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Module MSE-3020:
Drug Development

Module Facts

Run by School of Medical Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Rachel Hallett

Overall aims and purpose

Students successfully completing this third year module should have developed a conceptual understanding of the preclinical and clinical development of drugs including antibiotics, plant-derived drugs, anti-viral drugs, kinase inhibitors, novel compounds and antibodies. They should also acquire an understanding of how drugs interact with the body and how information can be retrieved from biopharmaceutical data bases.

The module is organised around 4 topics:

Topic 1: Drug Development & Pharmacokinetics

Topic 2: Antivirals & antibiotics

Topic 3: Kinase inhibitors and plant-derived drugs

Topic 4: Therapeutic antibodies and the immune system as drug

Course content

Drug Development teaches students about (i) drug-body interactions (pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics), (ii) the preclinical and (iii) the clinical development of drugs.

The module uses case studies to explain how drugs are developed from bench to bedside. Examples are selected from a broad range of drugs including antibiotics, plant-derived products, kinase inhibitors and the immune system.

The content of the module is annually updated to incorporate novel developments.

Assessment Criteria


Category B (60%-69%):

Knowledge of key areas & principles. The main areas are understood with some minor omissions. Limited evidence of background study. Answers are focused on question, but also with some irrelevant material and weaknesses in structure. Arguments presented but lack sometimes coherence. No original interpretation & ideas. Only major links between topics are described. Answers are based on lecture material. Evidence of problem solving & time management skills. Some weaknesses in presentation and accuracy.


Category D (40%-49%):

Knowledge is limited to key areas & principles with gaps. No evidence of background reading. Answers are poorly focused with some irrelevant material and/or repetition. No original interpretation and ideas. Limited problem solving skills, poor time management. Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy.

C- to C+

Category C (50%-59%):

Knowledge is limited to key areas & principles with gaps. No evidence of background reading. Answers are largely correct but are based on statements of facts without additional explanation and context. No original interpretation and ideas. Limited problem solving skills, poor time management. Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy.


Category A (70%-100%):

Comprehensive knowledge & detailed understanding with clear evidence of background study. Highly focused answer and well structured and well supported by diagrams & tables. Logically presented and defended arguments. No factual errors. Original interpretation and novel links between topics are developed. Excellent problem solving & time management skills. Very good presentation and accuracy.

To obtain marks in the A+ and A* range, clear evidence of background reading has to be present. Top answers based on the lecture material return low A marks.

Learning outcomes

  1. Develop an effective approach to exam revision by preparing for a final exam consisting of 2 essays (exam training is provided). (Biosciences benchmark: 3.9 Self-management and professional development skills)

  2. Work jointly with other students to critically research and prepare the drug report assignment. (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.7 information technology skills & 3.8 interpersonal and teamwork skills)

  3. Demonstrate an advanced insight into how drugs are developed (pre- & clinical stages). (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

  4. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of how drugs interact with the body (pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics). (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Drug Report

Students write a report in the style of a New Scientist article, describing the development and pharmacological characteristics of a drug in therapeutic use.

EXAM Essay examination

Two hour written exam. Students answer 2 essay questions from a choice of 4.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Time to research and prepare the Drug Report and to carry out revision and additional reading.


10 x 2 hour lectures 1 x 2 hour student led session - pharmaceutical company meeting simulation. 1 x 2 hour seminar provided by pharma company representatives.


2 x 2 hour tutorials. Review of the key points & concepts. Exam guidance and small group peer feedback on draft drug reports.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

UK Quality Code for Higher Education Subject Benchmark Statement Biomedical Sciences (

Intellectual skills

4.2 Biomedical sciences graduates should be able to:

ii make evidence-based decisions

iv apply subject knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems

Analytical, data interpretation and problem solving skills

4.4 Biomedical sciences graduates should be able to:

i receive and respond to a variety of sources of information: textual, numerical, verbal, graphical

iii prepare, process, interpret and present data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques, statistical programmes, spreadsheets and programmes for presenting data visually

vi evaluate published claims by interpreting methodology and experimental data, and make judgements about the strength of the evidence.

Communication, presentation and information technology skills

4.5 Biomedical sciences graduates should be able to:

i communicate about their subject appropriately to a variety of audiences using a range of formats and approaches and appropriate scientific language

ii cite and reference work in an appropriate manner, including the avoidance of plagiarism

iii use a range of media critically as a means of communication and a source of information.

5.5 Biomedical sciences programmes generally include:

Pharmacology: the importance of drug actions in the living organism for prevention and treatment of disease; the principles of drug-receptor interactions and the relationship between dose and response, routes of administration, types of drugs, how drugs are metabolised and eliminated from the body, toxic effects; approaches for drug discovery; personalised medicine.

6 Subject-specific knowledge, understanding and skills

6.3 Biomedical science students are encouraged to use and integrate the knowledge of various key subjects to further their understanding of the study, investigation, diagnosis and monitoring of human health and disease and the therapeutic strategies applicable to disease states. Programmes therefore reflect a system-led approach that integrates the clinical specialities through underpinning knowledge of biomedical science processes, investigation and treatment used for specific diseases. Biomedical science graduates are aware of the current laboratory methods available for the study, investigation, diagnosis and monitoring of human health and disease in clinical and research environments. This includes an appreciation of the development and evaluation of new and current methods and therapeutic intervention strategies.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: