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MSc Drug Discovery and Toxicology

Why choose Herts?

  • Industry-Focused Content: You will explore contemporary topics in Drug Discovery and Toxicology looking closely at modern developments in drug safety science and 21st Century medicines.
  • Teaching Excellence: You will be taught by a team of experts who have extensive Pharma Research and Development experience (see key staff section).
  • Industry Connections: Located in the heart of the UK Pharmaceutical industry, you will benefit from expert guest lectures, work-placements, and industry professionals from GSK and Astra Zeneca contributing to your studies.

Professional Accreditations

Subject to validation, this course will be accredited by the Royal Society for Biology Accreditation.

About the course

This course gives you in-depth knowledge of the scientific basis of drug discovery with a particular emphasis on toxicology, the science behind the safety of drugs. We make full use of our geographical location at the heart of the UK pharmaceutical industry attracting numerous expert contributions from industry professionals (e.g. GSK, AZ). 

The course will cover all aspects of new medicine research and development from identifying novel targets through drug screening to clinical trials of candidate medicines. With our excellent facilities, emphasis on practical work, and teaching underpinned by the latest research, you'll be qualified for research and development positions in pharmaceutical companies including discovery biology and toxicology, as well as a wide range of other non-laboratory roles in industry.

Alternatively, consider taking our other MSc Drug Discovery and Toxicology routes:

Why choose this course?

  • 1st for Biosciences in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES, Advance HE, 2023)
  • You'll benefit from being taught by expert staff with pharmaceutical industry research and development and toxicology experience
  • We have strong links to big pharma research sites nearby which provide you with the opportunity for numerous guest lecturers from the industry as well as networking opportunities
  • Our state of the art Science Building provides excellent facilities for laboratory based studies, including QPCR, cell culture, protein analysis, isolated tissue studies, immunohistochemistry
  • Upon graduation, you'll be equipped for working in a wide range of roles in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

What will I study?

Throughout the course, you'll have the opportunity to develop your knowledge and understanding of the drug discovery process and the role of toxicology in developing safe medicines.

The course comprises four taught modules and a project module. In Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology students study the essential aspects of these topics that provide a necessary background for contemporary drug discovery. A focus on immunology reflects the growing understanding of the contribution of this area to disease and hence novel opportunities for drug discovery.

The Translational Medicine module explores the process of drug discovery with a particular emphasis on translation, developing molecules that will eventually work in human patients as well as in a laboratory. Molecular Medicine explores with he emphasis on recent examples of chemical and biological approaches to developing 21st Century medicines.

Contemporary Topics in Drug Discovery and Toxicology provides a focus on recent developments in drug safety science. A problem-based learning approach is integral to develop advanced critical analysis and group working skills in students’ on the programme.

You'll have the opportunity to complete a laboratory based research project in you chosen area of interest ranging across options in toxicology and pharmacology of drug discovery.

Currently available projects include:

  • Gastrointestinal pharmacology
  • Angiogenesis
  • Cancer
  • Molecular pharmacology of vascular disease
  • Diabetic neuropathic pain
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Toxicology of new smoking devices
  • Toxicology of novel psychoactive substances
  • Level 7
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Translational Medical Science 30 Credits Compulsory
    Contemporary Topics in Drug Discovery and Toxicology 30 Credits Compulsory
    Molecular Medicine 30 Credits Compulsory
    Research Project with Research Methods 60 Credits Compulsory
    Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology 30 Credits Compulsory
  • Key staff

    Dr Chris Benham

    Find out more about Dr Chris Benham

    Dr Chris Keating
    Team Leader
    Find out more about Dr Chris Keating

    Dr John Skamarauskas

    Dr Lisa Lione

    Find out more about Dr Lisa Lione

    Dr Madhu Goyal
    Programme Leader
    Find out more about Dr Madhu Goyal

    Dr Mahmoud Iravani

    Find out more about Dr Mahmoud Iravani

    Dr Shoib Siddiqui
    Deputy Programme Leader

    Dr Shori Thakur

    Find out more about Dr Shori Thakur

    Further course information

    Course fact sheets
    MSc Drug Discovery and Toxicology (Revised 2024) Download
    MSc Drug Discovery and Toxicology (Revised 2024) Download
    Programme specifications
    MSc Drug Discovery and Toxicology (Revised 2024) Download
    MSc Drug Discovery and Toxicology (Revised 2024) Download
    Additional information

    Sandwich placement or study abroad year


    Applications open to international and EU students


    Student experience

    At the University of Hertfordshire, we want to make sure your time studying with us is as stress-free and rewarding as possible. We offer a range of support services including; student wellbeing, academic support, accommodation and childcare to ensure that you make the most of your time at Herts and can focus on studying and having fun.

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