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.

Typical entry point to this course is in January. Please enquire for more information. 

Please contact us with any questions by emailing

Students at work in science lab

Mode of Study:



2 years

Start date:


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. 

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.


This is a two-stage programme run over two years. The first stage will allow you to develop key skills and an understanding of best practice around learning and assessment enabling you to be more effectively prepared to undertake the modules in the second stage of study which will further deepen your knowledge of the subject. The first trimester of study on this programme will commence in January each year.

Stage 1: Trimester 1

3 Taught compulsory modules:

  1. Professional Practice 1 (20 credits)
  2. Scientific Communication (20 credits)
  3. Pharmaceutics: Small Molecules (20 credits)

Stage 1: Trimester 2

3 Taught compulsory modules:

  1. Professional practice 2 (20 credits)
  2. Pharmaceutics: Macromolecules (20 credits)
  3. Analytical methods in Drug Development (20 credits)

Continuation of study requirements.

In order to progress from stage 1 to stage 2 you must pass all modules at stage 1 (pass rate 50%) and obtain 120 credits. Stage 1 modules are not eligible for repeat module decisions or compensatory passes.

Stage 2: Trimester 1

3 Taught compulsory modules:

  1. Drug Design and Chemotherapy (20 credits)
  2. Research Skills (20 credits)
  3. Quality Control and Pharmaceutical Analysis (20 credits)

Stage 2: Trimester 2

3 Taught compulsory modules:

  1. Current Practice in Drug Discovery (20 credits)
  2. Current Research in Pharmaceutical Science (20 credits)
  3. Pharmacology and Pharmaceutics (20 credits)

Continuation of study requirements.

To progress to the final research project module (60 credits) you must successfully complete 100 credits of your Stage 2 taught compulsory modules, which must include the Research Skills module.

If you complete a number of taught modules but are unable to progress due to insufficient credit or you have decided not to continue your studies for any other reason, you will be entitled to receive the following awards:

You will be awarded a Graduate Certificate in Pharmaceutical & Analytical Science on successful completion of 60 credits from Stage 1 at grade 9 or above. 

You will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Pharmaceutical & Analytical Science on successful completion of 120 credits from six Stage 2 modules.

On successful completion of 180 (Stage 2) credits at SCQF level 11 including a minimum of 60 credits achieved from the final research project, you will be awarded a Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical and Analytical Science.

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    How you’ll be taught

    Students will complete the programme in 27 months, over seven trimesters.  

    Four trimesters will comprise taught modules and a fifth will be devoted to your independent research project.  

    There is a one trimester break during the summer on both stage 1 and 2 and so you will have an opportunity to work during these breaks or may be required to engage with any reassessments if you have not passed a particular module.

    This programme 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.

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    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.

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    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

Analytical methods in drug development ( BMS10112 )

During the study of this module, you will be introduced to the basics of drug analysis and its main applications. You will consider the challenges associated with the preparation of biological samples for pharmaceutical analysis. You will gain understanding of an array of chemical separations, with an emphasis on gas and liquid chromatography, the main analytical techniques currently exploited in drug development. This will feed into the detection of chemicals and their characterization via spectrometric and spectroscopic techniques, including mass spectrometry, UV – visible spectroscopy, NMR etc. In parallel, you will develop skills in laboratory maths and statistics to determine whether scientific results are robust, allowing meaningful conclusions to be drawn. You will acquire the skills necessary to establish meaningful connections between the spectral data and the molecular features of chemical of pharmaceutical interest. This will enable you to collate a number of experimental pieces of information and formulate hypothesis on the molecular structures of chemicals of pharmaceutical interest.

Further information

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, current hot topics in pharmaceutical 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 )

This module is designed to deal with the different strategies and approaches of drug design of new chemotherapeutic candidates targeting different biological targets. You will learn how to evaluate existing and new biological targets and contemporary drug design methods (chemical and biological) to combat these disease states. This module provides you with the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of basic and essential drug design approaches of major chemotherapeutic classes targeting life-threatening diseases: notably, cancer; viral and resistant bacterial infection. You will expand your knowledge to understand the mechanism of action of protein kinases in the biological signalling pathways and how you can target these proteins in different disease. You will develop the required knowledge to identify the key possible interactions between the drugs and their biological targets through different workshops using computer software. You will reinforce the relevance and importance of the principles of chemotherapy in targeting cancer disease through targeting key intracellular biological components. You will learn the basic aspects of targeted therapies, targeted protein degradation (TPD), and design of prodrugs. You will expand your knowledge to understand the design of molecular probes in cancer and their mechanism of action. This module is designed to provide you with the essential aspects of mechanisms of multidrug resistance (MDR) and contemporary drug design of antibacterial drug candidates. In addition, you will expand your knowledge to learn the novel concepts in drug design treatment strategy in the context of chemotherapy such as monoclonal antibodies and antibody conjugated therapy. On completion of this module, you should be aware of the significance of the isosteric drug design approaches and its application in designing new drug candidates targeting different biological targets and understanding the structure activity relationship (SAR) of these candidates. You will be integrated into a number of tutorials and practical sessions to develop the practical skills required to conduct synthetic chemical reactions to build up potential drug-like candidates and purify them using column chromatography technique.

Further information

Pharmaceutics: Small Molecules ( BMS08109 )

This module seeks to develop your understanding of the basis of organic chemistry with a focus on small molecules. After an introduction to the key concepts covering understanding of the reactions of organic compounds, including chemical bonds, valence, molecular orbitals and their interactions, you will become familiar with main functional groups (alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, alkyl halides, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, amines, carboxylic acids, acyl derivatives along with nucleophiles and electrophiles and how to generate them for use in synthesis) in organic chemistry. Additionally, the module provides skills to graphically represent these molecules in three dimensions and illustrate their reactions by using pieces of software routinely employed in pharmaceutical research and development. These are acquired through hands-on experience in computer labs. Building upon these concepts, fundamental properties, preparation, chemical reactivity, commercial significance, reactions, and characterisation of the main classes of molecules will be explored, with an emphasis on stoichiometry. The module looks at the transformations of key functional groups in organic chemistry, followed by an introduction to equilibrium, acids and bases, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd laws of thermodynamics.A part of the module is devoted to tackle reaction mechanisms, introduce aromaticity and the main chemical reactions of benzene and study applications of organic chemistry.Chemical equilibrium will be unravelled, with an emphasis on dynamic equilibrium, the constants Kc and Kp., basic calculations, extent of reaction, solubility equilibria, pH and the main aspects of thermodynamics. Practical hands-on laboratory activities are planned to enhance your understanding and awareness of the main classes of reaction e.g., acid-base and redox titrations, assays for identifications of functional groups and chemical classes etc.

Further information

Pharmaceutics: macromolecules ( BMS09114 )

This module enhances your understanding of the structure and function of key macromolecules, including the biological relevance and their role in the development of new therapeutics. You will learn about the role of proteins, peptides, carbohydrates, nucleotides and lipids. You will be exposed to the basic chemistry and reactivity of the main “building blocks” of macromolecules and this will build on your learning from the small molecules module. The structure of these macromolecules with regards to their clinical implications, interaction with biological targets and stability will be discussed. You will also learn about their role in disease and treatment.You will be provided with the skills for graphically representing these molecules using software routinely employed in drug discovery research during tutorials, demonstrations, and activities in PC labs. Tools for predicting secondary structure of the main macromolecules will be presented and demonstrated. You will get hands on experience in the lab with activities specifically designed to explore the different types of molecules to investigate their properties and function.

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.The way different formulation additives, route of administration and release kinetics (immediate, sustained and targeted release) can impact not only on the pharmacokinetic profile of a drug, but also the doses and the dosing regimen used will be critically evaluated. Factors influencing the rate and extent of drug absorption, which include food-drug interactions, will be explored. 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 will be critically reviewed and contextualized in the contemporary drug development process. 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. The biologics market, where medicines are manufactured using recombinant DNA technology, will also be tackled. 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

Professional Practice 1 ( BMS08108 )

The aim of this?module?is to provide you with the skills to enable you to engage effectively with the MSc programme, and to develop the professional skills required to support future academic success and prepare you for the world of employment.?You will learn about the requirements of undertaking a programme of study at MSc level and how to engage with this effectively. A range of technologies including MS Teams, WebEX and Moodle will be used to support teaching and communication and enhance your digital literacy skills. To further enhance your digital confidence, you will be expected to use MS office tools to prepare assignments for submission and for analysis of data. Professional values will be taught across a range of subjects with reference to standards and codes of practice such as the academic regulations, code of ethics and academic conduct regulations. Scholarship skills including literature searching, use of referencing, and academic writing will be embedded throughout the module to develop your academic literacy. Key employability skills including time management and reflective practices will be closely linked to assessment preparations and encouraging engagement. A portfolio of evidence will be generated over the course of the module allowing you to evidence your acquisition of skills and the development of your practice.

Further information

Professional Practice 2 ( BMS10111 )

The aim of this module is to develop your critical reading and writing skills, and supporting you to review evidence and synthesise complex ideas into a scientifically and professionally written report. This module builds on the skills developed in trimester 1. The module also aims to develop your knowledge of research methodology including understanding aspects of research design, creating proposals, and planning research. You will further develop your analytical, problem solving and time management skills, and there will be an opportunity to develop your peer review and feedback skills in the preparation of your assessments. You will be expected to contribute to class discussions, thus further developing your communication and team working skills, and to reflect on your skills development towards the end of the module.

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 Skills ( MIC11107 )

The module will include an overview of the research process including hypothesis and research question design and the role of the research literature as evidence to assist in the development of research ideas relevant to practice. You will also learn about analysis and interpretation of data and how to ensure data generated is robust and scientifically valid and will explore aspects related to the importance of research governance and ethics in research design. You will gain practice in scientific writing and have the opportunity to develop a research proposal designed to tackle a specific scientific problem in your field of study. You will learn about some of the tools used in research in the fields of biology and chemistry, and how the research process links across multiple disciplines to solve specific scientific challenges, by gaining an appreciation of how this works in the real world using examples from current research. You will also have an opportunity to develop your skills in the laboratory through hands on practical experience.

Further information

Scientific Communication and Data Handling ( BMS09113 )

The aim of this module is to develop your scientific communication, data handling and interpretation skills and provide you with the key skills to undertake scientific investigations. There?will be a focus on locating appropriate scientific sources,?developing effective reading strategies, and developing?critical reading and writing skills. The difference?between being descriptive and critical, scientific and reflective writing styles, and how these are used in scientific publications and writing will be considered. Data analysis, including how to organise, manage and present data as well as an introduction to statistical analysis will be taught, enabling you to become familiar with data analysis tools. A key focus will be on the evaluation and synthesis?of scientific concepts from research articles into an oral presentation that will be presented to the class. You will be expected to use and become familiar with MS Office packages including Word, PowerPoint and Excel for the analysis and presentation of your data.

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.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Pharmaceutical and Analytical Science?

The entry requirement for Stage 1 of this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree with a background in subjects such as biomedical sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, pharmaceutical or medicinal chemistry, microbiology and/or biotechnology at a 2:2 or above.

We may also consider other qualifications or experience which demonstrate through our recognition of prior learning process that you have appropriate knowledge and skills such as a degree-equivalent qualification in a relevant biomolecular discipline as per above, plus a minimum of two years relevant post-qualification work experience. 

For students who may not meet the normal entry requirements, who wish to explore if they would be eligible for entry to the programme, contact to seek advice on whether or not they should apply.

Can I get admission in Pharmaceutical and Analytical Science based on my working experience in this sector?

This course has academic entry requirements which are assessed alongside relevant work experience. Full details of any relevant work experience, including references should be submitted with your application and may be considered for entry where the minimum academic entry requirements are below those required.

Usually, unrelated work experience is not considered sufficient for entry without meeting the minimum academic entry requirements. Please contact us with your specific circumstances by submitting an enquiry form above and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the Postgraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.


As all learning, teaching and assessment activities are conducted in English, if your first language is not English you must have a minimum International English Language Testing System score of 6.0 with all four elements having a score of at least 5.5

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

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

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

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 2024/25 2025/26
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £10,525 £tba
Overseas and EU £12,530 £tba
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
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Please note:

The discount for Edinburgh Napier alumni can only be applied to year one of a full-time Postgraduate degree, any additional years are exempt from the discount.

For part time Postgraduate degrees the discount will apply to years one, two and three only and any additional years will be exempt from the discount.

Please read our full T&C here


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.

Student working with his hands inside a fume cupboard in a science lab