|About the course
I chose to study biological chemistry owing to my fascination for the power of drug compounds on the organism. However, I felt medicine wasn't the right degree for me. Studying biological chemistry has provided me with a better grasp of the science which surrounds drug action and drug discovery than that which I would have gained had I done either chemistry or biochemistry on their own. It does make for hard work, but for the committed student this pays off!
Victor do Nascimento, MChem Chemistry with Biological and Medicinal Chemistry
This specialist course has been designed to equip graduates with the growing demands of the healthcare sector and pharmaceutical industry. Employers need chemists with the ability to work with complex genome datasets and meet challenges such as antibiotic resistance. As well as essential chemistry topics, you'll study areas of biology and medicine that are at the heart of cutting-edge scientific research and potential medical treatments. Some of the biological subjects you'll cover are set out in the 'Course structure' tab.
The fourth year has more freedom to specialise, with a range of advanced lecture modules in biological and medicinal chemistry to choose from, covering topics including chemoinformatics, drug design, simulating drug-target interactions and pharmacokinetcs. You'll learn to use industry standard commercial software and run an even bigger biological and medicinal chemistry research project.
This degree is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which means that the first three years also cover all of the topics and training that you need to graduate into a professional chemistry career. We structure the essential chemistry course content around three areas: organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. Some of the chemistry subjects you'll cover are set out in the 'Course structure' tab.
At the start of your first year, you will be given a laboratory resource pack, including a lab coat, safety glasses and safety gloves, so you can start practical work right away. There are also maths classes, and a physics course for students who don't have an A level in physics. You'll do more practical work as the course progresses and by third year, you'll be able to handle sensitive chemicals and conduct experiments over multiple days. At the same time, our "Skills for Success" module will help you identify and develop skills that will be of use in life, future study and employment.
The fourth year has the most practical work. You'll run your own in-depth research project over six months, working with professional scientists in Sheffield's world-class chemistry and biology research groups. This can lead to your work being published in respected scientific journals before you've even graduated.
Below are some examples of topics covered in this degree from the current academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For more details see our online prospectus.
- Biochemistry: structures and function of biomolecules, metabolic pathways, metabolic regulation and cellular signalling, the role and structure of biomembranes.
- Physiology with Pharmacology: an introduction to human physiology and pharmacology, the effects of disease and drugs on body function.
- Organic Chemistry: functional groups and their reactivity, reaction mechanisms.
- Inorganic Chemistry: structure and bonding of main group and transition metal compounds.
- Physical Chemistry: electronic structure of molecules, kinetics, thermodynamics.
- Laboratory Chemistry: developing your key skills in analytical chemistry, spectroscopy and synthetic chemistry.
In addition, all students study a mathematics course, suitable to their background, covering the core mathematics needed for the remainder of the degree. Students that do have A-level Maths but not A-level Physics (or equivalent), will take both our Physical Principles in Chemistry and Mathematics for Chemists courses.
- Organic Chemistry: stereochemistry, designing syntheses of complex target molecules.
- Inorganic Chemistry: solid state materials, environmental chemistry.
- Physical Chemistry: electrochemistry, elementary quantum mechanics.
- Chemistry Laboratory: students gain experience in modern methods of separation, characterisation and analytical techniques, and advanced synthetic techniques such as Schlenk techniques for manipulating air and moisture sensitive compounds.
- Molecules to Market: a background to the discovery and commercialisation of medicinal drugs, exploring both successful and unsuccessful cases.
- Introduction to Computer-Aided Drug Design: how calculated properties of molecules can be determined and applied to the drug discovery process.
- Organic Chemistry: retrosynthetic analysis, Pd-catalysed cross coupling reactions, elucidation of reaction mechanisms.
- Inorganic Chemistry: organometallic chemistry, coordination chemistry, crystallography.
- Physical Chemistry: polymers, catalysis, statistical thermodynamics.
- Advanced Chemistry Laboratory: further laboratory techniques utilised in contemporary organic, inorganic and physical chemistry.
- Biological Chemistry Projects: aimed at developing students' key skills, including a literature review, a small group lab project, and our "Skills for Success" project.
- Research Project: You will do a major research project, working in an academic research lab on a project at the cutting edge of science. Students are trained in research methods appropriate to their field and take advantage of the state-of-the-art research facilities at Sheffield.
- Genomic Approaches to Drug Discovery: this lab-based course gives students experience at culturing human embryonic stem cells, and methods to identify them and induce differentiation.
Lectures in Year 4 allow students to explore a broad range of topics at the cutting edge of both chemistry and chemical biology research. Students currently select 9 courses across the year, allowing them to develop their own interests and specialities. Current options include:
- Supramolecular Chemistry
- Metals in Medicine
- Stereoselective Synthesis
- Mechanism and Reactivity in Organic Chemistry
- Quantum Chemistry
- Advanced Spectroscopy and Theory
- Heterogeneous Catalysis
- Medicinal Chemistry
- Metals in Organic Synthesis
- Chemistry in Space
- Photochemistry and Molecular Photonics
- Biomimetic Nanoparticle Synthesis
- Chemistry of High-Energy Materials
- Enzyme Catalysis
- Organic Chemistry of the Main Group Elements
- Biophysical Chemistry
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers.