This MSc offers a comprehensive guide to all aspects of modern day drug design. It is taught by research scientists, clinicians and industry experts.
Programme Director: Dr Edith Chan
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 6710
Teaching Administrator: Mr Nick Bone
The post genomics era has brought a basic change in traditional drug discovery. This programme reflects the rapid changes in this subject in the last few years. Students will investigate the approaches and methods of modern drug design and discovery, particularly how to manage the diversity and wealth of the emerging knowledge in this area. The programme is taught by research scientists, clinicians and features a series of "cutting edge" lectures by industry experts.
- Course Credit value
MSc 180 credits (ECTS 90)
PG Dip 120 credits and PG Cert 60 credits
- Who is the Drug Design course designed for?
This degree programme is suitable for life science graduates in biological sciences, chemical sciences and pharmacy. Students will obtain a broad understanding of the drug design process. The degree programme will provide a good background for students looking to establish a career in drug design/discovery and related industries, and for industry professionals seeking to gain a greater understanding of new methodology. The knowledge and transferable skills delivered will also be useful for those intending further PhD or medical studies. This degree programme requires a full study commitment.
The post genomics era has brought a basic change in traditional drug discovery. This programme reflects the rapid changes in this subject in the last few years.
- Aims and objectives of the course
This program of study is available full time for one year. Major aspects are:
Teaching involves a mixture of lectures, tutorial and practical sessions in a dedicated teaching room. Standard industrial and renowned academic softwares/databases will be used in tutorial and practical sessions. Research project gives students the opportunity to engage in original research and to aid their development as independent researchers. The syllabus may change every year, partly reflected by the Industrial trends. Providing an introduction to growth areas in drug design research, such as siRNA, stem cells, high throughput screening and scientific workflows. Understanding of the industrial practices of modern drug design technologies. The development of essential skills: Research approaches, methods, and techniques of modern drug design. Understanding of all aspects of drug design concepts: genomics , bioinformatics, drug target selection, structural biology, molecular modeling, intellectual property and marketing.
- How long is the study and what is the final degree?
- Distance Learning (not offered 2021/22)
- MSc, Diploma and certificate (flexible 2-5 years) are available.
The study is flexible (between 2-5 years) and MSc, Diploma and Certificate are available. Ideally it should be completed in 3 years. For example: To study for a MSc within 3 years Year 1 - Modules 1-4 Year 2 - Modules 5-8 Year 3 - Module 9 (Research project) Research project: This will be computer-based. They involve applying molecular modelling, cheminformatics, or bioinformatics on drug design/discovery projects. Wet lab projects can be also conducted at UCL, London.
- How is the course delivered?
A Windows PC with good internel connection is recommended for distance learning from home. Moodle - a web-based virtual learning environment, will be used as a teaching and learning platform. Lecturecast for viewing lectures. Electronic library An optional 1 week Summer workshop in London for intensive software/program training at student's own expense. All our software run on Windows only. Modular (Flexible) students can spread their studies over a period of up to five years. Your 'Fees Due' will show as £0 initially but you should still pre-enrol and then enrol. After enrolment, Modular students select their modules for the year. Once selected, a fee will be calculated for the academic year based on the number of credits assigned to the modules chosen - in any academic year you will only pay for the number of credits chosen in that year. Please note that all courses are subject to annual inflationary increases.
- National research laboratories
- NHS agencies
- Medicinal Chemist
- Structural Biologist
- Molecular Modeler
- Information Specialist
- Patent/ IP/ Knowledge Analyst
Degree Module Components Full Time On-Site Flexible Distance Learning (not offered 19/20) Master (MSc) 8 taught modules + research project 1 year full time 2-5 years, ideally within 3 years Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) 8 taught modules Sept-April full time 2-3 years, ideally within 2 years Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) 4 taught modules 3 months full time Ideally within 1 year
Term 1 (Sept to Dec)
MEDC0075 Bioinformatics and Structural Biology.
MEDC0076 Target Identification, Pharmacology and High Throughput Screening.
MEDC0077 Cheminformatics and Computer Drug Design.
MEDC0078 Biological molecules as therapeutics - Antibodies, siRNA, and Stem Cells.
Term 2 (Jan to March)
MEDC0079 Biophysical screening methods, X-ray crystallography, protein NMR and phenotypic screening.
MEDC0080 Fragment based drug design.
MEDC0081 Target selection - Cancer, Aging, and new Targets.
MEDC0082 Intellectual property, Law, Economics, and Marketing.
Term 3 (April to Aug)
MEDC0083 Research project -
Minimum 12 weeks Expert groups in UCL - e.g. Cancer Institute, Royal Free Hospital, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Medicine, etc. External Companies and Institutes - e.g GSK, European Bioinformatics Institute, Cresset, etc. Projects cover every aspect of drug design and discovery from computational modelling to X-ray crystallography and protein NMR, from chemical synthesis to cutting edge biology of cancer or other diseases. See examples under the tab "Projects".
There are eight modules carrying 15 credits. Each module will consist of a written exam (50%) and coursework (50%).
Assessment will be by unseen written examinations and coursework.
A research project will be assessed by a written dissertation, an oral presentation, and a video project.
Research project -
- Minimum 12 weeks
- Expert groups in UCL - e.g. Cancer Institute, Royal Free Hospital, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Medicine, etc.
- External Companies and Institutes - e.g GSK, European Bioinformatics Institute, Cresset, etc.
- Projects cover every aspect of drug design and discovery from computational modeling to X-ray crystallography and protein NMR, from chemical synthesis to cutting edge biology of cancer or other diseases. See examples here.
- Past projects
Screening, Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Optimization of small molecule drug inhibition of a kinase targets for therapy of Polycystic Kidney Disease
Towards novel antibiotics: small molecule inhibitors of the serine/threonine protein kinases of Gram positive bacterial pathogens
Probing host-HIV interactions using small molecule inhibitors
Exploration of a new scaffold as a potential new class of a kinase inhibitor
Modified analogues of an established scaffold with potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions
Drug repositioning using internal technology Fragment-based design of peptidomimetic drugs Natural hormones and neurotransmitters as drug leads
Structural and Molecular Biology
Crystal structure determination of protein-ligand complexes Cloning and NMR study of Drug protein target
PK/ADME, Assay development
Development of PK/ADME assay for a Cancer project
- Course Directors
Programme Director - Dr Edith Chan
Dr Chan has over 17 years pharmaceutical and biotech experiences in the area of molecular modeling, cheminformatics, structure/ligand-based drug design, and bio-computing.
She worked in big pharma and biotech: Sanofi Aventis and Inpharmatica, which involved all spectrum of drug discovery program. While working in Sanofi Aventis, she helped design ICE inhibitors, one of which has achieved Phase II status. She joined UCL in 2009 and her research is focused on computational drug design.
Programme Director - Professor David Selwood
Professor Selwood is a medicinal chemist with 12 years experience in big pharma at the Wellcome Foundation latterly Glaxo-Wellcome. Whilst at Wellcome Prof Selwood worked on the successful anti-migraine drug zolimitriptan (over $1 billion dollars in sales) and also invented GW4991W94 a compound which completed phase 2 clinical trials.
Prof Selwood moved to UCL in December 1995 to become head of the chemistry group at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research. He founded several spin out companies: ProAxon Ltd, NCE discovery (now Domainex) and Canbex Therapeutics, a spin-out company focussed on MS Therapies.
Entry requirements and how to apply
- Entry requirements
A minimum of second-class (2.1) Honours degree in a relevant discipline (for example, life sciences, medicine, chemistry, biomedicine) from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, or an appropriate professional qualification or work experience. Click this link to see if you meet the requirement:
- IELTS - Standard level: Overall grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the subtests.
- TOEFL - Standard level: Overall score of 92 with 24/30 in reading and writing and 20/30 in speaking and listening.
- Maximum number of students accepted onto the programme is 20 per annum.
MSc programme (2022-23)
Course UK 2022/23 Overseas 2022/23 Drug Design MSc £14,700 (FT) £7,350 (PT) £29,400 (FT) £14,700 (PT) Drug Design PG Dip £9,800 (FT) £19,600 (FT) Drug Design PG Cert £4,900 (FT) £9,800 (FT)
Click here for more details.
For those students working to organize scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants), early application for admission is strongly encouraged (preferably by May 1st for the following academic year).
- How to apply
Application deadline is end of May. Apply early to avoid disappointment.
Application can be made online at: