Postgraduate study

Drug Discovery & Translational Biology

Awards: MSc, PgDip

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

The rapid transformation in the nature of drug discovery means that knowledge of related disciplines, and the technologies used, is essential for those considering a career in commercial or academic research.

This MSc will help you explore the latest methods of developing drugs and therapeutic compounds for humans and animals and disease control agents for plants.

You will learn about marketing, licensing and regulations, which are all part of the development process. Our multidisciplinary approach links structural biology, bioinformatics, chemistry and pharmacology.

You will investigate the fundamental scientific problems and techniques of drug discovery and design, alongside the challenges of developing principles for new therapeutic strategies.

You will have hands-on experience of crystallographic computer programming and computation for bioinformatics.

You will consider the moral and ethical aspects of the agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries through case studies, seminars and discussions.

This programme consists of two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project, leading to a dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • Applicable Mathematics
  • Molecular Modelling and Database Mining
  • Quantitating Drug Binding
  • Protein Structure Determination
  • Commercial Aspects of Drug Discovery
  • Project Proposal and Literature Review
  • Preparative Methods for Structural Biology
  • Drug Discovery

Option courses:

  • Biochemistry A & B
  • Bioinformatics 1
  • Chemical Medicine
  • Functional Genomic Technologies
  • Biophysical Chemistry for MSc Biochemistry
  • Introduction to Scientific Programming
  • Practical Skills in Biochemistry A & B
  • Introduction to Website and Database Design for Drug Discovery;
  • Detailed Characterisation of Drug or Ligand Interactions Using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR);
  • Bioinformatics Programming & System Management
  • Bioinformatics Algorithms
  • Information Processing in Biological Cells
  • Bioinformatics 2
  • Protein Molecular Modelling Practical Skills
  • Tools for Synthetic Biology
  • Preparative Methods for Structural Biology Laboratory Experience
  • Biobusiness

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
MScDrug Discovery and Translational Biology1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
PgDipDrug Discovery and Translational Biology9 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

This MSc is designed to help you pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry or relevant government agencies, and it will provide a good background for managerial or technical roles in research, design and development. It is also a solid basis from which to continue your studies to PhD level.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics or pharmacology.

We will also consider your application if you have a background in chemistry, physics or computer science.

We may consider your application if you have a background in another science or medicine; please contact us to check before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section

  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD

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. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Biology Teaching Organisation
  • School of Biological Sciences
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD