module specification

CH6009S - Natural Products and Medicinal Chemistry (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Natural Products and Medicinal Chemistry
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing
Total study hours 150
48 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
102 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 25%   Written practical report
Unseen Examination 75%   Unseen exam
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module will concentrate in detail on the molecular mechanisms by which drugs act in the body, and the various strategies used in drug design.

Prior learning requirements

CH5008 Organic Chemistry

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

The module aims to give an in-depth understanding of the major role played by chemistry in the treatment of diseases. The module aims to provide students with the skills needed to critically assess the whether or not a natural product or a synthetic compound may be regarded as a potential drug candidate.

The module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment through the requirement of the following: the exercising of initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts, and the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature.


A brief survey of the history of medicinal chemistry from its origins in the use of natural products to molecules derived from computer-assisted design techniques. Use of data derived from approaches such as Hammet, QSAR/Hansch analysis, X-ray crystallography and computer modelling, to determine whether a bio-active molecule may be a good candidate for clinical development.

A variety of drugs are chosen to exemplify their synthesis, mode of action and clinical impact. These include areas such as centrally acting drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics. Special emphasis is also given to: anti-malarial agents such as (+) Qinghaosu, H2-histamine antagonists like cimetidine (Tagamet TM) and ranitidine
(Zantac TM), penicillins, the potent anti-viral acyclovir, HIV-reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors and anti-thrombotic peptidomimetics.

Examination of the individual steps needed to be taken, from the discovery of a potential new drug, to its approval and marketing. Themes such as rational drug design, targeted synthesis, early biological evaluation, identification of structural leads, and lead optimization progressing to the identification of a clinically viable drug candidate, combinatorial chemistry and high throughput screening in drug discovery are examined.

Learning and teaching

Acquisition of knowledge of the subject matter of this module will be promoted through  lectures (22 hours) and tutorial workshops (10 hours); laboratory practical classes (16 hours) and through the guided use of student-centred learning resources (102 hours). Self managed time and private study should be spread out over the whole year and not left until the final weeks.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module the students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the chemical synthesis, pharmacological action and clinical properties of drugs [A2, A3].
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of pre-clinical and clinical development of a drug, and the criteria of assessment that are used to allow the passage of a ‘safe’ drug onto the market place.
3. Survey the current literature in a given field, investigate current drug developments in this field, and suggest future drug developments.

Assessment strategy

This module will be summatively assessed by a piece of coursework (laboratory practical report) and a final, unseen exam (2 hours). To pass the module, students must pass the written report, progress test and the exam with an overall mark of 40% or above.

Component                        Marks              Learning outcomes
Written practical report      25%                1, 3, 4
Unseen Exam                       75%              3,4


1. An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry, 4th  Edition, Patrick G. L.,Oxford University Press, 2009.
2. Molecules and Medicine, Corey E.J., Czako B. & Kurti L. John Wiley & Sons,   2007.
3. Natural Product Chemistry at a Glance, 1st Edition, Stanforth S. P. Blackwell Publishing, 2006.
4. Drug Discovery & Development-A Technology in Transition. Rang H. P., Churchill Livingstone, 2006.
5. Classics in Total Synthesis II: Targets, Strategies, Methods. Nicolaou K.C. & Snyder S., 2003.
6. Asymmetric Synthesis of Natural Products. Koskinen A., John Wiley & Sons, 1998.
7. Combinatorial Chemistry. Terret N.K., Oxford University Press, 1998.