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Cancer Drug Discovery

Duration: 1 year
Attendance mode: Full-time
Award: MSc
Suitable for international students
Start date: September
Faculty of Life Sciences
Apply Download course booklet


Exciting new opportunities for chemical intervention in disease have emerged based on a greater understanding of the molecular aspects of disease progression. Drug discovery combines the expertise of medicinal chemists required in translating the understanding of the molecular aspects of disease progression to the identification of suitable chemical entities, and the process of optimisation that ultimately leads to the discovery of new medicines.

This exciting course run by the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics is designed to provide students with a 'state-of-the-art' education in modern drug discovery, which meets the demand of employers in the pharmaceutical industry.

Opportunities to learn the latest innovations in drug discovery are provided, including computer-aided drug design and techniques in parallel synthesis, as well as electronic data management.

Why Bradford?

  • The course provides an expert view of the use of recent knowledge and up- to-the minute specialised approaches to discover novel drugs to help fight disease and increase the quality of life for patients
  • It benefits from the multidisciplinary team of researchers in the field of drug design, synthesis, screening, pharmacology and toxicology both at the University and through our extensive links with experts at other universities and industry
  • Students on the course will also benefit from working in excellent research laboratories in a research focused environment

Entry requirements

  • 2:2 or above in a scientific discipline in chemical or biological sciences
  • Study of chemical sciences at undergraduate level is desirable
  • Applications are also welcome from candidates with non-standard qualifications who have significant relevant experience; each case will be considered on its merits

English language requirements:

IELTS at 6.0 or the equivalent.

If you do not meet the IELTS requirement, you can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course. See the Language Centre for more details.


The modules for this course can be found in the latest programme specification.

This programme is designed to provide you with a ‘state of the art’ education in modern cancer drug discovery, which meets the demand of employers in pharmaceutical industry and has a strong track record in graduates progressing to employment in the field or PhD study.

There are opportunities to learn the latest innovations in drug discovery, including computer-aided drug design and techniques, drug synthesis as well as electronic data management. In addition, an extended project in drug discovery will not only provide you with first-hand experience of the challenges in original research, but also gives you an opportunity to put in practice the knowledge you have gained.

Core Modules

Principles of Drug Discovery (Semester 1)

Overview of the drug discovery process; sources of leads; lead identification and optimisation strategies; choosing drug targets.

Case Studies in Drug Discovery (Semester 2)

Overview of the discovery and development process for specific medicines currently on the market or soon to be introduced.

Critical Appraisal of a Current Topic in Cancer Therapeutics and Toxicology (Semesters 1&2)

In this module, you will choose from a range of cutting edge topics, and will conduct independent literature research and analysis to write a critical appraisal of your selected topic. Support is provided in academic skills, professional development planning, and time management.

Practical Skills for Research (Semesters 1&2)

Overview of some of the most important experimental techniques used in drug discovery.

Research Project in Cancer Therapeutics and Toxicology (Semester 3)

10-week laboratory-based, individual, original scientific research project carried out in the under direct supervision of a member of drug discovery team.

A selection of your Optional Modules

Preclinical Models for Drug Evaluation (Semester 1)

This module will help you develop a critical appreciation of the range of in vitro and in vivo experimental models which play a key role in the screening and progression of new therapies.

Molecular Basis of Cancer and Cancer Therapy (Semester 1)

An overview of molecular mechanisms and cellular pathways leading to cancer and their application to the discovery of new therapies.

Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity (Semester 2)

An overview of molecular mechanisms leading to drug toxicity and improving clinical success rate by eliminating their impact.

Chemical Toolbox for Drug Discovery (Semester 2)

Overview of the use of chemical synthesis in the preparation of new drug agents.

Reading lists

All reading lists can be found here.

Career support and prospects

Career support

The University is committed to helping students develop and enhance employability and this is an integral part of many programmes. Specialist support is available throughout the course from Career and Employability Services including help to find part-time work while studying, placements, vacation work and graduate vacancies. Students are encouraged to access this support at an early stage and to use the extensive resources on the Careers website.

Discussing options with specialist advisers helps to clarify plans through exploring options and refining skills of job-hunting. In most of our programmes there is direct input by Career Development Advisers into the curriculum or through specially arranged workshops.

Career prospects

Many students go on to study for PhDs either at Bradford or elsewhere. Recent graduates are studying at Dundee, Newcastle and Glasgow universities. Those in employment are in R&D and clinical research roles.


Celebrating 50 Years: 50 Stories

Professor Laurence Patterson talks about Bradford’s longstanding expertise in cancer medicines discovery and development, and explains how researchers are working hard to find novel cancer treatments:

Fees, Finance and Scholarships

Tuition fees


  • Home/EU - £7,960
  • International - £18,480

Tuition fees are subject to review for students starting their course in subsequent years. See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.

Financial support

You may be eligible to apply for the government's new Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 to put towards your fees and living costs. Find out more on our Fees and Financial Support website.

How do I find out more?

Contact the Faculty

Student profiles

Hear what our students have to say about the course:

Haneen Basheer, from Jordan, says: "The course met all the objectives and aims offered, and gave me the opportunity to develop independent and critical thinking through working on different types of assignments." Read more from Haneen here.

Steps to Postgraduate Study

Find out more about studying at a postgraduate level on the official, independent website Steps to Postgraduate Study (link opens in new window).

How to apply

The easiest way to apply is online.

This will help us process your application more quickly and allow you to submit your supporting documents electronically.

If you are unable to apply online, please email to request a paper application form.

We will also need the following supporting documents, along with any other information specified on the course page:

  • Degree certificates/transcripts
  • Research proposal (if required)
  • Two references (including one academic reference)
  • Evidence of English language level (if required)
  • A copy of your passport

Once you have applied you will have access to the University's Applicant Portal, where you can track the status of your application.

You should also start thinking about how you plan to fund your postgraduate study — you may need to apply for loans or grants at this stage.

International students

If you applying from outside the UK and require additional support you may apply through your country representative.

They can help you at every stage and communicate with the University on your behalf. They often provide additional services to ensure your smooth arrival to the UK such as visa application support and assistance with your travel arrangements.

Further information is available on our International Office website.

This is the current course information. Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study.