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Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences

Students in the Master’s programme in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS) of Leiden University are trained for a scientific career in drug research and development. Depending on their interests, students can choose from seven specialisations to further extend their scientific training and theoretical background or supplement it with other subjects and training.

The duration of each programme variant is two years (120 EC). Students who complete the programme receive the degree Master of Science in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences, with specification of the specialisation. All students who complete the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences, regardless of the specialisation, are admissible to a PhD programme in Bio-Pharmaceutical, Biomedical or other Life Sciences.


The Master’s Programme offers three major Research Specialisations corresponding to the disciplines of the Research Divisions of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR): Drug Discovery and Safety (division of Drug Discovery & Safety) BioTherapeutics (division of BioTherapeutics) and Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology (division of Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology).

The remaining four BPS specialisations consist of a research component in combination with another specialisation in either Business Studies (BS), Science Communication and Society (SCS), Education (EDU) or the Dutch specialisation Industrial Pharmacy (IP; max. 2 selected participants).

First and Second Year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Mandatory courses:

Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation 3
Introduction Course 4

Research project 1 at one of the Divisions of the LACDR

Research Project 1 - Practical Work 44
Research Project 1 - Thesis 5
Research Project 1 - Oral Presentation 2

Literature Study (Research Specialisations only)

Literature Study 7

Research project 2 (Research specialisation only)

Research Project 2 - Practical work 31
Research Project 2 - Thesis 5

The MSc programme of Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences offers the following Lecture Series in the academic year 2021-2022 (one of these is mandatory):

Regulation of Drug Safety 4
Atherosclerosis 4
Biophysics and Bioengineering for Pharmaceutical Sciences 4
Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry 4
A Clinical Pharmacologist Approach to Combat a Viral Pandemic 4
Signal Transduction and Hallmarks of Cancer 4
Quantitative Pharmacology 4
Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development 4
Drug Delivery 4
Blood-Brain Barrier: Drug Transport to the Brain 4
Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry for Metabolomics 4
Miniaturized Analytical Systems 4
Novel Concepts in Molecular Pharmacology 4
Pharmaceutical Outcome Research – Scientific key in the Life Cycle of Pharmaceutical Interventions 4

Optional courses in the academic year 2021-2022 (list is not restrictive):

Student assistantship bachelor research assignment 5
Research Project 2 - Oral presentation 1
IP Law in Science 5
Science Methodology (SCM) 4
Science and the public: contemporary and historical perspectives 6
Computational Techniques for Chemical Biology (CTCB) 6
Ethics in Quality Control Practices 1
Legislation of Production of Medicinal Products 1

Please Note

As of September 2018, the Course 'Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation' replaced the courses 'Attended Lectures and Colloquia', 'Scientific Conduct' and 1 EC of the 'Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences'.

If you started before September 2018 you need to pass the courses 'Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences' (5EC), 'Attended Lectures and Colloquia' (1EC) and 'Scientific Conduct' (1EC).

If you started in or after September 2018 (or you have made a individual program with the study advisor), you need to pass 'Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences' (4EC) and 'Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation' (3EC).

If you started in September 2021, you need to pass 'Introduction Course' (4EC) and 'Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation' (3EC).

Attended Lectures and Colloquia 1
Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences 4

More info

The master’s programme of Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS) aims to train students in the research area of bio-pharmaceutical sciences and drug research in such a way that the graduated master’s students (MSc’s) have enough knowledge and hands-on experience to be able to work independently as a scientific researcher. An MSc in any of the Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences specialisations should be able to obtain a PhD position in Life Sciences or Biomedical Sciences.

The education aims at:

  • obtaining a deeper insight in two or three areas of drug research;

  • obtaining skills to perform scientific research in one or two areas of drug research, using relevant methods and techniques, and stimulating a critical attitude towards the interpretation of data of scientific research;

  • obtaining an attitude in order to function well in a team, based on the idea that research in the life sciences tends to be performed in multidisciplinary teams;

  • obtaining skills to present the results of scientific research by written reports and by oral presentations.

The master’s programme BPS may only start in September or February. Non-Dutch students are advised to check the Masters in Leiden website for more information when they need visa or help with housing. The programme has a duration of two years (120 EC).

The programme of all specializations consists of an introduction course, at least one major research project, at least one lecture series, the course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation (from September 2018) and optional courses. Depending on the chosen specialisation other mandatory and optional courses apply as described on the corresponding page of the E-prospectus. MSc students with deficiencies in their previous training may repair these with optional courses (conditions may apply). The programme will be tailor made for each student individually.

The general outline of the programme of the three Research Specialisations of the Master’s programme BPS is indicated in the table below. The other specialisations generally start with the research component, more details can be found on the e-guide pages of each specialisation.

Level EC
Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences 500 4
Research project 1, in the chosen specialisation
- practical work 600 44
- thesis 600 5
- oral presentation 600 2
Research project 2, (preferably in another discipline of BPS, not restricted to the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
- practical work 600 31
- thesis 600 5
Literature study plus thesis 500 7
Lecture series 1 (in BPS) 500 4
Course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation 500 3
Optional courses or traineeships 400–600 (max 12 EC < 400) 15

Attending more than one lecture series of BPS is optional and may be part of the programme component ‘Optional courses’.

Career Orientation

During the Master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS) we want to provide you with the best possible preparation for the job market. In addition to knowledge, it is important that you develop skills, gain practical experience, orientate on positions & careers, and reflect on your own profile and development. In addition to substantive knowledge, it is also important to be aware of the so-called transferable skills that you develop outside and during your education. These are, for example, your cognitive skills such as critical thinking and communication. Altogether, this contributes to your development as a professional and offers good preparation for the labour market.

Students in the Master’s program are trained for a scientific career in drug research and development. Depending on your interests, you can choose from seven specializations to further extend your scientific training and theoretical background in innovative drug research or supplement it with training in Business Studies, Science Communication and Society, or Education.

From the start of the master, you are challenged to work on your academic skills and prepare yourselves for the labour market. As part of the Introduction course a career symposium is organized with presentations from alumni. Moreover, during the mandatory course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation, you are expected to join career events, workshops and symposia, and to visit multiple colloquia given by peers. Writing assignments about your experiences during the master, reflection on what you have learned, and what you still want to learn and ideas about your career are also part of the course.

In summary, you will receive a complete and challenging program with a focus on scientific development as well as on the academic skills for a broad array of careers in the pharmaceutical field.

Nevertheless, questions about this subject may arise during your studies, such as: How can you use the knowledge and skills you gain within and outside your study program in the labor market? Which direction do you choose within your study and why? What are you already able to do, and what skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses you choose into something you would like to do later?

You may have already discussed this with the study advisor, mentor, tutor, the Science Career Service, fellow students or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. All kinds of activities are organized where you get the chance to orientate yourself on the job market and gives opportunities to reflect on your own development, possibilities and (study) career profile as well. Central to this are the questions: "What are my capabilities?", "What do I want?" and "How do I achieve my goals?".

In the prospectus, learning objectives have been formulated for each subject, the purpose of which is to inform you which components are covered in the development of your (study) career profile and preparation for the labour market. Various activities are also organized that help you in making all kinds of career choices and to develop skills. An overview of activities is shown below.


In the Brightspace module “Master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences” information is compiled for you about career prospects of graduates of our programme and alumni career paths.

First year

  • Introductory meeting with the study advisor

  • Mentorship

  • Workshops and Career Colleges Science Career Service

  • Career Symposium with presentations by alumni

  • Career Orientation reflection assignment 1 – You are here!, to reflect on current profile, expectations and need for orientation

  • Career Orientation reflection assignment 2 – On Track!?, to reflect on to reflect on your academic and personal development

  • Career Orientation reflection assignment 3 – Choosing direction, to evaluate how the career orientation activities helped you to develop a view on the career perspectives of a Bio-Pharmaceutical scientist.

  • Career Events (e.g. Science Career Event, L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius” Career Day, K.N.P.S.V. Profession Day, BCF Career Event)

  • Colloquia by peers

  • LACDR Symposia

  • Bio Science Parc Excursion

Second year

  • Workshops and Career Colleges Science Career Service

  • Career Events (e.g. Science Career Event, L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius” Career Day, K.N.P.S.V. Profession Day, BCF Career Event)

  • Colloquia peers

  • LACDR Symposia

  • Bio Science Parc Excursion

  • Voluntary Career Orientation reflection assignment 4 – Dream Job Ahead!, to learn how to write an application letter and Curriculum Vitae for the dream job that you aspire after your graduation.

Science Career Service

Science Career Service, one of the utilities of the Science faculty, offers information and advice on study (re)orientation, career planning and personal professional profile as well as preparation for the job market, such as job applications. Facilities provided to students include online information, walk-in consultations, workshops and individual counselling sessions. In addition, Science Career Service offers expertise and support to programmes that want to strengthen the connection between their curriculum and the job market. This can vary from providing specific guest lectures/workshops to advising on integrating career orientation programmes into the curriculum.

LU Career Zone

The Leiden University Career Zone is the website for students and alumni of Leiden University to support their (study) career planning. You will find advice, information, video recordings of webinars and tools such as professional tests to get an idea of your personal profile. You can also explore positions and sectors, you will find tips about CV, job application, LinkedIn and there is a vacancy platform that you can make use of.


Leiden University likes to prepare students and young alumni well for the job market. For this we use the knowledge and experience of Leiden alumni. To bring students and young alumni with questions about their careers into contact with experienced alumni, Leiden University has established the Mentor Network. Students and young alumni can register for free.


Do you have questions about your (study) career choices and has the above information not been able to help you further? Please contact the study advisor at