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MSc in Medicinal Chemistry


This postgraduate degree course enables you to study aspects of medicinal chemistry that explore the links between disease, mechanisms of action and the development of safe, effective commercial drugs. You have the opportunity to pursue these topics across a number of different disease therapies using the innovative teaching methods pioneered by The Open University, while developing a wide range of skills associated with masters-level study. You study taught modules and take a medicinal chemistry project module that allows you to undertake a substantial piece of independent research based on the knowledge and skills you develop.

Planning your studies

To register on any of the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry modules you must normally hold an 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 take this qualification 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.

You will also need good computing skills (e.g. able to search the Web, use email, use word processing packages and take part in online forums). Please see the individual module descriptions to ensure that you are properly prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

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.

We recommend that you take the modules in the order listed below. We expect you, normally, to take no more than one module a year (although the 30-credit and 60-credit module starts are staggered so you could choose to overlap modules). You must study Molecules in medicine (S807) before you undertake the project module. Your project must cover aspects of medicinal chemistry.

You will need to complete the qualification within seven years. We cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. 

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Career relevance and employability

Completing this degree course will equip you with a set of key transferable skills which will be relevant for the workplace as well as providing you with a base of postgraduate level science knowledge and understanding. You will learn to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship within medicinal chemistry, as well as evaluating research methodologies. You will learn to deal with complex issues and make sound judgements and decisions in complex and unpredictable situations.

You will learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist scientific audiences, work effectively as part of a team, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level.

The nature of this qualification will develop your independent learning skills, such as critical reading, as well as enhancing your ICT skills for both literature searching and managing information and strengthening your communication skills with others in both professional and academic contexts.

Having this qualification coupled with practical experience could open up career opportunities in various scientific and medical research fields in the public and private sectors, for example, in pharmaceutical companies, the NHS,  medical research, universities, commercial laboratories, and independent healthcare providers.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree, you require

180 credits from the following compulsory modules

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Developing research skills in science (S825)

This module helps you develop your knowledge and understanding of the research skills and techniques relevant to scientific study at postgraduate level.

See full description

30 Oct 2015
Molecules in medicine (S807)

Examine the molecular basis of drug action in medicine, covering topics like infectious diseases (bacterial and viral), cancer, heart disease, inflammation and neuropharmacology.

See full description

60 Jan 2015
Concept to clinic (S827)

This module provides an overview of the drug discovery and development process from a modern and historical perspective and introduces you to a range of issues in drug discovery.

See full description

30 Oct 2015
MSc project module for MSc in Medicinal Chemistry (SXM810)

Plan and carry out an investigation of your own choice with this masters-level project module in medicinal chemistry, developing essential skills like report writing.

See full description

60 Nov 2015

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

On completion

On successful completion of the required courses you will be awarded a Master of Science in Medicinal Chemistry entitling you to use the letters MSc Med Chem (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

The degree will be classified as pass, merit or distinction. To be awarded a distinction for the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry, you should achieve at least 120 credits at distinction. Any of the listed modules may be used for classification. To be awarded a merit for the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry, you should achieve at least 120 credits at merit level. Any of the listed modules may be used for classification.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F62
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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