MSc Pharmaceutical & Analytical Science

Postgraduate, Full-time

Pharmaceutical & Analytical Science MSc

Unique to Scotland, this new two-year programme will prepare graduates for careers in the pharmaceutical sector and allied industries


This programme is primarily, but not exclusively, aimed at international students who have an interest in developing a career in the pharmaceutical sector. 

It is designed to equip you with versatile skills in the theoretical understanding, practical execution and critical evaluation of pharmaceutical science principles.

You will develop expert critical and technical knowledge related to the development, analysis and production of medicines (pharmaceutics), the drug industry and regulatory affairs.

You will gain insight to contemporary, integrated drug discovery strategies, study recent trends in chemical and biological therapeutics and evaluate the latest technologies used in the pharmaceutical industry.

You will also study the interaction between drugs and the body (pharmacology) and explore key analytical and bioanalytical techniques used in therapeutic drug monitoring, with the opportunity for hands-on practical experience in a range of specialist instrumentation and techniques.

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Mode of Study:



2 years

Start date:


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Course details

This programme provides the opportunity to acquire versatile skills in the theoretical understanding, practical execution and critical evaluation of Pharmaceutical Science principles to underpin your chosen professional careers.  In addition, a specific aim is to enhance your theoretical understanding and practical application of analytical science in pharmaceutical disciplines.

You’ll acquire broad knowledge in contemporary pharmaceutics and pharmacology and gain an in-depth critical understanding of current research in biotechnology and pharmaceutical science.

You’ll develop broad knowledge of current pharmaceutical analysis and quality control strategies and will learn about GMP and GLP compliance.

There is a strong focus on developing your analytical and practical laboratory skills with many opportunities for hands-on experience in a range of current techniques and practices including specialist equipment, for example, HPLC, UV/Vis, FTIR, microscopy, cell culture and flow cytometry. You will have the opportunity to collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data, and to interpret and evaluate data produced both in the laboratory and in silico.

In the final trimester you will undertake an independent project within a dedicated research team, allowing you to apply and further develop your practical, analytical and scientific research skills. There may be the opportunity to conduct your research project externally in a relevant organisation

You will develop graduate attributes necessary for a successful career in the pharmaceutical sector, developing key skills including communication with other professional scientists and non-specialist audiences, organisational skills, problem-solving, review and synopsis, numeracy, statistical analysis and computing skills.

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    Students will complete the programme in twenty four months, over six trimesters.  Three trimesters will comprise taught modules and a fourth will be devoted to your independent research project.  There is a one-trimester summer break in year one, and again in year two, when you will be attending workshops and preparing for the research project.  

    As a full-time student you will undertake a total of seven taught 20 credit modules, two or three per taught trimester. This requires an intensive period of study, involving interactive lectures, workshops, tutorials and laboratory sessions, as well as guided independent study, supported by our virtual learning environment Moodle. Guest lectures and site visits may also be arranged.

    The Research Project (60 credits) in the final trimester offers you the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of research full-time in the laboratory.  Opportunities may also exist for you to conduct the research project at an external academic institution, research institute or industrial laboratory. 

  • note and pen Assessments

    Your assessments are carefully mapped out across your programme and designed to assess important knowledge, skills and aptitude.  Assessment will include formative work to help practice your skills and gain feedback from tutors, as well as summative work which will build on this preparatory work and count towards your award.

    Assessments are carefully spaced out across each trimester and include various types such as practical exercises, lab reports, seminar and poster presentations, critical reviews, short discussions, class tests and exams.  Some of these assessments involve group-work, whilst others are carried out individually.

  • briefcase Work placement Optional supervised work placement or overseas study module. Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study. Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.
  • library Facilities The programme is delivered at our landmark Sighthill Campus where you will learn in state-of-the-art laboratories equipped with, for example, industry standard HPLC; GC/MS and FTIR spectroscopy instrumentation; cell culture facilities, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy equipment, to ensure that you gain both the theoretical and practical experience that will prepare you for employment in the pharmaceutical and allied healthcare sectors.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Current Practice in Drug Development ( BMS11104 )

You will develop a demonstrable understanding of the principles of drug development at the molecular level and the practices currently adopted in industry. You will focus on the historical origins of existing drugs and contemporary methods being used to develop new ones. You will learn to appraise and analyse physical parameters and data on drug candidate molecules. Industry-modelled case studies, individual and group activities will enhance your presentational and organizational skills to achieve competency in workshop preparation and delivery; and in writing scientific research reviews.
Origins and new sources of drugs; natural products and new pharmaceuticals; the drug discovery and development process. Molecular modelling. Stereochemistry: a source of problems in medicinal chemistry. Structure-based drug design; pharmacophore-based drug design; QSAR. Physicochemical properties and drug design: electronic factors, lipophilicity, partition coefficient, steric parameters, prediction of drug-receptor interactions, ligand binding studies. Drug formulation, prodrugs. Computational techniques: analysis of conformational space, molecular graphics and the visualisation of molecules. Molecular diversity. Combinatorial libraries and modern methods of synthesis. Current approaches to the chemotherapeutic treatment of (selected) diseases: cardiovascular disease, inflammation, cancer, viral- and bacterial- infection, diabetes, asthma, cognitive disorders. Patent application procedures and IP maintenance; legislation.

Further information

Current Research in Pharmaceutical Science ( BMS11111 )

Current topics in pharmaceutical and drug development research, phases of clinical drug testing, regulation of medicines, formulation and manufacturing processes. Introductory ethics and the history of “ethical” regulation and legal implications of being “unethical”. Exploration of specific topics, e.g. drug testing, when testing goes wrong, the use of animal models in drug development and testing.

Further information

Drug Design and Chemotherapy ( BMS11105 )

The module is focussed on the chemical principles of drug design of new chemotherapeutic agents in relation to the identification and validation of emerging biological molecular targets. The emphasis is on major classes of life-threatening disease: notably, cancer; viral and resistant bacterial infection. You will learn to evaluate existing and new biological targets and contemporary drug design methods (chemical and biological) to combat these disease states. You will develop the skills required to conduct searching laboratory experiments and to produce written scientific reports to research publication standards. You will benefit from industry-based guest-lecturer input, in support of integrated lectures, tutorials, workshops, molecular modelling activities designed to develop your key skills and confidence necessary to work and progress in the field of drug research.
Emphasis on: molecular targets in cancer: characterisation and structure of biological targets (genes; enzymes; receptors; nucleic acids). Design, synthesis and mechanism of action of inhibitors of telomerase, the G-quadruplex, DNA-topoisomerases, matrix metalloproteinases. Targeted therapies, drug delivery mechanisms, design of prodrugs; macromolecular prodrugs and nanoconjugates. Synthetic oligonucleotides, PNAs, DNA-and RNA-binding ligands: design and applications. Synthesis and development of non-nucleoside antiviral agents: HIV integrase inhibitors, protease inhibitors. Peptoids and peptide mimics. Mechanisms of intrinsic and acquired drug resistance and MDR. Contemporary drug design to combat resistant bacterial and protozoal infections.
Laboratory work in selected drug synthesis, methods of purification and characterisation; solution and solid- phase combinatorial peptide methodology and biological (including enzyme) assays; molecular graphics.

Further information

Introduction to Analytical Science ( MIC11114 )

This module covers fundamental principles of analytical science as relevant to pharmaceutical research and practice within industry.
You will learn about the underlying theory of various key spectrophotometric, spectroscopic, and spectrometric analytical methods and link theory to practice in hands-on laboratory workshops. You will learn methods in experimental design and analytical problem-solving. You will learn about quantitative and qualitative analytical methods, e.g. UV/Vis spectrophotometry, fluorescence spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry (including its complementary applications to combined chromatographic analysis).
You will also be introduced to industry-standard quality frameworks in laboratory procedures. You will learn the key theory and practical applications of Separation Science: analytical and preparative chromatography. Sample preparation: extraction methods (including liquid-liquid and solid-phase extraction methods); and chemical derivatisation to facilitate analysis.
You will apply statistical analysis methods to evaluate the accuracy and quality of your results.

Further information

Pharmacology & Pharmaceutics ( BMS11112 )

This module will build upon the pharmacokinetic principles of ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination) and bioavailability (F) to allow you to appraise how different medicine design affects these parameters.

We will critically evaluate how different formulation additives, route of administration and release kinetics (Immediate release, sustained release, targeted release) can impact not only on the pharmacokinetic profile of a drug, but also the doses and the dosing regimen used. We will explore factors that influence the rate and extent of drug absorption which include food-drug interactions.

We will critically review and reflect on the use of key analytical and bioanalytical techniques to assess drug concentration within the body and its application in therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) and dose adjustment. You will learn how to interpret different representations of data such as plasma concentration time curves and urinary drug excretion curves.
You will also gain a commercial awareness of medicine manufacture processes (e.g. coatings) and the value of elements such as tablet size, colour and packaging. We will also tackle the biologics market, where medicines are manufactured using recombinant DNA technology.

In the labs you will learn about experimental design, preformulation tests such as Log P (Partition coefficient) determination and use of instrumental analytical techniques such as UV/VIS assays in preformulation testing. In the labs you will also be required to maintain a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) compliant lab book.

Further information

Quality Control & Pharmaceutical Analysis ( MIC11113 )

You will develop an appreciation and understanding of solid dosage form manufacture carried out in industry and the quality control tests performed before a final dosage form reaches the market. You will gain knowledge of the combination of ingredients that make up pharmaceutical and nutraceutical formulations (API & Excipients) and the different types of tests, required at different stages in order to comply with the high standards required by regulatory authorities such as the FDA and MHRA.
In the laboratories, you will gain hands-on analytical experience on industry-standard equipment including HPLC and UV instrumentation. You will become familiar with different types of chromatography and learn how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot these techniques. You will learn how to handle and prepare solid dosage forms for analysis by spectrophotometric and chromatographic analytical procedures and you will maintain GLP/GMP compliant lab books.
You will benefit from guest lectures and workshops from industry-based professionals from CMOs (contract manufacturing organisations) and CROs (contract research organisations) which will give you the insight necessary and preparation for work in the pharmaceutical, health, medical devices and food industry.
Formulated drug products (FDPs); Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs); and excipients which make up the formulation, binders, disintegrators, solubilizers, taste masking agents. How choice of excipients determines parameters such as PK (pharmacokinetics) and route of administration of the medicine.

A range of batch release tests conducted by the industry defined by the appropriate Pharmacopeia’s; raw material testing, validation batch testing, assay of active content, degradation and stability studies, dissolution profile testing, uniformity of dosage units and physical characterisation.
Instrumental analytical techniques including UV/Vis spectrophotometry, TLC, HPLC and Mass spectrometry. Theoretical and practical knowledge of different types of chromatography.
Practical HPLC operation for analysis of pharmaceutical samples, maintenance and troubleshooting. Mobile phase preparation, standards and sample preparation and API extraction for analysis. Analysis and quantification of multi-component systems.
Knowledge of ICH guidelines and regulatory standards (such as MHRA) and processes for originator, generic and biopharmaceutical industries.
Maintenance of a GLP compliant lab book and knowledge of GMP.

Further information

Research Project ( BMS11102 )

In this module you will conduct an independent piece of research, either as a practical laboratory-based project, or a piece of qualitative research (e.g. surveys). This involves design, development and implementation of a programme of research in a particular field of study relevant to your programme of study. You will critically analyse data/information generated, and communicate the outcomes in a written report, which will develop your skills in scientific writing. This will give you experience in summarising information and presentation skills.
On-line literature searches. Literature review. Project formulation. Hypothesis generation. Experimental design. Development of practical skills/research technique. Data generation/collection and analysis. Use of appropriate statistical analysis. Evaluation of findings, critical analysis and conclusions, with reference to supporting literature. Communication of original research results in a report written in the style of a scientific paper.

Further information

Research Skills ( MIC11107 )

In this module you will relate the physico-chemical properties of RNA, DNA and protein to the common methodologies and technologies used for molecular analysis. In doing so, you will understand the parameters that can be varied in the optimisation of a methodology and will be able to predict the effect of alterations to these parameters. You will study the current developments that are taking place in molecular analysis and critically review the application of this technology to areas of interest in biomedical sciences and biotechnology. A series of practical laboratory sessions will help you gain experience in commonly-used practical techniques relating to the lecture material. DNA purification, restriction and quantification; Cloning – vectors, ligation, screening and analysis of clones; Gene expression and protein purification; Protein analysis – quantification, detection and mass spectrometry; Principles of nucleic acid hybridisation and DNA synthesis to applications in PCR, sequencing microarrays and gene silencing techniques (RNA interference); In silico analysis and manipulation of RNA, DNA and protein sequence information (bioinformatics); “-omics” – comparative and functional genomics, proteomics.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at a 2:2 or above. We look for applicants to have a background in bio-molecular sciences such as: biological sciences, biotechnology, biomedical sciences, chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, pharmaceutical or medicinal chemistry, immunology, genetics, virology, molecular biology, forensic biology in order to be eligible for the programme.

We may also consider degree-equivalent qualifications, as well as applicants without Honours degree equivalence but who have appropriate experience gained in the pharmaceutical or healthcare industries.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2019/20 2020/21
Overseas £9,423* £9,800*
You study this course over two academic years, fees listed are per annum.

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The University offers a 10% discount on MSc Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.


With a two-year Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical & Analytical Science, you can take advantage of the increased opportunities for advancement in the pharmaceutical, healthcare or bioscience sectors, as discovery or development scientists, in research leadership, development or management roles.  You may develop your career in global pharmaceutical companies, smaller developing biotechnology enterprises, contract drug testing companies or service providers to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, hospital laboratories, or in local government, or health and safety divisions in industry. 

Successful completion of the programme also provides a sound platform for PhD study across the pharmaceutical and bio-molecular sciences, in worldwide academic and research institutions.

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