BSc single honours Chemistry for Drug Discovery 2020/21

Year of entry

Chemistry for Drug Discovery draws from both biochemistry and chemistry and focusses on the development, approval, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products at both a research and production level. This critical area of the sciences is at the core of the rapidly expanding healthcare sector, making it an excellent choice for those wishing to pursue a career in scientific research or in industry.

Our course offers you the opportunity to receive expert, research-informed teaching in a variety of core topics specifically relevant to industry. You will learn how to apply a theoretical scientific knowledge base to active research areas that address contemporary challenges and you will develop your practical skills by undertaking a significant amount of laboratory work. The course will take a practical, project-based approach to teaching and learning based on the CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate) engineering education method which will help you to develop your personal, interpersonal, teamwork and problem solving skills relevant to the discipline. This means that you get to spend more time “doing science”, making learning more effective and exciting.  

You will explore areas including:

Basic life processes and biomolecules, chemistry, introduction to drug discovery processes, enzymology and kinetics, analytical and pharmaceutical chemistry, advanced techniques in biochemical analysis, advanced chemical synthesis, biotechnology and major therapeutic areas.

Chemistry for Drug Discovery represents a modern degree course that draws from both biochemistry and chemistry and focusses on the development of drugs and pharmaceutical products at both a research and production level. This critical area of the sciences is at the core of the rapidly expanding healthcare sector, making it an excellent choice for those wishing to pursue a career in scientific research or in industry.

The course at the university offers students the opportunity to receive expert research-informed and involved teaching in a variety of core topics specifically relevant to industry. You will learn how to apply a theoretical scientific knowledge base to active research areas that address contemporary challenges and will develop your practical skills by undertaking a significant amount of laboratory work.

Your course will take a practical, project-based approach to teaching and learning based on the CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate) engineering education approach that is key to the wider set of engineering programmes at CCCU. This approach will provide an immersive learning experience that will develop your ability to consider and apply your abilities and employability skills whilst taking a holistic approach to the project lifecycle.

You will be taught by staff that are experienced in research-led teaching and the course will also include guest lectures and seminars delivered by industry professionals. Undertaking practical and project work at one of the University’s Industry Liaison Labs, you will also work alongside a number of industrial collaborators at the forefront of scientific research.

On this course you will combine chemistry and biochemistry in your studies. You will benefit from substantial laboratory experience at all years, with two thirds of your time at level 4 spent in laboratories. You will contribute to real industry-linked research at multiple points in the programme in both individual and group projects, and will have the opportunity to work alongside our research groups. There is also the opportunity to undertake a placement as part of your studies.

At level 4 you will study core subjects including chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics and computing. These provide a firm grounding in scientific knowledge and laboratory skills in addition to analytical skills. You will also engage with a real research problem provided by local industry in a large project that is based on the Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate (CDIO) engineering education approach.

At level 5 you will deepen your knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology. You will study organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry. In addition, there is an optional work placement module that will enable you to gain valuable work experience within a relevant employment sector. You will again undertake a CDIO-based project that will address a question of interest and relevance to industry. This project will allow you to apply your knowledge and to develop as a scientist.

At level 6 you will demonstrate scientific competence and independence by devising and undertaking a piece of novel research which will be presented as a fully referenced scientific paper and in the form of an oral presentation of a poster. You will also develop and apply advanced chemical and bioanalytical techniques, advanced chemical synthesis and discuss the major therapeutic areas of today.

During the course, you will have the opportunity to participate in the ‘Added Value Programme’ enabling further specialist training supplementary to course material in order to meet your specific individual interests and career aspirations. Furthermore, there are a number of opportunities to gain work experience through summer internship programmes either within research laboratories supervised by members of staff at the university or in collaboration with industrial partners at the Industry Liaison Labs at Discovery Park.

Did you know? You will benefit from our industrial collaborations and links to global industry through a new and innovative Industry Liaison Labs based at Discovery Park, Sandwich.

Year 1 – Level 4

Introduction to Physical Chemistry and Thermodynamics (20 credits)

This module will provide you with an understanding about basic chemical kinetics, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics, which are key questions as to whether a chemical reaction is likely to occur or not and its rate.

General Chemistry (20 credits)

This module builds upon the topics first encountered in the Fundamental Chemistry Theory and Practical module, developing knowledge in physical, inorganic and organic chemistry as well as developing further key laboratory skills.

Fundamental Chemistry Theory and Practical (20 credits)

This module introduces chemistry as a subject and covers key chemical concepts such as: atomic structure, chemical nomenclature, bonding, stoichiometry, acid-base reactions, redox reactions and introduction to organic chemistry. In addition, the large practical content of this module will also develop basic chemistry laboratory skills

Mathematics and Computing (20 credits)

This module is designed to provide you with the mathematics knowledge and skills required for a successful transition to degree-level study in disciplines related to the chemical and biological sciences as well as to develop the techniques necessary to handle quantitative data analysis. Central to the first aim will be introducing the powerful statistical programming language, R, which is critical to current approaches to handling/analysing data. This module will enable you to become comfortable with the console-based software and to use it for their statistical and data display needs.

Introduction to Drug Discovery (40 credits)

The module aims to develop an overview of the fundamental topics within the drug discovery and development process. It will provide you with a working knowledge of the development, approval, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products and will form the basis for more advanced study in future modules.

Year 2 – Level 5

Inorganic and Organic Chemistry (20 credits)

This module builds upon the Level 4 chemistry modules exploring those topics in greater depth. The inorganic chemistry component will examine both main group and transition metal chemistry while the organic chemistry component will cover the synthesis, structure and reactive mechanisms found in carbon-based compounds.

Enzymology and Kinetics (20 credits)

This module explores enzymes and enzyme function, inhibition and regulation in detail. Topics include reaction steady state, enzyme inhibition, auto association, allosteric regulation and the application of enzymes in an industrial setting.

Analytical Chemistry (20 credits)

This module aims to familiarise you with up-to-date techniques used to identify and understand physical and chemical properties of matter. Analytical techniques covered will include gas chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance, atomic absorption/emission spectroscopy and ion chromatography.   

Topics in Drug Discovery (40 credits)

Building upon the Level 4 module: Topics in Drug Discovery, this module covers in greater detail key pharmaceutical topics such as structure activity relationships and pharmacokinetics . In addition to the subject-specific learning and practical skills obtained, the project-based format of this module encourages teamwork, group problem solving and the development of desirable professional skills and attributes. 

Year 3 - Level 6

Applied Biological Chemistry (20 credits)

This module builds upon the level 5 analytical chemistry module by aiming to familiarise you with up-to-date techniques used to purify and characterise biomolecules (including DNA, lipids, secondary metabolites, proteins, carbohydrates), giving you valuable hands-on experience alongside the fundamentals of the analytical sciences.

Major Therapeutic Areas (20 credits)

This module examines several key therapeutic areas for which there is, or projected to be, a demand for the development of new drugs and therapies. The molecular and biological causes of each area will be discussed together with the associated social and medical challenges faced by society and the pharmaceutical industry respectively.

Advanced Synthesis with Pharmaceutical Applications (20 credits)

This module covers the synthesis of a selection of natural products and pharmaceuticals using synthetic organic chemistry. Each of the chemicals synthesized will demonstrate a certain concept, which will be explained and illustrated in the synthesis example. The examples used will include currently available drugs such as HIV protease inhibitors and statins.

Biotechnology for Drug Discovery (20 credits)

This module investigates the biological and bioengineering principles underlying the development, synthesis, production and purification of biomolecules as therapeutics. Topics covered will range from biological considerations affecting the eventual product (such as post-translational processing and secretion), to host expression choice, in vitro cultivation, bioreactor design and control, protein recovery and purification and determination of final yield and costs. Practical sessions will be employed to illustrate key steps within the production and purification process.

Research Project in Drug Discovery (40 credits)

The module aims to provide you with a degree of autonomy in your learning by giving you an opportunity to pursue in depth a study of a topic of your own choice or that related to an industrial partner. In doing so, you should gain practice at organising your thinking in a scientific context, increase your confidence in your ability to deal with scientific problems and issues and gain valuable practical experience in modern biochemical research techniques.  In particular, it aims to foster and cultivate a questioning approach to science and scientific method.

Likely optional modules

Year 2 – Level 5

Molecular Biology (20 credits)

This module will build upon the fundamental knowledge gained during the level 4 modules to provide an in depth perspective of the theory, practical and commercial applications of molecular biology. The practical emphasis of this module permits your to develop a range of fundamental molecular biology techniques which are not only essential for studying biomolecules within a laboratory research setting, but also highly desirable for future employability.

Placement Module (20 credits)

This module provides you with the opportunity to develop key skills and experience while working in a commercial environment. You will develop critical reflection skills as they review their own competencies and development requirements.

This course has been designed with input from industry and to meet a skills gap in industry for graduates with extensive industry-relevant lab experience in the chemical sciences. Graduates from our other science programmes go on to careers in industry, research, teaching and wider areas of the science sector.


Tuition Fees for 2020/21 have not yet been finalised. Course webpages will be updated with Tuition Fee information once these have been agreed.

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.


This course includes an emphasis on problem-based learning, using approaches based on the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) method. There are lots of ‘hands on’ work with real projects, input from industrial experts and delivery by staff actively engaged with industry.

Practical experimentation and problem-based learning approaches are supplemented by lectures and seminars/workshops.  In addition, you will meet with your academic personal tutor. 

All programmes are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020.

Independent learning

The emphasis of the course is on developing independent learners and learning by experimentation and observation.

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study.  Typically, this involves reading journal articles and books, undertaking research in the library, working on projects, and preparing for coursework assignments/examinations, workshops and seminars.

For your Research Project in your final year, you will undertake independent research working under the supervision of a member of the course team, whom you will meet with regularly.

Overall workload

Each 20 credit module requires 200 hours of study which is comprised of formal contact (lectures, practicals, tutorials, workshops), structured independent learning (prescribed reading and/or online exercises) and independent learning.  Each module at foundation level and level 4 has 60 hours of formal contact, supplemented with 40 hours of structured independent learning. As you develop and become more independent, formal contact and structured learning reduces to 50 hours of contact and 30 hours of structured independent learning at level 5, and 40 hours of contact and 20 hours of structured independent learning at level 6.

Academic input

The team consists of highly qualified academics that have a range of expertise and experience.

All our team members hold doctoral and teaching qualifications and are research-active. You will be taught by staff at all academic levels including lecturer, senior lecturer, principal lecturer and professorial level. They have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. You can find out more about the current teaching on our Our Staff webpage. You should note members of the teaching team might change.

Postgraduate students sometimes assist in teaching and assessing some modules. However, experienced academics teach the vast majority of lectures and seminars.

Assessment is by coursework and examination, both written and practical. Individual modules are assessed either solely by coursework or by an equally-weighted combination of coursework and examination.

Examination allows assessment of your understanding of important key concepts and accounts for less than half the assessment of the programme. Examinations may take the form of written examinations or practical examinations that assess laboratory skills.  Coursework assessments develop key scientific and transferable skills and assignments include: scientific lab/log books, written reports, written scientific papers, discursive essays, PowerPoint presentations and poster presentations.

There are a maximum of two assessments per 20 credit module studied. Exams happen twice a year at the end of each semester.

This course is associated with the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Labs at Discovery Park, Sandwich. Laboratory sessions will be undertaken at these sites and the location of these specialist facilities with industry facilitates access to and collaboration with them. 

The Life Sciences Industry Liaison Labs works with many companies in healthcare research and development, drug discovery and equipment design and manufacture. 

Steve Trim, CEO, Venomtech:

“Venomtech have been very impressed with our partners at Canterbury Christ Church University, this partnership has enabled us to progress projects much faster than we could on our own. This includes being able to generate novel data on the use of our products through student projects, advancing research into new antibiotics and cancer therapies from venoms and increasing the understanding of invertebrate welfare. Generation of this proof of concept data has, and continues to have, a positive influence with our potential customers and therefore our business. I also impart my 10+ years industrial drug discovery experience directly to the students as part of the Drug Discovery and Development module.

As a science employer in the area, Venomtech benefit greatly from being directly involved in the curriculum to make sure the new graduates have the skills useful to employers. This includes an understanding of applied drug discovery that will make CCCU graduates stand out from others in job interviews.”

Adrian Herron, Tetrad Discovery Ltd:

"Working with the Lab has been incredibly valuable as their approach is different to that of other Universities we have worked with and this has really helped us progress our business."

Throughout the course, you will be using and exposed to common chemicals. Development of severe allergic reactions to the chemicals you use may hinder you from continuing and completing the course and pursuing a career in chemical engineering.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Part-time study

Apply directly to us


Full-time study

Need some help?


For advice on completing your application please contact the Course Enquiry Team:

Email: courses@canterbury.ac.uk
Tel:+44 (0)1227 928000 (0)1227 928000


Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS course code

  • F151 Chemistry for Drug Discovery

UCAS institution code

  • C10


  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time

    Professional placement option available


  • September 2020

Entry requirements



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Last edited: 28/05/2019 12:51:00