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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 Fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 Not yet available

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

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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 courses 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 contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


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 our Student Registration & Enquiry Service 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 course 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. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

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. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some module software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2008 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile device is not suitable for this module – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this module by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

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 our Student Registration & Enquiry Service 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 course that starts in October 2014. 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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