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Concept to clinic

This module provides an overview of the drug discovery and development process from a modern and historical perspective, exemplified by the design and development of current and future therapeutic drugs for pain and inflammation. You will be introduced to a range of issues in drug discovery, from the initial concept of selecting a disease, a disease target and the type of molecules to be utilised, to evaluating their properties, identifying lead compounds and developing these into commercial drug products. You will mainly work independently with online support although you will have an opportunity to collaborate in group-work activities.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £1022.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.

What you will study

In this module you will have the opportunity to study material from prominent scientists in academia and industry working in drug design and development. For the majority of the module, you will work independently with online support. There will be an opportunity to collaborate in group-work activities based on a specific class of anti-inflammatory compounds and then apply that experience to research a new drug development project within the scope of the module.

You will learn

The aims of the module are to:

  • provide a clear understanding of what a drug is required to do in terms of reaching and interacting with its molecular target and having a consequent influence on the course of a disease
  • develop a clear understanding of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) and absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, toxicology (ADMET) concepts through the science behind DMPK and the role of ADMET properties in the fate of an administered drug dose
  • develop an understanding of the relationship of molecular properties to the pharmacokinetic profiles of those compounds
  • broaden understanding of wider concepts in lead optimisation and to get a flavour of contemporary thinking and methodology used to speed up the process and enhance success rates.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • describe, using relevant examples, the process of commercial drug development
  • understand the terminology, nomenclature and conventions relevant to the study of drug design and development
  • manipulate simple mathematical expressions that describe the measurement of drug activity
  • apply database searching skills to search for and retrieve information from the internet, literature databases (e.g. Web of Knowledge, Science Direct) and scientific databases (e.g. Protein Data Bank)
  • use scientific, modelling and conventional software to analyse and present data
  • critically assess primary and secondary literature within a given area of medicinal chemistry
  • prepare and provide relevant commentary for a presentation on a relevant subject, and assess the attributes that make for a successful presentation
  • write and present information for different audiences.
Normally you must have completed either this module SH804, SD815, SEH806, S807, S808, S809 or S819 before progressing to the MSc project module (S810). Before progressing to the MSc project module for MSc in Medicinal Chemistry (SXM810) normally you must have completed either this module, or S807.


To register for any of our masters-level science modules you must normally hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science or a science-related subject. If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to study at postgraduate level you can still apply, but must supply evidence of that study or experience. Your case will be referred to our MSc in Science Admissions Panel. For further advice, email the postgraduate science team.

Depending on your qualifications or particular area of expertise, then some background reading may be necessary prior to the start, or during the early part of the course. Please contact the postgraduate science team for advice.

You will need good computing skills (e.g. able to search the Web, use email, use word processing packages, use spreadsheet packages to perform calculations and produce graphs and use presentation software to produces slides). You should also be able to carry out mathematical manipulations (e.g. algebraic rearrangement of equations, use exponentials and logs).

All teaching is in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for the level of study you wish to take. We strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. To assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies you can visit the IELTS website.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please speak to an adviser.


S827 is a compulsory module in our:

S827 is an optional module in our:

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

The module depends heavily on reading and writing text on computer screens, and much of the material is presented on the S827 website, including video material. You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet.

If you have seriously impaired sight or reduced manual dexterity, you may find using the web and study-related software challenging. You can obtain more information and advice from the MSc in Science Programme Office. The printed study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully assessable using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. You will need to be able to access literature resources electronically. If you use a screen reader to access material on screen, you should check that it is compatible with the Open Library's electronic databases and resources before you start S827.

Study materials

What's included

Fully interactive dedicated website, two course books, online study guides, printed module guide, DVD-ROM, molecular drawing software, online forums.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Electronic communication will be used extensively. All student activities will be completed online.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

There is an interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA) which covers the general medicinal chemistry and drug design themes, and three TMAs which cover the specific disease therapies. One of the TMAs relates to a group-work presentation (which you will present online).

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code S827
Credits 30
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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