module specification

MS7032 - Drug Delivery Systems (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Drug Delivery Systems
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 200
160 hours Guided independent study
40 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Seminar 40%   10 minute seminar presentation
Unseen Examination 60%   Unseen examination (2 hours)
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the design of contemporary drug delivery systems, the mechanisms by which these therapeutic agents exert their mode of action, and the various routes of drug administration that can be exploited to maximise their time-specific and site-specific targeted drug delivery.

Module aims

To provide students with an understanding of the principles which describe and control the effective delivery of drugs from their delivery systems to target sites; to enable students to appreciate the importance of the manufacturing process and the stability of drug formulation in the overall development of new products, and to enable students to examine selected ethical issues surrounding drug development and delivery.


Physicochemical properties of drugs – factors involved in the stabilisation of pharmaceuticals: kinetics of decomposition reactions, kinetics of zero, first and second order systems, reversible reactions, parallel and consecutive reactions, review of decomposition in the solid phase; solubility: polar and non-polar solvents, solvation, solubility products, concentration and activity, ionic solvation and ionic strength, partitioning phenomena; bioavailability etc.

Adsorption sites: surface and interfacial behaviour – surfaces and adsorption phenomena, adsorption isotherms, applications of adsorption in pharmaceutical science; surface activity of drugs; micelles, solubilisation using micelles; disperse systems, colloids, suspensions, applications of disperse systems in delivery of pharmaceuticals, lipid based systems, SMEDDS and microemulsions.

Chemical methods: prodrugs – definition and enhancement of the prodrug concept, prodrugs of various functional groups, design strategies for modification of drug properties, modifications of the physicochemical, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of a drug through chemical transformation. Contemporary applications of the prodrug approach: transport theory, oral absorption, reduction of side-effects.

Formulation methods: principles, biotechnology and manufacture of sustained drug delivery systems and modern applications to therapeutic delivery systems designed to release a specific/predictable quantity of drug at controlled rates; diffusional system, Fick’s law of diffusion, transdermal delivery, ocular delivery and intra-uterine systems; modified release by coating: enteric and other coated tablets, multiparticulates, reservoir devices, functional coatings and other systems.

Polymer methods: polymers for drug delivery – types of polymer, pharmaceutical polymers, physicochemical properties of polymers and relationship with structure, bio-erodible and biodegradable polymers, structure, properties, kinetics, mechanisms and applications, delivery systems for macromolecules.

Impact of nanotechnology and nanomedicine – concepts and proof-of-concept, application and formulation approaches.

Learning and teaching

Students will be provided with the opportunity to acquire knowledge of the subject matter through lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. Students' ability to prepare and interpret subject-specific data, and problem solving exercises will be developed through directed reading and tutorial-based exercises. Students will be expected to reflect on the examination of the current development of methodology in drug delivery systems, which includes an awareness and appraisal of the ethical issues that govern their implementation.
PDP: on completion of this module students’ will provide an evaluation of how the module allowed them to develop skills such as information technology, organisational skills, team building, communication, time management, and working under pressure.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Understand and describe the principles of drug delivery systems and the science which underpins them, and to therefore assess the critical considerations determining their drug development;
  2. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the properties of potential sites for drug absorption;
  3. Compare the strategies available for safe delivery of specified pharmaceutical agents at specific sites;
  4. Integrate the acquired knowledge that govern the development of new drug delivery systems and therefore justify their presence based on relevant factors including drug properties, clinical considerations, route of delivery, vehicle characteristics and release profile etc.

Assessment strategy

The module will be duly assessed by means of a coursework component (40% of the overall mark) and an unseen exam (60% of the overall mark). The coursework component will consist of one seminar presentation (40% of the overall mark).  Coursework elements will also be used to provide formative feedback.

To pass the module students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 50%.


Component Learning outcomes
Seminar 1, 2, 3, 4
Unseen Exam 1, 2, 3, 4



Physicochemical Principles of Pharmacy by A.T. Florence and D. Attwood, 5th edition, Pharmaceutical Press (2011).
Pharmaceutics – The Science of Medicine Design, edited by P. Denton and C. Rostron, OUP (2013).
The Physicochemical Basis of Pharmaceuticals by H. Moynihan and A. Crean, OUP (2009).
Aulton’s Pharmaceutics – The Design and Manufacture of Medicines, 4th edition, edited by Michael E. Aulton, Kevin M.G. Taylor, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier (2013).
Drug Delivery and Targeting (for Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists), edited by A.M. Hillery, A.W. Lloyd and J. Swarbrick, Taylor and Francis (2005).