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CH30098: Techniques in drug discovery

[Page last updated: 21 April 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/3
Owning Department/School: Department of Chemistry
Credits: 3 [equivalent to 6 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 60
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework (CW 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Requisites: Before taking this module you must take CH20160
In taking this module you cannot take CH40098
Learning Outcomes: After taking this course the student should be able to understand:
* Understand how biological targets are identified and understand the many problems associated with the drug discovery process;
* Appreciate the techniques used to sequence, analyse and prepare different types of biomolecule;
* The techniques that scientists employ to generate large numbers of compounds in an automated manner
* How the techniques of X-ray crystallography and computational modelling are used to determine the structure of complex biomolecules bound to ligands;
* The difficulties associated with preparing large quantities of bioactive molecules on an industrial scale;
* Be familiar with the different techniques used to formulate and administer drug molecules within different therapeutic areas.

Aims: To introduce students to some of the specialised technologies and techniques that are used to facilitate the drug discovery process using different case studies to illustrate how drugs are discovered, and understand how they function at a molecular level.

Skills: Numeracy (F, A), Problem solving (T, F A), Scientific writing (F, A), Independent working (F), Group working (F).

Content: Current problems and bottlenecks associated with the drug-discovery process. Understand the techniques used to purify and analyse biomolecules. Chemical and biochemical techniques used to purify and determine the structures of biomolecules. Techniques used to identify biological targets. Hit to lead optimisation. X-ray crystallography of biomolecules. Computational modelling of biomolecules. Database searching and bioinformatics. Docking drugs into enzyme active sites. Principles of high throughput screening. Combinatorial chemistry. Scavenging resins. Flow chemistry. Microwave chemistry. Principles of scale-up and green chemistry. Process chemistry. Microcalorimetry. Crystal structures and polymorphism. Drug formulation. Administering drugs by oral, intravenous and inhalation routes.

Programme availability:

CH30098 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Chemistry
  • USCH-AFB07 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery (Year 3)
  • USCH-AAB08 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery with Study year abroad (Year 4)
  • USCH-AKB08 : BSc(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery with Industrial Placement (Year 4)
  • USCH-AFM05 : MChem(Hons) Chemistry for Drug Discovery (Year 3)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.