Medicinal and Biological Chemistry BSc


Fact file - 2019 entry

BSc Hons Medicinal and Biological Chemistry
UCAS code
3 years full-time
A level offer
Required subjects
chemistry at grade A; GCSE mathematics at grade 4 (C) or above
IB score
34-32 (including chemistry at grade 6 at Higher Level); GCSE maths and English at grade 4 (C) or above
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places
200 across all chemistry courses (except FF31 and FFH1)
We are still currently taking applications for 2018 entry


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
  • Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Study in an inspirational school that has 95% of its research recognised as internationally excellent*
  • Expand your study through optional modules 
  • Participate in research alongside a research group in the school, if you choose the MSci

* Research Excellence Framework, 2014


Our 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 three quarters of your first year gaining core chemical knowledge and understanding that builds upon your pre-university studies. If you do not have A level mathematics (or equivalent) you will take an additional in-house module 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.

Teaching and assessment

Your degree course is designed to feed your curiosity for chemistry, to encourage you to express your ideas clearly and logically and to develop your approach towards independent learning. We achieve this through a series of modules that broaden your previous knowledge, and introduce you to new topics. The academic year is divided into two semesters and you will complete 120 credits of study per year. There are typically 10 lectures in addition to 8 to 10 hours of laboratory classes per week.

  • lectures - these introduce the key principles, concepts and knowledge base of a topic 
  • small-group tutorials - these provide an opportunity for you to analyse and use the materials presented in lectures and laboratory classes. These meetings also ensure that you have grasped the key points of the lectures and that you fully understand the course material.
  • laboratory classes - you'll gain laboratory experience in hands-on practical modules. These modules introduce you to current synthetic and analytical approaches in chemistry and the operation of modern instrumentation. Practical sessions are held in modern laboratories housed within the School of Chemistry.

Assessment varies on the module that is being studied. Assessment methods can include:

  • computing assignments
  • examinations
  • essays
  • dissertations
  • laboratory reports

The majority of theory-based modules are assessed by examinations.



This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

In general terms, an accredited degree programme provides:

  • knowledge of chemical science that builds upon secondary education (ie study prior to university) and incorporates a critical understanding of theories and principles
  • essential skills for applying chemical knowledge and solving complex scientific problems with a strong emphasis on laboratory skills in synthesis and analysis
  • competence in dealing with challenging activities or projects while taking on responsibility for decision-making in variable contexts

Student support

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will support you through your studies and help you make the most of the opportunities available at Nottingham. Your personal tutor is your first port of call in the school and they will take an interest in your personal and academic development, offering you help, encouragement and guidance.

ChemSoc is the student-run society that organises visits by industrial speakers and promotes social events throughout the year. Members of ChemSoc typically mentor year one students during their first year.


Research in the School of Chemistry

Our success as teachers of chemistry owes much to our ability to include ground-breaking research results in our teaching curriculum. The School of Chemistry maintains a vigorous, competitive research portfolio and sustains international excellence within the core-chemistry areas and in the interdisciplinary research environment at the interfaces with biomedical science, physics and engineering.

Find out more about our research


Student profile

“My degree gives me the opportunity to study a variety of topics in biochemistry and pharmacology all relating to medicinal chemistry but without restricting the amount of other areas in chemistry I am exposed to. One of the highlights has to be the module in third year which is co-run with GlaxoSmithKline. This gave me a real insight into how medicinal chemistry works in an industrial environment.”
                        - Jamie Cadge, MSci Medicinal and Biological Chemistry

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 (C) (or equivalent)

English language requirements 

IELTS 6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

For details of other English language tests and qualifications we accept, please see our entry requirements page.

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.


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.



The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


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 attend two lectures per week for this module.

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 attend two lectures per week for this module.

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 the module will focus on reactivity and important reactions and transformations in organic chemistry. You’ll attend two lectures per week for 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.

Calculations in Chemistry

You’ll gain a firm understanding of the use of mathematical equations in a chemical context.

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.



Mathematical Toolkit

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; the rearrangement of chemical expressions and their graphical representation; trigonometry, differentiation and integration, and differential equations for chemical problems.

This module is compulsory for students not offering A level mathematics (or equivalent); optional for students offering A level mathematics or equivalent.

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. 

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.

Energy, Specrroscopy and Solid State Chemistry

In this module you'll study  the physical principles underlying chemical phenomena, with emphasis on energy, quantum mechanics and spectroscopy. You'll also be introduced to solid-state chemistry, including the structure, characterisation, energetics and the band theory of solids.  You’ll attend two hours of lectures each week in this module. 

Synthesis and 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 lectures each week in this module and tutorials every third week.

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 attend two lectures per week for this module.

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'll 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 attend two lectures per week in 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 attend two lectures per week in 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.You'll attend two lectures per week in this module.

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 of 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'll attend two lectures per week in this module and attend a tutorial every three weeks.

Solids, Interfaces and Surfaces

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.



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.

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 attend two lectures per week for this module.

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.

Lasers in Chemistry

You'll explore the applciations of lasers in chemistry including their use in atmospheric measurements; combustion; photochemistry and synthesis; chemical kinetics; studies of small metal clusters and nanoparticles and time-resolved studies. 

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.

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 attend two lectures per week for this module.

Molecular Microbiology and Infections

In this module you’ll study the molecular biology of information processing in bacteria including protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions in DNA repair, recombination, replication, transcription and translation and the use of these organisms in biotechnology. You'll also study the biology and biological chemistry of emerging or recently emerged viral and bacterial diseases that are important for public health for example HIV, avian influenza, and antibiotic resistant 'superbugs'.



The chemical industry continues to be an important industrial sector in the UK and the emerging materials and biotechnology sectors require trained chemists who can generate the new materials, products and knowledge that are needed in these areas.

In addition to equipping you with theoretical and practical skills in chemistry, a degree in chemistry from Nottingham also demonstrates that you can think logically and critically, solve complex problems and manage your time effectively. Consequently, our graduates may also be employed in professions including those in finance, education, marketing, and the media.

Recent graduate destinations from the school include:

  • Boots
  • Cancer Research
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • HSBC
  • Intellectual Property Office
  • NHS
  • Unilever

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 90.8% of undergraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £24,150 with the highest being £32,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

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.

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 2013-2017, High Fliers Research).


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 38 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.


being one of the first to study in new state-of-the-art teaching labs
+44 (0)115 951 5559 Make an enquiry


Dr James Dowden  








Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry