This programme takes you through the steps and processes which pharmaceutical companies must complete in order to launch a new product. Lab-based studies operate on a small scale (1 g or less), however, in order to launch a new pharmaceutical product, chemists need to be able to prepare a compound on a kg or tonne scale. This programme focuses on how we achieve this process within the confines of a legal framework.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
Location of Study
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The process of drug discovery and development (i.e. getting new drugs from the laboratory bench to market) involves a complex scientific process and rigorous regulatory framework. While chemistry graduates generally possess the required chemical knowledge and the ability to perform laboratory work on a small scale, feedback from our industry partners has revealed a skills gap in the understanding of how a laboratory process is taken from bench to market.

This MSc programme is designed to address the need of industry-ready graduates by covering the key processes involved in developing marketed products, including scale-up, product formulation and clinical trials.

The UK is a world leader in medical research and innovation and the biopharmaceutical industry is one of the largest sectors in the UK for high-value jobs. Students will benefit from a high level of industry engagement, including guest lectures, site visits, and opportunities for industry-supported projects.

The Industrial Pharmaceutical Chemistry - from Laboratory to Market programme builds on our direct experience gained from TauRx Therapeutics, a spin-out company from the University of Aberdeen, which has become a world leader in Alzheimer's disease research.

The Department of Chemistry also attracts significant funding from bodies including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Breast Cancer Campaign, and the pharmaceutical industry for our research in medicinal chemistry and we host one of the few Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) certified laboratories in the UK for the analysis of drug metabolites in physiological fluids.

What You'll Study

Lead Compound Identification: covers approaches to identifying lead compounds: ranging from computer modelling and the use of commercial libraries of compounds, to serendipitous discovery.

Molecular Design and Synthesis: presents the essential organic chemistry reactions and their mechanisms required to modify and optimise the lead compounds.

Drug Metabolism and Pharmakinetics: combines the pathways of enzymatic xenobiotic metabolism, the measurement and modelling of drug and metabolite concentrations and the regulatory framework overseeing this stage of drug development.

Regulatory Aspects of Pharmaceutical Development: the regulatory framework controlling drug development in Europe and the USA and how these link to the emerging Asian sector.

Analytical Methods for Pharmaceutical Analysis: key analytical methods used in drug development and how to develop methods consistent with the demands of the regulatory authorities.

Synthetic Methods for Process Scale-up and Development: advanced methods used in synthetic organic chemistry.

Process Development: Critical Process Parameters (CPP) and Reactor Design: transferring reactions developed on a small-scale to very much larger scales in a commercial pilot plant and onto production.

Stability, Formulation and Packaging of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient: Drug stability evaluation will be at the heart of this course and how issues concerning the formulation and packaging of drugs plays a role.

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses
  • CM5044 Lead Compound identification (15 credit points)
  • CM5045 Molecular Design and Synthesis (15 credit points)
  • CM5046 Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) (15 credit points)
  • CM5047 Regulatory Aspects of Pharmaceutical Development (15 credit points)
Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses
  • CM5540 - Stability, Formulation and Packaging of Pharmaceutical Ingredients
  • CM5541 - Analytical Methods for Pharmaceutical Analysis
  • CM5542 - Synthetic Methods for Process Scale-up and Development
  • CM5543 - Process Development: Critical Process Parameters and Reactor Design
Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses
Industrial Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Extended Research Project (CM5906)

60 Credit Points

The final part of the Industrial Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme is an extended research project. An individual research project topic will be given to each student which will build upon the topics taught in earlier modules. Projects may be based at the University of Aberdeen or with an industrial partner. In the latter case, students will be supervised by both a University supervisor and placement supervisor. A variety of different projects types will be available including practical, theoretical and literature based. At the end of the project students will be expected to present findings in the form of a written thesis and through oral presentation.

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We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Tutorials

Why Study Industrial Pharmaceutical Chemistry - from Laboratory to Market?

  • The programme has been designed in collaboration with our industrial partners to address the urgent need for graduates who can develop new drugs from the lab bench to the market place.
  • Entry on to the programme is competitive and student numbers are kept on a smaller scale in order to provide the opportunity for students to closely integrate with academic staff.
  • Our Alumni community feedback into this course, for example through our mentoring system, where students are encouraged to contact mentors from industry.
  • In the 2014 REF, our department was rated "1st in Scotland for Chemistry research impact".
  • Facilities for Biomolecular Chemistry research include 300, 400 and 600 MHz NMR, electrospray MS (Orbitrap MS), GC-MS and LC-MS, and a unique collection of instruments for environmental analysis and speciation (ICP-MS, MIP-AES, atomic fluorescence and absorption spectrometry, HPLC-ICP-MS, GC-ICP-MS, laser ablation ICP-MS).
  • Facilities for Materials Chemistry Research include X-ray single crystal and powder diffraction, electron microscopy, solid state NMR, XPS, EPR, FTIR and Raman microprobes, impedance spectroscopy, gas sorption analysis and a comprehensive suite of thermal analysis instruments (including high pressure DSC).
  • Chemistry staff also make extensive use of Central Facilities such as synchrotrons and neutron sources both in the UK and Europe. We are a full member of ScotCHEM which includes the international graduate school within the network of Scottish Chemistry Institutions, and can access facilities in other Scottish Universities.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is a Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Science or Chemical Engineering degree at 2:2 (lower second class) UK Honours level (or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth).

Students with a degree in other disciplines, with significant Chemistry content, may also be considered if they have a 2:1 (upper second class) result or above.

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English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,500
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home / RUK £10,200
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Aberdeen Global Scholarship (EU)

The Aberdeen Global Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is a £2,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Postgraduate Masters students who are classed as International fee status and are domiciled in the EU, plus another £3,000 discount for eligible Postgraduate Masters students who would have previously been eligible for Home fees (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Aberdeen Global Scholarship


Pharmaceutical drug development is a major part of the pharmaceutical industry. Graduates of this programme are qualified to pursue careers in the development of drugs or other therapeutic or cosmetic products.

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Our Experts

Programme Directors

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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University of Aberdeen
University Office
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