School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Pharmaceutical Chemistry

F152 MSci (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.

The first three years are similar to that of the BSc Pharmaceutical Chemistry programme. Your fourth year will involve additional training in skills relevant to a career in research and an extensive research project. Our MSci Pharmaceutical Chemistry is a four-year degree programme, which leads to the award of an MSci degree and is the standard qualification for those wishing to follow a professional career as a research chemist.

Students enrolling onto the MSci programme may choose to graduate after three years with the BSc degree. If you decide you do not wish to study the fourth year of this programme you should speak with your personal academic advisor before the start of year 3 (every student is assigned an advisor once they start with us).

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

Study abroad

You can choose to apply for this degree with an additional academic year abroad. We have links with universities around the world, including Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia (specific partnerships for each degree programme may vary). Studying abroad is an excellent way to grow in confidence and broaden your outlook on life by experiencing another culture, while making friends and having fun. When you return to QMUL after this experience, you will have a new perspective on life for your final year and will be awarded the ‘with study abroad’ variant in your degree title, which will help you stand out to employers.

Find out more about study abroad opportunities at QMUL at;


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

Compulsory modules:

Year 2

Compulsory modules:

Plus one QMUL Model module:

Year 3

Compulsory modules:

Elective modules:

Year 4

Compulsory modules:

Elective modules:

*All modules are subject to change.

Entry requirements

General Admission Entry Requirements can be found below.

2018 Entry requirements

A-LevelGrades AAB at A-Level. This must include A-Level Chemistry.
IBInternational Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 35 points overall, including 6,6,5 from three Higher Level subjects. This must include Chemistry at Higher Level.
BTECSee our detailed subject and grade requirements
GCSEMinimum five GCSE passes including English and Maths at grade C or 4.
EPQAlternative offers may be made to applicants taking the Extended Project Qualification.
Contextualised admissionsWe consider every application on its individual merits and will take into consideration your individual educational experiences and context. More information on how academic schools and programmes use this information as part of the admissions process, can be found on our contextualised admissions pages.

General Admissions Entry Requirements

English Language Proficiency

All applicants to QMUL must show they meet a minimum academic English language standard for admission and to be successful on the course, to the indicated levels for the area of study. See our guidance on English Language requirements for all degree programmes.

Vocational and Other Qualifications

The College accepts a wide range of qualifications such as Access and Foundation programmes, vocational awards, Irish Leaving Certificate, Scottish Highers and other Baccalaureates. You are advised to contact the Admissions team ( before making an application so that we can give individual advice.

Admission is based on academic merit and on the proven ability of the applicant to achieve success on their chosen programme of study. Every application to Queen Mary is considered on its individual merits with personal statement and reference taken into consideration.

Combined Qualifications

If you are taking a combination of qualifications at Level 3, we will consider your academic profile and may make offers on a case-by-case basis. You are advised to contact the Admissions team ( before making an application so that we can give individual advice.

Advanced Entry

Subject to the policy of the programme, it may be possible for students to join undergraduate degree programmes at the beginning of the second year of a three or four year degree programme or, sometimes, the beginning of the third year of a four year programme. Please note, not all schools will consider advanced entry. You are advised to contact the Admissions team ( before making an application for individual advice.

If you are applying for advanced entry on the basis of a post A-Level qualification, such as the BTEC HND, you should apply via UCAS in the usual way. If you wish to transfer your degree studies from another UK higher education institution, you will be considered on the basis of your original A-Level or equivalent qualifications, current syllabus, academic references and results.

We typically expect you to have achieved a 2.1 standard on your current programme and have already met the standard equivalent first year entry requirements. Applications must be submitted via UCAS.

Non-UK students

European and International Applicants

Our students come from over 162 countries and we accept a wide range of European and International Qualifications for entry, in addition to A-Levels, the International Baccalaureate and BTEC qualifications. Please see our International Admissions webpages for further details of our academic requirements, and information regarding how we assess the equivalence of your qualification.

Applicants will typically be expected to be taking academic subjects relevant to the programme of study. You are advised to review the A-Level and IB requirements for an indication of these subjects. If you are at all unclear, the Admissions team ( is happy to advise you further.

Further Information

For any other enquiries directly relating to our entry requirements, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5511

See our information and guidance on how to apply.

Learning and teaching

Chemistry teaching is delivered using a variety of teaching methods, including traditional lectures (up to 180 people), workshops (20-40 people) and small group tutorials (around five people).

We place great importance on our small group teaching, in modules such as Essential Skills for Chemists and Project Skills in Chemistry as this is where students can gain individual attention and really test and practise their understanding of topics.

Being an experimental and practical subject, there are also plenty of laboratory classes to support the material being taught in classes. Students typically have eight hours of lectures per week, normally in the morning, with two or three afternoons of workshops and laboratory classes per week.

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.


Most modules are assessed through a combination of theory examination (which typically accounts for 80-90 per cent of the final mark) and coursework (including, for example, problem sheets, online exercises and tests). Theory examinations are held in May/June, and are of a duration between two hours and three hours, depending upon the module concerned.

The format of undergraduate examinations also varies from module to module and may include multiple choice questions (MCQ), short answer questions, problem-based questions or essays. A resit opportunity is available in August for first and second year students who do not pass a module at the first attempt. Practical-based modules are assessed continuously throughout the academic year, with no final examination.

Final-year MSci students also undertake a major research project; these projects are generally assessed by a combination of detailed written report, seminar, poster-presentation, and interview.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full-time £9,250

Tuition fees for International students

2018/19 Academic Year
Full-time £19,000

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 Wales, Scotland 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

Pharmaceutical chemistry graduates are highly sought after by employers and tend to attract good starting salaries.  Chemistry is one of the UK’s largest manufacturing industries; the chemical sector has a turnover in excess of £60 billion and sustains 500,000 jobs throughout the UK.*   As well as being well equipped to pursue a career in the chemical industry, our chemistry graduates are highly rated by business and finance employers for their data handling and analytical skills.  

The latest data show that 95 per cent** of our graduates are in work or further study within six months of graduation. 

Graduate destinations - employment 

Recent graduates of our pharmaceutical chemistry programmes have gone onto the following roles:

  • Research Scientist in drug development
  • Science Policy Officer
  • Research and Development Assistant – pharmaceuticals company
  • Clinical Assistant (hospital)
  • Associate Scientist - GlaxoSmithKline
  • Account Executive 
  • Research Assistant
  • Assistant Auditor
  • Graduate Associate
  • Operations Manager

Graduate destinations - further study

Recent graduates on our pharmaceutical chemistry programmes have gone onto study the following:

  • Chemistry PhD
  • Synthesis for Biology and Medicine PhD
  • Physics PhD
  • Soft Matter Functional Interfaces PhD
  • Chemical Research MSc
  • Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine MRes
  • Clinical Drug Development MSc

As a QMUL student, you will have access to our specialist Careers & Enterprise Service who can help prepare you for internships and graduate employment.  Their services include support in choosing a career, CV and application writing, interview techniques and mock interviews, tailored workshops and employer-led events to help you apply for internships, part-time work, a graduate role of further study. You will also have access to a dedicated Careers Consultant and Internships Coordinator for your School who has expert knowledge of recruitment and connections to employers in the field.

QMUL is part of the prestigious Russell Group and our graduates have some of the highest starting salaries of any university in the UK (£24,000 average salary in 2015)**. Your standing among graduate recruiters is also enhanced by our membership of the Russell Group of leading universities.

*Source: Chemistry Growth Strategy Group, Strategy for Delivering Chemistry-Fuelled Growth of the UK Economy

**Source: Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015, based on UK-domiciled, full-time students


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."