knowledge in laboratory practicals.

You’ll also take a course in business studies at the Norwich Business School, which will provide you with an understanding of the world of management and the key concepts of management practice.

On top of this, you’ll develop your professional skills – including how to write an eye-catching cover letter and C.V.

Year 2

In your second year you’ll apply your knowledge to individual systems of the body. You’ll explore topics such as cancer, infectious disease and immunology, plus the diseases and medicines of the cardiovascular, renal and gastro-intestinal systems. In studying the central nervous system you’ll learn about neurodegenerative disease and mental health. You’ll also develop your knowledge and understanding of the principles of medicinal chemistry - how drugs are designed and synthesised.  The practical component supports your learning including a series of molecular pharmacology practicals to give you hand-on experience of techniques used in current pharmacological research.

Year 3

In the third year, you will have the opportunity to select from further modules covering a broad range of biology, drug discovery and pharmacology topics. Furthermore, you will learn about the drug pipeline, including more in depth drug discovery, in vivo studies and clinical trials and toxicology of drugs. You will speak about science and pharmaceutical research to general audiences. Finally, in collaboration with the Norwich Business School, you will take a course in project management. This course will provide you with key management skills required for your future career, including the ability to create, plan, and deliver as part of a team that manages real projects for external sponsors.

Year 4

In the final year, you will exploit your knowledge from the first three years and perform a comprehensive final year project in collaboration with a research active faculty member. Your project will focus on the pharmacology, drug design or delivery in one of many areas, including the major contemporary challenges of cancer, inflammation, age-related disorders and epigenetics. You will complement this with topics encompassing the latest research and future directions in pharmacology and drug discovery.

Teaching and Learning

You’ll be taught utilising a range of innovative teaching methods, so as well and lectures, tutorials and practical classes, there’ll be case studies, problem-based learning, team-based learning and research and business management projects.  In student-led learning you will give presentations including producing posters and videos.

In the laboratory you’ll carry out experiments based on the subjects covered in the lecture programme.  The sessions will be supervised by your lecturers and postgraduate student demonstrators, who’ll ensure the safe execution of the experiments and discuss the theory behind them. New state-of-the-art teaching laboratories are due to open at UEA in 2019.


You’ll experience a variety of assessment methods throughout the course, which we’ll prepare you for with guidance and formative assessments (where you get feedback on your work before submitting the final piece). And we’ll provide you with detailed feedback to ensure you continue to achieve your full potential.

After the course

You’ll graduate ready to pursue a career in drug design or development, within academia, the health sector or industry.

You could also choose a broader life science career, for example with a grant-funding body, charity, learned society or in academia, regulatory affairs or publishing.

We embed employability skills throughout the course with sessions developing CVs, interview techniques, presentation skills, team-working, research and business skills.

For entrepreneurial students who, in the future, want to turn their work into a business, there are dedicated facilities on the Norwich Research Park, with state-of-the-art lab and office spaces right on our doorstep.

Career destinations

Examples of careers that you could enter include:

  • Research scientist in industry or university
  • Healthcare scientist
  • Analytical chemist
  • Biomedical scientist
  • Degree would also be useful for:
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Medical sales representative
  • Patent attorney
  • Regulatory affairs officer
  • Science writer
  • Toxicologist

Course related costs

You may be required to cover minor costs associated with visits to industry.

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2017/8


Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • A Level AAB
  • International Baccalaureate 33 including HL Biology at 6 and one other science or Mathematics at 6

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students from all academic backgrounds. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including speaking, listening, reading and writing) at the following level:

  • IELTS: 7.0 overall (minimum 6.0 in any component)

We will also accept a number of other English language qualifications. Please click here for further information.

INTO University of East Anglia 

If you do not yet meet the English language requirements for this course, INTO UEA offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study:

How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with the Admissions Service prior to applying please do contact us:

Undergraduate Admissions Service
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

Please click here to register your details via our Online Enquiry Form.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515