Course overview

Learn about the discovery and design of medicines at a world top 5 university for pharmacy and pharmacology*. Prepare for a career where you can develop new drugs and medicines to transform people's lives.

You'll use case studies throughout the first two years. The case studies bring together the core sciences that make up pharmaceutical sciences:


  • drug design and discovery using organic chemistry
  • analytical chemistry to study the structure and purity of drug molecules


  • the science of designing and formulating medicines
  • understand the properties of drugs and medicines through physical chemistry


  • understand disease and drug action through biology and pharmacology
  • the design of complex biological drugs

You'll study diseases and some of the most commonly prescribed medicines. You'll also learn about regulations, patenting and business skills in a national and global context.

* QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

Why choose this course?

Top 5

in the world for pharmacy and pharmacology

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021


designed to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical industry

Study abroad

a range of exciting opportunities available

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB
IB score 34 including chemistry and one further science subject or maths

A levels

  • ABB - including chemistry and at least one further science A level from biology, maths or physics
  • A pass in the practical element of science subjects is required if assessed separately
  • The third A level can be any subject apart from general studies, critical thinking and citizenship which are not accepted


  • Maths 5 (B) or above
  • English 4 (C) or above

Foundation progression options

If you don't meet our entry requirements there is the option to study the science foundation programme. If you successfully pass the year, you can progress to the pharmaceutical sciences courses. There is a course for UK students and one for EU/international students.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Problem classes

How you will be assessed

You will be given a copy of our marking criteria which provides guidance on how your work is assessed. Your work will be marked in a timely manner and you will receive regular feedback. The pass mark for each module is 40%. 

Your final degree classification will be based on marks gained for your second and subsequent years of study. Year two is worth 33% with year three worth 67%.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Lab reports
  • Oral exam
  • Poster presentation
  • Research project
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. You will spend around 35% of your time in lectures, 25% in laboratories and 25% in workshops. The remaining time will be spent in tutorials, doing original research and completing e-learning activities. There is also time needed for independent study. Core modules are typically delivered by professors, assistant professors or associate professors. Some lab classes may be supported by PhD students.

Study abroad

Students who choose to study abroad are more likely to achieve a first-class degree and earn more on average than students who did not (Gone International: Rising Aspirations report 2016/17).

Benefits of studying abroad

  • Explore a new culture
  • A reduced tuition fee of up to 80% for the time you are abroad
  • Improve your communication skills, confidence and independence

Countries you could go to

You can apply to spend a semester in countries such as:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore

All teaching is in English. You must achieve a minimum 60% pass rate to go on the year abroad.

Third-year research project

Complete your third-year research project abroad. You could go to University of Nottingham Malaysia or another partner university.

All teaching is in English. You must achieve a minimum 60% pass rate in semester one of the second year to be considered.

Year in industry

An industrial year can improve your employability.

Choose our MSci Pharmaceutical Sciences (with a Year in Industry) course and you could spend your fourth year working on a research project in industry. 

Nadia and Benedict

Nadia and Benedict talk about what it's like to study pharmaceutical sciences at Nottingham, including facilities and their career aspirations.


Core modules

Cardiovascular and Haematology

Using examples from cardiovascular disease and haematology, you will be introduced to the molecules of life, cellular structure and the components of cells including lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids. You will be introduced to drug interactions with receptors and cellular signalling cascades.

Drug Structure

This module introduces the basic concepts of molecular structure that underlie the physicochemical properties of drugs and their interactions with pharmacological binding partners. You will learn how to draw the chemical structures of drug molecules, name them, and understand their composition, three-dimensional shape, and flexibility.

The Science of Medicines

The action and stability of drugs is influenced by the physical, chemical and biological properties of the components used in the formulation of medicines. By using tablets as an example of solid dosage forms, you will learn about the importance of crystallization and crystal forms, the stability of medicines, and the properties of powders.


Using physicochemical principles, you will learn how medicines are designed to suit different physiological conditions and clinical needs. You will study how drugs that are ‘almost impossible to dissolve’ can be formulated to yield benefits in the patient, and how drug formulations can be designed to cross physiological barriers.

Endocrine and Metabolism

You will learn about the human endocrine system and the body’s metabolic processes. You will discover how hormones influence metabolism and the important role of nutrition. The fate of drugs within the body will be studied, as drug absorption, metabolism, clearance and interactions between medicines will be considered.

Synthesis of Simple Drugs

Concepts of reactivity are introduced and rationalised in the context of the basic reactions that are used to form the bonds in organic molecules. You will acquire a mechanistic understanding of the reactions that are used to form carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds in simple functionalised aromatic and aliphatic drug molecules.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 14 May 2021.

Core modules

Advanced Drug Delivery

You will study how novel materials are used for drug formulations and how delivery systems are designed. The physiological factors which affect particular drug delivery technologies will be discussed. You will learn how formulation can modify the distribution of a drug in the body and achieve its delivery to the preferred location.

Infection and Immunity

You will study microbiology, learning about pathogenic microbes including viruses, fungi, parasites and the roles of bacteria in health and disease. You will learn how the body generates immunity; the causes of diseases associated with faulty immune responses will be considered. In applied microbiology you will be introduced to recombinant DNA technology and prokaryotic gene regulation.

Synthesis of Complex Drugs

You will learn about further synthetic methodology that is used to prepare complex drug molecules, including peptides, (oligo)saccharides, and (oligo)nucleotides. You will gain an understanding of how structurally and functionally complex drug molecules can be assembled synthetically from simple starting materials.

Drug Design

You will learn how knowledge of structural and synthetic aspects of molecules is applied in the discovery and design of new drugs. The concepts of pharmacophores and structure–activity relationships are introduced with the aid of instructive examples of drugs in clinical use. You will learn to apply medicinal chemistry concepts to the design and optimisation of molecularly targeted drug candidate molecules.


Using examples related to oncology, you will explore signal transduction networks. You will examine in detail receptor-mediated signalling, and study how drugs perturb signalling cascades. You will also learn about processes involved in cell division. Drug targets and production of biopharmaceutics (monoclonal antibodies) in eukaryotic cells will be considered. This module will also introduce you to eukaryotic gene regulation; DNA replication, recombination and repair.

Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Monoclonal antibodies and other biotechnology products (biologics) are increasingly important and require new formulation strategies. You will examine the materials, constructs and concepts behind technologies to produce, formulate and deliver biologics and learn about factors influencing the application of these technologies.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Core modules

Science and Industry

A set of models, tools and concepts that are common within the business community will be discussed to equip you with the skills to write and assess business plans and make informed decisions about product and business development. It includes medicines regulation, marketing, the product life cycle, intellectual property, ethics and product design.


Biological products, such as monoclonal antibodies, are an increasingly important class of medicines. In addition, new entities such as RNA molecules, new approaches for gene therapy and cell-based therapies are promising but require new chemical approaches and advances in biology and formulation to realise their potential.

Natural Products

Following a diminishing role in the past few decades, natural products are re-emerging as a source for drug discovery. You will focus on a topic that you find most interesting such as genomic and analytical techniques that supplement traditional methods of studying natural products, (semi)synthesis of natural products or advances in small molecule formulation.

Pharmaceutical research project

You will actively engage in research and solve a specific problem related to pharmaceutical science. You will be required to collect, analyse and interpret data and present this in the form of a poster presentation and research report.

You will have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art instrumentation available in the School of Pharmacy.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies.

It is beneficial to have your own laptop or PC to have access to our virtual learning environment and complete and submit coursework.

If you study abroad, you will need to consider the costs of travel and living expenses in the country that you choose.

Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes but these are available digitally. You will be given £5 worth of printer credits a year. You are welcome to buy more credits if you need them. It costs 4p to print one black and white page.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 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 students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


The knowledge and skills that you'll gain from this course can lead to roles working in:

  • drug discovery
  • drug formulation
  • manufacturing
  • patenting and licencing
  • analytical testing
  • marketing

As you will study elements of chemistry, biosciences and pharmaceutics it means you will be able to explore jobs in any of these areas.

Other opportunities to help your employability

The Nottingham Internship Scheme provides a range of work experience opportunities and internships throughout the year.

The Nottingham Advantage Award is our free scheme to boost your employability. There are over 200 extracurricular activities to choose from.

Average starting salary and career progression

98.8% of undergraduates from the School of Pharmacy secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £31,702.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time 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 consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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Important information

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.