Entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a Biological Sciences subject (with a substantial proportion of ‘molecular’ content), Bioprocessing or Biochemical Engineering, but relevant experience may be taken into account. In addition, applicants will need to demonstrate leadership potential, which might be evidenced from academic, sporting, volunteering or other professional experience.

Months of entry


Course content

Do you want to develop the medicines of the future?

Biopharmaceutical drugs are transforming the way we treat patients, fighting global diseases such as cancer, arthritis and hepatitis. This growing industry is generating a huge demand for scientists skilled in this groundbreaking field.

10 of our first 11 graduates went straight into full-time employment in technical roles at the end of their course. Many have been recruited to positions more senior than is normally filled by a candidate with MSc level qualifications.

This course has been designed to fast-track your career, rapidly equipping you with the skills to understand the many functions contributing to successful drug development, from discovery to commercialisation.

It is the only course in the UK with a paid placement in the biopharmaceuticals industry, through which successful candidates will earn £20,000.

Designed, developed and delivered in partnership with Covance, a major multinational pharmaceutical company, this is an opportunity to learn first-hand from industry professionals.

A highly specialist skillset

The course focuses on large molecule drugs: monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin, bio-similars and antibody-drug conjugates; gene therapies and the technologies that underpin the discovery and development pathway.

You’ll be taught by qualified industry professionals who are working at the forefront of their fields in the areas of science that support drug development.

They’ll teach you hands-on practical training in protein purification, characterisation, formulation and assessment of binding function. In addition, you’ll use cell-based assays to look at drug potency, all performed in a strict regulated environment. All this will access to cutting-edge practical technologies in a world-leading Life Science Faculty

Alongside this, you’ll learn how to operate in a corporate environment, for example how to present with impact and deliver reports to clients, regulator, investors and sponsors.

The course is 19-months long, with the first 7 months on campus at the University of Leeds covering all aspects of biological drug discovery, development and commercialisation. This provides you with an understanding of the many functions that contribute to a successful drug and how they are coordinated and integrated to bring new drugs to market in a timely and economic fashion.

At least half of the teaching is delivered by industrialists, with the remainder delivered by academics expert in different parts of the industrial process drawn from 4 faculties of the university (Biological Sciences, Business School, Engineering, Medicine & Health). The curriculum is covered with seminars, tutorials, field trips and a series of substantial projects performed by the students in teams.

The taught modules on this course will provide you with an understanding of the full biological drug development focusing on each of the major steps of the process (as demonstrated in the Biopharmaceutical Pathway image):

  • discovery
  • manufacturing
  • pre-clinical testing
  • clinical trials
  • market access and
  • the regulatory and legal aspects framework that ensure safe practice and the development of safe and effective medicines.

Work placement: an integral part of your training.

The second half of your programme is an industrial placement assignment. This is a 12-month guaranteed work and research experience in industry or placement hosted within the university research laboratories developed and co-supervised with industry. Students can expect to earn up to £20,000 over the duration of their placement.

The placements will all include a practical research project where you will gain in-depth practical experience of at least one technical function of the drug development process (discovery, manufacturing, pre-clinical testing, clinical safety and efficacy).

We are continuously growing our placement provider portfolio across the UK, previous placement opportunities have been held with:

  • Covance
  • AstraZeneca
  • Avacta plc
  • Ipsen
  • FujiFlim Diosynth Biotechnologies

You will commence your project in May, seven months after the start of the programme and will be completed by the following April. Graduation is scheduled immediately thereafter, making you available for employment immediately after your placement.

Fees and funding

We award a generous range of scholarships to UK, EU and international students. We consider all eligible applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and excellent personal and professional skills. Visit the FBS fees and scholarships page to find out more about the range of scholarships on offer.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    20 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Faculty of Biological Sciences Postgraduate Admissions