Medicinal and Biological Chemistry BSc


Fact file - 2018 entry

Medicinal and Biological Chemistry | BSc Hons
UCAS code
3 years full-time
A level offer
Required subjects
chemistry at grade A; GCSE mathematics at grade 4 or above
IB score
34-32 (including chemistry at grade 6 at Higher Level); GCSE maths and English at grade 4 or above
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places
200 across all chemistry courses (except FF31 and FFH1)


The course combines comprehensive training in chemistry with aspects of biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology and microbiology relevant to understanding human disease and drug design.
Read full overview

The BSc Medicinal and Biological Chemistry degree combines comprehensive training in chemistry with aspects of biochemistry and pharmacology relevant to understanding human disease and drug design. The course content has been tailored to produce graduates with an excellent practical and theoretical knowledge of synthetic and analytical chemistry. The modules making up the course are given by members of the Schools of Chemistry and Life Sciences.

Year one 

In the first year you will follow introductory courses in chemistry, physiology and pharmacology, including practical training. You will spend approximately two-thirds of your first year gaining core chemical knowledge and understanding that builds upon your pre-university studies. If you do not possess A level mathematics (or equivalent) you will take in-house modules to prepare you for this aspect of the chemistry course.

Year two 

You will cover topics in physical, inorganic and organic chemistry in more depth, as well as complementary courses in spectroscopy, biological chemistry and pharmacology, which includes a case study on the development of a recent drug. 

Year three

You will follow advanced courses in organic, inorganic, biological and medicinal chemistry. If you are pursuing the MSci course you may take an optional drug discovery module taught in collaboration with staff from GlaxoSmithKline. 


Entry requirements

A levels: AAB-ABB, including chemistry at grade A. Typical offers will vary depending on the A level subjects offered in addition to chemistry.

Applicants taking A level biology, chemistry and/or physics are also required to pass the practical element of assessment (where it is assessed separately).

GCSEs: mathematics grade 4 (or equivalent)

English language requirements 

IELTS 6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE), which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English. Successful students can progress onto their chosen degree course without taking IELTS again.

Alternative qualifications 

For details see alternative qualifications page

Science Foundation Certificate

International students only

International students (non-EU) who do not have the required qualifications or grades to go directly onto an undergraduate degree course, may be interested in the Science Foundation Certificate delivered through The University of Nottingham International College. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met. 

Science with Foundation Year

Home, EU and international students

If you have achieved high grades in your A levels (or equivalent qualifications) but do not meet the current subject entry requirements for direct entry to your chosen undergraduate course, you may be interested in our one year science foundation programme. Applicants must also demonstrate good grades in previous relevant science subjects to apply. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met.  

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We consider applicants’ circumstances and broader achievements as part of the assessment process, but do not vary the offer from the grades advertised as a result of these. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

We value diversity and are committed to equal opportunity.



Typical year one modules


An Introduction to Structure, Periodicity and Coordination Chemistry

This module builds on your previous studies in chemistry and provides a firm foundation in topics including: atomic and molecular structure; the shapes of molecules; chemical bonding; Lewis structures; molecular shape and symmetry; intermolecular interactions and periodic trends in the properties of the elements of the s- and p-blocks; the chemistry of the transition metal elements and their coordination complexes. You’ll spend around two hours per week studying this module with weekly tutorials. 

An Introduction to Spectroscopy, Energy and Bonding in Chemistry

In this module you will learn about the development of quantum theory and the spectroscopy of the hydrogen atom. You will examine the theories used to describe the bonding in molecules and will develop an understanding of microwave and infra-red spectroscopies. The module also introduces you to some of the key concepts in thermodynamics including enthalpy, entropy and free energy and their application in describing equilibria and electrochemical processes. You will develop an understanding of the key concepts in reaction kinetics. You’ll spend two hours per week studying this module.

An Introduction to Organic Molecules and their Reactivity

You’ll examine the fundamental principles of organic chemistry. This will include nomenclature, bonding concepts, orbitals and the shape, stereochemistry and acid-base properties of organic molecules. Later in the module will focus on reactivity and important reactions and transformations in organic chemistry. You’ll spend two hours per week studying this module.

Foundation Laboratory Work

This module introduces you to the essential laboratory skills that are required in inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. You’ll spend around eight hours per week in laboratory practicals performing experiments, and collecting and analysing data. You’ll present written reports of your experimental work that will form part of the assessment for this module.

Chemistry Study Skills
You’ll follow this introductory module right at the start of your course. It is designed to develop your study skills so that you can work effectively at University. The module will also introduce you to first year undergraduate laboratory chemistry. You’ll spend around four hours in your first week in practical sessions studying this module.
Human Physiology

You’ll be introduced to the physiology of the central nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and urinary systems in man, including aspects of drug action. Activities will consist of lectures and associated background reading.



Chemical Calculations 1

You’ll gain a firm understanding of the use of mathematical equations in a chemical context through the study of topics including: scientific notation and significant figures; common chemical units and conversions between them; rearrangement of chemical expressions and their graphical representation. You’ll spend three hours per week in lectures and workshops for this module. Please note, if you do not possess a grade A-C in A level mathematics (or equivalent) then this module is compulsory.

Chemical Calculations 2

This module extends the material covered in Chemical Calculations 1. You’ll study topics including trigonometry, differentiation and integration, and differential equations for chemical problems. You’ll spend three hours per week in lectures and workshops studying these topics. Please note, if you do not possess a grade A-C in A level mathematics (or equivalent) then this module is compulsory. 

Mathematics for Chemistry 1

You’ll be introduced to topics such as: functions of single variables; differential calculus of a single variable; integral calculus of a single variable; and basic probability and statistics. You’ll spend three hours per week in workshops and lectures for this module. 

Mathematics for Chemistry 2

You’ll build upon your knowledge from Mathematics for Chemistry 1 and spend around three hours per week lectures and workshops. Topics you’ll study include: complex numbers; differential calculus; and the algebra of matrices and their applications in chemistry. 

Typical year two modules


Core Laboratory Work

This module builds on the practical, analytical and communication skills developed in the first year and introduces experiments across the range of chemistry, based on your second year theory modules. You’ll spend around 10 hours per week in practicals for this module.

Equilibria, Rates and Interfaces

You’ll build upon the principles of thermodynamics and kinetics developed in your first year, applying this to gaseous and liquid bulk phases, liquid to gas and solid to gas interfaces, and electrochemical cells. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and workshops studying this module. 

General Inorganic Chemistry

You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures studying topics including the synthesis, bonding and reactivity of organometallic compounds, the use of symmetry and group theory to interpret infra-red spectra and NMR spectroscopy in inorganic chemistry. Further support is provided by tutorials every third week.

Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy

You’ll study topics including: particles and waves; vibrating molecules; orbitals; electron spin and spin-orbit coupling; Einstein coefficients; and centrifugal distortion. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and one hour in workshops that run every three weeks for this module. 

Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Biology

This module introduces students to the chemistry of the fundamental building blocks of life; the structures of, and replication processes in prokaryotes; and how these can be disrupted by anti-infectives and harnessed in protein engineering. Fundamental concepts in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery are presented including the mode of action of a number of anti-cancer agents and the basic requirements for drug delivery, metabolism and targeting. You’ll spend two hours each week in lectures for this module.

Synthesis & Spectroscopy

In this module you’ll discuss the reactivity of, suggest synthetic routes for and interpret the spectroscopic characterisation of organic compounds including some natural products. Topics studied include modern spectroscopic techniques, carbon-carbon bond forming reactions, and the influence of heteroatoms on reactivity. You’ll attend two hours of lectures each week in this module and tutorials every third week.

Basic Molecular Pharmacology

You’ll study the mechanisms and gain an understanding of drug action and receptors. Areas of study will include: cell mediators; drug distribution and delivery; toxicology; and genetic factors. You’ll study this module through lectures, seminars and workshops.  

Pharmacology Dissertation: Drugs and Diseases

You’ll be given the opportunity to study a disease or class of disease and rational approaches to treatments with drugs. You’ll present a 4,000 word dissertation through 50 hours of research and consideration of the relevant literature.

Typical year three modules


Advanced Laboratory Techniques

You’ll be taught advanced experimental techniques in organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, providing you with experience in experiment design and the recording, analysis and reporting of data. You’ll achieve this through a focused mini-project culminating in individual oral and written presentations and a lab report. You’ll spend around 10 hours a week in practical sessions.

Bioinorganic and Metal Coordination Chemistry

You’ll study the roles of the transition metal elements in biology including iron in haemoglobin and myoglobin, metal centres in enzymes and the use of metal complexes in medicine. You learn about the physical methods used to study the electronic structure of transition metal centres and the synthesis and the application of coordination chemistry in metal extraction, photochemistry and catalysis. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures, tutorials and workshops studying this module.


This module will develop your knowledge and understanding of heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis, catalyst promotion and the concept of catalytic cycles. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.

Chemical Bonding and Reactivity

You’ll learn about the fundamental requirements for two molecules to react and how to assess the likelihood of reactivity based on energy level structure. You’ll learn about experiments that can probe the outcomes of reaction and experiments that can promote reaction. You’ll learn about some theoretical methods that can be used to understand reactivity. The module will progress at two lectures per week, with four workshops interspersed throughout the semester and regular problem sheets.

Organometallic and Asymmetric Synthesis 

You'll learn about a range of modern reagents and synthetic methodology, and how these are applied to the synthesis of organic target molecules, such as natural products and active pharmaceuticals. You'll learn how the use of protecting groups and directing groups can be used to enable complex molecule synthesis by controlling chemoselectivity, stereoselectivity and regioselectivity, and how modern palladium-mediated cross-coupling reactions can be used to synthesise complex organic molecules.

Pericyclic Chemistry and Reactive Intermediates 

In this module you will use frontier molecular orbital analysis to explain and predict stereochemical and regiochemical outcomes of pericyclic reactions. You will also learn about the generation and use of reactive intermediates in synthesis such as radicals, carbenes and nitrenes. You will spend two hours in lectures per week in this module and will attend tutorials every three weeks.

Solids, Surfaces and Interfaces

You’ll study the relationships between structure and properties of solids, and develop electronic structure theories that account for a wide range of properties of solids. You’ll learn about semi-conductors, photoconductivity, LEDs and solar cells and attend around two lectures per week in this module.



Chemical Biology and Enzymes

In this module you’ll develop an understanding of the basic principles of protein expression, mutagenesis and purification. Areas you’ll consider include: yeast two and three hybrid technology; microarrays; protein NMR; and protein X-ray crystallography. You’ll spend around two hours per week studying for this module.

Contemporary Drug Discovery

This module explores modern approaches to drug discovery and will involve discussions on how chemical structure influences the molecular properties, biological activity, and toxicity of drugs. Many examples from case histories of successful medicines will be used to illustrate the underlying chemical principles.

Communicating Chemistry

In this module, you’ll spend around eight hours per week on placement in a school, teaching in a classroom. You will attend training sessions and you’ll keep a journal, provide a lesson pack and give a presentation on your experiences being a classroom assistant. These will form the basis for assessment in this module.

Drug discovery: the development of new medicines

You’ll explore the vital role of chemistry in drug discovery, involving discussions of the way chemical structure influences the molecular properties, biological activity, and toxicity of drugs. Many examples from case histories of successful medicines will be used to illustrate the underlying chemical principles. This module is taught through nine interactive workshops presented by experienced medicinal chemists from GlaxoSmithKline and staff in the School of Chemistry.

Molecular Modelling

This module will introduce you to molecular modelling with a focus on applications in the pharmaceutical chemistry. You will study the computer simulation of the properties of molecules and learn about molecular modelling techniques in drug discovery.

Topics in Inorganic Chemistry

You’ll study aspects of solid state materials chemistry and f-Block chemistry including their synthesis, technological uses and applications, electronic structure, spectroscopy and optical properties, magnetism and roles in catalysis.

Protein Folding and Biospectroscopy

You’ll develop an understanding of protein structure and the methods for structural analysis. A range of experimental techniques will be introduced to examine stability and to probe the nature of the active site in a range of proteins. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and workshops studying this module.


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



You will be well qualified for a career in the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and biotechnology industry or for a postgraduate higher research or vocational degree. Graduates of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry will have developed their research skills to an advanced level, made important industry contacts, and will be able to offer employers evidence of extensive work experience.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 94% of first-degree graduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,889 with the highest being £45,500.*

*Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.



Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 40 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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