Studying
The aim of the Master’s Programme in Pharmaceutical Research, Development and Safety is to provide a comprehensive overview of the life cycle of drugs and their use.

The academic activities in the personal study plan provide 120 credits (ECTS), the equivalent to two years of full-time studying. The target degree earned by the studies is Master of Science. In contrast to degree programme yielding Master in Pharmacy degree, this does not qualify for legalized healthcare professional status in the EU area. The courses are taught by an international faculty of world class scientists in a research oriented environment using state of the art pedagogical methods and incorporates their cutting edge research into the learning material.

Why pharmaceutical research, development and safety?

The ageing population and the need for rapidly evolving medication solutions are factors that highlight the growing role and need of experts in pharmaceuticals, their use and regulatory processes in society.

In the Master’s Programme in Pharmaceutical Research, Development and Safety, you will:

  • acquire a comprehensive overview of the life cycle of drugs and their use.
  • obtain a unique perspective of Green and Sustainable Pharmacy as well as essential knowledge for managing the global sustainability challenge.
  • be trained for research and development (R&D) oriented positions and as professionals for healthcare regulatory, management, policy-making and pharmaceutical industry positions.
  • earn a Master of Science degree from a programme hosted by the Faculty of Pharmacy, a top-level drug research institute, with an extensive network of partners and considerable external research funding.

Please note that the degree earned in this programme does not qualify for legalized healthcare professional status in the EU area.

Learning objectives

After completing the M.Sc. Degree in pharmaceutical research, development and safety, the students:

Knowledge

  • have a thorough understanding on the life cycle of drugs and can apply their knowledge as experts in  pharmaceutical research, development and use,
  • have a command on pharmaceutical research questions in theoretical and methodological level,
  • understand the roles of of different institutions and stakeholders in pharmaceutical development and pharmacotherapy,
  • understand the sustainability aspects of drugs and their use and can apply this knowledge in their work.

Skills

  • can formulate research questions and design ways to answer them in a scientifically solid manner,
  • have a command of key research methods as well as the research-based work method,
  • can conduct research work in an international and multidisciplinary environment,
  • are fluent in communicating the pharmaceutical research topics with both peer experts and public audience,
  • have developed a professional identity as experts in drug development and use and understand the potential of their expertise.
Who should apply?

Do you want to conduct multidisciplinary life science and health science studies as a member of a scientifically vibrant academic community? Do you have career goals e.g. in academia, the pharmaceutical industry or with public sector authorities? Are you interested in becoming a professional in the pharmaceutical sciences and seek for an education that is more research oriented than the Master of Pharmacy degree? Then this programme might be something for you. If you seek for an education yielding proficiency as a legalized healthcare professional, consider applying in Master in Pharmacy programme instead.

A Bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for being eligible to apply. Applications are welcome from motivated and skilled candidates with a broad range of backgrounds, but the expectation is that the successful candidates have sufficient prior knowledge in pharmacy, chemistry or life science in order to complete the education in two years.

In 2022, up to 20 students will be enrolled in the programme.

Admissions procedure and criteria

The application procedure of MPHARM is part of the international graduate student selection procedure of the University of Helsinki. The applications and applicants must follow the general admission procedures and the relevant country specific requirements of the University of Helsinki for the international Master’s programmes. The application must include all attachments required by the University of Helsinki.

In addition to these attachments, MPHARM requests a copy of the photo page of the applicant's passport or other identification document.

Admissions process

There are two phases in the admission procedure.

In phase one, all eligible applications are evaluated by a selection committee nominated by the MPHARM steering group. Selection committee members score the applications independently based on

  1. the content and the suitability of the applicant’s degree (at least a Bachelors’ degree) and the academic level of the institution of education (0–6 points),
  2. the motivation letter by the applicant (0–6 points),
  3. the academic performance of the applicant (0–6 points) and
  4. recommendation letter (optional) submitted preferably by an academic professional (0–2 points).

In the second phase, top 40 applicants with the highest scores are invited to an on-line interview. The total number of interviewed applicants may exceed 40 in the case that there is more than one applicant with the threshold score. The invitations with interview schedules and instructions will be sent by e-mail. The interviews will be conducted by the selection committee. The applicants should have a possibility for an on-line interview with a video connection. A head-set is strongly recommended. The invitation and interview dates will be published by the beginning of the application period.

Selection criteria

In the phase one, the applicants will be ranked based on the following criteria:

  • Applicability of previous studies to the Master’s programme and the academic level of the institution of education
  • Motivation letter
  • Academic performance
  • Recommendation letter (optional)

These criteria are assessed and scored in the above mentioned order. Only complete applications meeting the requirements listed above will be evaluated.

The distribution of the points in the phase one is as follows. The miminum score in order to proceed to phase 2 for each section (except the recommendation letter) is 1 point:

 

Applicability of previous studies to the master’s programme and the academic level of the institution of education

0-6 points

Motivation letter

0-6 points

Academic performance

0-6 points

Recommendation letter (optional)

0-2 points

The total maximum score for an application in the first phase is 20. If the applicant fails to obtain the minimum score for the admission criterion under assessment, the application will not be further considered.

Admissions are based on the combined score from the two assessment stages. In the second phase the interview will be scored on a scale of 0–8 points (7–8 points=exceeds expectations, 4–6 points=meets expectations, 3 points or less=below expectations). The required minimum score of the interview is 4.

The maximum score of the evaluation is 28. The selection committee will define a minimum score for applicants considered in the final selection. No more than the best 20 applicants will be admitted to the programme. Other applicants with at least the minimum score will be placed on a reserve list in a decreasing order based on their score.

If two or more applicants are tied after the evaluation, they will be ranked primarily on the basis of an interview, secondly on the basis of applicable studies, thirdly on the basis of the motivation letter and fourthly on the basis of the academic performance.

Criteria for phase one:

Applicability of previous studies to the master’s programme

The evaluation of the applicability of studies will take into account the analysis provided by the applicants on the application form of their prior studies in the key fields of the master’s programme. Course descriptions of these studies must also be attached to the application. 

The academic level of the applicant’s institute of education is also scored.

University of Helsinki does not evaluate the applicability of the studies in advance.

Academic performance

The academic performance of the applicant’s applicable studies is assessed as a whole, based on the transcripts and course descriptions of the previous studies.

Motivation letter

The motivation letter is used to assess the applicant’s motivation to complete a master’s degree in the programme. In the motivation letter the applicant describes:

  • His/her motivation to select this master’s programme over other programmes
  • Self-assessment on the applicability on his/her previous studies to this programme
  • Self-assessment on his/her capacity of completing the programme in two years
  • Career plans after completing studies in the degree
  • Description on any previous research or other relevant work experience
  • Which study track he/she would be primarily interested in, and what kind of research he/she would like to be involved in during their Masters studies?

The letter of motivation may be up to 3,000 characters in length. The letter of motivation must be written in English, and the language of the motivation letter will also be assessed. The language must be grammatically flawless, and the content of the text must be fluent and coherent. The letter of motivation may be rejected if the above requirements are not met.

Recommendation letter

The application may also include a separate recommendation (in English) submitted preferably by an academic professional. Max. two recommendations are considered, and the names and professional e-mail addresses are to be provided by the applicant in the application. A link to an e-form will be sent to recommendation letter providers. It is recommended that the applicant informs them in advance and ensures that the recommendation is sent in due time. Recommendation letters sent via e-mail or post will not be considered.

The recommendation letter is optional, but a strongly recommended part of the application.

Criteria for phase two:

Interview

The objective of the interview is to ensure the applicant’s motivation, communication skills, and the feasibility of the applicant’s aims as based on the written application. The interview will be scored on a scale of 0–8 points (7–8 points=exceeds expectations, 4–6 points=meets expectations, 3 points or less=below expectations). The required minimum score of the interview is 4.

Structure, content and study tracks

The scope of the Master’s Programme in Pharmaceutical Research, Development and Safety is 120 credits (ECTS), the equivalent to two years of full-time studying. The target degree earned by the studies is Master of Science. 

The two-year curriculum of the programme starts with a core study module on drug development and use, common for all enrolled students. In addition, the first semester studies include courses for acquiring transferable academic skills as well as an induction to our research themes. The students are encouraged to take an active role in becoming oriented with the research that is carried out in the department right from the beginning of their studies.

Starting from the second semester, each student will conduct studies according to a personalised study plan. Guidance is available from a nominated faculty member acting as a supervisor throughout the studies. To assist the tailoring of the elective elements of the curriculum, courses are organised under three study tracks:

1. Drug design and pharmacology

After completing the study track, the students are able to:

  • Explain the drug discovery process and understand target finding, specificity, efficacy, and toxicity studies,   
  • Understand drug discovery from a methodological point of view, 
  • Understand how drug efficacy and safety are tested in preclinical phase, 
  • Understand how commonly used drugs are studied; how they act, how they modulate molecular, cellular and physiological processes, 
  • Understand draggability approaches for small/large/biological molecules,   
  • Plan and execute research projects,  
  • Appreciate clinical trial process and many of the translational challenges related to developing drugs, 
  • Examine scientific studies critically.  

2. Drug delivery and development

After completing the study track, the students are able to:

  • Explain all issues relevant to what is known as “ADME”: absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs,
  • Have a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the subdiscipline of pharmaceutical research known as “pharmaceutics” including the formulation and manufacture of drugs, different dosage forms and drug delivery, pharmaceutical technology and physical pharmacy,
  • Explain what is meant by “nanomedicine” and all issues related to the rational design of drug delivery nanoparticles,
  • Describe key aspects pertaining to the process of preclinical and clinical studies that all potential drug molecules must pass through in order to become drugs.

3. Medication safety & effectiveness

After completing the study track, the students are able to:

  • Explain the basic principles and concepts of medication safety risk management and pharmacovigiliance in health services systems,
  • Describe research methodologies and their application in medication safety and effectiveness research, as well as in economic evaluation of pharmaceuticals,
  • Apply real-world-data (RWD) in medication safety and effectiveness research,
  • Critically review and appraise scientific literature,
  • Plan and conduct research projects,
  • Report research findings.

The student may also choose studies in an interdisciplinary manner according to her/his own interests. However, there will be only a certain amount of placements available at the different study tracks, and therefore, the placement according to the first preference of the student cannot be guaranteed at the time of applying to the Master’s Programme. The personal study plan may also include courses from other Master’s programmes at the University of Helsinki or studies conducted during an international exchange period.

Structure and content of the Master's Programme. 

Language of instruction

The programme’s official language is English. All courses are taught and can be completed in English.

Master's thesis

The aim of the master’s thesis is to develop skills for independent scientific work and critical evaluation of scientific data.

The master’s thesis in the programme consists of a literature review (10 credits) and a research project (30 credits) under the supervision of a principal investigator within the faculty.

In addition to the research groups operating in the faculty, students are encouraged to explore the possibility of finding their thesis project within our extensive collaborative networks or suggest a topic of research according to their own interests.

Students and student life

Student life and especially the student organisation culture is exceptionally rich and diverse in Finland. More than 250 student organisations operate within the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), ranging from faculty and subject organisations to political and societal organisations, and from choirs and orchestras to sports and game clubs. Their activities include anniversary celebrations, academic dinner parties, cultural events, get-togethers and excursions.

As a student and member of the Student Union (HYY), you are entitled to many benefits and services. For example, affordable student housing, low-cost sports services and student-priced meals. You also get numerous discounts, for example on public transport fees across the country. 

Read more about student life, services and benefits when studying at the University of Helsinki.

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