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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 22/07/2022 13:44:45

Title of Module: Designer Drugs

Code: CHEM09023 SCQF Level: 9
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:Carrie  Mullen

Summary of Module

This module looks at Designer Drugs and the related New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and examines their use in society and the important aspects of chemistry and toxicology related to NPS. 

The module is continually assessed and involves the production of individual and group report and a group presentation on NPS 

This module will work to develop a number of the key 'I am UWS' Graduate Attributes. Those who complete this module will have developed competencies in report writing, working to deadlines, making presentations, working in teams.


  • Overview of Designer Drugs and their legal status and use in society

  • Introduction to the pharmacology and Forensic toxicology of Designer Drugs

  • Chromatographic and spectroscopic methods for the analysis of Designer Drugs

  • Preparation and sources of New Psychoactive Substances

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2


Term 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Discuss and evaluate the use of Designer Drugs in society

L2. Demonstrates a detailed knowledge of the pharmacology and chemistry of one new psychoactive substance

L3. Show familiarity with the use of suitable software programmes to research and communicate in pharmacology

L4. Knowledge of the work of scientists studying designer drugs and how to make a job application for a science post

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 9.

Gaining a broad and integrated knowledge and understanding of the purpose and role of medicinal chemistry and toxicology.

Acquiring a critical understanding of the methods by which illegal Designer Drugs are produced and discovered.

Gaining knowledge of how the toxicology of drugs is studied

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 9.

Acquiring knowledge and understanding in the use of chemical software and applying that knowledge to tackle defined tasks.

Gain an understanding of how wikis can be used to write reports and aid collaboration

Understanding of the best methods to research and present information from the scientific literature

Prepare a job application and evaluate a CV

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 9.

Undertaking a critical evaluation of the synthesis, analysis and activity of a New Psychoactive Substance

Undertaking a critical analysis of various toxicology issues related to as applied to a New Psychoactive Substance

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 9.

Using molecular software packages to present chemical information and generate calculated data

Presenting formal written and oral presentations that clearly illustrate a critical understanding of the topic involved

Bringing information together from a variety of sources, using information retrieval systems and appropriate IT skills to produce an online report and present a research proposal for a New Psychoactive Substance.

Development of skills for job interviews

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 9.

Working effectively with others in an active-learning context which focuses on group work

Identifying and addressing individual learning needs in the subject area associated with the module

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Other:or suitable appropriate background
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
This module covers a wide variety of theoretical, conceptual and practical areas, which require a range of knowledge and skills to be displayed and exercised. Delivery of its syllabus content therefore involves a diversity of teaching and assessment methods suitable to the learning outcomes of the module; these include formal lectures, structured tutorials (work closely integrated with the lecture material), laboratory exercises to develop computer skills. The focus of the module is on students acting in teams to prepare a project proposal on a wiki site, and then to give an oral presentation of the proposal. Appropriate forms of IT and VLE, and independent study are used throughout.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery12
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Laboratory/Practical Demonstration/Workshop24
Independent Study152
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Core Text
G.L. Patrick, ‘An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry’, Oxford University Press, 6th Edition 2017

R. B. Silverman, ‘The organic chemistry of drug design and action’, 3rd edition, Elsevier, 2014

Clarke's analytical forensic toxicology / edited by Adam Negrusz, Gail AA Cooper, Pharmaceutical Press, 2013. 2nd ed.

The misuse of drugs act : a guide for forensic scientists, L.A. King, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2003.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardPhysical Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPhysical Sciences
ModeratorDr Ciaran Ewins
External ExaminerM Symes
Accreditation DetailsThis module is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) as part of the BSc (Hons) Chemistry Programme.
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Written reports (70%)
Presentations (30%)
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Portfolio of written workcheck markcheck markcheck mark 700

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Presentationcheck markcheck markcheck markcheck mark300
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
This module is suitable for any student with appropriate chemistry background, however it should be noted that in order for you to complete this module the laboratory element of coursework will require to be undertaken, disability support can be provided where necessary, consequently, if disability support is needed to complete this part of the module, then the University’s Health and Safety Officer should be consulted to make sure that safety in the laboratory is not compromised.

Current University Policy on Equality and Diversity applies.
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.