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Medicinal Chemistry

How are drugs designed? This qualification focuses on the latest developments in this critical area of contemporary medical therapy, while developing a wide range of skills associated with postgraduate study. You will study aspects of medicinal chemistry that explore the links between disease, mechanisms of action and the development of safe, effective commercial drugs – pursuing these topics across a number of major health areas such as cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases, neuropharmacology and inflammation.

Key features of the course
• Explores current research and advanced scholarship within medicinal chemistry
• Critically evaluates research methodologies
• Concludes with a substantial piece of independent research on a topic of your choice.

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
• Knowledge and understanding
• Cognitive skills
• Practical and professional skills
• Key skills

Entry requirements

To study for the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry you must normally hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science, or a science-related subject relevant to this qualification. We strongly recommend that you check whether or not your background and experience are sufficient to give you a sound basis on which to tackle this qualification, since we have found that students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. Our booklet Preparing for S807 and S827 provides more detailed guidance; this can be viewed or printed as a PDF. If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this qualification you can still apply, but must supply evidence of that study or experience. For further advice, email the Science Postgraduate Team.

You will also need good computing skills and a level of proficiency in the English language that is adequate for study at postgraduate level. The following should give you some indication of the basic IT and language skills we expect students to have before enrolling on our postgraduate qualifications in science. Please refer to individual module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

Proficiency in the use of English: All of our taught modules are in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting the IELTS website.


2 - 7 years.

The minimum time to complete is two years. This requires a demanding workload as you will need to study for up to 30 hours a week during the three months where the first two modules overlap and can therefore only be recommended for those students with a strong, closely-related academic background. Most students study this qualification in four years, and the maximum time to complete is seven years.

Number of credits

180 credits

Careers or further progression

Career relevance
Completing this qualification will equip you with key transferable skills which will be relevant to your career and the workplace, including critical evaluation, problem solving and making sound judgements and decisions in complex situations. You will also learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist scientific audiences, work effectively as part of a team, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level. You will develop your independent learning skills, and enhance your skills in locating information and communicating with others in both professional and academic contexts.

Coupled with practical experience, this qualification could open up career opportunities in various scientific and medical research fields in the public and private sectors – for example, in pharmaceutical companies, the NHS, medical research, universities, commercial laboratories, and independent healthcare providers.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.

Further enquiries

Tel: (01) 678 5399
Fax: (01) 678 5442

Subjects taught

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:
Compulsory modules
Developing research skills in science (S825)
Molecules in medicine (S807)
Concept to clinic (S827)
MSc project module for MSc in Medicinal Chemistry (SXM810)

You should note that the University's unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


On completion
On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Master of Science in Medicinal Chemistry entitling you to use the letters MSc Med Chem (Open) after your name. The degree will be classified as pass, merit or distinction. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

Recognition in your country
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

Credit transfer
If you've successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. Please note that credit transfer is not available for the MSc project module (SXM810). You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

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