UCC Postgraduate courses

Design and Manufacture of BioPharmaceuticals (HCI Pillar 1)

About This Course

Fact File

Course Outline

2023 HCI Pillar 1 Logos


Did you know that Ireland is home to 24 of the world’s top BioPharma/BioTech companies with 7 of the world’s top 15 companies based in Cork County. Indeed, there is some 300+ Biopharmaceutical companies operating across the Island of Ireland and more than 25 of those have manufacturing sites based here in Cork.

And now the BioPharma industry here is undergoing a further period of rapid expansion encompassing a movement into development and manufacture of the next generation of tailored biologic medicines. Pharma companies are investing millions, expanding facilities, and increasing site operations all of which culminates in the creation of 1000’s of new jobs in the sector. In fact, it is predicted that the BioPharma sector in Ireland will be responsible for the creation of 20,000 new positions by the year 2025.

  • Would you like the opportunity to become part of this thriving BioPharma  industry? If so, we have just the course here in UCC to enable you achieve that. The Higher Diploma in Design and Manufacture of Biopharmaceuticals is an upskilling conversion course open not only to graduates in the fields of Science and Engineering but also to students from a host of diverse academic disciplines.

The programme is designed to equip students with a fundamental understanding of how our body functions and how cellular processes are altered in disease states. Participants will receive instruction in the rational design of biological drugs that create new therapeutic interventions, as well as instruction in the principles of process engineering that allow for large-scale manufacture of these drugs.

Our programme contains a significant hands-on laboratory-based training project that will provide students with experience in the production, purification and characterization of a protein drug, as well as familiarising them with basic laboratory equipment and techniques, SOP and report writing and data interpretation and analysis.

In addition, our programme delivers dedicated content on career planning and preparation for employment in the BioPharma industry.

Now in its third year, the programme, which has been designed to meet the current and future needs of industry, successfully produces graduates with an understanding of the applied requirements of the BioPharma/Life Science industrial sector who are highly sought after by the industry with 100% of those seeking employment securing a new role within a year of graduation.

Further Detail: 

This one-year conversion course is designed to facilitate the upskilling of graduates from a range of disciplines, including business, law, mathematics, languages, statistics, computer programming etc. It aims to allow the student to effectively employ their primary degree competencies and/or experience in the BioPharma and Life Science/Biologicals sector. It also caters to those whose primary qualifications in the engineering, science or healthcare sectors was not sufficiently focussed on the BioPharmaceutical industry.

It aims to provide participants with a basic knowledge of biological chemistry, cell biology and cell signalling. Participants will then apply this knowledge to better understand the basis of human diseases, and the rational design of biological drugs. Students will be given technical and practical knowledge of the upstream and downstream processes associated with the manufacture of BioPharmaceuticals,and be introduced to the principles of process engineering. The production, formulation and fill-finish of medicines under aseptic and regulated conditions will be emphasized, along with continual testing and validation of process.

Students will complete 60 credits as follows:

  • BC5004: Introduction to Human Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry (10 credits) - Introduction to biomolecules and the molecular logic of life.
  • PE5004: Introduction to Biopharmaceutical Engineering (5 credits) - Basic engineering calculations with mathematical handling.
  • PF5003: Introduction to BioPharmaceutical Technologies and Processes (10 credits) - Introduction to BioPharmaceutical Processing – including protein therapies, vaccines, gene therapy, gene editing, immunotherapies and cell-based therapies.
  • PF5001: Introduction to Pharmaceutical Process Design and Verification (5 credits) - Risk assessment and quality by design. Equipment requirements and finishes.
  • PF5002: Biological Drug Manufacture: Introduction to Regulatory & Sterility Requirements (10 credits) - Overview and practical aspects of pharmaceutical microbiology.
  • BC5006: Technical and Professional Skills Training for BioPharma Workplace Employment (15 credits) - On-campus in-person hands-on lab-based training project.
  • BC5005: SkillsBET-BioPharma (BioPharmaceutical Skills Based Education & Training (5 credits) - Skills based knowledge and training in upstream and downstream processes.

Programme Objectives:

  • Provide participants with foundational understanding of human biochemistry and cell biology, and how alteration to these processes can cause disease.
  • Provide students with an appreciation for how biological drugs are designed
  • Provide technical knowledge and training in the upstream and downstream manufacturing processes that allow for production of BioPharmaceuticals under sterile, validated and regulated conditions.
  • Provide an insight into the fundamental principles of process engineering that allow for production of (Bio)Pharmaceuticals to happen at scale.
  • Enhance the employability of participants within the BioPharmaceutical sector with dedicated content and workshops.

Additional Teaching Mode Information

The course runs over 3 semesters (September through June), and the contact hours depend somewhat on the time of year. In an average week there will be 8-10 contact hours (including pre-recorded material, optional online / recorded workshops, directed study and tutorials).

We aim to deliver the course on-campus in-person one day a week (on Fridays) and while attendance at these sessions in-person is encouraged, it is not compulsory and all material is recorded and made available to the students on our on-line teaching platform, CANVAS. Additionally, several modules are supplemented with on-line live evening tutorial sessions giving students further scope to understand and process the subject matter. In semester 3, students will undertake the laboratory-based training component of the course. While some aspects of this can be completed on-line, there will be a requirement to attend laboratory training sessions at the University during one of two consecutive weeks (in May) offering flexibility to those in full time employment or homemaker roles.

Please note that in addition to the lab-based training component held in May, we will hold a compulsory initial programme orientation day in early September (date TBC) where all successful applicants will get the opportunity to meet our staff. Throughout the year students will also be required to attend for on-campus invigilated examinations in 5 of the 6 other modules. Two of these in-class exams will be held in early December, one in February, one in April and one in June. Times and dates will be confirmed at the start of Semester one in September 2023 to afford sufficient notice for those in full-time employment or homemaker roles.

Why Choose This Course

This one-year course offers upskilling opportunities in the area of BioPharmaceutical manufacturing. It will provide graduates from a range of academic backgrounds with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and experience gained in their primary degree qualifications to the rapidly expanding BioPharma industrial sector.

Those with a non-scientific background, including for example business, law, statistics, languages, mathematics etc., are encouraged to apply. So too are those with qualifications in the scientific, engineering or healthcare fields, but not necessarily in the area of BioPharmaceuticals.

Skills and Careers Information

This conversion course is designed to provide a broad understanding of the design and manufacture of biological drugs and help those with a variety of academic qualifications to understand how they might best apply their expertise within the BioPharmaceutical Industry. We envisage that students completing the course could also qualify to fill Operator or Lab Technician roles in industry. The course contains a dedicated module to facilitate transitioning into the BioPharma workspace. As part of this module the students are expected to avail of training in job applications and long-term career management, as well as hands-on training that is relevant in the industry.

Are there any career workshops included as part of this course?

Yes, incorporated within our Technical and Professional Skills Training for Employment Module which includes a significant hands-on laboratory based training project, there are dedicated career-readiness specific workshops which are delivered by expert professionals from within the UCC Career Services.

Main activities will include:

  1. Career coaching to formulate individual career action plans leading to employment, reflecting on: 
    • Where are they now in their careers?
    • Where do they want to be?
    • Strategies for gaining employment on completion of the programme.

  2. Job readiness workshops will be built into the programme as outlined below:
    • Positioning oneself for job readiness: Setting realistic career objectives; Understanding strengths and skills; Learning from successful role models; Developing a career management strategy.
    • Moving forward into a job: Taking action by developing career goals and implementing them.
    • Creative job-hunting both on-line and off-line; Written applications, CVs and interview preparation and implementing career plans.

  3. Participants will be given the opportunity to meet employers by attending UCC organised recruitment fairs, jobs roadshows and other events where employers will be invited on campus to meet students.


Applicants must have Second Class Honours Grade 2 in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8), in any discipline.

A quota will be allocated to applicants who do not meet these entry requirements. These applicants will be considered under Recognition of Prior Learning and assessed on the following factors:

  • Academic achievement
  • Prior Work Experience
  • Letter of Reference
  • Personal Statement

All applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency: See our English language proficiency requirements.

Fees and Costs

In 2023, places will be subsidised under the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 as follows:

  • Standard EU Fee: €9,300
  • 90% Subsidised Fee: €930 payable by applicant
  • 100% Subsidised Fee: No course fees payable by applicant

For full details on subsidies available please see 'What will it cost?' on the main HCI Pillar 1 webpage

How Do I Apply

Applications are now open for 2023 and can be made via Springboard+:

  • If you already have a Springboard+ account - please apply here
  • If you are new to Springboard+ - please apply here
  • When you log in to your existing account or register for a new account, go to the courses tab at the top of the page and search for the course you are interested in applying for. Further instructions can be found in the 'How to Apply' section of the Springboard+ webpage.

Candidates are advised to apply early as high demand is anticipated and places are limited. Applications will NOT be assessed until all supporting documentation has been received. Please ensure that you have the documentation below available at the time of application. 

For mainstream applications, you will need:

  • Copies of transcripts and parchments for any previous relevant educational qualifications
  • Personal / Motivation Statement - In 500 words or less, please state:
    • 1) Why you wish to study this programme at University College Cork
    • 2) How you meet the programme entry requirements
  • Current CV
  • Copy of an up to-date University approved English language exam e.g. IELTS, TOFEL, Duolingo etc., for non-native English speakers

For applications considered under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), you will need:

  • Copies of transcripts and parchments for any previous relevant educational qualifications
  • Current CV
  • References where applicable
  • Personal / Motivation Statement - In 500 words or less, please state:
    • 1) Why you wish to study this programme at University College Cork
    • 2) How you meet the programme entry requirements
  • Copy of an up to-date University approved English language exam e.g. IELTS, TOFEL, Duolingo etc., for non-native English speakers.

Eligibility Requirements:

All applicants must -

  • be living full time in the Republic of Ireland
  • hold a valid Personal Public Service Number (PPSN)
  • have lived in the EU/EEA/UK/Switzerland for 3 out of the past 5 years
  • meet the nationality/visa requirement i.e.,
    • you are an EU/EEA/UK/Swiss national OR
    • you have a Stamp 4/Stamp 4 EU FAM, Stamp 5, or Stamp 6 on your Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card or GNIB card.

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact