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MSc in Medicinal Chemistry

Please note that the final enrolment date for this qualification will be 13 September 2018 after which it will no longer be available to new students. You must complete your study by 31 December 2022. If you would like to discuss your options with one of our advisers, please contact us.

How are drugs designed? This qualification focuses on the latest developments in this critical area of contemporary medical therapy, while developing a wide range of skills associated with postgraduate study. You will study aspects of medicinal chemistry that explore the links between disease, mechanisms of action and the development of safe, effective commercial drugs – pursuing these topics across a number of major health areas such as cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases, neuropharmacology and inflammation.

Key features of the course

  • Explores current research and advanced scholarship within medicinal chemistry 
  • Critically evaluates research methodologies 
  • Concludes with a substantial piece of independent research on a topic of your choice. 

Masters degree

Course 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.
How long it takes
2–4 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
Developing research skills in science (S825) 1

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 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
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 26 Jan 2019
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 06 Oct 2018
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 03 Nov 2018

1If you don't study S825 in October 2018, from October 2019 you may study Evaluating contemporary science (S350) instead.

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.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

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.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. Please note that credit transfer is not available for the MSc project module (SXM810). You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Master of Science in Medicinal Chemistry entitling you to use the letters MSc Med Chem (Open) after your name. The degree will be classified as pass, merit or distinction. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.


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

Entry requirements

To study for the MSc in Medicinal Chemistry you must normally hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science, or a science-related subject relevant to this qualification. 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 qualification, since we have found that students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. 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. For further advice, email the Science Postgraduate Team.

You will also need good computing skills and a level of proficiency in the English language that is adequate for study at postgraduate level. The following should give you some indication of the basic IT and language skills we expect students to have before enrolling on our postgraduate qualifications in science. Please refer to individual module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

Proficiency in the use of English: All of our taught modules are in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting  the IELTS website.

How long it takes

This qualification is normally studied over four years:

  • Year 1: S8251 Oct–Apr (followed by a study break until the following February)
  • Year 2: S807 Feb–Oct
  • Year 3: S827 Oct–Jun (followed by a study break until November)
  • Year 4: project module Nov–Oct

It’s possible to study it over a shorter period by overlapping modules. Overlapping modules will create a demanding workload and is only for those with a strong, closely related academic background.

1If you don't study S825 in October 2018, from October 2019 you may study Evaluating contemporary science (S350) instead.



Career relevance

Completing this qualification will equip you with key transferable skills which will be relevant to your career and the workplace, including critical evaluation, problem solving and making sound judgements and decisions in complex situations. You will also 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. You will develop your independent learning skills, and enhance your skills in locating information and communicating with others in both professional and academic contexts.

Coupled with practical experience, this qualification 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.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.