M.Sc. Chemical and Biological Techniques

Trinity College Dublin

Application deadline: 30 June
Tuition fee:
  • € 7,250 / Year (EEA)
  • € 14,500 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: October  2015
Duration full-time: 24 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time

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The course provides a programme of applied teaching in chemical and biological techniques relevant to graduates interested in pursuing research careers, particularly in Industry. It is geared towards the training of recent graduates and current industrial employees. The course is run by the School of Chemistry and supported through teaching collaboration with the School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at UCD.

This MSc in Chemical and Biological Techniques will focus on those skills required to analyse both chemical and biological systems. The course will be highly practical in nature and will explore the principles underpinning techniques routinely used in industry. Significant emphasis will be placed on both recent and emerging developments within the sector.

The course is aimed at science graduates currently working within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Both recent and working graduates are eligible to attend. A typical class will contain between 8-16 students. Every effort has been made to develop a flexible course that can be untaken on a part-time basis with minimal interference to the students' employment responsibilities. The course can be taken over two or three years. Lectures will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with laboratory work undertaken fortnightly on Friday afternoons. It is important to understand that the pursuit of a MSc at this level demands a high level of commitment.



SpectroscopyThe modern day industrial scientist requires an understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of a variety of spectroscopic techniques. Spectroscopy is essential to characterisation and validation processes used across the board in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Spectroscopy module gives students an understanding of spectroscopic techniques routinely used in industry. The techniques covered include Infrared (IR), near infrared (NIR), Raman, UV-visible, Circular Dichroism and Emission spectroscopy. These techniques will be taught from the perspective of theory, spectral output and compound analysis. The scope of the course will include sample type, preparation, spectrometer parameters and nature of the spectral experiment, and analyses of the spectral output. Students are exposed to each technique in a systematic and in-depth way. The emphasis is on the application of spectroscopy in the laboratory.

Separation Technology

Separation technology / chromatography is at the heart of analysis in the pharmaceutical industry. The key separation techniques routinely used in the study of chemical and functional biology materials are: HPLC, gel permeation, affinity chromatography, electrophoresis (capillary and gel phoresis), and isoelectronic focussing.

The 'Separation Technology' module gives students an understanding of chemical principles that underpin separation processes. Students will be given an overview of basic chromatography and then different chromatographic techniques will be covered. These techniques will be taught from the perspective of theory, spectral output and compound analysis and case study. The scope of the course will include sample type, preparation, instrument parameters and interpretation of data output. Emphasis will be placed on method development and the factors that contribute to analysis difficulties.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Mass SpectrometryThis module gives students understanding of two key techniques used for structural elucidation: namely Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and Mass spectrometry. Students will learn to understand how these techniques complement each other in the area of structure elucidation. The scope of the course will include sample type, preparation, spectrometer parameters and nature of the spectral experiment, and analyses of the spectral output. Students are exposed to each technique in a systematic and in-depth way. The emphasis is on the application of spectroscopy in the laboratory and on case study examples for the application of the techniques.

Scientific Methods for Research and Industry

In addition to topic specific skills the development of generic skills is essential for good research in the modern world. These skills include the ability to: * design experiments, interpret and assess results and identify errors.
* communicate experimental findings in the form of presentations and reports.
* be able to research material for a given topic.
* be aware of standardization documentation for a particular experimental process.

This module 'The Support Module: Scientific Methods for Research and Industry' focuses on these skills and topics including regularity affairs, patent technology and most importantly GMP standards.


Chemical Methods and AssaysAll raw materials, intermediates and products from a chemical process as well as all outlet waste has to be tested for purity in order to protect both the integrity of the production process and ensure that emissions are within regulated guidelines. Within any given organisation such analyses are generally carried out using routine laboratory evaluations. The qualitative and quantitative analysis of a chemical species can involve numerous types of approach, several of which will be discussed here.

Biological Methods and Assays

Biological binding assays are increasingly important for the development of diagnostic test kits used to detect disease. Common binding assays include, Enzyme Immuno-Assays and Fluorescence Assays. The immobilization of these assays at the surfaces of mirco- and nanoparticles, to achieve increased sensitivity, is currently an active area of development. Understanding the principles of biological assays and the laboratory requirements and techniques for accurate and reproducible analysis will be explored in this module.

Modelling Bio-moleculesThe design of small molecules capable of binding biologically active sites is central to drug discovery. The search for such active molecules has lead to the emergence of combinatorial chemistry techniques that generate large libraries of candidate molecules. However large libraries still require testing and screening. Computational chemistry has become a valuable tool for defining the important interactions and within a binding sites and testing molecular binding in silico. This module will explore modelling of molecular interactions and also examine the current field of computational binding and molecular modelling

Solid State Analysis

Progress in materials development requires an understanding of their properties in the solid-state. In this regard the morphology of a particular substance is very important. This module will consider the characterisation of compound morphology. In the pharmaceutical industry it is extremely important to fully characterise the morphology of a candidate drug molecule. Changes in the crystal form can have an effect on the stability and bioavailability of the active pharmaceutical ingredient in solid dosage forms.

The morphology may also influence important pharmaceutical processes, such as tableting characteristics, dissolution rates and affect both the physical and chemical stability of the drug. This module will explore the process of crystallization and the principle of glass transition states. Techniques routinely used to determine morphological structure will be studied principally in terms of Diffraction techniques and Thermal analysis. The key characterization techniques are single crystal diffraction, X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Thermal gravimetric ananlysis (TGA) with some consideration of light scattering techniques to monitor crystallization and reference to the role of microscopy in determining morphology. Also relevant to the module are atomic absorption spectroscopy (UCD) and Raman spectroscopy (TCD, School of Physics).

Modern Microscopy TechniquesThe module will focus on high-resolution techniques (spatial and time) capable of providing new insights into the structure and function of chemical materials and biomolecules and biomolecular assemblies (artificial systems and living cells). Emergent microscopy techniques will receive particular attention.


The research project will be carried out at the student's place of employment or at the School of Chemistry, TCD or the School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, UCD.

Project OutlineThe application of chemical and biochemical techniques is central to research and industrial development at a number of levels. Therefore, in addition to the taught component of the MSc programme each student will complete a research project. The aim of this project is to conduct a body of research that is directly relevant to current developments within research or industry.

In general the research project will focus on specific or complementary analytical techniques involved with a specific project relevant to an industrial process.

The project will last six months and consist of: * Literature survey and Feasibility study
* Experimental Laboratory Work
* Laboratory note-taking and experimental data
* 3 month interim report (15 pages)
* Preparation of a Thesis (60 pages)

The project will be carried out under the supervision of a member of the School of Chemistry. This may be twinned with additional support supervision from a senior member of industry. The students will consult regularly with their supervisor in TCD. In the majority of cases the laboratory work will be carried out in the students' place of employment. In cases where this is not possible the student will carry out research on campus at TCD.


Applicants will be required to hold at least an upper second class honours degree in a science subject that included significant components of chemistry or biochemistry or a relevant life science. Candidates with relevant and significant experience in industrial base chemical and biological work may be accepted with lower qualifications.

English language requirements:

* IELTS: Grade 6.5
* TOEFL: 88 iBT, 230-computer based, 570 paper based
* Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English: Grade C
* Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: Grade C

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 6.5
CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IELTS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

200 (Grade A)
TOEFL paper-based test score : 570
TOEFL iBT® test: 88

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