MSc Natural Product Drug Discovery
- Full Time
- Degree of Master of Science
- Course Length
- 1 years
- Course Start Date
- September 2024
Natural products possess enormous structural and chemical diversity that cannot be matched by synthetic molecules. They are an incredibly important source of biologically active compounds for both human healthcare and agriculture, and recent technological advances mean that their application can now be fully explored.
This Master’s course in Natural Product Drug Discovery will equip you with theoretical and practical knowledge in the science of natural product discovery, from microorganisms to plants and animals. Your studies will include nutraceuticals and herbal extracts, antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance and the major human diseases.
We place an emphasis on translational research and the drug discovery process, taking natural products from bench to bedside. And you’ll gain a thorough cross-disciplinary grounding with a unique mix of organic chemistry, pharmacology, phytochemistry and microbiology; ideal preparation for a research-based career, taking theoretical knowledge through to practical application.
On our one-year Master’s programme, studying with academic and industrial experts who are currently active in natural product research and drug discovery, you'll gain the key skills, and discover the latest cutting-edge methods, in natural product discovery.
Your learning will combine lectures, seminars and laboratory practicals, as well as an independent research project and self-guided study. Our expert team is based across the Norwich Research Park, including the School of Pharmacy and the John Innes Centre. Guest speakers from the pharmaceutical and biotech sector will also present sessions covering topics such as the industrial applications of natural product research.
In your first semester, you’ll gain a solid theoretical foundation in all aspects of the subject, including the modern drug discovery process and the targeting of human diseases, natural product isolation and bioassays, metabolomics and synthetic biology for engineered biosynthesis.
In your second semester, you’ll put the theory into practice, designing, executing and interpreting your own experiments using the very latest methods and technologies. All of which will culminate in your hands-on, laboratory-based Master’s research project, which you'll deliver with the expert guidance of a member of staff.
Study and Modules
Our one-year course is broken down into two semesters: taught modules in semester one and independent research in semester two. The three taught modules will provide you with core knowledge and practical skills in natural product research and drug discovery.
This overview of the drug discovery process will include the following topics:
Nutraceuticals and herbal extracts
Antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance
Classes of natural products and their biosynthesis
Sources of natural products – terrestrial and marine
Microbial fermentation techniques
You’ll study human physiology and look at drug discovery targets for major human diseases. You’ll also cover target validation, in both vitro high-throughput screening and animal models.
You’ll also study methods for the isolation, purification and structure elucidation of natural products. You’ll learn how natural products can be optimised for human therapy by derivative and analogue synthesis, and how recombinant DNA techniques are applied to the engineered biosynthesis of natural products.
In your second semester, you’ll undertake an independent research project on the topic of your choosing, supervised by a staff member. Examples of previous topics include the discovery of novel natural products from plants and microorganisms, synthesis of natural products, pharmacological bioassays and screening, biosynthetic pathway manipulation, and targeting specific diseases such as cancer, inflammation and antimicrobial resistance.
Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, the University will endeavour to consult with students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will inform students.
Teaching and Learning
Our taught modules consist of a set of core lectures by our academic and industrial experts, all of whom are actively working in natural product research and drug discovery.
Their teaching will be reinforced by active learning in seminars, small group workshops and team assignments. And you'll develop practical skills in natural product research through guided laboratory sessions in phytochemistry, nutraceuticals, microbial fermentation, natural product isolation and high-throughput screening for biological activity.
You'll be expected to build up your knowledge of the subject through independent study. Our taught modules will be supplemented by reading material in the form of textbooks, review articles and research publications.
In semester two, you’ll have six months to complete a hands-on, laboratory-based Master’s research project. Each student will work on an independent topic under the guidance of a staff member, through which you’ll gain experience in the design, execution and interpretation of experiments using the latest methods and technologies.
The course is designed to prepare you for a research-based career, placing an emphasis on theoretical knowledge and its practical application. Therefore, your independent research project accounts for 50% of your assessment, and the remainder comes from laboratory practicals, essays and oral presentations. There will be no written examinations.
- Degree Classification
- Bachelors degree - 2.1 or equivalent.
- Degree Subject
- Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences or a related subject.
- English Foreign Language
Applications from students whose first language is not English are welcome. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading):
IELTS: 6.0 overall (minimum 5.5 in Listening and Reading with 6.0 in Writing and Speaking)
Test dates should be within 2 years of the course start date.
We also accept a number of other English language tests. Review our English Language Equivalencies for a list of qualifications that we may accept to meet this requirement.
If you do not yet meet the English language requirements for this course, INTO UEA offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study:
- This course is open to UK and International applicants. The annual intake for this course is in September each year .
Additional Information or Requirements
Our Admissions Policy applies to the admissions of all postgraduate applicants.
Fees and Funding
Tuition fees for the Academic Year 2024/25 are:
UK Students: £13,400 (full time) (includes £1500 bench fee)
International Students: £27,300 (full time)
If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for Home students).
We estimate living expenses at £1,023 per month.
Further Information on tuition fees can be found here.
Scholarships and Bursaries
The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.
Course Related Costs
Please see Additional Course Fees for details of course-related costs.
How to Apply
Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.
To apply please use our online application form.
If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying, please do contact us:
Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.
After the Course
On this course, you'll gain key research skills and exposure to the latest cutting-edge methods in natural product discovery. This includes how to biologically profile natural products, and how to investigate them as therapeutic agents.
The interdisciplinary nature of the course will prepare you for more advanced studies in the area of your choice. Previous graduates have successfully found positions in industry, research institutes or continued their studies through a PhD.