School of Chemical Sciences


Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal chemistry involves the design and synthesis of biologically active molecules, with therapeutic properties suitable for clinical application.

The process of drug discovery starts with the identification of a lead compound of promising biological activity, often from nature. A number of modified analogues are then synthesized and tested in order to obtain a more potent molecule that exhibits minimal side effects.

The process requires the chemical synthesis of many analogues of the lead compound. The design and development of flexible and economic synthetic routes to the synthetic targets of interest is of paramount importance for an efficient drug discovery program. The rational design of a drug also requires research into the biological and chemical nature of the disease state. This often requires knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of the macromolecular cellular targets for drug action.

Biological and medicinal chemistry is a multidisciplinary subject that integrates knowledge from a wide variety of fields including chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology and computing.

BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry


The one-year BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry programme is an option for well-prepared students wishing to study medicinal chemistry in greater depth than a BSc. The BSc(Hons) can also provide a faster path to the PhD degree for students intending to perform advanced research.

The minimum requirement for entry into the BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry programme is a BSc degree with Medicinal Chemistry major, with at least a B average in 90 points above Stage II. A student who is within 15 points of completing a BSc and has passed the Stage III requirements stated above may, with the approval of the Head of School, enrol for the BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry provided that the remaining course is completed within 12 months of entry to this degree programme. BSc(Hons) will only be awarded once the requirements for BSc have been completed.

The BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry is a one-year full-time or two-year part-time degree programme composed of four courses (60 points) and a research dissertation (60 points).

Your research will be supervised by one of the academic staff and you will normally be allocated the supervisor of your choice. The project will introduce you to the nature and excitement of scientific research. Your project work will be carried out throughout the year and the results reported in a written dissertation. Assessment of your project and dissertation will be based on your input of work and effort and the quality of your written dissertation rather than on the results alone. The research topics available for the BSc(Hons) project arise from the research programmes of the academic staff. These research programmes are described in detail in the section “Research supervisors and research topics” of the Chemistry Handbook.

Students are advised to consult the University of Auckland Calendar for detailed regulations for this degree.

The University of Auckland Calendar

See for information on courses specific for Medicinal Chemistry.