Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Formulations MSc - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This Masters is one of the few in the UK that covers biopharmaceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals. The course covers drug delivery systems for large molecules such as proteins, genes and anticancer drugs that offer innovative ways to improve the health and wellbeing of our society.

The course also covers advanced formulations and delivery of small drug molecules. There is a focus on nanotechnology, dosage forms, pharmacokinetics and statistical methods used in data analysis.

Our supportive tutors will guide the development of rigorous approaches to research including sound methodologies, good manufacturing practice, high laboratory standards and effective communication of results.

Your Masters research project will be supervised by an expert in the relevant field, possibly in collaboration with a pharmaceutical company or research institution.

This course is particularly relevant if you plan to undertake a PhD in the area of pharmaceutical sciences, biopharmaceuticals or drug delivery. It is also suitable if you are considering, or already involved in, a career in pharmaceutical-related industries, hospitals or research institutions.

Pharmacy is a particular area of strength at the University of Sunderland. We have worked with GlaxoSmithKline for over 20 years and Pfizer has funded research projects at Sunderland for over 10 years.

Staff and students talk about the BioPharmecuetical Science degree at the University of Sunderland:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

  • Dosage Forms and Pharmacokinetics (20 Credits)

You will cover different types of dosage forms, advanced physiology, preformulation, pharmacokinetics and quality control tests.

  • Delivering Gene and Therapeutic Proteins (20 Credits)

You will gain an overview of advances in biotechnology, protein purification, gene, protein and vaccine delivery. You will also gain essential background knowledge for evaluation and analysis of protein formulations.

  • Essential Research and Study Skills (20 Credits)

This module covers research design and methodology, good manufacturing practice, laboratory safety standards, ethics in research, and organisational and communication skills.

  •  Research Manipulation (20 Credits)

This module covers the skills for writing research proposals, managing research projects and disseminating research outputs.

  • Nanotechnology (20 Credits)

In this module you will cover the formulation of nanoparticles, chemotherapeutics, polymer therapeutics, drug eluting stent development and drug delivery via the nose and inhalation.

  • Bioinformatics (20 Credits)

You will study computational and statistical methods used in chemical analysis and quality control.

  • Research Project (60 Credits)

You will complete a research project under the supervision of a recognised expert in the relevant field. You may have the opportunity to complete the project in collaboration with a pharmaceutical company.

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, seminars, problem-based learning, laboratory work, group work and visits to relevant companies. We also welcome guest speakers from the pharmaceutical industry who deliver guest lectures and seminars.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working.

Assessment methods include written examinations, online tests and coursework, which includes oral and poster presentations.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Facilities for Chemistry

We’ve recently spent £1 million on our new state-of-the-art analytical equipment. The analytical suite contains equipment which is industry-standard for modern clinical and pharmaceutical laboratories.

Our state-of-the-art spectroscopic facility allows us to investigate the structures of new molecules and potential medicinal substances. We are equipped with Liquid Chromatography-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectroscopy (LCNMR/MS) platforms; this is an exceptional facility for a university. We also have low and high-resolution mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance and elemental analysis equipment.

Our facilities allow you to gain hands-on experience of a wide range of analytical techniques such as atomic absorption spectroscopy and infra-red spectroscopy, which are of great importance in determining both ionic/metal content of pharmaceuticals and simple chemical structures. You will also gain experience of revolutionary protein and DNA separation techniques, as well as Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography for separating unknown chemical mixtures.

Facilities for Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology

Our highly technical apparatus will help you gain a better understanding of the effects of drugs on specific receptors located throughout the human body and related physiological effects.

In addition to equipment for standard pharmacopoeial tests, such as dissolution testing, friability and disintegration, we also have highly sophisticated test methods. These include rheometry, thermal analysis (differential scanning calorimetry and hot stage microscopy), tests for powder flow, laser diffraction, photon correlation spectroscopy, image analysis and laser confocal microscopy.

We also have equipment for wet granulation, spray drying, capsule filling, tablet making, powder mixing inhalation, film coating and freeze drying.

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your studies include:

  • Embase, which is a complex database covering drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine and biomedical engineering/instrumentation
  • PsycINF, which includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
  • PubMed, which contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
  • Science Direct, which offers more than 18,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
  • Web of Science, which covers a broad range of science areas


Dale Building

Sciences Complex, City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

We invite applications from holders of, or those who hope to be awarded at least a second class honours degree in a relevant subject such as pharmacy, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences, biochemistry, pharmacology or a related discipline. We also accept equivalent qualifications from other countries.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,500 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,000 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

On completing this course you will be equipped with the skills and understanding needed for Research & Development roles with employers such as:

  • Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies
  • Medical research institutes
  • Hospitals

Salaries for senior pharmacologists range from £35,000 to around £80,000. Clinical laboratory scientists earn an average of £36,000.

A Masters degree will also enhance opportunities in academic roles or further study towards a PhD.


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with you at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Further support is provided by our technicians who help you make the most of the University’s equipment and high-tech facilities.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

"With University life, the more effort you put in the more you get out of it."

Kathryn Moffitt

Kathryn Moffitt - Graduate

Community Pharmacist

"Studying for a degree is not just about the few years you spend at university. It is about investing in the rest of your life.

"My university education proved to be a vital part of my pathway into employment; it gave me invaluable life skills, work experience and effectively set me up with a job and a career. Without my degree and the experience I gained at Sunderland, I would not be earning the salary I am today.

"While I was studying the lecturers encouraged me to get work experience with a local company. The University has many partnerships with private companies which led me to getting a Saturday job with Norchem Healthcare, which has a regional network of pharmacies.

"The experience was invaluable and once I graduated I was offered the chance to complete my training year and then went on to be offered a full-time pharmacy role.

"With university life, the more effort you put in the more you get out of it. There are so many opportunities to take part in activities outside of the course that are really worth looking into.

"I loved my time at university; it improved my knowledge, self-confidence and prepared me for going out into new environments and meeting new people."

"Studying at Sunderland has set me up for a lifelong career."

Sinead McHugh

Sinead McHugh - Graduate

Working at South Tyneside District Hospital

"Studying at Sunderland has set me up for a lifelong career. The programme was geared towards life in the workplace, with the right balance of expert tuition, knowledge and experience.

"The staff and lecturers were all really friendly and approachable which helped me settle in immediately and get the most out of my studies.

"The facilities at Sunderland are first class. The University even has its own mock pharmacy where we could train for life in the real world and build our confidence, learning skills that could be seamlessly transferred to the workplace.

"It is clear that the programmes at Sunderland are designed with career prospects in mind and my time at the University of Sunderland also led to me making contact with my current employer, South Tyneside District Hospital.

"The great thing I found about life at Sunderland is there are so many different people from all sorts of cultures studying here, which certainly broadened my horizons.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Sunderland and it really did exceed my expectations. I have made many lifelong friends and also my programme led me to get a job that I love doing, with a career path stretching ahead of me."

“I recommend the University of Sunderland to anyone that has a passion for knowledge and wants to meet the needs of employers in the pharmaceutical sector.”

Mohammed Dahmash Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Formulations graduate Case Study image

Mohammed Dahmash - Graduate

Currently studying a PhD

“The MSc Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Formulations course certainly sharpened my skills and knowledge. The course allowed me to study the areas of pharmaceutical science I was interested in, namely formulation development.

“I developed fantastic research skills during the course and various projects and the statistics and database knowledge I gained has been invaluable to me. The latter opened my eyes to new areas of pharmaceutical development.

“The different projects that I did gave me the chance to speak at conferences which was a life-changing experience.

“Now, I'm looking to study a PhD programme at Sunderland, with a focus on research in pellets formulations.

“I recommend the University of Sunderland to anyone that has a passion for knowledge and wants to meet the needs of employers in the pharmaceutical sector.”

"University life teaches you independence and you definitely mature as a person being away from home."

Paul Tasker Pharmacy graduate

Paul Tasker - Graduate

Pharmacist, Sunderland Royal Hospital

"After looking around at the courses on offer I chose Sunderland as the pharmacy qualification has an excellent reputation among employers.

"I visited the university during one of their open days and was impressed by what I saw. The campus looked so modern and the new facilities were really impressive.

"After graduating I did a placement at a hospital in Airedale before doing my pre-medical training at Hull Royal Infirmary. I quickly got the chance to return to Sunderland when a job came up at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

"My career has come full circle as we take visiting students at the hospital from the university. It reminds me of how much of my studies I actually put into practice every day at work.

"I think university life teaches you independence and you definitely mature as a person when you study away from home."

Apply for this course

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

    Next open day

  • For further information on future postgraduate events, please contact the Student Helpline on +44 (0)191 515 3000.

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Programme Leader:

Dr Amal Ali Elkordy
Tel: 0191 515 2576

For more general information, contact:

The Recruitment Team
Tel: 0191 515 2758

Programme Starts  
Monday 17th October 2016 Apply now

The details

Course Name Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Formulations
Classification MSc
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 17 October 2016
UK/EU Fee £4,500
Intl Fee £11,000

Entry requirements

2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject

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