Studiegids

nl en

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.

Programme outline and objectives

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. A 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 only starts in September or February, with the Research project 1 only starting in September. 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 the master consists of an introduction course, at least one major research project, at least one lecture series and the course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation (programme first year). Depending on the chosen specialisation other mandatory and optional courses apply as described on the corresponding tab 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.

Specialisations

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 Pharmacology and Pharmacy and the Metabolomics Centre).

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, in Dutch) or Industrial Pharmacy (IP; max. 2 participants and in Dutch).

Programme first year

All students have to complete four mandatory parts of the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences before starting their specialisation:

  • Introduction Course (6 EC)

  • Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation (3 EC)

  • One lecture serie (4 EC)

  • Research Project 1 (practical work, 40 EC, thesis 5 EC and colloquium 2 EC)

Look in the Course and Regulation appendix to see which parts have to be completed before starting other courses.

Students can choose which lecture series they want to follow. See MyTimetable for the exact course dates and enroll via MyStudymap.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation 3
Introduction Course 6
Research Project 1 - Practical Work 40
Research Project 1 - Thesis 5
Research Project 1 - Oral Presentation 2

Lecture series (one in the first year is mandatory):

Advanced Computational Methods in Drug Discovery: AI and Physics Based simulations 4
Atherosclerosis 4
Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry 4
Biophysics and Bioengineering for Pharmaceutical Sciences 4
Blood-Brain Barrier: Drug Transport to the Brain 4
Cell Pharmacy 4
Drug Delivery 4
Infectious disease therapies: bench to bedside 4
Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development 4
Novel chemical modalities in drug discovery 4
Novel Concepts in Molecular Pharmacology 4
Quantitative Pharmacology 4
Regulatory Toxicology - Advanced non-animal approaches for chemical safety assessment 4
Signal Transduction and Hallmarks of Cancer 4

Research specialisation - Drug Discovery and Safety (DDS)

Drug Discovery and Safety is a research specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. This specialisation offers scientific training on and hands-on experience with a range of state-of-the-art techniques, required for the discovery and characterization of novel drug targets and the synthesis and optimization of new drugs. Research Project 1 will be conducted at the division of Medicinal Chemistry, or at the division of Cell Systems and Drug Safety of the LACDR on one of the research themes described below.

To effectively design new drugs, understanding the mechanism by which potential drug targets affect the development and progression of disease at the molecular level is essential. The division unravels these mechanisms, particularly in the area of (breast) cancer metastasis, drug resistance and drug safety. After screening of candidate drug targets using a ‘systems microscopy’ approach, promising targets are evaluated in clinically relevant models and patient material, in close collaboration with clinical centers.

The division is also working on the design, synthesis and evaluation of new compounds that modulate G protein-coupled receptor activity (GPCRs). Essential is that these compounds meet specific requirements that enable them to work effectively as medicinal agents. To this end, a ‘chemical biology’ approach is pursued in which synthetic chemistry, new developments in bio- and cheminformatics, biochemistry/molecular biology and pharmacology are combined. Finally, the interaction with their targets is modelled and evaluated at atomic resolution for a more rational approach of drug design.

For the research specialisation - Drug Discovery and Safety, students have to complete the following parts after the general programme of year 1:

  • Elective space (18 EC)

  • Literature Study (7 EC)

  • Research project 2 (35 EC)

For the optional courses, students can choose between lecture series, courses offered by the Faculty of Science or other topic related courses offered by Dutch or international universities. Please go to the Brightspace module of the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences for more information. Here you can also find information on how to register for this specialisation.

Research specialisation - Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology (SBP)

Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology is a research specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology offers a unique combination of cutting-edge experimental training in the field of metabolomics and translational systems biology with quantitative pharmacological modelling. This is used to better understand and predict drug-induced modulation of systemic disease networks. Research Project 1 will be conducted at the division Systems Pharmacology and Pharmacy or at the Metabolomics and Analysis Centre of the LACDR, or at the CHDR, on one of the research themes described below.

The division works with theoretical frameworks that, through extrapolation and prediction, can be used for drug development and individualized therapies. Therefore we work with an advanced understanding of factors that govern the fate of the drug in the body (pharmacokinetics) in relation to drug effects (pharmacodynamics). Improvements of the quality of the theoretical frameworks are achieved by inclusion of multiple quantitative and objective measures as a composite biomarker for disease condition and treatment effects.

The Metabolomics and Analysis Centre develops new analytical strategies for personalized health strategies and personalized medicine. We specifically focus on metabolomics-driven systems biology to obtain new insights in disease mechanisms. We develop novel phenotypic read-outs for diagnosis and patient stratification for treatment based on metabolomics, UPE, and organ-on-a-chip technologies and methods.

For the research specialisation - Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology, students have to complete the following parts after the general programme of year 1:

  • Elective space (18EC)

  • Literature Study (7EC)

  • Research project 2 (35EC)

For the optional courses, students can choose between lecture series, courses offered by the Faculty of Science or other topic related courses offered by Dutch or international universities. Please go to the Brightspace module of the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences for more information. There you can also find information on how to register for this specialisation.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Mandatory parts

Literature Study 7
Research Project 2 - Practical Work 30
Research Project 2 - Thesis 5

Lecture series (you can also choose other courses from the Faculty of Science or other universities for your elective space)

Advanced Computational Methods in Drug Discovery: AI and Physics Based simulations 4
Atherosclerosis 4
Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry 4
Biophysics and Bioengineering for Pharmaceutical Sciences 4
Blood-Brain Barrier: Drug Transport to the Brain 4
Cell Pharmacy 4
Drug Delivery 4
Infectious disease therapies: bench to bedside 4
Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development 4
Novel chemical modalities in drug discovery 4
Novel Concepts in Molecular Pharmacology 4
Quantitative Pharmacology 4
Regulatory Toxicology - Advanced non-animal approaches for chemical safety assessment 4
Signal Transduction and Hallmarks of Cancer 4

Other optional courses (list is not limited)

Computational Techniques for Chemical Biology (CTCB) 6
Ethics in Quality Control Practices 1
Legislation of Production of Medicinal Products 1
Research Project 2 - Oral presentation 2
Student assistantship bachelor research assignment 5

Research specialisation - BioTherapeutics (BT)

BioTherapeutics is a research specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. BioTherapeutics is a specialisation of the Master’s programme of Leiden University. It offers research-orientated education in the areas of specific drug delivery techniques, and the development of new therapeutic approaches to treat immune-based disorders, such as atherosclerosis, metabolic disorders and inflammatory skin diseases. Research Project 1 will be conducted at the division BioTherapeutics of the LACDR on one of the research themes described below.

The mission of the division BioTherapeutics is to develop and advance innovative biopharmaceuticals for successful interventions and effective therapies in auto-immune-like disorders. We concentrate on the identification of targets and checkpoints in the immune system and to develop new ways to selectively manipulate these checkpoints, by using biologics such as vaccines and therapeutic proteins (monoclonal antibodies).

To study the complex interaction of drugs in different organic systems, research is performed at the gene and immune cell level in various in vitro and in vivo models; one of the strengths of the division BioTherapeutics. Interventions developed so far range from experimental therapies using antibody-based interventions and therapeutic vaccines to gene therapeutic approaches.

Another research focus is the identification of novel biomarkers for disease and design of novel and innovative ways of drug administration via cutting-edge formulations and applications for drug-administrations. We design, synthesize, and characterize polypept(o)ids and their application in nanomedicine to improve existing therapies or enable novel diagnostic or therapeutic approaches.

For the research specialisation - BioTherapeutics, students have to complete the following parts after the general programme of year 1:

  • Elective space (18EC)

  • Literature Study (7EC)

  • Research project 2 (35EC)

For the optional courses, students can choose between lecture series, courses offered by the Faculty of Science or other topic related courses offered by Dutch or international universities. Please go to the Brightspace module of the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences for more information. There you can also find information on how to register for this specialisation.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Mandatory parts

Literature Study 7
Research Project 2 - Practical Work 30
Research Project 2 - Thesis 5

Lecture series (you can also choose other courses from the Faculty of Science or other universities for your elective space)

Advanced Computational Methods in Drug Discovery: AI and Physics Based simulations 4
Atherosclerosis 4
Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry 4
Biophysics and Bioengineering for Pharmaceutical Sciences 4
Blood-Brain Barrier: Drug Transport to the Brain 4
Cell Pharmacy 4
Drug Delivery 4
Infectious disease therapies: bench to bedside 4
Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development 4
Novel chemical modalities in drug discovery 4
Novel Concepts in Molecular Pharmacology 4
Quantitative Pharmacology 4
Regulatory Toxicology - Advanced non-animal approaches for chemical safety assessment 4
Signal Transduction and Hallmarks of Cancer 4

Other optional courses (list is not limited)

Computational Techniques for Chemical Biology (CTCB) 6
Ethics in Quality Control Practices 1
Legislation of Production of Medicinal Products 1
Research Project 2 - Oral presentation 2
Student assistantship bachelor research assignment 5

Business Studies specialisation

Business Studies (BS) is a specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. It provides knowledge and skills in the area of Management, Business and Entrepreneurship. Its focus is on their application in science- and research-driven organisations. Its purpose is to broaden the horizon, to form an opinion on and prepare for a career in industry and to enhance competencies for pursuing entrepreneurial business opportunities created through science and research (Research Based Business; RBB).
The specialisation Business Studies aims to provide an introduction to general management theory and practice. In addition, students will gain practical experience in applying their business knowledge and skills through working as an intern in a knowledge-intensive organisation.

Students with an MSc specialisation Business Studies are admissible to a PhD programme in their MSc research field or in Business Studies.

For the Business Studies specialisation, students have to obtain at least 40 EC and max. 60 EC of Business Studies courses. These must include:

  • Research Methods (5 EC)

  • Business courses (15 EC)

  • Business Internship (20 or 30 EC)

If students have obtained less than 60 EC with the above parts, they must obtain the remaining EC by following Business electives, lecture series of BPS or other courses in life sciences or medicine.

Note: the information in the Course and Examination Regulations (OER) 2023-2024, section 4.5.3. - stating that a big part of the courses of the former minor SBB overlap with the courses of the specialisation and that by completing them succesfully in the minor, the specialisation courses can be replaced by other courses of Business Studies, the master BPS or of the Faculty of Sciences - is only correct for the minor SBB that was offered until the year 2020-2021. The new minor SBI (offered from 2021-2022) will not validate such an exchange.

For more information about the Business Studies specialisation go to the website.
For more information on how to apply for this specialisation, go to the Brighspace master module.

Science, Communication and Society specialisation

Science, Communication and Society (SCS) is a specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. It concerns science communication in a broad sense. The programme focuses on the link between science and society and covers knowledge and skills in the field of science communication.
The programme prepares students for a career in the area of science communication, for example, as a science communicator, a science policymaker or a public relations or health communication officer, or for a career as a scientist with a communicating mind-set. For future science teachers the specialisation is also a valuable preparation.

Students with an MSc specialisation Science Communication and Society are admissible to a PhD programme in their MSc research field or in Science Communication.

For the Science, Communication and Society specialisation, students have to obtain at least 40 EC and max. 60 EC of SCS courses. These must include:

SCS Courses (23 EC):

  • Research in Science Communication (4 EC)

  • Innovative Methods in Science Communication and Society (3 EC)

  • Policy and Development in Science and Society (4 EC)

  • Science Journalism/Wetenschapsjournalistiek (4 EC)

  • Informal Science Education (4 EC)

  • Science Communication Product Development (4 EC)
    Internship:

  • SCS Project Proposal (3 EC)    

  • SCS Internship (14-34 EC)

If students have obtained less than 60 EC with the above parts, they must obtain the remaining EC by following SCS electives, lecture series of BPS or other courses in life sciences or medicine.

For more information about the Science, Communication and Society specialisation, go to the website and the e-prospectus
For more information on how to apply for this specialisation, go to the Brightspace module of the master.

Education specialisation

Education (EDU) is a specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. It optimally prepares you to teach the subject of chemistry to secondary school students, based on a solid background of high quality research in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS). It uniquely enables you to make a relevant impact on society by educating today’s secondary school pupils for tomorrow’s challenges in the field of chemistry or biology.

Students with an MSc specialisation Education are admissible to a PhD programme in their MSc research field.

For the Education specialisation, students have to obtain 60 EC of Education courses. These must include:

  • Pedagogy in Practice 1 (7 EC)

  • Adolescent development (4 EC)

  • Teaching Methodology 1 (4 EC)

  • Teaching Practice 1 (15 EC)

  • Pedagogy in Practice 2 (3 EC)

  • Teaching Methodology 2 (5 EC)

  • Teaching Practice 2 (15 EC)

  • Subject-specific research project (5 EC)

  • Elective course (choose at least one) :

  1. Subject-specific research project 2 (2 EC)
  2. Adolescent development 2 (2 EC)
  3. Innovations in School (2 EC)
  4. World Teachers (2 EC) - only for students who follow the World Teachers programme

When the student has passed the minor Education (30 EC) during the BSc programme, the compulsory education component is reduced with 30 EC. The remaining 30 EC can be obtained by following lecture series of BPS or other courses in life sciences or medicine and the research component of the MSc programme.

For more information about the specialisation Education go to the website and e-prospectus (chemistry), or e-prospectus biology

For more information on how to apply for this specialisation, go to the Brightspace module of the master

Note: the specialisation is in Dutch.

Industrial Pharmacy specialisation

Industrial Pharmacy (IP) is a specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. It trains students in safety and quality control in the production of medicinal products and prepares students for a career in Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry. For this specialisation only a limited number of positions (max. 2) are available. Enrolment for the specialisation is explained on the Brightspace module of the master BPS.

Students with an MSc specialisation Industrial Pharmacy are admissible to a PhD programme in their MSc research field.

For the Industrial Pharmacy specialisation, students have to obtain 60 EC of Industrial Pharmacy courses. These must include:

  • Internship Quality Control/Quality Assurance, in a Pharmaceutical Company under supervision of a Qualified Person (QP) and an examiner of the LACDR, including Practical Work, Thesis and Oral Presentation (38 EC)

  • Essay Quality Control/Quality Assurance (7 EC)

  • IP specific courses (15 EC)

Note: this specialisation is in Dutch.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Essay Quality Control/Quality Assurance 7
Ethics in Quality Control Practices 1
GMP for Middle Management 2
Internship Quality Control/Quality Assurance in a Pharmaceutical Company, including Practical Work, Thesis and Oral Presentation 38
Legislation of Production of Medicinal Products 1
Microbial Control in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing 2
Quality Management in Pharma and Biotech. Module 1 - The Role of the Qualified Person 3
Quality Management in Pharma and Biotech. Module 2 - Quality Management in Drug Development 2
Quality Management in Pharma and Biotech. Module 3 - Sterile Manufacturing 2
Quality Management in Pharma and Biotech. Module 4 - Quality and Safety for the Manufacturing of Biopharmaceuticals 2

Career Orientation

Career preparation in master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences

In addition to offering you a solid university education, Leiden University aims to prepare you as well as possible for the labour market and in doing so contribute to the development of your employability. In this way, it will become easier for you to make the transition to the labour market, to remain employable in a dynamic labour market, in a (career) job that suits your own personal values, preferences and development. 'Employability' consists of the following aspects that you will develop within your study programme, among others:

1. Discipline-specific knowledge and skills
Knowledge and skills specific to your study programme.

2. Transferable skills
These are skills that are relevant to every student and that you can use in all kinds of jobs irrespective of your study programme, for example: researching, analysing, project-based working, generating solutions, digital skills, collaborating, oral communication, written communication, presenting, societal awareness, independent learning, resilience.

3. Self-reflection
This concerns self-reflection in the context of your (study) career, including reflecting on the choices you make as a student during your studies, what can you do with your knowledge and skills on the labour market?
In addition, reflecting on your own profile and your personal and professional development. Who are you, what can you do well, what do you find interesting, what suits you, what do you find important, what do you want to do?

4. Practical experience
Gaining practical experience through internships, work placements, projects, practical (social) assignments, which are integrated into an elective, minor or graduation assignment.

5. Labour market orientation
Gaining insight into the labour market, fields of work, jobs and career paths through, for example, guest speakers and alumni experiences from the work field, career events within the study programme, the use of the alumni mentor network, interviewing people from the work field and shadowing/visiting companies in the context of a particular subject.

Employability in the curriculum

General
During the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS), we want to provide you with the best possible preparation to enter the job market after graduation.

The major part of the master BPS programme involves on-the-job training during research projects and internships. This not allows training of discipline-specific knowledge and skills, but also teaches students to work in a professional environment and fosters the development of an extensive set of transferable skills.

In addition, in the course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation (AASCO, 3 EC) that runs over the 2 years of the master programme students are explicitly trained in several aspects of academic skills and are stimulated to make self-directed, conscious choices for their own professional development and preparation for a successful start of their career on the job market.

Activities contributing to career orientation
All years

  • Science Skills Platform with a Personal and Professional development domain

  • Information on career prospects of graduates of our programme and alumni career paths in the Brightspace module “Master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences”

  • Guest lectures by (guest) lectures provided by professionals pharmaceutical companies at the Leiden BioScience Park

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

  • Symposia of LACDR and study association L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius”

  • Workshops and Career Colleges Science Career Service

  • Entrepreneurship workshop series focused on research valorisation for societal challenges

  • Bio Science Park Excursion

First year

  • Introductory meeting with the study advisor

  • Meetings with student mentors

  • 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 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.

Second year

  • 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.

Activities to prepare for the labour market co-curricular or outside the curriculum

Every year, also various activities take place, alongside and outside of the BPS study programme, which contribute to your preparation for the labour market, especially where it concerns orientation towards the work field/the labour market, (career) skills and self-reflection. These may be information meetings on decision moments within your programme, but also career workshops and events organised by the BPS programme, the faculty Career Service, your study association L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius”, or other organizations.

Career Service, LU Career Zone and career workshops calendar

Faculty Career Service The Career Service of your faculty offers information and advice on study (re)orientation and master's choice, (study) career planning, orientation on the labour market and job applications.

Leiden University Career Zone Leiden University Career Zone is the website for students and alumni of Leiden University to support their (study) career. You can find advice, information, (career) tests and tools in the area of (study) career planning, career possibilities with your study, job market orientation, job applications, the Alumni Mentor network, job portal, workshops and events and career services.

Workshops and events
On the course calendar you will find an overview of career and application workshops, organised by the Career Service Centre.