Medicinal Chemistry MChem, BSc

Year of entry

2024 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
4 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
AAB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
Full entry requirements

Course overview

male student working in lab

Medicinal chemistry has had a monumental impact on the landscape of society today. It’s the hundreds of years of research and development undergone by medicinal chemists all over the world which have revolutionised modern medicines, creating innovations in everything from pain relief to cancer treatments. Without these ongoing discoveries, our world would be a very different place — and it’s no surprise why the field of medicinal chemistry is highly sought after across a variety of industries worldwide.

Studying medicinal chemistry at Leeds will enable you to delve into the fundamental concepts and new practices used by modern chemists, taught by academics who are leaders in their fields. This will give you the key knowledge and experience you need to begin your career in this highly valued profession and make a real impact across the globe.

Here at Leeds, our courses are professionally accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, giving you the industry recognised qualification needed to pursue a career in this sector.

You’ll also have access to world-class research and specialist facilities right here on campus, alongside exciting opportunities like studying abroad and industrial work placements to ensure you have the best grounding to head out into your professional career.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Take advantage of the School’s world-leading research, which shapes our courses across a wide range of areas and provides innovative R&D projects that impact many industrial sectors.
  • Experience expertise teaching delivered by a programme team made up of academics and researchers at the forefront of the industry who specialise in a variety of chemistry disciplines.
  • Put theory into practice, with access to our specialist facilities and laboratories that are fully equipped with the latest technology and research-grade equipment to provide a creative and stimulating learning environment.
  • Enhance your career prospects and give your CV that competitive edge before you graduate with our paid industrial work placement opportunities. Our close industry links have given previous students the chance to work at — and build professional relationships with — major organisations such as GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever and Johnson Matthey.
  • Gain invaluable life experience and advance your personal development with our exciting study abroad programmes, spanning across universities worldwide.
  • Make the most of your time at Leeds by joining our student society ChemSoc where you can meet more of your peers, enjoy social events, join the football or netball team and attend careers events.

Join our online taster course

Discover the vital role chemistry plays in the development of new cancer medications and treatments. Join today on Futurelearn.


Royal Society of Chemistry

This degree is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, meaning you’ll have the qualifications and skills you’ll need to succeed in industry upon graduation.

Accreditation of a university course by professional and statutory bodies is a mark of assurance that quality standards are met.

Graduating with an accredited integrated four-year Masters (MChem, BSc) degree provides access to qualified membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry and fully satisfies the academic requirements for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s award of Chartered Chemist (CChem).

Course details

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.

Discovery modules are available in all years of your degree, as long as you are taking enough credits of your own subject for that year.

Year 1

During your first year, you’ll explore the fundamental principles that underpin chemistry.

At the end of year 1, our flexible degree structure offers you the opportunity to transfer onto our degree courses in chemistry.

Years 2 and 3

In your second and third years, you’ll build upon these foundations and cover a wide range of different aspects of chemistry, including exploring the essential concepts of drug design and studying structure-activity relationships, while taking opportunities to conduct your own research.

All of the theoretical modules are backed up by extensive practical sessions in the laboratory, allowing you to perform experiments that reinforce the material taught to you in the lectures. In addition, small tutorial 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 which modules you study in order to explore advanced topics in more detail. You can investigate how chemists use their skills 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

Year 4

In your final year, you’ll undertake a research project, which gives you the opportunity to follow your interests and investigate a topic at the cutting-edge of chemistry. You’ll work collaboratively with your supervisors throughout the project, who’ll be experts in your particular research area.

Recent projects include:

  • The design and optimisation of novel inhibitors of amylin
  • Third generation drug discovery: human-on-a-chip
  • Discovery of drugs and biomarkers for cancer therapy
  • Re-engineering bacterial toxins for drug delivery
  • Developing novel inhibitors for bacteria toxins via DNA nanotechnology
  • Biosensors for point-of-care detection of bowel diseases
  • Optimisation of small molecule inhibitors for uncontrolled bleeding

One-year optional work placement or study abroad

To advance your skill set and boost your experience, you can apply to take up an industrial placement or study abroad at one of the many universities we’re in partnership with worldwide. You will then transfer to the Medicinal Chemistry with Study Abroad MChem, BSc or Medicinal Chemistry with a Year in Industry MChem, BSc.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Medicinal Chemistry MChem, BSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Chemistry 1: Bonding and Behaviour 20
Chemistry 2: Energy, Structure and Transformation 30
Chemistry: The Interdisciplinary Science 10
Practical, Professional and Research Skills for Chemists 40

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Foundation Engineering Physics 10
Mathematics for Chemists 10
The Extraordinary Chemistry of Everyday Life 10
Science & Society: An Ethical View 10

Year 2 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Organic Chemistry: Conformation, Configuration & Reactivity 10
Chemical Kinetics and Thermodynamics 10
Structure and Spectroscopy 10
Organometallic Compounds and their Applications 10
Introduction to Drug Design 10
Organic Chemistry: Introduction to Pericyclic, Heterocyclic and Bioorganic Chemistry 10
Quantum Mechanics and Bonding 10
Analytical and Applied Chemistry 10
Further Practical and Research Skills for Medicinal Chemists 30

Year 2 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Structure and Synthesis of Materials 10
Science and Society: The Critical Interface 10
Chemistry: Idea to Market 10

Year 3 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Strategy, Methods and Reaction Technology for Organic Synthesis 10
Energy, Molecules and Chemical Change 10
Medicinal Chemistry 10
Advanced Organometallics and Catalysis 10
Process chemistry and reactive intermediates in synthesis 10
Advanced Lab Work for MChem (Medicinal) 30

Year 3 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Atmospheric Chemistry 10
Properties and Applications of Materials 10
Big Data, Big Science 10
Topics in Fundamental and Theoretical Chemistry (10cr) 10
Topics in Fundamental and Theoretical Chemistry (20cr) 20
Topics in Fundamental Chemistry 10
Topics in Interdisciplinary and Applied Chemistry (10cr) 10
Topics in Interdisciplinary and Applied Chemistry (20cr) 20
Ethical Issues in Chemistry 10
Chemistry into Schools 20
Machine Learning Approaches to Scientific Data Analysis 10

Year 4 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Laboratory-based Project Work 6M 60
Advanced Topics in Medicinal Chemistry 60 Credit 60

Discovery modules

Throughout your degree you will benefit from a range of opportunities to expand your intellectual horizons outside or within your subject area.

This course gives you the opportunity to choose from a range of discovery modules. They’re a great way to tailor your study around your interests or career aspirations and help you stand out from the crowd when you graduate. Find out more about discovery modules on our Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

As a chemistry student at Leeds we ensure that you benefit from a wide range of teaching methods, including lectures, workshops, small group tutorials and practical lab work.

Laboratory classes and project work allows you to gain first-hand experience investigating and applying material from your lectures and tutorials to real life work situations. Together, they will equip you with in-depth knowledge, key practical 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 will receive support from fellow students through our peer mentoring scheme. Peer mentors are students who are on your course, but are in Years two, three or four. 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.

Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.

You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.

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, many modules include a significant coursework element. You are also continuously assessed through practical work.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB including Chemistry.

Where an A-Level Science subject is taken, we require a pass in the practical science element, alongside the achievement of the A-Level at the stated grade.

Excludes A-Level General Studies or Critical Thinking.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and International Project Qualification (IPQ): We recognise the value of these qualifications and the effort and enthusiasm that applicants put into them, and where an applicant offers an A in the EPQ or IPQ we may make an offer of ABB at A-Level.

GCSE: English Language grade C (4), or an equivalent English language qualification, and Mathematics grade B (6). We will accept Level 2 Functional Skills English in lieu of GCSE English.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, 30 credits with Distinction and the remaining 15 credits with Merit or above. Must contain a significant number of Chemistry and Mathematics modules.


DDD with a significant number of Chemical and Scientific Modules

Cambridge Pre-U

D2 M2 M2 in 3 principal subjects including Chemistry

International Baccalaureate

35 points overall with 16 at Higher Level including 6 in Higher Level Chemistry

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2 H2 H2 H2 H3 H3 including Higher Level Chemistry

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

Suitable combinations of Scottish Higher and Advanced Highers are acceptable, though Chemistry must be presented at Advanced Higher level.Typically A at Advanced Higher Level and AABBB at Higher Level

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds A Level offer: BBB including Chemistry and pass Access to Leeds. For alternative qualification offers please contact the admissions team.

If you do not have the formal qualifications for immediate entry to one of our degrees, you may be able to progress through a foundation year. We offer a Studies in Science with Foundation Year BSc for students without a science background at A-level and an Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year BSc for applicants who meet specific widening participation criteria.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any one component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: £9,250 (per year)

International: £27,500 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will remain capped at £9,250 for 2023/24 and 2024/25. The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for international students for 2023/24 and 2024/25 are available on individual course pages.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

We may consider applications submitted after the deadline. Availability of courses in UCAS Extra will be detailed on UCAS at the appropriate stage in the cycle.

Read our guidance about applying and writing your personal statement.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Chemistry

Contact us

School of Chemistry Undergraduate Admissions


Career opportunities

The employment opportunities available to you as a medicinal chemistry graduate are extensive across numerous industries, with the potential to take you all over the world.

The chemistry programmes here at Leeds have also been professionally accredited by the Royal School of Chemistry (RSC) and University of Leeds students are among the top five most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2022, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Qualifying with a degree in medicinal chemistry from Leeds will set you up with the core foundations you need to pursue an exciting career in a wide range of sectors, including:

  • Energy
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Finance
  • Environment
  • Food and drink
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Technology
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Scientific research and development
  • Legal

The breadth of knowledge and experience, along with the teamwork, problem-solving, research, communication and IT skills taught on the course are widely transferable and desirable to a whole host of employers.

Here’s an insight into the job roles some of our chemistry graduates have obtained:


  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Standford University 
  • Science teacher, Secondary School 


  • Analyst, Financial Institutions Group 
  • Junior Accountant, UHY Hacker Young Group 


  • Publishing Editor, Royal Society of Chemistry 
  • International News Producer, Sky News 

Business Services: 

  • Investment Consultant, Mercer 
  • Project Manager, Npower 


  • Research Analyst, Reckitt 
  • Communications Planning Manager, Co-operative Group Limited 


  • R&D Scientist, AstraZeneca  
  • Associate Scientist, Pfizer 
  • Project Manager, GlaxoSmithKline 

Read profiles of our alumni to find out more about where some of our graduates are working.

Careers support

At Leeds we help you to prepare for your future from day one. Our Leeds for Life initiative is designed to help you develop and demonstrate the skills and experience you need for when you graduate. We will help you to access opportunities across the University and record your key achievements so you are able to articulate them clearly and confidently.

You will be supported throughout your studies by our dedicated Employability team, who will provide you with specialist support and advice to help you find relevant work experience, internships and industrial placements, as well as graduate positions. You’ll benefit from timetabled employability sessions, support during internships and placements, and presentations and workshops delivered by employers.

You will also have full access to the University’s Careers Centre, which is one of the largest in the country.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

This programme offers you the chance to spend time abroad during your studies.

Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to explore the world, whilst gaining invaluable skills and experience that could enhance your future employability and career prospects too.

From Europe to Asia, the USA to Australasia, we have many University partners worldwide you can apply to, spanning across some of the most popular destinations for students.

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

This year is integrated so it will not add an extra year to your degree. If you apply for this option, you will transfer to the Medicinal Chemistry with Study Abroad MChem, BSc course.

Work placements

The graduate recruitment market is highly competitive so it’s important that you stand out. An industrial placement could be the opportunity you need to impress potential employers and improve your chances of securing the career you want.

Benefits of a work placement year:

  • 100+ organisations to choose from, both in the UK and overseas
  • All placements are salaried
  • Build industry contacts within your chosen field
  • Our close industry links mean you’ll be in direct contact with potential employers
  • Advance your experience and skills by putting the course teachings into practice
  • Gain invaluable insight into working as a professional in this industry
  • Improve your employability

If you apply for this option, this year will be integrated and will not add an extra year to your degree. You will transfer to the Medicinal Chemistry with a Year in Industry MChem, BSc course.

With the help and support of our dedicated Employability team, you can find the right placement to suit you and your future career goals.

Here are some examples of placements our students have recently completed:

  • P&G
  • Roche
  • Johnson Matthey
  • Reckitt
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Reckitt Benckiser
  • Unilever

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Alumni profile: Charlie Stevenson

What drew me to the University of Leeds is that it is a campus university within the heart of the fantastic Leeds city and so students get the best of both worlds.
Find out more about Charlie Stevenson's time at Leeds