Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Formulations MSc

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Course starts: 14 October 2019Apply now

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This is one of the few Masters course in the UK that covers biopharmaceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals. Study innovative ways to improve the health and wellbeing of our society. Enjoy the flexibility to pursue personal interests in considerable depth.

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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. It also covers advanced formulations and delivery of small drug molecules, and there is a focus on nanotechnology, dosage forms, pharmacokinetics and data analysis.

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.

Why us?

  • This Masters at Sunderland covers biopharmaceuticals as well as pharmaceuticals
  • The course covers drug delivery systems, not only for large molecules such as proteins and genes but also for small drug molecules, that offer innovative ways to improve the health and wellbeing of the society
  • Most postgraduates go on to work in pharmaceutical industries or undertake PhD programmes in the area of pharmaceutical sciences, biopharmaceuticals or drug delivery
  • Sunderland has worked with GlaxoSmithKline for over 20 years, and Pfizer has funded research projects at Sunderland for more than ten years

Course structure

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.

Modules on this course include:

Essential study skills, dosage forms and pharmacokinetics (30 credits)

- You will cover different types of dosage forms, advanced physiology, preformulation, pharmacokinetics and quality control tests. You will also cover research design and methodology, good manufacturing practice, laboratory safety standards, ethics in research, and organisational and communication skills.

Delivering Gene and Therapeutic Proteins (30 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 advanced analysis of protein formulations.

Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology (30 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. It will also cover the skills for writing and presenting posters and managing mini research projects.

Bioinformatics (30 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.


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

  • Our new 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 chemistry
  • 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, mixing inhalation, film coating and freeze drying.

    Facilities for pharmaceutics and pharmacology
  • We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on pharmaceutical and biomedical science, 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: 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
    • PsycARTICLES: Includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
    • PubMed: Contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
    • Science Direct: Offers more than 2,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
    • Web of Science: Covers a broad range of science areas
    Library Services - sciences
  • This course is based in the Sciences Complex in our City Campus, which has benefited from multi-million pound investment in modern facilities.

    IT facilities are excellent with hundreds of workstations available as well as wireless internet access. If you have any computer problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    The Sciences Complex
  • Map and directions


Sunderland's exceptional facilities include state-of-the-art equipment for pharmaceutics, synthetic, analytical and medicinal chemistry and pharmacology.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 2.40 from a Canadian bachelor's degree
  • GPA 2.5 from a USA bachelor's degree

in a subject related area.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Fees and finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £6,500 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £13,000 if you are from outside the EU

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

A student with graduation scroll


Sunderland is well-regarded by employers in the pharmaceutical sector. We have worked with GSK for over 20 years. Salaries for senior pharmacologists range from £35,000 to around £80,000. Clinical laboratory scientists earn an average of £36,000.

Career options

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

  • Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies
  • Medical research institutes
  • Hospitals

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