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UCC Postgraduate courses

Chemistry - Analysis of Pharmaceutical Compounds

Course Fact File
Duration1 Year Full-time; 2 Years Part-time
Teaching ModeFull-time, Part-Time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.
NFQ LevelLevel 9
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateThis course is now closed for applications.
Non-EU Closing DateThis course is now closed for applications.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

MSc degree courses are provided in three key areas of Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Analytical Chemistry and in Pharmaceutical Analysis. They are designed to provide advanced knowledge and hands-on training in modern analytical instrumental techniques. Separation science, sensors, and spectroscopic techniques are key elements alongside chemometrics, instrumentation and advanced research project completion. Students will have the flexibility to specialise in a chosen field and further advancement to Ph.D. research is available to highly motivated and talented postgraduates.

The MSc in Analysis of Pharmaceutical Compounds is a one-year course designed to provide you with the theoretical and practical skills for employment in a diverse range of industries that require analytical expertise. The course curriculum consists of six months of lectures, laboratory practical sessions, career service workshops, industry-based seminars/workshops, site visits to industry and a six-month research project (industry, research institute, aboard).

The curriculum has been developed with input from staff in the chemistry department and also by the industry advisory board, to provide you with the necessary skills required by employers. Students have the choice to complete the six-month research project in a national or international industry or university environment. They also have the opportunity to present their research at the annual George Guilbault Symposium that is sponsored by industry with a number of awards being presented to students at this event.

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

  • identify, formulate, analyse and solve problems in the analysis of chemical compounds
  • outline fundamental and applied aspects of chemical analysis
  • design and carry out a method of pharmaceutical and chemical analysis, including instrumental analysis
  • prepare written laboratory reports that provide a description of the experiment, explain the experiment and reasoning clearly, and provide an appropriate conclusion
  • communicate effectively with the chemistry, environmental and pharmaceutical communities
  • carry out research and method development in chemical, pharmaceutical and environmental analysis
  • prepare a written research report in the form of a dissertation


The MSc course in Analysis of Pharmaceutical Compounds consists of eight-course modules that include lectures, set practical sessions, career service workshops, industry guest lectures, industry workshops and site visits and a six-month research project.

Students study 90 credits course work from the following modules:

Core Modules (60 credits)

  • CM6012 Modern Analytical Techniques, Chemical Data Analysis and GLP (10 credits) 
  • CM6013 Separation Science, Sensors and Process Analytical Technology (10 credits) 
  • CM6014 Materials, Pharmaceutical and Bio-analysis (10 credits) 
  • CM6015 Practice of Analytical Chemistry (10 credits) 
  • CM6026   Industry-Led Workshops (5 credits) 
  • CM6027 Taught Postgraduate Transferable Skills Development (5 credits) 
  • PF6301 Biopharmaceuticals: Formulation Design, Secondary Processing and Regulatory Compliance (10 credits)

Research Project Module (30 credits)

  • CM6022 Research Project and Dissertation in Pharmaceutical Analysis (30 credits)

Programme Requirements

The MSc Degree in Analysis of Pharmaceutical Compounds is awarded to successful candidates after passing written examinations across all taught modules, including the continuously assessed practical module CM6015, and the research project, which has to be written up in the form of a dissertation and approved by the external examiner.

The written examinations are split between the Winter and Spring examination periods. CM6012 and PF6301 are taken in the Winter, whilst CM6013 and CM6014 are taken in the Spring. Students taking the course part-time over two years can decide in advance what exams to take in each of the two years.

The research projects commence in Semester 2 and continue into Semester 3 and cover the time period of April to September. Dissertation completion and submission deadlines are the beginning of October each year.

Research Project and Industry Placement:

You will be required to complete a six-month research project based on your individual research and development in a selected field of modern science. You carry out your research in UCC’s laboratories or at an approved academic or industrial partner.

When you complete your research dissertation in an industrial setting, it provides the company with an opportunity to assess your skills and abilities and to screen potential future full-time employees. Students also have the opportunity to travel aboard to do their research project. This highlights the international recognition of the course and the close links established between the course and the relevant institutes.

Students who secure employment upon graduation fit into the organisation and contribute productively much sooner than other graduates. For students with an interest in future careers as PhD researchers, research projects are offered across a broad range of topics.

Additional Teaching Mode Information

The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years. 

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search 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

The courses consist of a 12-month full-time intensive programme of lectures, laboratory work on set experiments and a dissertation based on individual research and development in the selected field of modern analytical science, under the supervision of an expert staff member. Part-time students may complete the course over 24 months subject to flexible day release from the industry.

Why Choose This Course

This is one of the most established Analytical MSc courses in Ireland and is amongst the more popular MSc courses studied in UCC. This MSc course, in particular, has great international success in attracting students from all over the World due to the industry-led teaching agenda. The industry-relevant curriculum offered to students and the opportunity to complete a six-month placement in industry or an academic research lab has also impacted greatly on the student experience. The global recognition of the course is also evident from our international alumni that maintain contact through a dedicated LinkedIn group.

This course also has an Industry Advisory Board that provides crucial industry feedback on both the teaching strategy and practice for the taught postgraduate course in Analytical Chemistry. There are currently 18 companies on this board with representatives from the Pharmaceutical, BioPharma, Biomedical Device, Environment and Food/Beverage sectors. There are a number of guest lectures from industry and a dedicated industry led module where students participate in a series of workshops either delivered on site with the industry partner or hosted by the Tyndall National Institute.

Annually, the George Guilbault Symposium provides the MSc students with an opportunity to present their Thesis projects. This event is run over two days, with all students presenting. An evening reception also takes places where students have the chance to present a poster on their research work and engage with the industry. Students are shortlisted for presenting to the industry judges on the second day and these presentations are distributed amongst several keynote presentations made by industry. All the awards (Best Presentation and Best Poster) are sponsored by industry.

This MSc course in Analysis of Pharmaceutical Compounds gives students a broad foundation in analytical chemistry and its application in an industrial setting with emphasis on method selection, development and validation for pharmaceutical compounds and the application to quality control and trace drug analysis. It also provides them with an opportunity to gain much sought-after and valued industry relevant training and qualification in an analytical division. This course is internationally recognised for its award-winning and high-quality students with >90% of students finding employment in industry or going on to further their studies through Ph.D.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

During the second and third semester (April to September), students complete a six-month research project on a topic related to analytical chemistry. Industry-based projects in these areas are managed by a dedicated placement officer who facilitates career workshops during which students prepare for and are interviewed by staff from companies interested in hosting students. For students interested in an academic career (Ph.D. studies), projects are offered in a broad range of research areas utilising modern research techniques. These such projects are usually done within the Chemistry Department or supervised by Principle Investigators located in the Universities research centres such as the Tyndall National Institute.

There also exists the opportunity for placement aboard, where students have a choice of destination. There currently exists collaborations with research institutes in Belgium (imec), The Netherlands (NFI), France (CNRS) and Northern Ireland (Almac).

All research projects are undertaken in consultation with an academic supervisor and examiner. Those in the industry also have an industry supervisor.

Skills and Careers Information

The MSc courses aim to provide you with the necessary skill set to develop methods and solve problems as demanded by many industries today (including pharmaceutical, environmental and forensic analytical laboratories). You are also introduced to research and innovation in analytical science.

Many analytical chemists, pharmaceutical chemical analysts and environmental chemical analysts go on to pursue careers in industry, government and forensic laboratories and opportunities for further research often result.

The course sets out to bridge the gap between the current undergraduate degree knowledge and what is relevant and expected by the industry. There is a strong emphasis on developing transferable skills and ensuring that the career path for the student is either industry or academically focused. A large percentage of students gain employment in the industry after completion of the course, however, a number of graduates also decide to progress to international Ph.D. opportunities.


Entry Requirements - Direct Entry

  • Candidates must have obtained at least a Second Class Honours in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent in a subject(s) related to that of the MSc programme.
  • The number of places is limited and selection will be made on the basis of the candidate's performance in his/her primary degree.
  • Graduates with equivalent qualifications in related areas of science and technology, or with proven and relevant industrial experience can be considered under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for places following interview and assessment. Candidates must be approved by the Professor of Analytical Chemistry and/or the Co-ordinator of the MSc Programme, and by the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.
  • Bridging courses may be assigned as a pre-requisite depending on the background of the individual candidate. Part-time candidates with sufficient day release time can sit for the written examinations after 12 months from the date of first registration for the programme, provided that they have completed all required coursework.

Entry Requirements - via the Postgraduate Diploma
Candidates having obtained at least a Second Class Honours, Grade I at the first attempt in a Postgraduate Diploma course in a cognate area of science and technology are eligible to apply. Candidates having obtained at least a Second Class Honours, Grade I at the first attempt in the Postgraduate Diploma course (in any of these analytical science programmes offered at UCC), can qualify to convert to the MSc programme in the same year, and be permitted to undertake the Research Dissertation Module, as directed by the Professor of Analytical Chemistry or the Programme Co-ordinator.

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

Bench Fee

Please be advised that a €1,000 bench fee is also required, payable directly to the department.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.


Please note that successful EU applicants will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of €500 on acceptance of their place.

The closing date for non-EU applications is This course is now closed for applications.

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For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact