UTU Masters | Drug Discovery and Development
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Master’s Degree Programme in

Drug Discovery and Development

Faculty of Medicine, University of Turku

Welcome to discover new drugs with us!

The Master’s Degree Programme in Drug Discovery and Development trains experts for the entire drug development chain.
Apply now!  The application period for the studies starting in autumn 2018 is 1 December 2017 – 31 January 2018.

The Programme gives you a deep understanding of up-to-date methods applied to identify and validate new drug targets and to generate lead drug molecules. It also provides knowledge of technological innovations as well as methods of clinical drug research and development phases, clinical trial design, study planning and biostatistics. In addition, you will learn about drug regulatory science and pharmacovigilance.

After graduation, you will master drug discovery and development processes as well as procedures applied in drug regulatory science. You will also be familiar with the role of drug regulatory authorities during the life-span of a drug. The University of Turku also offers Drug Research Doctoral Programme for post-graduate studies.

You will get comprehensive skills to work in the field of biomedicine and drug discovery in companies, universities, research institutes or drug regulatory authorities. The Programme also gives a good foundation for those interested in entrepreneurship.


Programme structure
Academic excellence & experience

Turku is a great place to study drug discovery and development. Of the Finnish drug innovations, 90 per cent have been made in Turku. To support the future discoveries, University of Turku has chosen drug development as one of its strategic profiling areas.

The research in biosciences and medicine is internationally ranked among the top in the world. The keys for success lie in long biomedical research traditions and a compact campus area where two universities and a university hospital operate to create an interdisciplinary and innovative study and research environment.

Research focus is on translational medicine, disease modelling and biomedical imaging. Available infrastructure includes the world famous Turku PET Centre and Turku Centre for Disease Modeling, both of which offer services for drug development research.

Turku also has the largest cluster of pharma industry in Finland. Nearby companies not only provide experts for visiting lectures, but also create internship and job opportunities for the graduates.

Master's thesis & topics

The Master’s thesis project is based on independent, experimental research work.

You must always agree on your thesis topic with your thesis examiner who also accepts the topic. You will write a research plan, conduct a research project in a laboratory, analyse obtained results, and demonstrate your ability to interpret results and write a report in a form of a scientific article. The project work is always performed under the guidance of a supervisor.

In order to also practice scientific communication, you will present your results in a seminar and write a press release to stimulate collaboration between the academia and the media.

Examples of thesis topics:

  • Drug development for receptor antagonists and their potential in treating cognitive disorders
  • Pharmacological characterization of ion channels
  • Diagnostics tools for coronary artery diseases – characterization of antibodies
  • Modelling of schizophrenic disorders in rats
  • RNA interference in HSV-virus treatment
  • Optimization of synthesis of indatsole structures for drug development
  • The use of positron emission tomography (PET) to measure the effect of disease modifying therapies in MS disease
  • PET-imaging of molecules targeted in inflammation – preclinical studies with arthritis model


Biomedical Sciences at Turku Universities

Turku has longstanding research traditions in the field of biomedicine. Especially the areas of drug discovery, diagnostics, and biological and medical imaging represent the top level expertise of the University of Turku.

The Master’s Degree Programme in Drug Discovery and Development is part of a larger ensemble of MSc programmes in Biomedical Sciences. The close collaboration of three biomedical programmes forms a unique educational combination of biomedical sciences in Finland and worldwide.

Biomedical Sciences is a collaboration of two universities, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University.  The offered education is based on the true research strengths of the participating units:

  • Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku
  • Department of Biochemistry at the University of Turku
  • Department of Biosciences at the Åbo Akademi University.

Other programmes in the ensemble of Biomedical Sciences are Biomedical Imaging, and Molecular Biotechnology and Diagnostics. Major subject studies in each are programme-specific but can be offered as selectable studies for all the programmes. Each student makes a personal study plan which helps to select the courses which best suit for personal interests and background.

Master’s Degree Programme in Drug Discovery and Development is part of NordBioMedNet network. The universities of Bergen, Copenhagen, Eastern Finland, Turku and Karolinska Institutet have established the network to develop biomedical education in Nordic countries. Programme students have possibilities for course, internship and research project exchange in the partner universities. The network also offers virtual intensive courses and online learning portal on www.nordbiomed.net.


Competence description

The Programme provides you with a deep understanding of:

  • up-to-date methods applied to identify and validate new drug targets, and to generate lead drug molecules that modulate biological activity of the target.
  • technological innovations made in lead optimisation process
  • how new drug candidates are investigated during the non-clinical drug development phase
  • methods of clinical drug research, clinical drug development phases, clinical trial design and biostatistical study planning
  • various aspects of the drug regulatory science and pharmacovigilance
Job options

After graduation, you will be an expert in drug discovery and development processes. You will know the procedures applied in drug regulatory science and the role of drug regulatory authorities during the life-span of a drug.

You will learn comprehensive skills to work in the field of biomedicine and drug discovery in companies, universities, research institutes or drug regulatory authorities. The Programme also gives a good foundation for those interested in entrepreneurship.

  • Possible job titles are:
    • medical liaison
    • medical writer
    • regulatory consulting expert
    • scientific/technical advisor
    • research director
    • project manager
    • drug development pharmacologist
    • university lecturer/researcher
Career in research

The Master of Science degree completed in the Programme qualifies the graduates for PhD studies in Turku, elsewhere in Finland or universities worldwide. Graduates from the Programme are eligible to apply for a position in the University of Turku Graduate School, UTUGS. The Graduate School consists of 16 doctoral programmes which cover all disciplines and doctoral candidates of the University.

Together with the doctoral programmes, the Graduate School provides systematic and high quality doctoral training. UTUGS aims to train highly qualified experts with the skills required for both professional career in research and other positions of expertise.

Several doctoral programmes at University of Turku are available for graduates:


General degree requirements

The Programme is open to applicants who have sufficient background knowledge in biological and/or natural sciences and have completed a lower university degree, BSc degree (180 ECTS), in the field of:

  • biomedical sciences
  • pharmacology
  • pharmacy
  • biochemistry
  • biology
  • medical sciences
  • other life sciences
  • bioengineering
  • chemistry

The applicants should be familiar with the basics of laboratory practice and pharmacology. Both Finnish and international students are welcome to apply to the Programme.

The student selection has two stages. First, the admission committee selects the candidates for an interview by scoring the following application components:

  • Previous studies in the relevant fields
  • Previous academic success and study history
  • Laboratory working experience
  • Motivation letter

The best scoring applicants will be invited for the interview. Selected applicants will be invited to the interview 1-2 weeks in advance. Interviews will be held via Skype.

The interview performance, including English skills, is separately scored.

Results will be published on 30 March 2017 the latest.

More detailed entry requirements including Language requirements:

Faculty of Medicine admission criteria:

Additional Studies

The contents of formally eligible applicants’ previous degrees do not always correspond to the academic level of the programme. Therefore, admitted students can be advised or required to complete additional, Bachelor level studies (see language requirements) while studying for the Master’s degree. These studies are not part of the Master’s degree and may extend the targeted study time.

The additional studies may be included in the optional studies of the Master’s degree only if the applicant lacks previous knowledge in a certain field that is required for following a specific course within the Programme.

Language Requirements

All applicants must prove their English language skills in one of the ways accepted by the Faculty.


Application Form and Enclosures

The application period for the Programme is yearly around the turn of the year. The studies start in the following August. There is only one intake per year and studies can be started only in the autumn.

The application period is 1 December 2016 – 13 January 2017 at 15:00 (local time in Finland, GMT +2) for studies starting in August 2017.

Please read all the application instructions and detailed admission requirements carefully before applying! Make sure that you fulfil both the admission and language requirements before applying.

How to apply

Applications are done on the Studyinfo portal (www.studyinfo.fi). Search for the Master’s Degree Programme in Drug Discovery and Development, University of Turku.


Fill in the online application form. The online application is open only during the application period, so make sure you will finish your application before 13 January 2017 at 15:00:00 (Local time in Finland, GTM+2).


Collect the required application documents.


Send the following application documents to University Admissions Finland office by mail. The application documents have to arrive by the application deadline:

  • An officially certified copy of the degree certificate in the original language. Applicants who have not yet completed the Bachelor´s degree required for admission but will complete the degree by mid-July 2017 can apply but must enclose with the application a certificate from the university awarding the degree stating when they will receive the degree. A certified true copy of the degree awarded must reach the university by 14th of July 2017, at 15:00 UTC+3.
  • An official English, Swedish or Finnish translation of the degree certificate or an officially certified copy of the Diploma Supplement
  • An officially certified copy of the transcript of records in the original language
  • An official English, Swedish or Finnish translation of the transcript of records
  • Proof of proficiency in English (see language requirements above)
  • Copy of information page of the passport or identification card containing the applicant’s name, date of birth and photo

In addition, the following enclosure is recommended to help in the handling and evaluation of the applications. This document does not need to be officially certified:

  • An English, Swedish or Finnish translation of the contents of the transcript of records (= course descriptions)

Please see the country specific requirements for certifying the copies and submitting the documents: http://universityadmissions.fi/?page_id=24

Address of the University Admissions Finland:

University Admissions Finland
Unioninkatu 40 C
FI-00170 Helsinki

Applications arriving after the application deadline are not considered. Postmark dates on the applications will not be taken into account; the applications must arrive at the University Admissions Finland before the above deadline.


Master’s Degree Programme in



Degree: Master of Science

Duration: 2 academic years, 120 ECTS credits

Mode of study: Full-time

Faculty / Department: Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine

Location: Turku, Finland

Language of instruction: English

Tuition fee per academic year: None / €12,000

Start date: August 2018

Application period: 1 Dec 2017 – 31 Jan 2018