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Medicinal Chemistry (BSc)

  • Subject area: Chemistry
  • UCAS code: F150
  • Next intake: September 2024
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Full time

Entry year

Why study this course

Medicinal Chemistry is a forward-thinking degree course, considering the problems of the future, linking with industry and extending beyond the lab to cover areas such as business, marketing, and sustainability.


Future-proof training

A forward-thinking course providing future-proof training for a wide range of careers.


Gain skills society needs

Study important topics such as creating vaccines for current and future pandemics, and creating sustainable pharmaceuticals that are kind to the planet and affordable for all.


Learn beyond the lab

Step beyond the lab into areas like project management, business, ​marketing, finance, operations, strategy, sustainability, leadership and more.

This three-year course provides a broad introduction to the main areas of chemistry in the first year then in subsequent years specialises in the chemistry and transferable skills needed in the pharmaceutical industry. Throughout your studies, you will spend many hours in our labs gaining hands-on experience in the techniques of drug synthesis and testing, and developing your research, mathematical and computational skills. You will also learn about leadership, management and project planning. In the final year, you will have the opportunity to specialise in an area that is interesting or important to you through an original project.

Subject area: Chemistry

  • academic-schoolSchool of Chemistry
  • icon-chatGet in touch
  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4023
  • MarkerPark Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

These grades apply to applications received before 30 June 2024. Grades required for Clearing applicants can vary and may be higher or lower. Get in touch to discuss your options.

A level

AAB-ABB. Must include Chemistry. You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.

Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

Our grade range covers our standard offer and contextual offer. We carefully consider the circumstances in which you've been studying (your contextual data) upon application.

  • Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
  • Where there is no grade range advertised and/or where there are selection processes in place (like an interview) you may receive additional points in the selection process or be guaranteed interview/consideration.

Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

34-32 overall or 666-665 in 3 HL subjects. Must include grade 6 in HL Chemistry.

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.
- GCSE Maths grade C/4 or equivalent qualification (subject and grade). If you are taking A-level Maths (or equivalent), GCSE Maths is not required. Core Maths may also be accepted in place of GCSE Maths.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.


Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.


At least 90 overall with a minimum of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading, and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 69 overall with a minimum of 59 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.  

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to lab facilities including chemicals
  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Other qualifications from inside the UK


DDD-DDM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science.

T level

Acceptance of T Levels for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic School. Consideration will be given to the T Level grade/subject and grades/subjects achieved at GCSE/Level 2.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,000 None
Year two £9,250 None
Year three £9,250 None

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £28,200 None
Year two £28,200 None
Year three £28,200 None

Learn more about our tuition fees

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of everything that is an essential part of the programme; this will be clearly detailed in all programme information and in any verbal instructions given by tutors. You may be required to cover additional costs that are either not essential or are basic costs that a student should be expected to cover themselves. This includes but is not limited to laptop computers, calculators, general stationery, textbooks (assumed to be available in the library), and basic copying/printing.


We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Living costs

We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Course structure

The programme has three years, where each year is made up of two semesters comprising modules totalling 120 credits.

In year one you take compulsory chemistry modules worth 120 credits, including modules that introduce chemistry at university and the pharmaceutical industry, alongside 30 credits of practical work.

In year two you will take compulsory modules in chemistry, transferable skills, and a 30 credit practical module.

In year three you will undertake practical work in the autumn semester (20 credits) alongside modules in organic chemistry, statistics and data science. This is followed by a specialised original project in the spring semester (40 credits).

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/2025 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year one

Our year one modules aim to stimulate your interest in the subject, whilst giving a solid knowledge base of chemistry and an overview of the pharmaceutical industry upon which to build in the following years. Core theory chemistry modules are supplemented with practical work and mathematical workshops.

Year two

Year 2 builds upon the general chemistry skills of year 1 with modules in the areas of chemistry that are of most importance to medicinal chemists. These are complemented by a laboratory module that gives experience in the techniques of organic, biological and computational chemistry. Transferable skills modules will give you the skills in teamworking, leadership and project management that are valuable in an industry career.

Year three

You will take theory modules in synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry, statistics and data science. In autumn semester there is a laboratory practical module and in spring a substantial original project is undertaken.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Chemistry student in the lab

Learning and assessment

Teaching in the School of Chemistry is typically undertaken through a series of lectures, interactive problem-solving lectures, flipped lectures, small-group tutorials, workshops, practical classes involving either laboratory work or computational work, and a project. These are supported by material hosted on Learning Central, the University’s virtual learning environment, such as virtual laboratories and self-study quizzes.

One major element of teaching is through lectures, typically 10-12 per week of 50 minutes duration. Subject matter is supported in various ways depending on the topic. This can include slides, computer presentations and videos. Lectures are recorded and made available to watch again on-line.

Interactive problem-solving lectures

In interactive problem-solving lectures, you will practice how to solve problems (including exam-style problems) using material previously taught in a lecture. These lectures are often interactive but guided by the lecturer who engages the class in considering possible ways of solving a set problems.

Flipped lectures

Flipped lectures are very similar to interactive problem-solving lectures, with the difference that the material you need to know for the discussion session has been made available to you before the interactive lecture. This means that you are expected to have engaged in self-study before the lecture. Material for flipped lectures can be made available in various formats, but recorded short videos or text book sections on specific topics or theories are a popular format.

Workshops also involve in-class problem-solving exercises but typically involve less continuous guidance by the lecturer during the problem solving stage. Instead, a workshop often involves comparison of various proposed solutions instead. Workshops may involve group work.

Laboratory work

The second part of teaching involves practical classes in the teaching laboratory. In year one the emphasis is on basic techniques in chemistry and simple but accurate recording of observations. More advanced techniques in organic and biological chemistry are covered in years 2 and 3. Skills are taught by hands-on laboratory experience with immediate feedback by demonstrators, using similar equipment to that found in industry. Laboratory work is supported by a range of e-learning resources giving the chance to correct mistakes before attending laboratory sessions.

Computational work

Hands-on experience will be provided with industry-standard molecular modelling, chemical drawing, data processing and electronic notebook software.

Small-group tutorials

Tutorial classes are given in year 1 and 2, allowing practice, discussion and analysis of the lecture material, as well as the development of communication skills. Sessions are delivered by staff who are specialists in the topic area of each tutorial.

Virtual laboratories and self-study quizzes

The teaching methods above are complemented with materials offered through our Virtual Learning Environment which includes virtual laboratories and online quizzes for self study.

In the final year you will work on a project and be allocated a topic to investigate or develop. Projects may involve a combination of laboratory, computational and literature research. Working under the guidance of an expert in the field, you will present results of your work orally and in writing.

How will I be supported?

All staff operate an open-door policy, meaning you can always approach staff with issues, academic or otherwise. Small group teaching takes place with members of staff, giving you an opportunity to bring your questions to subject-experts. You will also have a personal tutor who will act as a contact point on the academic staff who you will meet regularly throughout your degree to discuss your academic progress and career development. The School Education and Students Team provide support on course administration such as timetabling.

You will be given access to a comprehensive handbook appropriate to your year of study, containing details of the School’s procedures and policies.

We make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (Learning Central) to share information, teaching materials and support your learning. The majority of assessments are submitted on-line, and feedback will be provided automatically for many assessments, whereas for others marking will be performed by staff and feedback given as written comments or as audio/video.

How will I be assessed?

Formative and summative assessments are carried out during each year of study. This gives a measure of performance to inform you, staff, and potential employers about your progress and achievement. It can also help the learning process by highlighting areas of success and areas needing more attention. Assessment involves a blend of methods that are selected to suit the particular outcomes of each module and the course as a whole. These methods include the following:

  • Formal examinations and class tests with fixed time-limits for theory modules
  • Reports and outputs (compounds, data, code) from laboratory and computational work to demonstrate mastery of practical skills and reporting to professional standards
  • Planning, conducting and reporting of project work
  • Essays for demonstrating searching, synthesis and evaluation of the literature
  • Problem-solving as workshop assignments or on-line exercises that allow application of theory to practice
  • Oral presentations
  • Preparation and display of posters.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will achieve by the end of your programme at Cardiff University and identify the knowledge and skills that you will develop. They will also help you to understand what is expected of you.

On successful completion of your Programme you will be able to

Knowledge & Understanding:

KU 1 Be conversant in chemical terminology, nomenclature, conventions and units.

KU 2 Recognise, explain and apply the major types of reaction in organic and biological chemistry as used in medicinal chemistry.

KU 3 Explain the physical principles and justify the choice of techniques for the analysis of drug candidates and the measurement/prediction of their biological activity.

KU 4 Describe and give examples of the targets and mode of action of major classes of drug.

KU 5 Explain the role of medicinal chemistry in drug discovery and how it interacts with the wider drug discovery enterprise and society.

Intellectual Skills:

IS 1 Recognise, analyse and solve problems by qualitative and quantitative application of subject knowledge and understanding.

IS 2 Interpret data derived from laboratory observations and measurements in terms of the theory underlying them and critically assess their significance.

IS 3 Apply theoretical models and associated computational methods for making predictions of the physical, chemical and biological properties of molecules.

IS 4 Construct synopses from information derived from multiple sources.

Professional Practical Skills:

PS 1 Plan and safely carry out standard laboratory procedures for preparation, purification, analysis and biological assays of drugs.

PS 2 Observe, monitor and record, in a systematic and reliable fashion, data relating to preparation, analysis and assay of drugs in a manner appropriate for a professional chemist working in an academic or industrial situation.

PS 3 Communicate scientific concepts, proposals and data orally and in writing to a range of audiences through media including journals, reports, seminars and colloquia.

PS 4 Perform computations, data-processing and electronic searching of databases relating to drugs and their interactions with biological systems.

PS 5 Act with scientific integrity and in an ethical manner with consideration for the social and environmental implications of the pharmaceutical industry.

Transferable/Key Skills:

KS 1 Employ information technology such as word processing, spreadsheets, data-logging and storage, web communication and drawing packages.

KS 2 Apply numeracy and mathematical skills including algebra, statistics and error analysis to data processing, interpretation and presentation.

KS 3 Plan and implement projects on-time while working as part of an interdisciplinary team.

KS 4 Reflect upon own learning and independently identify and undertake study needed for continuing professional development.

Chemistry student in the lab


Career prospects

A BSc Medicinal Chemistry degree from Cardiff University will open many doors for you. Firstly, you’ll gain the skills that society needs to solve many key issues, for example; creating vaccines and medicines for current and future diseases, or creating eco-friendly pharmaceuticals that are kind to the planet and affordable for all. You will have experienced scaling up small experiments to full industrial level and have benefitted from real-world links to industries and companies. Your training will have extended beyond the lab, to project management, business, ​marketing, finance, strategy, sustainability and leadership, so you will be well prepared to enter a diverse range of careers.

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Data from Discover Uni is not yet available for this course.

HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.