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    Pharmaceutical Engineering

    School of Chemical, Materials and Biological Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

    Our MSc gives you hands-on experience of an industrial-scale continuous powder processing plant and develops the knowledge and skills you need to stand out in the global pharma market.
    Students in the Pilot Plant

    Course description

    This programme has been developed taking into consideration the requirements of the global pharmaceutical industry. You’ll discover about the science and application of products, oral drug delivery, the production of medicines and new technologies used in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical processes.

    You’ll also have the potential to help develop and discover better medicines that literally could change millions of lives. Unlike similar courses which deal with the chemistry part of pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, this course has been designed to imply the chemical engineering fundamentals which is more essential in real life experience.

    You’ll gain hands-on-experience with high value formulated products using our industrial scale continuous powder processing plant (ConsiGm 25). Situated in our state of the art teaching facility, The Diamond, the Pilot Plant will be the cornerstone of your study here at Sheffield.

    The skills also gained on this MSc in the field of particle technology will allow you to work in other sectors such as the detergent sector (such as Unilever or P&G), food products (such as Nestle), catalyst and fertiliser sectors.

    You’ll be taught by the very best, the department works closely with some of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies (such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GSK). The graduates of this course will be highly sought after in the global pharma market.


    We are accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    Science of Formulated Products

    Formulated products are an increasing focus across a wide variety of chemical engineering industries, including the pharmaceutical sector, food manufacture, fast moving consumer goods, fertilisers and catalyst manufacture. These industries are unified by the need to understand particle behaviour and hence this unit will introduce the engineering concepts of various particle processing systems such as powder flow, mixing, granulation, fluidized bed drying and tableting. The theoretical concepts developed in lectures will be reinforced by the opportunity to see Diamond Pilot Plant, which is a world-leading full scale continuous pharmaceutical production line. In addition, the materials will be supplemented by guest lecturers from a range of relevant industries.

    15 credits
    Continuous Manufacturing Technology: PAT and Process Optimisation

    The module covers recent advances in Process Analytical Technology (PAT), which is used in continuous manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. Selection of suitable PAT tools and PAT data interpretation are both addressed. Additionally, the module will present different approaches used in process control and optimization. The lecture topics are designed based on the skills required by the pharmaceutical industry and there is significant input from industrial experts.

    15 credits
    Advanced Bioprocess Design Project

    This module will cover the design of whole biomanufacturing processes for the manufacture of biotherapeutic proteins. This will include a taught component, where process design principles and practice will be learnt; plus assistance during the design process, where you will produce a process design and accompanying report. The course will also cover part of modern quality by design, specifically the attainment of product critical quality attributes through the control of process parameters and its ramifications on process design will be discussed.

    15 credits
    Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing

    The module aims to provide an understanding of the key unit operations used in manufacturing biopharmaceutical products including vaccines, therapeutic proteins, and cell/gene therapies. The module will cover fermentation, extraction technologies and purification operations. The module will describe the design and application of each unit of operations, and introduce key associated topics including process engineering, analytical technologies, automation, quality by design, and regulatory issues. The module will have a particular focus on the latest industrial trends, and current and future challenges in biopharmaceutical manufacturing will be studied in-depth.

    15 credits
    Advanced Biochemical Engineering

    This module will extend the use of classical chemical engineering principles of mass balance, energy balance and mass transfer to unit operations used in the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals. This will include fermentation, cell culture reactors, homogenisation, centrifugation, filtration and chromatography. Unit operation specific models will also be applied to predict these operations effectiveness.

    15 credits
    Research Project

    The application of scientific and engineering principles to a solution of practical problems of engineering systems and processes is developed throughout the course and demonstrated in particular by the research project. Each student registered for the Masters degree in 'Pharmaceutical Engineering' must complete a research-based portfolio. The research project is worth 60 credits. This is the most important individual module in the course, assessing the student's ability to conduct research on an individual level, also including group aspects when applicable. The topic for study is selected in consultation with appropriate members of the teaching staff, from a list of projects offered alongside the research interests of academic supervisors in the department. You will choose a research project which best fits your interests and conduct unique and original research in that area. Projects vary from industrially-based problem solving to laboratory- or computational-based research and development of new processes or ideas. The research portfolio is a major part of the degree and you will be allocated an academic supervisor who provides advice and guidance throughout the period of study. Opportunities exist for research studies to be carried out in collaboration with other university research centres as well as industrial organisations. Furthermore, you will have the chance to conduct your research project as part of a team of other students on your course, where each student will focus on different aspects of the project. You will present your project as a portfolio consisting of a Technical Review (submitted individually or as a team if working on a team project) and a Dissertation (submitted individually in every case). The dissertation will include a lay summary to communicate to a variety of audiences. You will also be required to present your research work as a poster presentation during the academic year.


    60 credits
    Advanced Materials

    This module covers cutting-edge concepts and the latest information on advanced materials, more specifically nanomaterials. It will include next generation applications of emerging nanomaterials and the key properties underpinning some of these applications. The module will focus mainly on the methods used to produce these nanomaterials both at lab- and commercial-scales. Challenges and methodologies for scaling-up and commercialising nanomaterials syntheses will be covered. Hands-on activities in how to translate a synthesis into a process design will be included.


    15 credits

    Optional modules:

    Particle Design and Processing

    This module will give an introduction to particulate products. An overview of particle and powder characterisation will be given, and particle property distributions and how these change over time will be covered. Particle design (production of new particles with specific attributes) and production methods will be included (e.g. crystallisation and precipitation, granulation, jet break up and spray drying, aerosol processes, chemical vapour deposition, suspension polymerisation and grinding).

    15 credits
    Process Safety in the Chemical, Pharma and Fine Chemicals Industry

    This module addresses process safety in the chemical, pharma and fine chemical industry. It is one of a series of modules which address hazards and risks in specific industries. A wide range of chemical hazards are examined including flammability, toxicity, chemical reactivity and environmental impact. Tools and techniques for identifying hazards and reducing risk are described and practical experience in their use is provided in the form of workshop activities. The module will describe how to prepare a 'basis for safety' for a process.

    15 credits
    Managing Innovation and Change in Engineering Contexts

    This module introduces you to the importance of innovation in manufacturing and service organisations whose primary business activity is engineering and/or technology. Innovation management is introduced as the thoughtful combination of new product/process development and change management. Through case studies, theoretical frameworks, and tools you will come to understand innovation at multiple scales: international, national, regional, organisational and team, with particular emphasis on how organisations manage and exploit the commercial risks and opportunities inherent in innovation, and how project teams and engineers can respond to innovation challenges effectively. The module is aimed at engineering students of any discipline.

    15 credits
    Biopharmaceutical Engineering

    This module will equip students with a comprehensive understanding of the processes and technologies that contribute to the production and design of complex biopharmaceutical products. An emphasis will be placed on the core design principles and tools that underpin engineering of cells, DNA elements, culture media, proteins and mRNA constructs. Using latest case studies, students' understanding of core principles will be reinforced by designing industry relevant engineering processes for a range of biopharmaceutical products (e.g. recombinant proteins, vaccines, gene and cell therapeutics).



    15 credits

    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. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    1 year full-time


    School of Chemical, Materials and Biological Engineering

    Chemical engineers conceive and design processes to produce, transform and transport materials. Our courses help prepare you for a career in the oil and gas, chemical, nuclear and pharmaceutical industries.

    Our first-class facilities include cutting-edge laboratories such as the Analytics Lab, Thermodynamics Lab and the Pilot Plant.

    The Pilot Plant is the cornerstone to educate our students and it features a continuous powder processing plant – the first of its kind in any UK University.

    We also have key relationships with major international companies involved with food, fuels, medicines, plastics, energy and high-technology industries.  Some of these include: Siemens, Petronas, Pfizer, Nestle, Lonza, Astrazeneca, Syngenta and Unilever. 

    Here at Sheffield you’ll become an innovative product developer, forward looking, a risk taker and a trail blazer. You’ll be proud of the manufacturing heritage of our university and of our city.

    Our intensive teaching, combined with practical experience in most of our courses, produces the kind of graduates employers want. 

    We’ll equip you with everything you need to deliver sustainable solutions to support an ever growing, global population – study at Sheffield and you could literally change millions of lives.

    Student profiles

    Shengda Hou

    Communication ability is quite important in study. The academic staff here are willing to help solve the difficulties.

    Shengda Hou MSc Pharmaceutical Engineering

    Shengda Hou studied MSc Pharmaceutical Engineering and is now working in big pharma in China.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:2 undergraduate honours degree in a science, technology or engineering subject.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 7500

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.