Course Overview

Cheminformatics is the use of computational techniques to solve chemistry, pharmacology and toxicology problems. Students will understand and apply a range of computational tools to address toxicological questions in preparation for a career in in silico toxicity prediction in the pharma, industry, consultancy, academia and government. The course is delivered over one year by the disciplines of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Mathematics and Chemistry.

What makes this course unique ...

  • Integrated training in toxicology and computational approaches (analytics) to develop a highly marketable skill-set for a career in the Pharma industry or organizations that regulate chemical safety
  • Guest lecturers from regulators and industry that teach from "real-life" cases and that can provide career development advice
  • An independent research project focussed on solving real world toxicity/toxicity assessment problems

Scholarships available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System.  

A shortlisting procedure will be applied that evaluates:

  • Undergraduate academic performance throughout their time at university
  • The content and quality of their personal statement
  • Prior research or work experience
  • Reference letters

The ideal student will have a BSc or MSc in chemistry with an interest in toxicology, and computational approaches to toxicity prediction. Students with a background in Pharmacology or Bio-informatics (or related disciplines) will also be encouraged to apply.

Who Teaches this Course

  • Dr Howard Fearnhead
  • Dr Declan McKernan
  • Professor John Kelly
  • Professor Cathal Seoighe
  • Dr Pilib Ó Broin
  • Dr Aaron Golden
  • Dr David Cheung

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Primary degree: A 2.2 degree or higher (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Pharmacology, Biochemistry or a related discipline.

Language skills: An IELTS score of 6.5 or greater in all categories is required.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2022

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

 Please view the offer rounds website.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting




Course code


Course Outline

The course is delivered over three semesters. In semester 1 students learn the fundamentals of pharmacology, toxicology and are introduced to computational drug-design, programming for biology and statistical computing in R. This forms a foundation for more advanced material explored in Semester 2. 

In Semester 2 students consider more advanced concepts in toxicology and investigate controversial areas of toxicology. They also develop a theoretical and a practical understanding of high through put and high content screening technologies that are used to generate large data sets for analysis.  The students also learn to apply bioinformatic and cheminformatic tools to such large data sets.  This semester equips the students to develop and test a novel hypothesis through independent research that is completed in the third semester. 

In the third semester students work independently but with the guidance of an academic or industry-based thesis supervisor on a cheminformatics research project. 

The course involves lectures, laboratory-based training, self-directed learning and a three month independent research project. Competence is assessed through a mixture of written examinations, computer-based examinations, course work (including verbal presentations and poster presentations) and a research thesis.

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Required Core Subject
A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

It costs approximately $1bn and 10–20 years to get a drug from conception to market. While many candidate molecules enter the drug development pipeline, most will fail to become drugs, mainly due to unexpected toxicity. The failure to identify toxicity early in the development process costs the pharmaceutical industry billions of dollars in either failed clinical trials or in withdrawing drugs from the market. At the same time national and trans-national regulatory bodies work to identify the toxicity of chemicals used in food-stuffs, consumer products, industry and agriculture with the aim of building a chemically safe society. Consequently the global ADME toxicology testing market, which aims to identify potential toxicity is projected to surpass $16.2 billion by 2024. In an era when Pharma investment in research and development is falling, scientists to develop and use computational tools that better predict toxicity are at a premium. The value of these skills is further enhanced by the scarcity of training programmes to produce toxicologists with the appropriate computational skills. 

Graduates from the course will be employed in the Pharmaceutical industry, the Cosmetics Industry, National and EU Regulatory bodies, Toxicology Consultancies and academia. 

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€8,210 p.a. 2022/23

Fees: Tuition

€8,070 p.a. 2022/23

Fees: Student levy

€140 p.a. 2022/23

Fees: Non EU

€16,940 p.a. 2022/23

Student levy €140 - payable by all students and is not covered by SUSI.  Further detail here.

Find out More

Howard Fearnhead, PhD
T: +353 91 495 240


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    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2022 PDF (14.3MB)