Medicinal Chemistry BSc

Year of entry

2023 course information

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
3 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

Medicinal Chemistry BSc

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 a medicinal chemistry degree 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, this accredited course will provide you with widely transferable skills in areas like teamwork and data analysis and the unique opportunity to get involved in real-world research happening in the University.

Practical work features heavily in this course. As such, you’ll have access to a range of facilities right here on campus including specialist teaching laboratories and research facilities with the latest equipment for synthetic, physical and analytical chemistry to ensure you have the best grounding to head out into your professional career.

Why study at Leeds:

  • This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
  • Our School’s globally-renowned research feeds directly into your course, shaping what you learn with the latest thinking in areas like sustainable and digital chemistry, materials chemistry and atmospheric chemistry to drug design.
  • Experience expert teaching delivered by a programme team made up of academics and researchers who specialise in a variety of chemistry disciplines.
  • Access specialist facilities throughout your degree, including computer clusters and teaching laboratories that give you an industry-standard environment to perform experiments and conduct project work.
  • Enhance your career prospects and give your CV that competitive edge before you graduate with our 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 AkzoNobel.
  • Contribute to the community by undertaking community projects or a teaching placement in a local school.
  • Gain invaluable life experience and advance your personal development with our exciting study abroad programmes, spanning across universities worldwide.
  • At the end of your second year, there is the possibility of transferring to the four-year integrated Masters (MChem, BSc) course.
  • 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

Accreditation is the assurance that a university course meets the quality standards established by the profession for which it prepares its students.

This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and provides access to qualified membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

This BSc degree is accredited as partially meeting the academic requirement for the award of Chartered Chemist (CChem).

Course details

We are currently reviewing our curriculum as part of a university-wide process. As a result, we are unable to publish module information for this course at this time. The information below provides an overview of what you’ll study and our approach to teaching and assessment. We will update this page as soon as the changes are confirmed. Read more in our terms and conditions.

This content was last updated on 3 April 2023.

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.

Each academic year, you'll take a total of 120 credits.

Year 1

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

  • The shapes of molecules and their electronic structure
  • The nature of chemical bonding and models used to describe it
  • The inter-relationship between molecular structure, electronic structure and physical properties
  • The principles underpinning states of matter and their interconversion
  • The kinetics and thermodynamics of chemical reactions
  • The origin of molecular energy levels and principles of molecular spectroscopy
  • The structure and properties of simple crystalline solids
  • The chemistry of main-group elements and of transition metals
  • The chemistry of simple organic molecules including redox, substitution, addition and elimination reactions of alkenes, alkynes, aromatic and carbonyl compounds.

You’ll also begin to develop skills as an experimental chemist in our teaching labs, learning to:

  • safely handle reagents/solvents and manipulate laboratory apparatus
  • synthesize inorganic and organic molecules of straightforward structural complexity
  • determine structure using spectroscopic data such as infrared (IR) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
  • record data and physical measurements and comment on their precision and accuracy
  • use PC-based spreadsheets, graphics and word-processing packages to manipulate and plot data and to prepare reports.

Discovery modules are also available in your first year, providing you with the chance to follow your interests, as long as you’re taking enough credits on the course. You may also take modules to develop your skills in maths or physics relevant to medicinal chemistry.

At the end of year 1, our flexible degree structure offers you the opportunity to transfer onto our degree courses in chemistry, or choose variants with industrial or international placements.

Years 2 and 3

In your second and third years, you’ll build upon these foundations and cover various aspects of chemistry, including exploring the essential concepts of drug design and studying structure-activity relationships.

All of the lecture-based modules are backed up by extensive practical sessions in the laboratory, allowing you to perform experiments that complement the material taught to you in the lectures and develop experimental skills. In addition, workshops and tutorial or seminar 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 specialised topics to study in more detail. You can investigate how chemists use their skills, for example, 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

You’ll also have the option to study ethics or business within the degree programme or to complete a placement in a local school.

During year 3, you’ll undertake a research project, which allows you to follow your interests and investigate a topic at the cutting edge of chemistry, as well as further develop transferable skills such as communication and time management. You’ll work collaboratively with your supervisors throughout the project, who’ll be experts in your particular research area.

Recent projects include:

  • Fragment-based NMR screening for drug discovery
  • Understanding the kinetics of multisubstrate enzymes
  • How can biocatalysts be applied in pharmaceutical synthesis and manufacture?
  • Synthesis of oxetane/azetidine containing Spiro cycles: New Scaffolds for Drug Discovery

One-year optional work placement or study abroad

During your course, you’ll be given the opportunity to advance your skill set and experience further. You can apply to either undertake a one-year work placement or study abroad for a year, choosing from a selection of universities we’re in partnership with worldwide. You’ll then transfer to either the Medicinal Chemistry (with industrial experience) BSc or Medicinal Chemistry (international) BSc, extending your overall study to four years.

Learning and teaching

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

Laboratory classes and project work allow you to gain first-hand experience investigating and applying material from your lectures and tutorials to real-life work situations. There’s a strong emphasis on developing chemistry-specific practical and investigative skills in both teaching laboratories 1-1 ½ days per week on average. Together, they will equip you with in-depth knowledge, key analytical 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'll receive support from fellow students through our peer mentoring scheme. Peer mentors are students who are on your course, but are in years two or three. 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 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.

Specialist facilities

To support your practical work, you’ll have an extensive range of specialist facilities accessible throughout your degree. The Joseph Priestley teaching laboratory, with space for 110 students, gives you the opportunity to perform synthetic and analytical chemistry experiments in an industry standard environment, and reflects the research-based approach to learning and teaching within the School of Chemistry. You’ll use techniques such as IR (infra-red), NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), and UV-vis (ultraviolet-visible) spectroscopy.

The George Porter teaching laboratory is equipped with modern research-grade equipment for physical and instrumental analytical experiments, along with a computer cluster where you can process your data under expert supervision.

Our research facilities, which you may benefit from during your project work, include the latest equipment for synthetic, physical and analytical chemistry, 500 and 600 MHz NMR machines, cutting-edge Mass Spectrometry (MS) facilities, a CCD-based X-ray diffractometer, scanning electron microscope and a purification laboratory.

You can also make extensive use of digital technology throughout the course; you’ll be taught in person how to use the latest software for modelling and understanding chemistry, solving chemical problems and analysing experimental data – acquiring digital skills applicable in many potential areas of employment.

Taster lectures

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 of lecture-based modules, many modules include a significant coursework element.

There’s a significant laboratory component to our chemistry degrees which equates to 1-1½ days per week. You'll complete either a short proforma summary or a longer ‘lab report’ for each experiment. These proformas and reports are the basis of a continuous assessment method with regular deadlines throughout each semester. The laboratory assessment accounts for about 20% of the overall assessment in years 1 and 2.

Your research project normally accounts for 33% of the assessment in your final year.

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: GCSE: English Language grade C (4) and Mathematics grade B (6) or above, or an appropriate English language and Mathematics qualification. 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

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: £30,250 (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.

Additional cost information

The School of Chemistry will provide you with personal protective equipment and laboratory notebooks you’ll need to undertake laboratory work. You’ll also have access to a vast supply of books, academic journals and periodicals from the university libraries however you may wish to purchase some books that are recommended on the course.

This course requires work using a range of relevant software which is provided by the university. We also use a blended learning model where you’ll need to access course materials and video conferences using a computer or mobile device (e.g. laptop, tablet, smartphone).

You’ll have access to the extensive IT facilities on campus including 24/7 computer clusters with everything you need to complete your work however you may wish to purchase your own computer.

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.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top five most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2023, 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
  • Data analytics

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:

  • Resin Technology Scientist, Akzonobel
  • Associate Principal Scientist, AstraZeneca
  • Teacher of Science, Aylesford School
  • Global Pricing Director, Becton Dickinson
  • Senior Commercial Manager, Coca Cola Amatil
  • Communications Planning Manager, Co-Op Group
  • Research Analyst, Covance
  • Medicinal Chemist, Domainex
  • Director, HNH Partners Ltd
  • Project Manager, Npower Business
  • International News Producer, Sky News
  • Medicine Student, St George's Hospital Medical School
  • Research and Innovation Manager, University of Leeds

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. The School of Chemistry benefits from an External Employment and Education Advisory Board, including employers from the different sectors who recruit our graduates, who help to develop the curriculum and engage with students via talks and presentations.

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'll 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'll 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

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.

This programme offers you the option to spend time abroad as an extra academic year and will extend your studies by 12 months.

Once you’ve successfully completed your year abroad, you'll be awarded the ‘international’ variant in your degree title which demonstrates your added experience to future employers.

Find out more about Study abroad.

Work placements

A placement year is a great way to help you decide on a career path when you graduate. You’ll develop your skills and gain a real insight into working life in a particular company or sector. It will also help you to stand out in a competitive graduate jobs market 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.
  • 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 decide to undertake a placement year, this will extend your period of study by 12 months and, on successful completion, you'll be awarded the ‘industrial’ variant in your degree title to demonstrate your added experience to future employers.

Finding a work placement is competitive, but 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 organisations our students have recently completed their work placement at:

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

Find out more about Industrial placements.

Student profile: Justin Bergen

Although our labs can be stressful at times, the ability to create your own crystals and examine them under IR and NMR spectroscopy is one of the best feelings...
Find out more about Justin Bergen's time at Leeds