Medicinal chemistry

A female student working in a chemistry lab

Discover and develop new drugs

Medicinal chemistry involves the development of new pharmaceutical agents, from concept to clinic. Many different stages are involved - from the design and synthesis of novel drug candidates, to their biochemical effects, testing regimes and regulatory and ethical considerations. Medicinal chemistry is an exciting, rapidly-expanding area within the broad discipline of chemistry that has seen enormous growth recently both within Australia and globally. 

Studying medicinal chemistry at UNSW

We're one of the top 50 universities in the world for anatomy and physiology.* The Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry (Honours) has been designed to provide you with a strong background in contemporary biology, biochemistry and pharmacology, based upon a solid foundation of essential chemistry.

Prepare for career success

Studying medicinal chemistry will provide you with a unique and wide set of skills, ranging from fundamental chemistry enabling the synthesis and analysis of drug candidates, through to relevant pharmacology and molecular biology skills. This combination will see you in high demand both locally and globally in pharmaceutical companies involved in modern drug design. The multidisciplinary nature of medicinal chemistry will also make you highly employable within other science-based biotech industries and related fields. 

Graduates with a medicinal chemistry degree may also work in research-intensive institutes, government departments and private business. With further training, you could also work in areas such as education and patent law. You could pursue a career as a:

  • chemist
  • laboratory technician/manager
  • medical technician
  • patent specialist
  • pharmacologist
  • product developer
  • toxicologist

Our programs

  • You can study medicinal chemistry in the following undergraduate degree:

    This professionally oriented, truly interdisciplinary program is taught as a joint initiative between the following schools:

    • School of Chemistry (Faculty of Science)
    • School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (Faculty of Science)
    • School of Biomedical Sciences (Faculty of Medicine & Health)

    In your fourth year, you'll complete a research project under the supervision and guidance of academic staff from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine & Health.

  • The Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry (Honours) is an embedded honours program. The honours year is designed to connect your undergraduate study with supervised independent research. The research experience you'll gain from your honours year will enhance your career prospects and provide a pathway into further study, such as a Masters by Research or PhD. 

  • You can study medicinal chemistry in the following postgraduate research degrees:

*QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023