MSc Molecular Pharmaceutics

Why choose this course?

  • Aston is in the top 10 for Pharmacology and Pharmacy in The Complete University Guide's 2014 league tables
  • The teaching is research-informed
  • Dedicated state of the art computational facilities will enable you to complete your research project in emerging pharmaceutical areas.

Entry Requirements & course details

This programme is open to suitably qualified international and UK graduates. Potential students must hold at least a 2nd class Honours Degree in a chemistry-based subject - e.g. chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy, pharmaceutical technology or biological chemistry from a UK University. Overseas students must possess an equivalent qualification.

International students whose first language is not English must demonstrate a satisfactory command of English language. They should meet our minimum English language requirement by taking one of the following tests:

  • IELTS. Minimum requirement - 6.5 overall, 6.0 in each area.

  • TOEFL IBT. Minimum requirement - 93 overall, (19 in listening and speaking, 18 in reading and 23 in writing).

  • Pearson Academic. Minimum requirement - 63 overall, 57 in each area.

We do not accept a Password test.

Duration of programme: Full-time: 12 months

Start date: late September

Application deadline:

1st August for International students

31st August for UK/EU students

If you are applying close to the deadline, please ensure you have all supporting documentation ready for the application. If the deadline has passed, we may still be able to consider you, so please contact us.

Distance learning available: No

Intake: 10

Fees for 2015 entry:

UK/EU students: £5,500
International students: £16,500

International scholarships - We have scholarships for African & South American students

Aston Alumni discount - 20% discount


Course Outline

MSc Molecular pharmaceutics brings together three key pharmaceutically-relevant computational areas - computer-aided drug design, bioinformatics and pharmacokinetics – together with background in drug discovery and drug-relevant biology. The compulsory taught modules account for two-thirds of the course (120 credits) and the remainder is devoted to a 60-credit research project allowing specialisation in one of the computational areas.  


  • Knowledge-Based Drug Design [20 credits] - This module aims to provide knowledge, understanding and practical experience of the application of molecular modelling and computational chemistry to drug design. Key areas include small molecule modelling, protein structure, homology modelling, molecular dynamics, protein-ligand docking and virtual Screening. The teaching is focuses on practical sessions and will involve considerable periods of computer-based work.
  • Drug Discovery [20 credits] -The aim of the module is to provide an overview of the drug discovery process from target to market. This module includes an overview of the pharmaceutical industry, an introduction to receptors and drug action, biological evaluation of new compounds, drugs from nature, medicinal natural products - a biosynthetic approach; lead discovery and lead optimization, combinatorial chemistry and high throughput synthesis, drug chirality and its pharmacological consequences, prodrugs, absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and clearance, the role of toxicology in drug development, drug design and physicochemical properties, drug development, clinical trials, future trends and case studies in drug design and drug discovery.
  • Pharmacokinetics [20 credits] - The aim of the module is to provide students with the principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. These concepts describe and govern dosing regimen design and the time course of drug response within the body.  The student will develop an ability to collect, manipulate, interpret and discuss experimental data of relevance to drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination from the body. By the use of various data analysis platforms applied to pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics (PKPD), including GASTROPLUS, WINNONLIN, NONMEM and MATLAB, the students will pursue mathematical frameworks for integrating in vitro information with the knowledge of human body to predict pharmacokinetics.
  • Chemotherapy & Selective Toxicity [20 credits] - This module aims to provide insight and understanding into the mechanisms of antibiotics used to control infectious diseases and of agents used in the treatment and control of cancer. Through the anti-infective component of the module you will gain an understanding of the molecular targets and action of therapeutic agents, resistance and how this might be countered. The focus on cancer will provide you with an enhanced understanding of the molecular biology of the cancer cell and the basis for conventional and novel therapies.
  • Bioinformatics [10 credits] – This module is designed to provide familiarity with resources and techniques in bioinformatics. The lectures, practicals, and assignments will develop competence in using public databases of the NCBI and in the execution and interpretation of sequence alignments.  Applications for bioinformatics and typical uses in molecular biology papers will also be discussed.  Basic principles of eukaryotic molecular biology will be reviewed as needed to facilitate a working knowledge of sequence interpretation.
  • Research Methods: Professional Development & Communication skills [20 credits] - The professional skills taught in this module will equip students with general and transferable talents with broad application both within and outside of academia. Students will also become aware of professional issues regarding research funding and exploitation and the importance of ethical codes for guiding best practice in research.
  • Research Proposal [10 credits] – This is the in-depth literature search into the background to your research project. It is assessed in the form of a research proposal.    
  • Research Project [60 credits] - The research project involves experiential learning with the completion of a comprehensive literature review appropriate to the project. The latter involves the preparation of a detailed project plan including resourcing and costing of materials and an appreciation of experimental design. The research project includes practical work, data production, processing and analysis and culminates with the preparation of a detailed final project report (mini-thesis) and the presentation of a poster to illustrate the main findings from the project to an audience of fellow students and staff.

Please click here for Programme Specification

The course is assessed by a mixture of coursework, examinations, practical work and oral and written presentations. The research project module will be assessed on the basis of a submitted project report and an oral defence of a poster.

This course is designed to provide a postgraduate-level education and training for graduates seeking employment in the pharmaceutical industry. The course is also an excellent foundation for studies at PhD level.

A student on the course may expect to acquire skills in presentation, team working, report writing, general IT skills and specific computational IT skills.

  • Lectures and seminars are conducted in modern audio-visually equipped lecture theatres and classrooms.
  • The school of Life and Health Sciences has recently installed several state of the art GPU-based computational servers and 3D-visulaisation workstations upon which pharmaceutically-relevant calculations and simulations may be performed.
  • The exceptional quality of research in the School of Life and Health Sciences (LHS) has been confirmed in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) results – with research in Allied Health Professions and Studies ranked 3rd out of 63 UK higher education institutions. Projects are conducted alongside established research groups, specialising in biotechnology research.
  • Teaching and organisational material is communicated via an electronic learning environment.
  • Access to journals is provided via Aston University’s library including a mixture of hard-copy publications and electronic access to several large scientific databases.

Course director:

Dr D L Rathbone - Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences since 2007, a specialist in computer-aided drug design and chemical synthesis.

Teaching staff

Dr Darren Flower: Reader in Pharmaceutical Sciences since 2010, a specialist in immunoinformatics, bioinformatics, cheminformatics and the molecular dynamic simulation of semi-stochastic systems.  

Dr Raj K. Singh Badhan: Lecturer in Pharmacokinetics since 2010, a specialist in CNS targeting and drug delivery, whole body physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modelling, in-vitro and in-vivo microdialysis, systems biology and bioinformatics and drug transporter modelling.

Professor Andrew Pitt: Professor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Chemical Biology since 2012, a specialist in drug discovery and analysis, chemical biology, biomarker discovery, biotechnology, biocatalysis and systems and synthetic biology.


LHS Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3000      
Email: lhspgt@aston.ac.uk
Pharmacy Complete University Guide 2014
LHS virtual tour pharmacy

Fees & funding

Fees & funding

Find out about tuition fees and funding for Postgraduate Study.



All our accommodation is based on campus and over 80% of our rooms are ensuite.

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Learning & teaching facilities

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Learn a language alongside your course

Learn a language alongside your course

Whatever course you are studying, you can choose to study a language whilst you are at Aston. Improving your cultural awareness and career prospects.

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