Postgraduate taught 

Cancer Research & Precision Oncology MSc

Cancer Drug Discovery BIOL5222

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Cancer Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the various stages involved in the pre-clinical drug discovery process. Students will learn to critically evaluate published data and appraise the current methods and strategies used for drug discovery.


Lectures, workshops, seminars and tutorials spread over 3 weeks.

Excluded Courses





Proposal (1500 words approx.)

Course Aims

The course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the various stages involved in the pre-clinical drug discovery process with regard to the requirements, methods, challenges and limitations for identifying and validating 'druggable' targets, for identifying, validating, and optimising new compound leads, and the importance of pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PKPD) profiling and toxicology testing, as well as wider health economic aspects. The knowledge gained will enable students to critically evaluate literature on current methods, techniques, and strategies used for drug discovery, and to appraise their advantages and disadvantages for targeting a specific disease.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


i. Discuss the main phases and decision points of the pre-clinical drug discovery pipeline;

ii. Critically discuss how current drug families target different types of biological pathways and activities, and the concept of a "druggable" target;

iii. Critically appraise the methods and strategies used for target validation, lead identification and optimisation, and in vivo efficacy testing.

iv. Critically evaluate data generated as part of the processes of target validation, lead optimisation and efficacy testing.

v. Design additional experiments or tests to complement existing data for a particular drug.

vi. Discuss current issues and problems related to the drug discovery and development pipeline from an industrial and health economic perspective;

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.