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UCC Undergraduate courses

Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds

Course Fact File
Duration4 years
Teaching ModeFull-time
QualificationsBSc (Hons)
NFQ LevelLevel 8
FeesStudent Contribution + Capitation: €3,138 See Fees and Costs for full details.

Course Outline

BSc Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds (CPC) is an interdisciplinary course focusing on the chemistry and biology of the pharmaceutical industry and includes a five-month industrial placement.

The course is an excellent pathway to careers in the pharmaceutical industry and is accredited by the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Industry experts lecture on pharmaceutical technology, regulatory issues and the industry in Ireland. Our placement scheme includes application and interview training. Interviews with companies will be organised.

Core subjects include organic, analytical and pharmaceutical chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology, supported by modules on physical and inorganic chemistry, physiology, mathematics and physics.

Final-year research projects are written on pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmaceutical bio-science.

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • analyse and solve problems relating to pharmaceuticals
  • outline the fundamental chemistry and biology of pharmaceuticals
  • design experiments in pharmaceutical chemistry and biology
  • communicate with pharmaceutical scientists
  • engage with the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, and appreciate the opportunities and challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry


Refer to CK402 for more details.

Year 1 Modules:


  • BL1002 Cell, Biomolecules, Genetics and Evolution (5 credits);
  • BC1001 Introduction to Biochemistry and the Biological Basis of Disease (5 credits);
  • BL1004 Physiology and Structure of Plants and Animals (5 credits);
  • MB1003 Microbiology in Society (5 credits);
  • CM1200 Fundamentals of Modern Chemistry 1 (10 credits);
  • CM1201 Fundamentals of Modern Chemistry 2a (10 credits);
  • MA1001 & MA1002 Calculus for Science I & II (5 credits each);
  • PY1010 Physics for Biological and Chemical Sciences (10 credits)

Year 2 Modules:

Biomolecules;  Principles of Metabolic Pathways;  Main Group and Transition Element Chemistry;  Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry;  Energetics and Kinetics;  States of Matter; Structures and Reactions of Main Group Compounds;  Aromatics, Carbonyls and Alkenes;  Spectroscopy;  Structure, Bonding and Quantum Mechanics;  Introductory Molecular Biology; 

Year 3 Modules:

Structural Biochemistry;  Molecular Biology;  Synthesis, Structure and Reactivity of Organic Compounds;  Analytical Chemistry; Natural Products and Reaction Mechanisms; Pharmaceutical Chemistry; Pharmaceutical Solids and Technology; Pharmacology; Toxicology;  Chemotherapy and Pharmacology of Inflammation

In addition, you will undertake an industrial placement between Years 3 and 4 over the five-month period May-October.

Year 4 Modules:


Protein Science; Advanced Organic Synthesis, Biosynthesis and Reactivity; Physical Organic Chemistry; Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry;  Pharmaceutical Chemistry Drug Design and Development;  Work Placement;  Neuropharmacology;  Applied Pharmacology & Toxicology


Range of Research Projects

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Expected lecture hours: Lectures usually take place in the mornings between 9am and 1pm. You will usually have between 8-12 lectures per week.

Expected lab/practical hours: Laboratory practical classes are generally in the afternoons between 2pm and 6pm. You will usually have three laboratory classes per week.


Written exams will take place before Christmas and in May.  Not all modules will have formal Examinations.  Many modules use other types of assessment including laboratory practical reports, written assignments, interactive small-group tutorials, and by poster and oral presentations.

Why Choose This Course

The BSc Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds (CPC) is the only course in Ireland to cover both the chemistry and biology underpinning the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition, CPC is the only undergraduate course in chemistry that offers an organised placement scheme in the pharmaceutical industry. Feedback on the placements from both students and companies is excellent.

CPC is the only course on which industry experts present on key technical and economic aspects of the industry.

CPC is on the Auto-Qual list of the Teaching Council for eligibility to apply for PDE for teaching of Biology and Chemistry.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

BSc Chemistry of Pharmaceutical Compounds industrial placements have included sites in the UK and in the Netherlands, although most placements are in Ireland.

Skills and Careers Information

On this course you will gain skills in the synthesis and analysis of pharmaceuticals using chemical and biochemical technologies. The laboratory skills you will acquire include synthesis, chromatography (e.g. HPLC) and spectroscopy (e.g. NMR).

You will also learn presentation skills such as document and poster preparation, oral presentation and interview skills. Problem solving skills are developed in interactive group problem-solving sessions.

CPC is a pathway to careers in:

  • pharmaceutical process support and development
  • new process development
  • supply-chain management
  • HR and financial management 
  • drug discovery research

The pharmaceutical industry in Ireland is a major employer of CPC graduates. Graduates of this course are also working in leading research and development sites outside Ireland.


Refer to CK402.

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements visit our qualification comparison page and refer to our International Office page for more information.

Fees and Costs

  • Whether you are an EU or Non-EU student will affect the course fees applicable to you. See more information on EU Fees, Non-EU Fees, or Free Fees Status.
  • The State will pay the tuition fees for EU students who are eligible under the Free Fees Scheme. The annual student contribution and capitation fees are payable by the student.
  • See the Fee Schedule to find out the course fee.
  • Check out scholarships that may be available to you.
  • Explore our Nurturing Bright Futures free online course (Module 5) to learn about managing your money as a student and budgeting for university life.

How To Apply

Refer to CK402.

Irish and European (EU/EFTA/UK) Applicants

Apply via the CAO. See the CAO Handbook for useful information on applying through the CAO. 

Mature Applicants 

Apply via the CAO by 1 February. To apply for a place as a mature student, you must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the year of entry.

QQI/FET Applicants 

Apply via the CAOSee our QQI/FET Applicants page for information on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Further Education and Training (FET) application process. 

Non-EU Applicants 

If you are from outside the EU/EFTA/UK, apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact