We are currently reviewing our curriculum as part of a university-wide process. As a result, we are unable to publish module information for this course at this time. The information below provides an overview of what you’ll study and our approach to teaching and assessment. We will update this page as soon as the changes are confirmed. Read more in our terms and conditions.
This content was last updated on 3 April 2023.
The course structure shares modules with our chemistry degrees but you’ll focus your study more on the organic elements of chemistry with an enhanced level of teaching on drug synthesis, pharmacology and how drugs work in biological systems.
Each academic year, you'll take a total of 120 credits.
During your first year, you’ll explore the fundamental principles that underpin chemistry, including:
- The shapes of molecules and their electronic structure
- The nature of chemical bonding and models used to describe it
- The inter-relationship between molecular structure, electronic structure and physical properties
- The principles underpinning states of matter and their interconversion
- The kinetics and thermodynamics of chemical reactions
- The origin of molecular energy levels and principles of molecular spectroscopy
- The structure and properties of simple crystalline solids
- The chemistry of main-group elements and of transition metals
- The chemistry of simple organic molecules including redox, substitution, addition and elimination reactions of alkenes, alkynes, aromatic and carbonyl compounds.
You’ll also begin to develop skills as an experimental chemist in our teaching labs, learning to:
- safely handle reagents/solvents and manipulate laboratory apparatus
- synthesize inorganic and organic molecules of straightforward structural complexity
- determine structure using spectroscopic data such as infrared (IR) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
- record data and physical measurements and comment on their precision and accuracy
- use PC-based spreadsheets, graphics and word-processing packages to manipulate and plot data and to prepare reports.
Discovery modules are also available in your first year, providing you with the chance to follow your interests, as long as you’re taking enough credits on the course. You may also take modules to develop your skills in maths or physics relevant to medicinal chemistry.
At the end of year 1, our flexible degree structure offers you the opportunity to transfer onto our degree courses in chemistry, or choose variants with industrial or international placements.
Years 2 and 3
In your second and third years, you’ll build upon these foundations and cover various aspects of chemistry, including exploring the essential concepts of drug design and studying structure-activity relationships.
All of the lecture-based modules are backed up by extensive practical sessions in the laboratory, allowing you to perform experiments that complement the material taught to you in the lectures and develop experimental skills. In addition, workshops and tutorial or seminar groups are used to support the teaching, so you get regular feedback from the academic staff helping you solve any problems that you might have with a particular topic.
As you advance through the course, you can select specialised topics to study in more detail. You can investigate how chemists use their skills, for example, to:
- Understand the principle modes of binding of small drug molecules to biological macromolecules
- Recognise that there are consequences associated with choosing to use organometallic compounds
- Have an appreciation of the bonding and reactivity of organo-main group chemistry
- Understand the pharmacokinetic and metabolic aspects of drug development
- Understand of the structure and bonding within heterocycles and how this controls heterocyclic properties
You’ll also have the option to study ethics or business within the degree programme or to complete a placement in a local school.
During year 3, you’ll undertake a research project, which allows you to follow your interests and investigate a topic at the cutting edge of chemistry, as well as further develop transferable skills such as communication and time management. You’ll work collaboratively with your supervisors throughout the project, who’ll be experts in your particular research area.
Recent projects include:
- Fragment-based NMR screening for drug discovery
- Understanding the kinetics of multisubstrate enzymes
- How can biocatalysts be applied in pharmaceutical synthesis and manufacture?
- Synthesis of oxetane/azetidine containing Spiro cycles: New Scaffolds for Drug Discovery
One-year optional work placement or study abroad
During your course, you’ll be given the opportunity to advance your skill set and experience further. You can apply to either undertake a one-year work placement or study abroad for a year, choosing from a selection of universities we’re in partnership with worldwide. You’ll then transfer to either the Medicinal Chemistry (with industrial experience) BSc or Medicinal Chemistry (international) BSc, extending your overall study to four years.
Learning and teaching
As a medicinal chemistry student at Leeds, we ensure that you benefit from a wide range of teaching methods, including lectures, workshops, group tutorials and practical lab work.
Laboratory classes and project work allow you to gain first-hand experience investigating and applying material from your lectures and tutorials to real-life work situations. There’s a strong emphasis on developing chemistry-specific practical and investigative skills in both teaching laboratories 1-1 ½ days per week on average. Together, they will equip you with in-depth knowledge, key analytical skills and transferable skills that will help you secure a graduate job. Our close links with industry also mean that you have direct contact with industry and potential employers from an early stage in your course.
You’ll be assigned a personal tutor to guide you through your studies, and you'll receive support from fellow students through our peer mentoring scheme. Peer mentors are students who are on your course, but are in years two or three. They’ll help you when you arrive at University and throughout your first year. You’ll meet your peer mentors during your first week for a social activity.
To support your practical work, you’ll have an extensive range of specialist facilities accessible throughout your degree. The Joseph Priestley teaching laboratory, with space for 110 students, gives you the opportunity to perform synthetic and analytical chemistry experiments in an industry standard environment, and reflects the research-based approach to learning and teaching within the School of Chemistry. You’ll use techniques such as IR (infra-red), NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), and UV-vis (ultraviolet-visible) spectroscopy.
The George Porter teaching laboratory is equipped with modern research-grade equipment for physical and instrumental analytical experiments, along with a computer cluster where you can process your data under expert supervision.
Our research facilities, which you may benefit from during your project work, include the latest equipment for synthetic, physical and analytical chemistry, 500 and 600 MHz NMR machines, cutting-edge Mass Spectrometry (MS) facilities, a CCD-based X-ray diffractometer, scanning electron microscope and a purification laboratory.
You can also make extensive use of digital technology throughout the course; you’ll be taught in person how to use the latest software for modelling and understanding chemistry, solving chemical problems and analysing experimental data – acquiring digital skills applicable in many potential areas of employment.
Watch our taster lectures to get a flavour of what it’s like to study at Leeds:
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
The types of assessment used for each module aim to measure the learning outcomes we want you to achieve. Although formal end-of-semester examinations are predominant, often accounting for 80% or more of the formal assessment of lecture-based modules, many modules include a significant coursework element.
There’s a significant laboratory component to our chemistry degrees which equates to 1-1½ days per week. You'll complete either a short proforma summary or a longer ‘lab report’ for each experiment. These proformas and reports are the basis of a continuous assessment method with regular deadlines throughout each semester. The laboratory assessment accounts for about 20% of the overall assessment in years 1 and 2.
Your research project normally accounts for 33% of the assessment in your final year.