Postgraduate study
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Medicinal and Biological Chemistry MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

In this MSc in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, you will explore the role of biomolecules in life, disease and biotechnology from a chemical perspective.

You will gain a thorough understanding of the structures, properties, functions, applications and manipulation of biological molecules, from macromolecules to cells, whilst also discussing the design of exciting new medicines in the laboratory and their function in clinical settings. This also requires the chemical understanding of synthetic molecules, their structures, properties, analysis and synthesis.

The programme will have a strong practical element and significant continuous assessment. This includes a practical research project, which provides you with invaluable experience of working on a real research project on a medicinal or biological chemistry topic.

Much of the teaching is designed specifically for the MSc students and you will be assessed through a combination of:

  • coursework
  • laboratory reports
  • presentations
  • exams
  • performance and reporting on the MSc research project

The knowledge and skills acquired in the programme will leave graduates well equipped to compete for positions in chemical, pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies.

The lecture courses include topics in:

  • Concepts in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry
  • Advanced Medicinal Chemistry
  • Advanced Biological Chemistry
  • Optional Courses in Chemistry
  • Laboratory Techniques and Research Techniques

These are studied concurrently with a predominantly practical based course offering an introduction to research methods related to medicinal and biological chemistry.

Students then proceed to a period of full-time research project work, leading to the submission of their Masters dissertation.

MSc Student Experience

How will I learn?

Lectures are given by leading researchers in the area of medicinal and biological chemistry.

The lecture courses are supported by tutorial sessions and assessed by coursework and examination.

The MSc programme provides experience and training in activities that are important to professional chemists and to the research process, such as:

  • science communication
  • data handling and statistics
  • modern laboratory techniques in Chemistry
  • relevant transferable skills

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScMedicinal and Biological Chemistry1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

On completion of the programme, you should have developed a depth of comprehension and critique in the core elements of their subject area, including:

  • critical analysis and management of data
  • judging the relationship between theory and methodology
  • assessment of the appropriate methods of data collection/analysis to address the research question
  • assessment of relevance of previous studies
  • critical thinking

Additionally, you will have enhanced your professional/practical skills through:

  • experience of research design and management
  • advanced instrumentation or techniques
  • production of scientific reports

You will also have the opportunity to develop transferable skills such as:

  • written, visual and oral delivery and dissemination of research findings
  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • computing proficiency
  • organisation skills

The School of Chemistry actively supports and guides its students in their career aspirations. As a graduate, you will be well suited to take up roles in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, either in research and development or sales and marketing. You will gain valuable work experience in a real-life research environment.

Our courses also teach you the valuable skills you need to move into other areas outside chemistry. Careers in IT, management or finance are possibilities after completing your degree.

Alternatively, a masters degree is a precursor to a PhD degree.

Alumni Profiles

Chemistry Career profiles

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in chemistry, or a closely related discipline, with a strong chemistry component.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant work experience and supportive references.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScMedicinal and Biological Chemistry1 YearFull-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your residency status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

The Chemistry Tercentenary Masters Scholarship helps outstanding postgraduate taught masters students to study in the School of Chemistry by providing for some of the costs of their training.


The scholarship will cover your full tuition fees (2024/25 Scotland/Rest of UK/International/EU tuition fees) and will be tenable for one academic session. This award cannot be held concurrently with fully-funded scholarships. It can, however, be combined with other partial funding.


The scholarship is offered to applicants starting a full-time MSc programme in the School of Chemistry in September 2024 in:

  • MSc Analytical Chemistry
  • MSc Medicinal & Biological Chemistry
  • MSc Materials Chemistry

For further information on the scholarship opportunities available, please see our website:

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Chemistry
  • Joseph Black Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JJ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Chemistry
  • Joseph Black Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JJ