MChem Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Fundamentals of Drug Discovery

Course unit fact file
Unit code CHEM20421
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


  The unit will introduce the basics of drug discovery, and the analytical and computational tools used in medicinal chemistry. The unit will consist of lectures by academics from the School of Chemistry and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Learning materials are delivered by a mixture of lectures and workshops, supported by E-learning content.





Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Fundamentals of Biochemistry BIOL10551 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Properties of Medicines PHAR10102 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The unit aims to:

  • Discuss how targets are selected and how lead compounds are identified and optimised. This will be taught using classical case studies in medicinal chemistry (Part 1)
  • Discuss the use of computational chemistry in rational drug design (Part 2)
  • Explain and appraise the techniques of analytical chemistry used in drug discovery and development (Part 3).


Learning outcomes

  • To gain knowledge of key historically important events during the development of modern medicinal chemistry.
  • To expand and consolidate knowledge of the important chemical principles which underlie the drug discovery process.
  • To be able to rationalize the documented drug discovery programs leading to known pharmaceutical entities.
  • To be able to devise plausible discovery strategies for unseen/hypothetical drug targets.
  • Describe how molecular modelling methods have evolved and integrate into modern, multidisciplinary structure-based design.
  • Summarise the key concepts surrounding the potential energy surface, including methods of energy calculation and exploration, and appreciate the advantages and limitations of these methods
  • Describe computer-based 2D and 3D approaches to drug design and discovery, including functional group mapping, virtual screening, de novo design, quantitative-structure activity relationships and database analysis.
  • Compare and contrast 2D and 3D approaches computer-aided drug design, giving examples of their use in drug discovery projects.
  • Describe the basic principles behind chromatography- and mass spectrometry-based techniques.
  • Illustrate the role analytical chemistry plays in the various stages of drug discovery and development.
  • Select and assess the application of analytical methods for specific activities associated with drug discovery and development.
  • Interpret the results of quantitative and qualitative bioanalytical measurements.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Problem solving – applying knowledge of analytical techniques to solve problems
  • Communication skills- presenting scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly in writing and orally during workshops
  • Decision making – selecting appropriate chemical and analytical strategies
  • Independent learning – time-management and organisation skills


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Online support materials include test exercises (formative assessment) that allow students to engage in problem-solving activities, with the provision of answers and feedback.  Immediate feedback will be given during workshop activities.


Recommended reading

G. L. Patrick, An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (4th Edition), OUP, Oxford, 2009 (ISBN 0199234479). (Recommended)

A. R. Leach, Molecular Modelling: Principles and Applications (2nd Edition), Prentice Hall, Harlow, 2001 (ISBN 0582382106). (Recommended)

S. H. Hansen, S. Pederson-Bjergaard, K. E. Rasmussen, Introduction to Pharmaceutical Chemical Analysis, Wiley, Chichester, 2012 (ISBN 0470661222). (Recommended)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 26
Independent study hours
Independent study 72

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicholas Lockyer Unit coordinator

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