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An integrated masters that equips you with the required knowledge, professional and practical skills to work in the global biopharmaceutical industry.
Study Pharmaceutical Bioscience at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.
Pharmaceutical Biosciences has been designed for those with a strong interest in science and a keen desire to pursue a career in the industry responsible for the manufacture of medicines. The course contains all the relevant chemistry required for a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry as well as providing students with a wider skill set to achieve the necessary expertise required for the biopharmaceutical industry. The design of the course is such that over the four years students will grow in knowledge and practical ability culminating in a significant placement within their fourth year.
The overall purpose of the course is to provide an academically challenging and vocationally relevant science education for those wishing to follow careers in research, the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical industry and other areas of biomedical science producing competent graduates to meet local regional and national needs. The course aims to provide opportunities for students to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of pharmaceutical science, biomedical science, formulation and manufacture of medicines
- Develop core skills necessary to evaluate and to undertake research in pharmaceutical/biomedical sciences or industry
- Apply intellectual, practical, enterprise and personal skills (including communication, teamwork, problem-solving, decision making, initiative and creativity) to enable effective life-long learning in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences.
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About this course
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The Pharmaceutical Biosciences masters degree has been designed with consultation from a leading number of international bio/pharmaceutical companies – the degree has been specifically tailored to meet the needs of the employer thus easing the transition between graduation and career.
The course is mainly delivered from the recently refurbished Saad Centre for Pharmacy and Diabetes. Specialised teaching laboratories, seminar rooms, computer suite and a lecture theatre have all been finished to a high specification. In addition, students will have access to state of the art instrumentation; including a 600 MHz NMR, various Mass Spectrometers, RP-HPLC, Uv-Vis spectrometers and an award winning bioimaging suite.
At the University of Ulster we recognise the benefits of ‘hands on experience’ and as such we have incorporated a large practical element into each of the modules offered on this course. In addition there are two significant research projects/placement opportunities where the student will have the chance to work in a research environment in the award winning Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) at Ulster as well as a research/industrial placement in the final year of the four year masters degree.
Attendance is four years full time. Students will study a range of 10 and 20 credit modules in each of the first three years. Each year students will complete 120 credits. The final year will contain a larger 60 credit placement module together with four advanced distance taught modules worth 15 credits each. Each twenty credit module will typically require 200 hours of study to include lectures, tutorials, practicals and directed independent study.
- September 2017
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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Professional Skills for Pharmaceutical Biosciences
To provide an overview of professional practice in pharmaceutical biosciences; pharmaceutical calculations and numeracy; basic statistical methods and core mathematical techniques used in experimental reports and research, and to develop essential learning skills.
Pharmaceutical Biosciences 1
This module provides an introduction to pharmaceutical biosciences. It covers the general descriptive physical, organic and inorganic chemistry and the principles underlying chemical properties and reactions of simple organic and inorganic compounds and provides and introduction to the study of human physiology and anatomy to underpin study in health and disease.
Pharmaceutical Biosciences 2
The module is designed to provide an introduction to biological systems and the cells and macromolecules involved in these systems, the chemical processes underlying life and the role of pharmaceutical chemical sciences for the study and understanding of structures, properties and behaviour of drug molecules which will interact with these systems
This module considers a wide number of aspects and issues in biotechnology, sufficient to underpin and reinforce other topics in life sciences. Topics include production, commercialisation and ethics of biotechnology products and the impact of biotechnology on modern society.
Pharmacology, Genetics and Microbiology
This module introduces the basic concepts of pharmacology, genetics and microbiology, sufficient to underpin further study in the pharmaceutical biosciences.
This module will introduce modern bioanalytical technologies applied to the analysis of biomolecules including; chromatography, electrophoresis, spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and immunochemical analysis.
This module will introduce the concepts and requirements of biobusinesses that are necessary to ensure professional conduct in a career in the biosciences. Laboratory management, quality control, data protection, health & safety and scientific communication are covered. This module will facilitate understanding of current professional practice as recognised throughout the varied range of local and national bioscience industries, as well as further developing skills and attributes that will enable graduates to work as biosciences professionals.
Epidemiology and statistics
This module is designed to provide understanding of key concepts in epidemiology and statistics sufficient to underpin further study in nutrition science.
This module helps students to develop an understanding and expertise in the qualitative and quantitative analysis of pharmaceutical products, and GLP.
This module provides an introduction to physicochemical principles essential for the study and understanding of various aspects of pharmaceutical formulations and drug delivery systems, and for the solution of practical professional problems.
The module provides an overview of the varied roles played by naturally occurring organic chemical compounds. The importance of stereochemical features of such compounds is emphasised; means of determining biochemical pathways are illustrated and techniques of isolation, modification and synthesis of biologically significant molecules are described. Lectures, tutorials, directed reading and group activities will be featured.
This module will introduce advances in modern bioanalytical technologies applied to the analysis of molecules relevant to pharmaceutical biosciences particularly focusing on chromatography and mass spectrometry.
This module provides an understanding of the principles and procedures of the industrial manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. Furthermore, it provides in-depth knowledge of drug delivery systems currently used and relevant knowledge and skills to apply basic physicochemical principles and preformulation information to the design and production of stable pharmaceutical dosage forms.
Research Methods and Project
This module provides experience in research philosophy, planning and methodology by relevant literature survey, and generation and evaluation of original data.
Biomolecular therapeutics and immunology for pharmaceutical biosciences
This module develops an understanding and expertise in the fundamentals of immunology and infectious diseases and molecular biology techniques and concepts in genomics, pharmacogenomics, proteomics and gene screening, diagnosis and therapy, in relation pharmacy.
Quality Processes and Control
This module provides an understanding of the quality assurance principles and procedures required for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and the bodies responsible for ensuring their implementation.
Medical and Healthcare Biotechnology
This module will introduce students to biotechnology as applied to the delivery of healthcare. The influence of public sector policies and regulation will be explored. The UK's current health services will be the primary focus however global contexts will also be considered. Students will be encouraged to explore possible future scenarios which are driven by technological change or where technology is developed to meet healthcare service needs.
Introduction to Stratified Medicine & Pharmacogenomics
This module seeks to develop students? knowledge of important and emerging areas within stratified medicine. It explores the role of pharmacogenetics developing an understanding of the molecular aspects of stratified medicine and creates a foundation for future learning in modules to follow. The module reviews the methods of biomarker discovery and translation and considers the issues surrounding stratified medicine research and its application into society.
Work Based Learning
Placement provides a wide range of opportunities for students to experience professional work experience in an industrial, hospital or university environment. Students benefit by greatly improving their practical abilities, time management, organisational and interpersonal skills and hence their employability.
Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry
This module provides a thorough understanding of the scientific principles of how medicines are developed, manufactured, and brought to the market place through the process of discovery, development and approval of drugs.
Advanced pharmaceutical nanotechnology
This module provides an introduction to the understanding of the formulation, characterisation, evaluation and application of novel pharmaceutical delivery systems based on nanotechnology.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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Grades BBB to include Chemistry and 1 other science subject from Physics, Maths, Biology, IT or Applied Science double award.
Provided the subject requirements above are met you can substitute a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University for one of the A level grades.
Pass overall BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science with DDM to include at least 9 distinctions and to include distinction in the following units:
Fundamentals of Science, Scientific Practical Techniques, Industrial Application of Chemical Reactions, Chemical Periodicity and its Applications, Industrial Application of Organic Chemistry
Irish Leaving Certificate
Grades H3,H3,H3,H3,H3 including Chemistry and 1 other science subject from Physics, Maths, Biology or IT.
Higher Level English and Maths Grade H6 or above OR Ordinary Level English and Maths Grade O4 or above also required.
Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum 26 points including 13 at higher level - to include Chemistry and 1 other subject from Biology, Physics, Maths, IT.
Access to Higher Education (HE)
Pass science-based Access course with a minimum overall mark of 70% and a minimum of 70% in each level 3 module.
GCSE pass in English Language and Maths at grade C (or grade 4) or above (or equivalent). You must also hold a GCSE pass in Chemistry (grade C/grade 4) or Double Award Science(grade CC) or above (or equivalent).
Please note that for purposes of entry to this course the Level 2 Essential / Key Skill in Application of Number is NOT regarded as an acceptable alternative to GCSE Maths.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Additional Entry Requirements
Acceptable alternative qualifications include:
Pass HND with overall Merit to include 60 distinctions in level 5 credits/units may be specified.
Pass HNC with overall Distinction to include 90 distinctions in level 4/5 credits/units may be specified.
You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met). Examples of acceptable combinations include:
2 A Levels and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma
OCR National Diploma and BTEC Subsidiary Diploma
2 A Levels and Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma
A Level and BTEC National Diploma
Teaching and learning assessment
Teaching and Learning Methods: lectures, case studies, reading, tutorials, seminars, on line material; videos; problem based cases and scenarios, workshops, on line and face to face discussion groups, practical exercises, demonstrations, literature searching, observation.
Lectures remain a key feature in teaching and learning within the School. However, lectures are increasingly interactive, and may include discussion elements. A high proportion of lectures are delivered using PowerPoint presentations and teaching material is also provided on BBlearn where students can access lecture and other material. Some lecturers also provide hard copy lecture notes that students can purchase through the Faculty laboratories, or printing out from BBlearn.
Practical classes are fundamental to the study of science and may take the form of laboratory sessions in, for example, chemistry, biochemistry, biochemistry or physical pharmacy. In these sessions students learn practical laboratory skills. Academic staff are supported by postgraduate student demonstrators, who provide practical help, advice on experimental procedures and ensure that correct Health and Safety practices are followed. Practical laboratory classes are also supported by the use of computers where students use Computer Aided Learning (CAL) packages to experiment in the virtual environment.
Case studies are used to help students apply and integrate knowledge gained through the various subjects. They are presented with varying problems where they are required to research and apply knowledge from an interdisciplinary approach.
Seminar work/ Tutorials
The seminars and tutorials are designed not only to extend the lecture topics but also equip students with the skills to seek out relevant research material and to present and defend the material within a given time-frame. With the increasing amount of information available on the web, the knowledge and skills to select appropriate, scientifically sound material, is vital in all graduates. Initially, students make presentations in groups so as to give each other support. They will also facilitate support to students who need help with their studies.
BlackBoard Learn (BBLearn)
BBlearn is the online teaching tool for the University. It provides personalised online access to course material, university library systems, academic and student support programs, and electronic communication tools. Training in BBlearn is readily available to teaching staff via the University’s Staff Development section, and an increasing number of campus-delivered modules are supplemented with a range of materials presented via the on-line portal. The modules in final year will be dependent on this medium for delivery. This will enhance the placement experience which will run the whole length of semester one and two.
It is well recognised that placements are important for experiential learning, and placements will be used to ensure that the student gains first-hand structured experience of research and the pharmaceutical / biopharmaceutical industries.
Assignments are an essential part of teaching and learning as they encourage students to be independent learners. Assignments take a variety of forms and become increasingly demanding of students as they progress through the programmes. They are used to encourage students to read the literature underpinning lectures, integrate and apply knowledge and improve written skills. Assignments include MCQs, structured essays, literature reviews, case studies, word-limited reports, presentations and reports on practical work. Assessments are designed to be progressive, moving from mainly MCQs and short answer type questions in year 1, at Level 4, to more evaluative problem solving, critical reviews in Levels 7. At the end of their programme all students will have demonstrated their ability to write a correctly formatted scientific paper, as evidenced by the Research Project reports.
Students will be expected to work confidently and competently in private study in all modules to produce pieces of work that are assessed. They will be introduced to study skills in their first semester, and many practical classes will include instruction in acquiring and integrating information from a variety of resources in order to prepare structured reports and presentations.
Working in groups, whether in practical classes or on assignments, is an important element of learning in the School. It is used to help students acquire, integrate and apply knowledge from a variety of sources, solve problems, engage with case studies, and prepare for and present seminar work.
These are undertaken by all third year undergraduate students. Research projects provide an opportunity for students to work under the supervision of research active staff, carrying out an individual project that may be part of a larger commissioned research project.
Personal development planning is centred on student learning and development. All students will be trained on the use of a computer-based CPD portfolio builder.
Assessment is clearly linked to the learning outcomes of each of the modules and may be formative or summative for coursework and examinations. Each module has a variety of assessments associated with it designed to test knowledge and understanding, integrate and apply information, and encourage the development of skills. Assessments may include MCQ’s, practical reports, literature-based reviews, presentations, poster sessions and project reports. Online assessments may be used in some modules. Examinations are usually generally two or three hour papers of unseen short or longer questions. The proportion of module marks derived from coursework or examinations develops over the four years of the course, from a higher weighting for examinations in earlier years to a higher weighting for coursework in later years. This is to reflect the development of skills in reflective, critical examination of topics.
Exemptions and transferability
These are made on a case by case basis in agreement with the Course Director. Applicants who do not meet the published academic requirements and who are seeking entry through the Accreditation of Prior Learning must have the ability to demonstrate a core set of competencies relevant to the course.
Careers & opportunities
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The primary difference between the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries is the methods by which the new drug entities are produced. The traditional pharmaceutical method is through a series of chemical synthesis and purification steps, whereas the more recent biopharmaceutical method manufactures the new drug candidates from living organisms such as bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells. The line between these two pathways is becoming increasingly blurred with many of the leading biopharmaceutical companies being the leading pharmaceutical companies. However, there is no denying that globally both industries are growing fast. A degree in Pharmaceutical Biosciences will provide you with the necessary training to pursue a career in either of these two industries. The variety of subjects studied throughout this course means that in addition to an industrial career, graduates will have acquired unique knowledge and skills that will equip them for careers in teaching, research and development, marketing, the scientific civil service, medical research, veterinary medicine, forensic medicine, armed forces as well as the potential to apply for further research by completion of a PhD.
Work placement / study abroad
An innovative feature of this integrated Masters programme is the work based learning provision and distance learning features in the final year. There is a significant placement module which will run through both semesters of your final year. The remaining final year modules are all delivered via distance learning to allow you to dedicate your time to this work based learning module. As a student on this course, you will have the opportunity to compete for both industrial based placements as well as research based projects with the learning outcomes ensuring that you are well equipped for a career in the global bio/pharmaceutical industry.
The current educational and economic climate requires that we employ efficient, effective teaching practice that enhances the student experience. The Subject Team uses technology where appropriate, to enhance teaching and learning and challenge and empower students to take ownership of their own learning. Staff are encouraged and supported to use the resources within the VLE (BBLearn) to promote independent student-centred learning, including rubrics, self-assessment tools, and audio feedback tools.
Three members of the course team are Fellows of the Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) at Ulster while two colleagues have been recognised through Ulster University Distinguished Teaching Fellowship Awards.
Furthermore, sharing modules with cognate courses from the School of Biomedical Sciences provides the opportunity for students to interact with their peers from other disciplines and professions and promotes multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary curriculum innovation and programme provision.
Colleagues within the School actively engage with the Higher Education Academy by attending, presenting and facilitating events held under the auspices of HEA. Colleagues have presented at the HEA Annual Conference, HEA STEM Conference, HEA Biosciences Summit and other locally organized HEA Workshops.
Fees and funding
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Fees (per year)
Important notice - fees information
Please note fees displayed are for 2017/18 Academic Entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
View Ulster University’s 2017 fees policy
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- England, Scotland & Wales:
- £9,000.00 Discounts available - find out more
Additional mandatory costs
In order to ensure your safety and to permit you to fully avail of the many learning opportunities available you may require certain vaccinations. The vaccination programme will cost £35 - £155 depending on the vaccinations required.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.