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    An undergraduate course in Science.

Drug design and synthesis

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This course presents the strategy underpinning the design and synthesis of pharmaceutical molecules used to diagnose and treat diseases and illnesses. It focuses on the design of drug molecules, with emphasis on the shape and structure using molecular modelling software. Enzyme and receptor protein targets are examined, together with the mechanisms by which the drugs work. The course explores the array of chemical reactions and strategies for the synthesis of a range of drugs. Case studies including anti-cholesterol and antibiotic drugs illustrate the importance of these strategies in the development of modern medicines.

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£325.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£760.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£325.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£760.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£325.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£877.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£325.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£660.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£877.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£877.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£325.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
25 Oct 2014 Apr 2015
£877.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

Organic chemistry is a subject that impacts on our daily lives in many different ways but none perhaps more so than in the production of drugs and healthcare products. ‘Histamine discovery could help insomniacs’; ‘Drug may reverse MS brain damage’; ‘Statins prevent artery aging’; these headlines from the media draw attention to progress in the development of new substances for use in healthcare and disease-prevention. Of equal significance is the increasing insight into the molecular basis of many diseases that has deepened the understanding of how drug molecules interact with molecular targets such as proteins. This insight is one of the key drivers behind much of the design and development of new drugs. The course explores, using case studies and online multimedia tools, the many facets of the complex process involved in the discovery, design and synthesis of such substances.

The course is designed to stimulate your interest in, and increase your knowledge and understanding of, organic chemistry through its role in the design and synthesis of molecules with medical applications. It introduces a wide range of reactions in use today for the synthesis of organic compounds in chemical research and in industry.

The detailed aims of the course are to:

  • Introduce a range of organic reactions of particular value for the synthesis of given molecules with specified structures and stereochemistry. The emphasis is on modern reactions capable of a high degree of selectivity and on the mechanistic basis of that selectivity.
  • Introduce the concepts of drug and receptor interactions and the role the shape and physical properties of a drug play in this interaction. Molecular modelling will show the effect that modifying these properties has on the interaction and how this can inform the drug design process.
  • Engage you, through case studies, to the process of selecting and synthesising likely drug molecules and consider in a variety of factors that require evaluation of two or more different routes to the same compound.
  • Improve your skills as an independent learner by gradually introducing more unstructured materials; for example, developing your ability to extract information from the chemical literature and use databases and molecular modelling to solve a given problem to do with the design and synthesis of drug target compounds.

The course is arranged in ten units, divided into two parts. The first part deals with drug design and discovery and covers topics including molecular modelling, protein structure, enzymes and receptors, and the pharmacokinetics of drug action, enzyme kinetics, drug adsorption, distribution, excretion, metabolism and toxicity. Treatments of electronic theory and stereochemistry illustrate the principles of the shape, reactivity and stability of the drug molecules and how these determine the interaction with a protein target.

The second part focuses on the synthesis of drug molecules. The rationale of synthetic strategies is discussed, providing the basis for understanding a wide variety of types of reaction and of organic reactivity in general; special attention is given to the use of selective reactions to achieve a particular molecular transformation.

The case studies illustrate in detail the use of both theoretical concepts and synthetic techniques developed in the course.

Entry

This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.

You are advised to prepare yourself for this course by taking our key introductory Level 1 course, Exploring science (S104), and at Level 2, The molecular world (S205). These will have covered most of the necessary background. You can get an idea of the level required by looking at the S205 study material. Your regional or national centre will be able to tell you where you can see reference copies, or you can buy selected materials from Open University Worldwide Ltd.

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the course, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty has produced a booklet Are You Ready For S346? to help you to decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the course or whether you need a little extra preparation. This can be viewed or printed from the Are you ready for science? website. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

A number of the learning outcomes for the course are underpinned by concepts that depend on ideas supported by a mixture of complex figures, schematics, tables, mathematical and chemical equations and reaction schemes. Achieving these learning outcomes may be challenging if a student has severe visual impairment. Students concerned about the visual aspects of the course should contact their regional adviser for more information. Students who use specialist hardware and software or those with queries about other additional needs can also contact their adviser for assistance or advice.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Course books, a website which delivers additional study materials, online resources and forum, other printed materials and DVD

You will need

To engage in the online tutorials you will also need a headset with microphone. Broadband internet access is desirable.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. The course forum will provide continuous study support, act as a virtual self-help group and enable students to support one another. We will also offer online tutorials, in which you are encouraged to participate.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Your end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online.

The TMAs have a total workload equivalent of two full TMAs.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2014 when it will be available for the last time.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code S346
Credits 20
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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