• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Award: BSc (Hons)
  • Study Abroad: Yes
  • Study Mode: Full Time

Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery sits at the interface between chemistry, pharmacology and molecular biology and includes modern computational methods.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework
Royal Society of Biology Accredited Degree

What is Drug Discovery?

Drug discovery is a practical science at the interface between chemistry, pharmacology and biology that includes modern computational methods combined with chemical and molecular biology techniques.

We live in a new era with detailed knowledge of genes and the abilities to determine three-dimensional molecular structures and to create complex molecules. The Drug Discovery degree utilises these facets to identify drug targets against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, malaria and AIDS and to design and create new cures and safer, more effective drugs whilst also equipping you with extensive knowledge of assay design and development.

Our Drug Discovery Unit

We are superbly placed to deliver this Drug Discovery degree, having recently formed the Drug Discovery Unit. Our world-renowned research activities in molecular and cell biology and drug design mean that students are taught by a team of experts who work at the cutting edge of their field.

Year in Industry

You have the option to take the honours degree as either a five-year programme with a year in industry or a four-year programme without a year in industry.

If you choose to take the degree with a year in industry, this provides an exciting opportunity for work experience with a leading local or international biotechnology or pharmaceutical company with which the University of Dundee has close links. You will acquire skills that are in great demand in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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The following are the minimum, up-to-date entry requirements.

Courses starting 2018 and 2019
Qualification Level 1 Entry Advanced Entry to Level 2
SQA Higher/Advanced Higher AABB at Higher including biology and chemistry, plus mathematics (Standard Grade at 3 or National 5/Intermediate2 at C) AB at Advanced Higher including biology and chemistry, plus BB at Higher in different subjects, plus mathematics (Standard Grade at 3 or National 5/Intermediate2 at C)
GCE A-Level ABB (minimum) - AAB (typical) including A-Level biology and chemistry, plus GCSE mathematics at C / 4 ABB (minimum) - AAB (typical) including A-Level biology and chemistry, plus GCSE mathematics at C / 4
BTEC BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma can be considered for the Foundation Year in Life Sciences. Level 2 Entry is not possible with this qualification
International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma 30 points at Higher Level grades 5, 5, 5 to include biology and chemistry, plus Standard Level mathematics at grade 4.
A combination of IB Certificate plus other qualifications, such as A-Levels, Advanced Placement Tests or the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP), will also be considered.
34 points at Higher Level grades 6, 6, 5 to include biology and chemistry, plus Standard Level mathematics at grade 4
Irish Leaving Certificate (ILC) H2H2H3H3 at Higher Level including biology and chemistry, plus Ordinary Level mathematics at O2 Level 2 entry is not possible with this qualification
Graduate Entry
SQA Higher National (HNC/HND) A relevant HNC with grade A in the graded unit with appropriate Science units A relevant HNC with grade A in the graded unit and 120 SCQF Credits or A relevant HND with grade AA in the graded units with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate Distinction with AB at AH Biology and Chemistry. Mathematics at SG (grade 3) or Intermediate 2 / National 5 (grade C) Distinction with AB at AH Biology and Chemistry. Mathematics at SG (grade 3) or Intermediate 2 / National 5 (grade C)
SWAP Access Relevant science subjects with AAA grades to include Chemistry and Biology/Human Biology at SCQF Level 6 Level 2 entry is not possible with this qualification
Advanced Diploma Applicants with this qualification would be considered for Level 2 entry Grade A with ASL-A Level Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE C
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE grade C / 4 Pass with A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE grade C / 4
European Baccalaureate 70% overall with 7 in Biology and Chemistry 75% overall with 7.5 in Biology and Chemistry
Other Qualifications
Notes

 EU and International qualifications



English Language Requirement

For non EU students

IELTS Overall 6.0
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers

 

English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

There are regular meetings of staff-student liaison committees. While this provides a forum for formal contact, there is also opportunity for informal contact between you and academic staff, whom you will find friendly and approachable.

How you will be taught

We use a variety of teaching methods, with lectures and practicals forming the core. In addition, we use workshops, tutorials, computer-aided learning, and field excursions, as appropriate to each module.

How you will be assessed

All modules are assessed by a combination of in-course and end-of-course procedures. Regular in-course assessments (e.g. practical reports, computer-based exercises, essays and data processing exercises) provide feedback on your progress and help you prepare for end-of-module examinations.

On-line assignments are used extensively at Levels 1 and 2, with access via a PC on or off campus. Peer assessment operates in many team projects.

Level 1 entry

With highers, A-levels, Irish Leaving certificate, IB Diploma, HNC, etc

Level 1

Life Science core theory and practical modules.

You can also study subjects from other schools such as languages

Advanced entry (to level 2)

With advanced highers, A-levels, IB diploma, HND, etc

Level 2

Semester 1: Core theory, practical and outside subject

Semester 2: Biomedical or biological modules

Level 3

Choose to specialise in the subjects that excite you in Biomedical or Biological Sciences

Graduate BSc

Bachelor of Science (Ordinary Degree), Biomedical Sciences, or Biological Sciences

Year in industry

Opt to have a year in industry or study abroad

Level 4

Research project on current research in Life Sciences.

Graduate BSc Hons

With named specialist degree

Level 5

Extend research projects, research seminars in your chosen area, research skills and planning.

Graduate MSCi

in a specialist subject

What you will study

Typical course structure

The modules are running during the 2016-2017 academic year. We refresh our modules every year to keep our courses up to date, so your modules may be different.

Levels 1 and 2

All Life Sciences degree programmes share common core modules at Level 1 that provide a general introduction to the life sciences through an integrated programme of lectures, tutorials, practical work and field excursions.

Level 1 - core modules

Semester 1

Number of credits: 10

This module will broaden knowledge and understanding of atomic and molecular structure, enzyme function, energy and thermodynamics that can be applied to the Life Sciences.

Topics include:

  • molecular structure and biochemical properties (to include organisation and charge/polarity) of nucleotides,  lipids and phospholipids, carbohydrates and amino acids
  • protein structure (primary to quaternary)
  • biological enzymes and their importance in the catalysis of biochemical reactions
  • energy and thermodynamics relating to biochemical reactions

Credits: 10

Semester: 1

Natural selection has favoured structures whose shape and composition contribute to their function. This module aims to broaden knowledge and understanding of the evolution of animal, plant and microbial cell structure and function, including organelles and membranes.

Topics include:

  • cellular evolution
  • interpretation of phylogenetic analysis
  • evolution of organelles
  • membrane structure and transport
  • key features of life and death of animal, plant and microbial cells

Semester: 1

Number of credits: 10

This module will start with a mandatory introduction to health and safety, basic lab skills and equipment. There will be one field excursion (Botanic Gardens, Perth Road, Dundee) and a series of practical classes that will cover techniques of isolation and culture of microorganisms and gram staining, isolation and identification of terpenes from plant material, enzyme kinetics, thermodynamics and PCR.

Semester: 1

Number of credits: 10

This module will extend and develop the generic skills introduced in BS11003 with specific emphasis on health and safety and basic laboratory practice. The ability to work effectively as part of a group will form a significant part of this module. You will extend your information literacy skills by locating and accessing scientific resources to support your learning.

To support the group lab project, you will receive guidance on lab book / record keeping, experimental design and project planning, in addition to interpretation of data and presentation of project results. You'll also be encouraged to reflect on and evaluate your own learning throughout the semester, identifying areas for development and consolidation.

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 10

This module aims to broaden knowledge and understanding of the flow of genetic information (DNA to mRNA to protein), cell division (to include mitosis, meiosis and binary fission) and the cell cycle. 

Topics include:

  • cellular reproduction (DNA replication, mitosis, meiosis and binary fission)
  • an introduction to the cell cycle
  • an introduction to genes and gene expression
  • an introduction to ribosomes and their function
  • multigene, polygene inheritance of traits
  • an introduction to population genetics
  • genetical theory of natural selection

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 10

Physiological functions are often compartmentalised into different cells, tissues, organs and systems which have structures that support specialised activities. This module aims to broaden knowledge and understanding of the development of systems (e.g. neural, respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and excretory) with reference to model organisms (e.g. nematodes, Drosophila, zebra fish, chick, mouse).

Topics include:

  • an introduction to the development of an organism, with reference to the germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm)
  • an overview of the key features of the body plan
  • model organisms commonly used in scientific research (e.g. nematodes, Drosophila, zebra fish, chick, mouse)
  • developmental origins of the following systems (with reference to the selected model organisms covered previously): neural, cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal, dermal, gastrointestinal and excretory

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 10

This module will extend and develop laboratory and research skills introduced in semester 1 of Level 1

  • Optical techniques – Students will use a spectrophotometer to produce a standard absorbance spectrum, apply the Beer -Lambert Law to derive unknown concentrations from known values of absorbance and perform a Bradford Assay
  • Protein purification – Students will experience two techniques that are commonly used to separate mixtures of proteins: size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS PAGE) 
  • PCR - In conjunction with its associated workshop, this laboratory exercise aims to give students a basic understanding of the practical application of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the use of agarose gel electrophoresis for the analysis of DNA samples.
  • Enzyme kinetics – Students will gain practical experience of a typical enzyme assay procedure.
  • Digital skills – online scientific literature searches
  • Protein expression – Students will learn how to purify and analyse a recombinant protein.

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 10

This module will extend and develop the generic skills introduced in BS12003 with specific emphasis on data presentation, interpretation and analysis. The ability to work effectively as part of a group and the  application of peer support and peer-assessment will form a significant part of this module. Students will extend their information literacy and scientific writing skills by researching and presenting an area of current research in poster format, giving due attention to scientific writing protocols. Students will be encouraged to reflect on  and evaluate their own learning throughout the semester, identifying areas for development and consolidation and setting appropriate targets.

Level 1 - optional modules

Semester 1

Number of credits: 20

This module introduces the application of the physical sciences and mathematics to the biological and biomedical sciences. The module covers aspects of biophysics, inorganic and physical chemistry and the introduction to and use of numeric and scientific literacy. The use of technology to support and enhance application within the biological and biomedical sciences will form a significant part of this module, which will be both theoretical and practical in delivery.

Semester: 1

Number of credits: 20

This module offers a science based optional module which may be of particular interest to those who intend to specialise in later years in either pharmacology or drug discovery. The module will look at several classical English texts in which poisonings play a pivotal role in the plot. After examination of the text, the symptoms will then be unpicked, and possible poison molecules identified along with their source. You will be able to explore the darker side of pharmacology and look at the importance of dosage and how molecules used to cure can also kill.

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 20

The module examines academic discourse in the life sciences, and the significance of the philosophical framework within which the work is developed. Likewise, it covers how this has impacted upon the direction of scientific thought and progress. The moral and ethical implications of scientific research, work and development are analysed within traditional and contemporary contexts. The philosophical and logical reasoning behind modern scientific discovery. The role of the media in shaping society’s opinion, and interpretation of science, is discussed in relation to the public understanding of science.

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 20

The purpose of this module is to inspire students to think beyond their programme of studies and plan their own business/research idea. This module will consist of:

  • Inspire Dundee - lectures from inspirational members of staff who run their  own companies.
  • Intellectual Property - discovering what people want to think about when protecting their own ideas, an overview of patent law.
  • CV Writing skills
  • The Money Pot - where to obtain funding and how to write a successful proposal.  
  • The Plan - writing business plans and discovering how much money is needed to set up a business/run a lab.

Semester: 2

Number of Credits: 20

You will gain knowledge and understanding of the properties and reactivity of the most common functional groups within small organic molecules. You will be able to describe how atomic orbitals combine to form molecular orbitals and predict reaction mechanisms. This module will consist of:

  • lectures: The main functional groups, their properties and reactivity will be presented
  • workshops: You will work through a series of organic chemistry problems based on the lecture material
  • lab practical: You will set up an organic chemistry reaction and interpret its outcome using different spectroscopic methods (e.g. IR, NMR)

Level 2 - core modules

Semester 1

Number of credits: 10

An introduction to statistics for the biosciences, bringing you up to speed on the structure of datasets and how one infers differences. This will include an introduction to the design of experiments, concepts of randomisation and blocking. Regression and Multiple regression; ANOVA (including posthoc testing); principle tests of signal versus noise. You will also be introduced to appropriate graphing and representation of data. You will be expected to complete a substantial piece of coursework related to a component of the indicative content.

Semester 1

Number of credits: 10

To introduce and broaden knowledge and understanding of key inter- and intra-cellular communication mechanisms with reference to selected examples of relevance to both biological and biomedical contexts. This module will provide you with an overview of inter- and intra-cellular communication mechanisms (e.g. paracrine, endocrine, hormonal and neural) and subsequent cell responses.

On successful completion of the module you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • key extracellular signalling molecules, receptor types and cell response (e.g. changes in gene expression and protein modifications)
  • the general modes of action of steroid and peptide hormones
  • neurotransmission (e.g. compare and contrast with hormones)
  • nitric oxide signalling in the cardiovascular system
  • plant cell signalling
  • regulation of the cell cycle

Skills:

  • access and use a range of defined and self- selected (with guidance) learning resources to further your studies
  • evaluate own learning, identifying strengths and weaknesses within criteria largely set by others
  • use the knowledge gained to solve a set of typical problems in the biological sciences
  • work individually and in groups to extract pertinent information from the scientific literature

Semester 1

Number of credits: 10

This module will broaden and strengthen both your practical, laboratory research and generic skills by building on your Level 1 or other previous experience (direct Level 2 entrant students will have an opportunity to learn skills and techniques at the start of Semester 1).

  • an introduction to basic lab techniques and the use of commonly-used lab equipment
  • interpretation of experimental data through use of basic descriptive statistical analyses and graphical  representation (using R)
  • introduction of the concepts of osmolarity and tonicity
  • retrieval of sequence information (genetic, cDNA and amino acid) from internet databases and to use this information to perform basic sequence alignments
  • comparison of kinetic and thermodynamic control in protein folding and application of the concept to a series of problems during a work shop session
  • the broad use of antibodies in Biological Sciences
  • use of aseptic techniques through handling of bacteria

Semester 1

Number of credits: 10

Students will carry out two laboratory projects which will allow them to gain experience in the use of laboratory equipment and techniques.  The projects will cover basic organic synthesis of biological molecules and also a forensic chemistry investigation.  These projects will allow them to improve their experimental planning, risk assessment, report writing and data analysis skills.  Group work will involve oral and written presentation skills and provide team building experience.

Module not available to non-Life Science students except forensic anthropology and anatomical science students

Semester 2

Number of credits: 20

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the physiology, pharmacology and anatomy of specific topics within the Biomedical Sciences, including:

  • Nerve and muscle: the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), muscle contraction and body movements
  • Cardiovascular system: heart function and integrated control of blood pressure
  • Pharmacology of NMJ and cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system: mechanics of ventilation and factors influencing gas exchange

Number of credits: 20

The aim of this module is to give you a sound foundation in biomolecular mechanisms and processes. This module will study the main mammalian metabolic pathways and their control including the molecular processes involved. The module will also look at current topics in microbiology including disease and resistance and introduce immunology and virology.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 20

The aim of this module is to broaden and strengthen both the practical and generic skills of students by building on experience gained at level 1 and semester 1 of level 2.

The module will expand on techniques and skills introduced in earlier practical modules.  Practicals will be accompanied by data handling and manipulation workshops.  Basic concepts in ethics in the Biosciences will be introduced in a workshop.  Careers and employability exercises will help students to decide on their future career paths.  Generic skills will be reinforced by updating students’ PDP.

Module not available to non-Life Science students except forensic anthropology and anatomical science students

Level 2 - optional modules

Semester: 1

Number of credits: 10

This module will consist of one tutorial session every  week covering: 

  • A recap on the fundamentals of molecular orbital theory, acids and bases and  physical chemistry as applied to Biology
  • Inorganic chemistry with particular reference to metals in biology such as iron,  copper and zinc and chelation therapy.
  • Trends in the periodic table will be looked at in-depth.
  • Organic chemistry content will focus on fundamental mechanisms, molecular struc ture, stereochemistry, and functional groups with a focus in  carboxylic acids.

Semester: 1

Number of credits: 10

This  module  will  provide  a general introduction to  statistics with specific examples for the biosciences, bringing students up to speed  on the structure of datasets and how one infers differences.  This will include an  introduction to the design of experiments, concept s of randomisation and blocking; Regression and Multiple regression; ANOVA (including posthoc testing); principle  tests of signal versus noise. Students will also be introduced to appropriate graphing  and representation of data. Students will be expected to complete a substantial  piece of coursework related to a component of the indicative content.

Semester: 1

Number of credits: 10

This module focuses on the development of basic  programming skills using Python 3 for use in Life Sciences applications. The intention  is to provide a basic understanding of programming. This will be achieved by a  comprehensive hands-on experience of the use of these languages. The course is intended to provide a hands -on introduction to programming in Python  3. The expectation is that the skills acquired will provide a basic competency that will  enable the development of Python scripts that may be embraced in problem solving  and data analysis beyond this module.

Semester: 1 or 2

Number of credits: 20

This module will consist of:

  • Theoretical concept of an entrepreneur – introduction to the current theory of what makes an entrepreneur.
  • Research techniques – how to complete market research in order to evaluate the feasibility of a business proposal and market the business proposal once developed, and how to conduct interviews in order to evaluate the entrepreneurial characteristics of an individual.
  • Developing the business idea – Taking a basic business idea and adding flesh in the form of determining the market, refining the processes, and understanding the key components of the business model.
  • Numbers count – an introduction to key accounting models such as costing and break-even analysis to allow you to financially evaluate their proposals.
  • Business Risk – how to evaluate and mitigate the business risks relating to individual business proposals.

Level 3

Specialist topics cover biochemistry, synthetic chemistry, analytical techniques and pharmacology.

Level 3 - core modules

Semester 1

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this Module is to introduce specific topics within the area of molecular structure and interactions analysis that will underpin the more specialised areas which students will encounter in Semester 2 of Level 3 and in Level 4. The module also aims to introduce students to the study of interactions that underpin biological events or early-stage drug discovery and strengthen students’ skills in scientific writing, critical analysis of scientific literature and in self-directed learning.

Topics covered in the module are High-throughput DNA sequencing and genome annotation, Secondary structure, disorder, post-translational modification, cloning, single crystal X-ray diffraction methods, Use of bioinformatics resources and databases, Scientific paper analysis.

Semester 1

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to introduce specific topics within the area of Biochemistry and Cell Biology that will underpin the more specialised areas that you will encounter in Semester 2 of Level 3 and in Level 4. The module also aims to strengthen your skills in critical analysis of scientific literature, in science communication and in self-directed learning.

Topics covered in the module are separated into four distinct themes: Core Biochemistry (including how proteins function at the molecular level, energy metabolism and photosynthesis); Core Cell Biology, From Tissues To Cells (including cell adhesion, the extracellular matrix and molecular motors); Core Cell Biology, Cell Signalling (including metabolic and developmental signalling pathways); and Systems & Synthetic Biology (including new ways of working and applications of synthetic biology).

Semester 1

Number of credits: 15

We aim to provide an opportunity for you to understand the basics of inheritance, how genomes are structured, and how the function of genes and their variation in populations is analysed. We cover basic principles as well as cutting edge developments. We make an effort to describe key experiments that defined the basis of our understanding of genetics. We aim to break frontal teaching, and to guide you towards reading, understanding and summarizing primary scientific literature using appropriate scientific language. Attending our module is important for those of you aiming to focus on basic molecular biology, as well as those interested in developmental biology, plant molecular biology, molecular pathology, clinical genetics and inherited disease.

Semester 1

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to introduce you to specific topics within the area of Gene Regulation and Expression that will underpin the more specialised areas, which you will encounter in Semester 2 of Level 3 and in Level 4. This module will focus on the principles underlying the following fundamental processes: transcription, RNA splicing, RNA modification, chromatin and epigenetics, DNA replication, chromosome segregation, DNA recombination and repair. You will come away with a fundamental understanding of these processes in molecular biology in relation to cellular function and will be able to apply this knowledge to explain mechanisms in biomedically relevant disease states.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

This module will give an understanding of the process involved in identifying drug targets and developing drugs against that target including assay development. The main topics discussed include target identification, assay development, pharmacokinetics, and structure activity relationships (SAR).

You will gain a knowledge and understanding of the drug development process from target identification to assay development and pre-clinical trials. You will develop your problem-solving skills and engage in group work; statistical analysis of data sets; and the assessment of structure activity relationship data. Likewise it is expected that you will develop the ability to self-assess your understanding of the material and reflect on problem solving.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

This module should give an in-depth understanding of the main organic reactions used in modern synthetic laboratories with particular respect to the design of molecules for drug discovery.

Students will gain a knowledge and understanding of the main organic reactions and mechanisms. They will be able to predict products of reactions and represent the mechanisms of the reactions using curly arrow notation and be able to design a synthetic strategy to produce a desired product.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

Finding out about stuff is one of the joys of the life sciences, and especially when you are in control of the experiments – with expert help from senior researchers and the Senior Demonstrators, you will be carrying out a five-week project at your own pace – this is how research is done! You will be choosing a project in your area of specialisation, carrying out the research, and writing up a paper on your experience and results for the assessment. This is the best way to see what it’s like to carry out research and will help you get ready for the all-important Honours project in your final year.

This module will build on practical experience in levels 1 and 2 and provide training for the final year research project. This module will offer a range of projects related to specialist modules in Semester 2.

Project titles include: Plant Science, Synthetic Biology, Drug Discovery, and Molecular Ecology.

Optional modules

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to introduce you to specialist topics within the areas of bacterial and fungal microbiology. This module will underpin more specialised areas of molecular microbiology that you will encounter in your Level 4 laboratory projects and in Semester 2 of Level 4. The module aims to strengthen your skills critical analysis of scientific literature and in self-directed learning.

After completing this module, you should be able to explain broad aspects of microbiology at both the cellular and sub-cellular level. In particular you will understand the principles that underlie the process of:

  • how microbes influence the environment
  • how microbes colonise a niche
  • how microbes grow and develop
  • how microbes influence eukaryotes
  • the molecular basis of microbial pathogenicity and virulence
  • the molecular mechanism of antimicrobials mode of action

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to build on the basics of cell signalling introduced during years 1 and 2. It will cover methods of cell-to-cell communication, signal transduction pathways, key proteins in signal transduction and downstream effects. You will also hone skills in data handling and analysis; oral presentation of work; essay writing; literature analysis; and personal reflection and self-assessment of skills.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

In this module, we study the fascinating world of plants - incredibly successful organisms which dominate the terrestrial biosphere. We discuss how plants use special developmental strategies and exquisite environmental sensitivity to survive and thrive on land. We also learn how plants interact with other organisms, either to use them to their benefit (pollinators, soil microbiota) or to neutralise them (pests and pathogens). We also explore how domestication and breeding of plants lead to the crop plants we consume today. We also consider unique aspects of plant genomes and how molecular breeding and other biotechnological advances are improving our food security.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

Finding out about stuff is one of the joys of the life sciences, and especially when you are in control of the experiments – with expert help from senior researchers and the Senior Demonstrators, you will be carrying out a five-week project at your own pace – this is how research is done! You will be choosing a project in your area of specialisation, carrying out the research, and writing up a paper on your experience and results for the assessment. This is the best way to see what it’s like to carry out research and will help you get ready for the all-important Honours project in your final year.

This module will build on practical experience in Years 1 and 2 and provide training for the final year research project. This module will offer a range of projects related to specialist modules in Semester 2.

Project titles include: Applied Bioinformatics, Microbial Cell Biology, and Molecular Biochemistry.

Semester: 2

Credits: 15

This module will provide a firm grounding in key molecular mechanisms and pathways underpinning proliferation and survival relevant to the development of cancer and other disease-related themes at Levels 3 and 4. Additionally, to provide an insight into the experimental approaches that have advanced the field of cancer biology.

After successful completion of this module you will develop a knowledge and understanding of cancer-relevant signalling mechanisms including their modulation of gene expression, underlying the control of cell proliferation, cell cycling and programmed cell death.

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 15

During this module you will develop a deep understanding of the application of statistics to biological and biomedical datasets that is relevant to your further studies and research project work. On completion of the module you should be able to assess and use a range of defined and self-selected learning materials. You will also be able to assess quality of data, develop an analysis workflow and interpret and present results.

Semester: 2

Number of credits: 15

Bioinformatics is the management, analysis and modelling of biological data. As modern biological research becomes ever more data rich, the skills required to ask new questions and rapidly filter and process these data should be a part of the biologist’s toolkit.

This module takes you from being an end user of bioinformatics applications to one who is developing the skills required for successful manipulation and processing of biological data. We start with data management skills using the Unix operating system – a common base for bioinformatics applications. The bulk of the module is taken up with getting started with programming in Python, probably the most common language in use in biology after English. Finally we introduce good record keeping and version control. In other words electronic record keeping so that our analyses are reproducible.

This module is predicated on you wanting to solve problems, and equipping yourselves with the tools to do so. It is mostly self-driven – lectures and problems delivered via video with on-line labs. These are supported with a weekly face to face tutorial. Assessment is a mixture of coursework and a problem solving timed assessment under open book exam conditions.

If you choose this module, you need to be self-motivated, curious and tenacious. One of the key skills is learning how to find the resources to use for successful problem solving. Successful completion will give you a useful tool set for application to many other areas, not least data analysis projects, and a skillset that is attractive to employers.

All the software used is open source and available to run on Mac, PC and Linux desktops.

Between Levels 3 and 4

A year working in industry if you have chosen the degree programme with a year in industry.

Level 4

At level 4, you will carry out more advanced study of topics in the field of drug design and development, these will be at the level of current research in your chosen subject area.

You will be able to choose additional topics from a wide range of specialist research areas within life sciences according to your personal interests.

Your studies will involve extensive use of scientific literature and the opportunity to attend a regular programme of seminars given by invited speakers from Britain and abroad.

Level 4 - core modules

Semester 1

Number of credits: 40

Building on your project experience at Level 3, you will expand your research experience by participating in a semester long research project based around one chosen area of the current world-class research in Life Sciences.

Depending on the type of project chosen, you will learn advanced practical techniques and/or enhance your data interpretation skills, analysis of current literature, scientific writing and communication skills. All students will enhance their skills in planning and time management.

Main types of projects available:

  • individual lab based research - you will carry out research into a current topic allied to and within a research group in School of Research School of Life Sciences research complex, James Hutton Institute or Medical Research Institute at Ninewells.
  • group lab based research - In groups of no more than four, you will plan and carry out investigations into a current area of research. You will work cooperatively to carry out investigations and produce data but write individual reports.
  • dissertation with Data Analysis - A review of the latest scientific literature accompanied by analysis of a relevant data set. Typical types of analyses can include meta-analysis, bioinformatics and statistical approaches.
  • science communication - In conjunction with Dundee Science Centre or the communications team in the School of Life Sciences or the School of Medicine, you will prepare materials to communicate current research topics and techniques to a public audience
  • bio-business – you will work on a project relating to a biological or biomedical topic, exploring commercialisation, entrepreneurial or business development aspects. This project can include collaboration between an academic group in the School of Life Sciences or the School of Medicine and the Business School or Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Semester 1

Number of credits: 20

The aim of this module is to use the vibrant research environment of the School of Life Sciences, James Hutton Institute and Medical Research Institute at Ninewells to expand your experience of current research and give you the opportunity to be part of the wider research culture. Students likewise can engage with science communication, group research and data analysis projects. You will gain knowledge of the current leading areas of research in Life Sciences; enhance your scientific communication skills through writing; and gain experience of grant proposal writing.

You will prepare a grant proposal in relation to your own research project which will then be presented to and assessed by a panel of current researchers. Following attendance at seminars, you will be able to produce abstracts summarising the subject of at least two of these seminars.

This semester culminates in a research symposium which takes place in the final week of the semester.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to build upon the your understanding from Level 3 of the process involved in identifying drug targets and developing drugs against those targets. This will include key aspects of drug development beyond lead optimisation.

Topics covered in this module include detailed receptor pharmacology, special considerations for specific drug discovery programmes, including Central Nervous System targets, the role of drug transporters in drug disposition, detailed understanding of what makes a good drug target and a potential drug molecule and introduction to nonclinical development with specific emphasis on safety pharmacology, safety assessment and the more detailed Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetic study requirements.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to build on Levels 1-3 chemistry teaching and to provide you with the core skills required to design synthetic routes towards novel compounds.

On completion of this module, you will gain an understanding of several advanced methods for organic synthesis and organic synthesis design theory. The module will teach an approach to the design of synthetic routes called retrosynthetic analysis. Other topics include organometallic chemistry, palladium catalysed coupling reactions, peptide synthesis and heterocyclic chemistry.

Level 4 - optional modules

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to provide specialist knowledge and understanding of frontier topics in bioinformatics. You will gain an understanding of key technologies and applications in modern biological research and familiarity with state of the art processes.

This module will consist of two study topics delivered by specialists in specific fields and a personal study topic. Indicative content are Genome Assembly, Proteomics, Structural Analysis and Systems Modelling though these may change with research areas and staff availability. Assessment is through preparing literature reviews (precis) of the two assigned topics and a larger mini-review of your chosen topic.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

This module will provide you with an in-depth view of fundamental and applied plant science research and how this can be used to improve food, energy and water security as part of efforts to mitigate climate change and population growth. Lecturers will use their own unpublished discoveries, in combination with recent literature, to deliver a wide ranging and cutting-edge research focussed course examining how does basic scientific data informs crop development, agricultural practice and social policy and benefits human health.

Topics covered in this module include:

  • plant pathology: understanding plant responses to bacterial, oomycete, fungal, nematode and insect pathogens.
  • plant-symbiote interactions: The rhizosphere, the plant microbiome and increased food production
  • biochemistry of plant perception – How plants perceive other organisms, regulate their development and respond to the abiotic environment.
  • regulation of plant development – Can manipulation of plant architecture and flowering time improve food production?
  • identifying plant traits for improved biofuel production – Towards a low carbon plant-based economy.
  • next-generation sequencing and genome capture technology – Identifying genes behind novel traits required for agriculture and industry.
  • synthetic biology: practice and ethics – Can we make a better plant? If we can, should we?
  • plant derived compounds and human health – drug discovery and pharmaceutical production

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to provide you with a broad understanding of key topics in cancer biology. This module will build on more specialised areas of biochemistry, molecular cell biology and genetics that you will have encountered in your Level 4 laboratory projects and will complement additional courses in Semester 2 of Level 4.

Topics covered in this module are:

  • Introduction to cancer pathology
  • Introduction to the Hallmarks of Cancer
  • Oncogenes
  • Tumour suppressor genes
  • Growth factors
  • Cell signalling pathways
  • Cancer viruses
  • Environmental carcinogenesis
  • DNA damage and repair
  • Mechanisms of Cell death
  • Mouse models of cancer 
  • Invasion and metastasis

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to provide specialised and research-based insight into advanced molecular microbiology. It will extend and build on knowledge gained in Levels 1-3 and will provide extensive opportunities for you to engage with active researchers and primary research literature in areas of topical interest and importance in the field. By successful completion, you will have gained an appreciation and understanding of important topics and current research approaches in molecular microbiology.

After completing this module, you should be able to explain the molecular principles that underlie key traits and processes in microorganisms and should be able to evaluate and refer to relevant primary research sources. In particular:

  • how microbes adhere to surfaces
  • how bacteria secrete proteins
  • how the microbial cell wall is formed
  • the biotechnological applications of microbial metal and mineral transformations

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to provide an opportunity for you to carry out an in-depth study of specific topics within the area of Gene Regulation and Expression and of the advanced technologies and experimental design that underpin them. You will gain an understanding of selected topics in cell and molecular biology at the level of contemporary, cutting-edge research in these areas. The selected areas will reflect the expertise and research interests of the Centre for Gene Regulation & Expression in Dundee but will be placed within the wider context of current research.

Specialist topics offered as part of this module may vary from year to year but will typically include five topics drawn from the following areas: transcriptional regulation, chromosome biology, nuclear structure and gene expression, chromatin structure and gene regulation, DNA damage response, control of DNA replication, advanced topics in cell division, advanced proteomics, quantitative and high-resolution microscopy.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

The aim of this module is to introduce students to molecular, cellular and biochemical studies on selected parasitic protozoa. Students will gain an understanding of selected parasites, common approaches to their study and development of chemotherapies against them. Topics covered will reflect key areas such as genetic approaches, immune evasion, drug delivery, drug targets and drug mode-of-action.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

This module builds on the Level 3 module Cell Signalling (BS32006) and will take you close to the forefront in selected areas of cell signalling research currently being pursued within the School of Life Sciences.

On completion of this module, you should have the ability to acquire, organise, present and discuss information about Cell Signalling obtained from the primary scientific literature and other sources.

Topics covered in this module are protein kinase families; catalysis, regulation and recognition of substrates by protein kinases; sensing of energy and glucose by AMPK; targeting of protein phosphatases via regulatory subunits; organisation of protein phosphorylation networks by 14:3:3 proteins; expansion of cell signalling networks by whole genome duplications; regulation of cell function by polyubiquitylation and deubiquitylation; regulation of transcription by protein phosphorylation; signalling via Toll-like receptors; signalling in T cells via antigen and IL-2 receptors.

Semester 2

Number of credits: 15

This module aims to provide you with advanced research-led teaching of key topics in cancer pharmacology and treatment and will build on specialised areas of pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular cell biology and genetics that all students will have encountered through the core modules taken during Semester 1 of Level 3 and during Semester 1 of their Level 4 honours year. As this module carries a specialist emphasis on pharmacology, it is also a core complement of the modules which contribute to this degree stream at Level 4. The module also aims to strengthen your skills in problem solving, critical analysis of scientific literature, and in self-directed learning.

After successful completion of this module you will be able to explain central concepts in the field of cancer pharmacology and relate these to the development and treatment of cancer and will understand the principles that underlie:

  • current approaches to cancer treatment
  • drug targets
  • mechanisms of action of commonly prescribed chemotherapy drugs
  • chemoprevention
  • drug resistance
  • cancer stem cells
  • cancer pharmacogenetics
  • personalised medicine for cancer

 

MSci Integrated Masters Programme

Develop your own research project and work for five months in a lab with our MSci Programme.

The MSci Programme takes students coming from the Biological or Biomedical Sciences streams.

RSB Advanced Accredited logo

This programme provides an additional year of study in the indicated specialisms that is designed to increase your practical ability and employability, giving you focused training in laboratory research that results in the award of a Masters degree.

Based from the outset in one of our internationally renowned research laboratories, you will build on your Level 4 experience but go well beyond it: you will develop your own research project that you will write up in the form of a grant proposal, receive training in a variety of research skills and carry out a 5-month, full-time project in your host lab based on the proposal you have written.

In addition to enhancing your laboratory skills you will develop your ability to think critically and analytically, learn how to formulate new ideas and research hypotheses and develop skills in data analysis, interpretation and communicating scientific information.

Entry to the MSci Programme will be by interview and you must maintain a B3 average at first attempt across your Life Sciences Modules throughout Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 to be eligible.

Specialisms available:

  • MSci Biomedical Sciences
  • MSci Neuroscience
  • MSci Pharmacology
  • MSci Physiological Sciences
  • MSci Biological Sciences
  • MSci Biological Sciences (Plant Sciences)
  • MSci Biological Sciences (Bioinformatics)
  • MSci Biochemistry
  • MSci Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery
  • MSci Molecular Biology
  • MSci Molecular Genetics
  • MSci Microbiology

For more information contact:

David Norman
d.g.norman@dundee.ac.uk
+44(0) 1382 384798

Careers

The Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery degree can lead to a wide range of careers including research and development in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries; chemical, pharmaceutical or biomedical research in universities or research institutes; teaching in further or higher education; scientific publishing; scientific patenting or further professional education and training.

The interdisciplinary nature of the programmes also provides generic skills that are applicable to many careers.

Postgraduate Study

Some of our students proceed to higher degrees (MSc or PhD) and go on to undertake or supervise original research, and others go on to take a degree in Medicine.

We offer a number of Masters level courses in addition to PhD research opportunities in Life Sciences.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

 Find out more about fee status

Fees for students starting 2019-20

Fee categoryFees for students starting 2019-20
Scottish and EU students £1,820 per year of study
Rest of UK students £9,250 per year of study See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants.
Overseas students (non-EU) £20,950 per year of study

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loans Company.

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students are guaranteed not to increase by more than 3% per year, for the length of your course.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your education at the University over and above tuition fees in an academic year.

Examples of additional costs:

One off costOngoing costIncidental cost
Graduation feeStudio feeField trips

*these are examples only and are not exhaustive.

Additional costs:

  • may be mandatory or optional expenses
  • may be one off, ongoing or incidental charges and certain costs may be payable annually for each year of your programme of study
  • vary depending on your programme of study
  • are payable by you and are non-refundable and non-transferable

Unfortunately, failure to pay additional costs may result in limitations on your student experience.

For additional costs specific to your course please speak to our Enquiry Team.


Unistats data set (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS) Unistats data set - formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)

  Degree UCAS Code Unistats Data
Apply NowBiological Chemistry and Drug Discovery BSc (Hons)F151
Apply NowBiological Chemistry and Drug Discovery (with a year in industry) BScF154