Drug Design MSc

London, Bloomsbury

This one-year, campus-based MSc offers a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of modern-day drug design. Taught by UCL’s research scientists, clinicians, and industry experts, it will give you an invaluable understanding of the drug design process. Graduates progress onto PhDs or medical studentships or go into sought-after employment in this highly specialist field.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 1

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

If you are intending to apply for a time-limited visa to complete your UCL studies (e.g., Student visa, Skilled worker visa, PBS dependant visa etc.) you may be required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will be confirmed to you if you obtain an offer of a place. Please note that ATAS processing times can take up to six months, so we recommend you consider these timelines when submitting your application to UCL.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Drug design is an integral part of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. The UCL Division of Medicine and Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research are experts in training the next generation of drug discovery biologists and chemists in the field, particularly in drug discovery projects.

On this full-time MSc, you will develop the essential skills needed in this sought-after field, while exploring robust research methods and the most up-to-date drug design techniques.

The course covers all aspects of drug discovery, including genomics, bioinformatics, structural biology, cheminformatics, molecular modelling and fragment-based drug design, drug target selection, intellectual property and marketing. 

You will also deepen your knowledge and expertise of new therapies and research areas, such as antibodies, siRNA, stem cells and high throughput screening. Alongside this, you will develop your skills in translational research and apply these to your own research project for a minimum of three months.

The programme will equip you with the skills needed to establish a career in drug design/discovery and related industries, including biotech, pharma, national research laboratories and NHS agencies.

Who this course is for

This programme is suitable for life science graduates in biological sciences, chemical sciences, and pharmacy. It provides a solid foundation for establishing a career in drug design/discovery and related industries, or if you are an industry professional looking to gain a greater understanding of the latest drug design methodologies. You will also develop the knowledge and transferable skills needed to advance to a PhD or medical studies.

What this course will give you

This programme offers you the following benefits and opportunities.

  • An intensive course of study within the internationally renowned UCL Division of Medicine, supported by the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research.
  • A deeper understanding of the essential concepts, theory and practices of drug design and discovery.
  • The opportunity to undertake a minimum three-month research project in your chosen field.
  • Exposure to pioneering multidisciplinary research, with a particular emphasis on translating that research into useful clinical benefit. 
  • The chance to learn from, and contribute to, established research expertise in medicinal chemistry, computational drug design, neuronal development and signalling, cell cycle control, intensive care medicine, stem cells, mitochondrial biology, and cancer.
  • Opportunities to conduct translational research that has a globally-significant impact on drug discovery.

The foundation of your career

Graduates from this programme progress to PhD / medical studentships at universities and research institutes around the world, including Oxford, UCL, Grenoble, EMBL, and in the USA and China. Many alumni have secured positions in research teaching and technical sales in the private and public sectors.

I found that the course itself really began to prepare me for what research actually is. We had an opportunity to experience the lab environment. That first-hand experience was invaluable.

Lorcan Browne

Lorcan Browne

Drug Design, MSc


The programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to establish a career in drug design/discovery and related industries, including biotech, pharma, national research laboratories and NHS agencies.

If you are an industry professional, you will gain a greater understanding of new methodologies to apply to your work and progress in new areas of drug design.

It is also a pathway to further medical studies or a related PhD.


On this programme, there are many opportunities to network through our cross-disciplinary departments and research centres. In addition, you have chances to speak to our many external and expert speakers from industry after lectures. We encourage students to broaden their networks by attending special career workshops. Each year, students are also encouraged to join online seminars / workshops organised by industrial sectors to expand their skills.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, self-study, practical sessions and discussion groups. Your research project forms one third of the programme.

Each of the taught modules is assessed on a 50/50 split of unseen written examinations and coursework, such as written essays, practicals, and laboratory work.

The research project is assessed by dissertation, oral presentation, and an interdisciplinary three-minute video project.

Your weekly schedule will be made up of six contact hours and 20 hours of independent learning.

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) is also offered. A Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) is also offered.


In this programme, you will take eight core taught modules in the first two terms. Through these, you will learn the essential concepts, theory and practices of drug design and discovery.

You will also develop transferable skills through individual and group activities, such as oral and poster presentation, literature review, essay writing, attending conferences and scientific talks. These concepts and skills will prepare you to do your research project in term three, where you will conduct real research in a UCL or industry setting.

Your project can be wet laboratory or computer/informatics based and will last a minimum of three months.

If you are considering applying for a modular route, please contact us for updates.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Drug Design. Upon successful completion of 120 credits, you will be awarded a PG Dip in Drug Design. Upon successful completion of 60 credits, you will be awarded a PG Cert in Drug Design.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Where you'll study

Division of Medicine Cruciform building

We have one of the largest concentrations of biomedical scientists in Europe. Among over 100 principal investigators are Fellows of the Royal Society, members of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and Senior Investigators of the National Institute for Health Research. Teaching is split between the Royal Free campus in Hampstead and Bloomsbury campus. For undergraduates, most of the first year will be based at the Royal Free campus, with some practical activities taking place in Bloomsbury. As you progress, more modules are based at Bloomsbury, which means you are likely to build strong familiarity with both of these sites.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Respiratory Clinical Science MSc (Q&A Session)

This MSc focuses on the study of the scientific and clinical basis of respiratory diseases with all courses and modules directed towards understanding disease and the effects on patients. It will provide you with the tools to develop further careers in the area and create opportunities to interact with researchers, clinicians and pharmaceutical experts in respiratory medicine. Please join us to ask your questions about this exciting programme. Speaker - Dr Vitor Teixeira

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £17,300
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

Bursaries are available for several Division of Medicine programmes. Find out if this course is eligible.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

Deadline: NOW CLOSED FOR 2024/25 ENTRY
Value: Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Drug Design at graduate level
  • why you want to study Drug Design at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree.

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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