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Postgraduate Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry

This qualification enables you to study at postgraduate level aspects of medicinal chemistry that explore the links between disease, mechanisms of action and the development of safe, effective commercial drugs. You can pursue these topics across a number of major health areas including cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases, diabetes, neuropharmacology and inflammation. Using the innovative teaching methods pioneered by The Open University, you have the opportunity to understand how drugs are designed, study the latest developments in this changing area of contemporary medical therapy, while developing a wide range of skills associated with masters-level study.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

Completing this postgraduate diploma course will equip you with a set of key transferable skills which will be relevant for the workplace as well as providing you with a base of postgraduate level science knowledge and understanding. You will learn to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship within medicinal chemistry, as well as evaluating research methodologies. You will learn to deal with complex issues and make sound judgements and decisions in complex situations.

You will learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist scientific audiences, work effectively as part of a team, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, plan and implement tasks at a professional level.

The nature of this qualification will develop your independent learning skills, such as critical reading, as well as enhance your ICT skills for both literature searching and managing information and strengthen your communication skills with others in both professional and academic contexts.

Having this qualification coupled with practical experience could open up career opportunities in various scientific and medical research fields in the public and private sectors, for example, in the NHS, pharmaceutical companies, medical research, universities, commercial laboratories, and independent healthcare providers.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 120-credit postgraduate diploma you require:

120 credits from the following compulsory modules

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Developing research skills in science (S825)

This course helps you develop your knowledge and understanding of the research skills and techniques relevant to scientific study at postgraduate level.

See full description.

30 Oct
Molecules in medicine (S807)

Examine the molecular basis of drug action in medicine, covering topics like infectious diseases (bacterial and viral), cancer, heart disease, inflammation and neuropharmacology.

See full description.

60 Jan
Concept to clinic (S827)

This course provides an overview of the drug discovery and development process from a modern and historical perspective and introduces you to a range of issues in drug discovery.

See full description.

30 Oct

Educational aims

The overall aim of the qualification is to develop knowledge and understanding, cognitive skills, key skills and practical and professional skills in the study of medicinal chemistry, with particular emphasis on molecular aspects and development of drugs.

The intention is that you will develop:

  • an understanding of the scientific principles underlying the main topic areas of medicinal chemistry
  • skills essential to postgraduate study in science.

After completing the degree you should be able to:

  • use electronic means of communication, information searching and retrieval
  • critically assess a broad range of scientific literature in medicinal chemistry
  • prepare a poster and a presentation that critically engage with current theoretical, methodological and/or practical issues in medicinal chemistry.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding


  • a systematic understanding and knowledge of the main areas of medicinal chemistry
  • a critical awareness of the role of medicinal chemistry and the future development of the subject
  • techniques applicable to advanced scholarship in the study of medicinal chemistry.

Cognitive skills

Be able to:

  • evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the study of medicinal chemistry
  • evaluate research methodologies and develop critiques and propose alternative hypotheses, where appropriate
  • deal with complex issues both systematically and proficiently and make sound judgments in the absence of complete data
  • demonstrate of originality of thought in the application of knowledge.

Practical and/or professional skills

Be able to:

  • critically assess primary and secondary literature in the area of medicinal chemistry
  • have an appreciation of the importance of and methods of quality assurance in medicinal chemistry
  • be aware of the social and ethical issues that arise in medicinal chemistry
  • act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level.

Key skills

Be able to:

  • undertake self-directed study
  • communicate information and conclusions both to specialist and to non-specialist audiences
  • use information and communications technology (ICT) to locate information, to analyse and present data and to communicate
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems.

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