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Course overview

Learn about the discovery and design of medicines at a world top 10 and a UK 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
  • understand the properties of drugs and medicines through physical chemistry


  • the science of designing and formulating medicines


  • 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 2019 and Complete University Guide 2020.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer AAB
Required subjects
  • A level chemistry
  • At least one other science A level from biology, maths or physics
  • A pass in the practical element of science subjects is required
  • GCSE Maths, 5 or above, and English, 4 or above
IB score 34; including chemistry and one further science subject or maths

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/EU students and one for 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% each.

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 34% 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 support 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. In recent years students have gone to:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

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.

A report by High Fliers in 2019 found that over a third of recruiters who took part in their research said that graduates who have no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process for their graduate programmes.

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.


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 that we offer at the date of publication 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. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

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 that we offer at the date of publication 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. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

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 that we offer at the date of publication 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. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Confirmed July 2020*
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.

EU tuition fees and funding options for courses starting in 2021/22 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. 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. If you study abroad, you will need to consider the costs of travel and living expenses in the country that you choose.

Scholarships and bursaries

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

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.


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

100% of undergraduates from the School of Pharmacy secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £20,000 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £26,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of 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 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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Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18


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.