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Pharmaceutical Chemistry with a Year in Industry/Research

2L22 BSc (Hons) 4 years


Our Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme provides the training required to work within the pharmaceutical industry in the discovery and development of new medicines.

Students will learn how drugs are designed and optimised from lead compounds, their mode(s) of action and pharmacology, and how they are developed through trials and into manufacture. The teaching on this degree programme is focused on synthetic organic chemistry but also provides a good foundation in other branches of chemistry.

Our degree programme is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry and leads to Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry status.

For the first two years you will follow the same curriculum as our BSc Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme. During your second year you will have plenty of opportunities to apply for a placement in your third year. The placement year offers you a fantastic opportunity to sample a career for a year. These placements vary considerably but in general terms, students are placed in an industrial, commercial or research environment providing indispensable first-hand experience of the specific job function, company and industry they choose. As well as providing relevant work experience you will learn a number of transferable skills, which employers will increasingly look for, such as communication, numeracy, use of IT, group work and time management.

We have recently expanded our range of placements to reflect the growing range of science careers outside of the laboratory in science enterprise, education and communication. We will make sure you are offered all the support and advice you need to help research, select and apply for a placement.

Our students have secured placements in a variety of companies both in the UK and abroad including:

  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
  • Almirall (pharmaceutical company), Spain
  • Roche (research-based healthcare company), Switzerland

Research and teaching

By choosing to study at a Russell Group university, you will have access to excellent teaching and top class research. You will be taught by staff who are actively involved in research, who are enthusiastic about their subjects and sharing their knowledge with you.

You can find out more about our research interests on the chemistry and biochemistry department page.

I thoroughly enjoy learning how drugs interact with the biological system and its effect. I also enjoy the interactive lectures and laboratory work where we tend to work and collaborate with our peers. Having a degree from Queen Mary University of London benefits my employment chances as it is a reputable university, rankings 11th in the UK for research.
Amita Gupta, Pharmaceutical Chemistry student


The programme structure outlined below is indicative of what you will study. It may change slightly from year to year as new topics are introduced and after we have listened to current student feedback on teaching.

Year 1

Required Modules:

Year 2

Required Modules:

Year 3

Students will undertake a paid industrial placement (subject to performance and interview) or an extended research project.

Year 4

Required Modules:

Optional Modules:

All third year students must complete one of the following:

Entry requirements

  • A-levels: Typically ABB and above at A2 level from three subjects including Chemistry, however, we consider applications with BBB in Chemistry and two other subjects of Biology, Maths, Further Maths, Physics or Geography
  • International Baccalaureate: 34 points overall including grade 5 in Chemistry (Higher Level)
  • BTEC: We do not accept BTEC qualifications
  • Access to HE Diploma: We will consider applications from students with the Access to HE Diploma (60 credit in a Science discipline e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics). We take all aspects of your UCAS application into careful consideration; we look at the merits of your personal statement, academic reference, predicted grades and actual grades, and, due to the high volume of applications, we do not make offers purely on the basis of meeting the grade requirements. The minimum academic requirement is to achieve an overall Pass, with 45 credits at Level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher.

All applications are considered by our admissions tutors on a case-by-case basis, and this may mean we would request an interview.

Visit our frequently asked questions page for answers to our commonly received queries about entry requirements.

Non-UK students

Students from outside the United Kingdom must give evidence of their English language ability by producing an English language test score. The university provides guidelines for English requirements for all degree programmes.

Foundation programme

Students may enter this degree programme via admission to the QMUL Science and Engineering Foundation Programme. Students must complete the foundation year and meet the required progression criteria.

Other qualifications

If you have qualifications, which are not listed above, please contact us to check your eligibility: 
Tel: +44(0) 207 882 5511

Learning and teaching

All our programmes involve a mixture of classroom activities and laboratory work. A variety of teaching styles are employed, which vary slightly among modules and programmes. Most material is delivered via lectures. These last around 50 minutes each and, typically, you would have two lectures per day.

Lectures are backed up with small-group tutorials and workshops, where you have the opportunity to ask, in a relatively relaxed and small group setting, about material in lectures that you did not understand, to go through problems and practise past exam papers. In general, lectures, tutorials and workshops take place in the mornings and laboratory classes in the afternoons.

A typical weekly workload would be:

  • Eight one-hour lectures
  • 9-12 hours of practical laboratories or workshops
  • 18-20 hours of private study/coursework.

Independent study

For every hour spent at University you will be expected to complete additional hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; assessing data from experiments; completing lab reports; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study and laboratory sessions you attend, along with your reading and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


For all programmes, you must take 120 credits (normally eight modules) in each academic year. Each module is assessed through a combination of theory examinations (typically accounting for 70-90 per cent of the final mark) and coursework (for example practical reports, problem sheets, online exercises and tests). Theory examinations are normally two and a half hours long.

Final year BSc students may undertake a research project worth 30 credits, while final year MSci students undertake a project worth 60 credits; these projects are generally assessed by a combination of detailed written report, a seminar presentation, a poster and an interview.

There are presently no mid-session exams and the main examination period is in May/June, with the additional possibility of deferred exams and resits in August for first and second year students. The format of undergraduate examinations varies from module to module and may include multiple choice questions (MCQ), short answer questions, problem solving or essays.

Fees and finance

Tuition fees

Fees are charged at a Home/EU rate for UK and EU nationals, and an overseas rate for International students - find out more about how your tuition fee status is assessed.

You can either take out a Tuition Fee Loan (see Funding section below) to pay your fees or, if you are paying them yourself, you can pay in instalments.

Tuition fees for a year abroad or placement year on a full time undergraduate course will be a proportion of the full fee for the year in which you commence your time abroad or placement.

For information on field trip and other course related costs which are not included in your tuition fee, please contact the relevant Department/School.

See more general information about fees.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 7676


Queen Mary has a substantial package of scholarships and bursaries which will benefit around 50 per cent of our undergraduate student body.

Scholarships and Bursaries available at Queen Mary for Home/EU Students

There are a number of scholarships and bursaries available each year for home students. Visit our Bursaries and Scholarships page for more information.

Visit our Advice and Counselling website for more information about financial support.

Scholarships available at Queen Mary for International Students

There are a number of Scholarships available each year for International Students including bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas.

Find out more about international scholarships.

Some International students may also be eligible for a fee reduction.

Loans and Grants available to help with tuition fees and living costs

Student Finance England administers all grant and loans for your studies if you normally live in England.

If you live in WalesScotland or Northern Ireland you have an equivalent Student Finance department for your region.

Through Student Finance England, you can apply for (figures relate to programmes starting from September 2016):

  • A Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000 to pay all or part of your fees
  • A Maintenance Loan of up to £10,702 to help pay your living costs like rent, food and travel
  • Extra grants if you have a disability or you have children or an adult dependant
  • You might get a grant to cover some travel expenses if you normally live in England but study away from home. If you’re a medical or dental student you might also qualify for help with the costs of attending clinical placements in the UK.

Visit Student Finance Information to find out more about:

  • How to apply for student finance
  • What eligibility rules apply, including if you already have a degree or previous higher education study
  • What the income thresholds are and how much you might personally get for each element of Student Finance
  • What to do if you have problems getting your Student Finance

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

  • Additional sources of funding
  • Planning your budget and cutting costs
  • Part-time and vacation work
  • Money for lone parents

For more information visit the Advice and Counselling service website, or call +44 (0)20 7882 8717.

Graduate Employment

Employers specifically target Russell Group universities because of the calibre of these institutions' graduates and, as a result, nearly 95% of 2013 BSc Pharmaceutical Chemistry graduates are employed or in further study.

The skills you acquire on this programme will be in great demand. Dr Jackie Hunter, a senior vice-president at Glaxo Smithkline, recently commented on the need for skilled UK chemists to maintain the competitive nature of the country's pharmaceutical industry. In addition, chemistry graduates earn significantly more than those in other science and non-science disciplines with a qualification in chemistry translating into an increase of around £190,000 in lifetime earnings.*

Our recent graduates have moved into a wide range of careers:

  • Some have directly applied their knowledge and secured jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. This sector continues to expand, in the UK, and there is high demand for good chemistry graduates.
  • Some have continued with a career in research either within a university, opting for postgraduate study at either Masters or PhD level or in commercial or government-run laboratories.
  • Some have moved into teaching.
  • Others have transferred the skills they have gained into sectors such as marketing, technology, and management.

Queen Mary’s specialist career service is on hand to offer you advice throughout and after your university studies. We are committed to helping our students achieve their career goals and were placed top 10 in the UK for student employability, according to the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2012.

I was interested in pursuing a career in research and I have been able to easily gain research experience at Queen Mary, working alongside lecturers. This will give me a great advantage when I apply for graduate jobs, as many jobs require experience.
Being a student in London has allowed me to take up many opportunities. Finding a part time jobs has been very easy and I had the opportunity to be part of the Paralympics opening ceremony as a dancer.
Amita Gupta, Pharmaceutical Chemistry student

*PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Economic Benefits of Higher Education Qualifications, 2005


Helen Pritchard-Smith

Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Currently: In the fourth year of my PhD in chemistry at the University of Bristol
  • Why did you choose Queen Mary?

Because I liked the campus and the course, specifically in relation to cancer chemotherapeutics, which were of particular interest to me.

  • What did you enjoy about Queen Mary?

I got to know not only everyone in my year, but all of the PhD students and staff really well. I had a lot of excellent lecturers, which helped give me the good grounding in chemistry that I needed to be successful in my PhD. I learnt the basics of lab technique during my final-year project. Having the opportunity to present a poster and give a talk in our final year was helpful, as this is a regular part of doing a PhD. I was also the women’s rowing captain for two years, which I really enjoyed.

Trisha Bihal

BSc Chemistry

"Queen Mary has a brilliant reputation, as well as outstanding records of results. When I came to an open day, I was made to feel very comfortable and picked up friendly and welcoming vibes – that was when I decided to come and study here.

It's a great area to be a student, there are loads of things to do: explore the parks, activities, nightlife and there is even go-karting and rock climbing adventure parks just off the Mile End Road. I have many favourite places on campus, the Library where we can work in groups, the Hive and the Joseph Priestley building computer rooms - which are ideal for independent work. There are great lab facilities and by far the most interesting thing I've done so far is carry out experiments where the results helped us come to a conclusion about a fake murder case.

I was a course rep last year, it was a wonderful experience as I was able to voice opinions and share thoughts on behalf of the chemistry body. I would recommend this to others who want to get involved in shaping the student experience at QMUL and it is a great addition to your CV."


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