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Medicinal chemistry

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

What is Medicinal chemistry?

Medicinal chemists are the creative talent behind the modern pharmaceutical industry. As well as being expert chemists, they have a particular expertise in molecular design, the synthesis of drugs and the understanding of biological functions.

Is this the right course for you?

Yes, if your dream is to design and prepare new drugs, if you want to understand the biological reasons by which they cure diseases, if you have a natural flair for chemistry and are simultaneously interested in developing skills and expert knowledge relevant to the rapidly growing pharmaceutical industry.

Did you know?

  • Medicinal chemists are the professionals behind the discovery and development of new drugs such as Taxol, which is manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb in Swords (Co. Dublin) and has saved the lives of many women with breast cancer.

Course overview

This degree provides you with a sound general grounding in chemistry but focuses on, and extends into, topics of relevance to the design and production of new medicinal compounds and understanding their biological actions.

The Freshman years

In the first two years you will follow the Science (TR071) programme, taking chemistry (CH1101 and CH1102), biology (BY1101 and BY1102) and mathematics in the Junior Freshman (first) year. In the Senior Freshman (second) year you will take chemistry and 20 prescribed units of biology with the option of further biology (20 units) or mathematics (20 units). In addition, special sessions held specifically for your group will introduce you to the ideas and techniques of medicinal chemistry.

The Sophister years

In the Junior and Senior Sophister (third and fourth) years the course will branch off into the more specialised aspects of medicinal chemistry, although there will be considerable overlap with the Chemistry programme.

The overlap will be mainly in organic chemistry, with less emphasis being placed on physical and inorganic chemistry in order to allow for the introduction of the new medicinal chemistry units.

In the Junior Sophister (third) year, your special medicinal chemistry modules will include:

  • Basic principles of medicinal chemistry
  • Biochemistry (protein structure and function)
  • Pharmacology (how drugs interact with the body)
  • The fundamentals of computational drug design
  • Anti-viral and anti-cancer agents
  • Anti-microbial and anti-infective agents (compounds that can combat the microorganisms that cause disease)
  • Anti-malarial chemistry (study of the development of new drugs in this area)
  • Steroid drugs (study of drugs based on the steroid skeleton)
  • Industrial chemistry (short course on medicinal chemistry in industry)

In the Senior Sophister (fourth) year, you will cover the medicinal chemistry of the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, combinational chemistry and drug delivery, as well as computational medicinal chemistry and modern analytical methods. Case studies in medicinal chemistry (focusing on specific diseases or drug types) will also feature on your programme.

Practical work in the final year will consist of a research project. This may be carried out either in Trinity under the supervision of a member of staff, in a chemistry department at an overseas university, or in a commercial laboratory.

Study abroad

To date, arrangements have been made for students to carry out their final-year research projects, from October to December, in European universities including Regensburg, Madrid, Liverpool, Copenhagen, Montpellier and Bologna. Study further afield in universities in Canada and the USA is also possible.


You will be assessed by a combination of continuous assessment and end-of-year examinations.

Career opportunities

As with graduates in other types of chemistry, the skills acquired during this course will make you highly attractive to employers in a wide variety of areas. In addition to the pharmaceutical industry itself, business, finance, administration and teaching are all possibilities open to you as a graduate of medicinal chemistry. Former graduates of this course are working in companies such as Pfizer, Abbot, GlaxoSmithKline, Servier and Deloitte and Touche.

Medicinal chemistry would also serve as an excellent primary degree for a graduate course in medicine.

Further information

Course coordinator: Prof. Mike Southern

Tel: +353 1 896 3411


Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving CertificateOC3 or HD3 Mathematics
HC3 In two of: physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics/chemistry, geology, geography, applied mathematics or agricultural science
GCSEGrade B Mathematics
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade C In two of physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, geology, geography or applied mathematics
Combinations not permitted:
Physics/chemistry with physics or chemistry
Agricultural science with biology
Applied mathematics with mathematics
Other EU examination systemsSee

This course is funded by the Irish government under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and aided by the European Social Fund (ESF) under the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2007-2013.

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