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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.


S827 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards E68 and F62, which are no longer available to new students.

Postgraduate Loans

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.

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.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.

OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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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.

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).

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (CMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Concept to clinic (S827) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. It will start for the last time in October 2020.


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

    Entry requirements

    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. An undergraduate degree in the areas of chemistry, physics, biology and medicine would be preferred. As this module deals with medicinal chemistry, knowledge of chemistry, and especially organic chemistry, would be particularly helpful. 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.

    We strongly recommend that you check whether or not your background and experience are sufficient to give you a sound basis on which to tackle this module, since we have found that students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully.

    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 module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 £1190.00

    New to OU? Registration closed but there may be places available. Ring +44 (0)300 303 5303. Already an OU Student? You have until 20/09/18 to register.

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2020.

    Future availability

    Concept to clinic (S827) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. It will start for the last time in October 2020.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    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

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    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.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.