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Create new medicines from a chemical perspective

Examine the interaction between molecules and human cells

In the Drug Discovery Sciences Master’s programme, you will examine the interaction between molecules and the human body from a range of perspectives: organic chemical, medicinal chemical, toxicological, pharmacological and genetic. 

In the first year, you will work in a multidisciplinary environment in which you will be challenged to address key questions about the medicines of the future. But you will also choose a specialisation that suits your specific interests. There are five different specialisations to choose from. Each specialisation and profile combination includes a balance between compulsory courses, optional courses and research training. 

You can specialise in Molecular Pharmacology (how can I modulate a biochemical process?), Synthesis of Drugs (how can I design and synthesise a potential drug for a specific target?), Molecular Toxicology (how are drugs metabolised in the human body and how can they cause toxicity?), Computer-Aided Drug Design (how can I predict the interaction between molecules and proteins?) and Bioanalytics (how can I detect and measure specific molecules in the human body?).

Your major research project is an important part of the Master’s programme. You can, for instance, explore the synthesis of light-sensitive drugs, the use of nanobodies as oncomodulators, mitochondrial toxicity in human iPS-derived cells, computer simulations to investigate the structure and dynamics of proteins, or bioanalysis for assessing venom pathologies as a basis for developing new snakebite treatments. 

In your second year, you can choose to specialise in the MSc Research variant, or select another specialisation. Choose Science in Society or Science Communication to develop skills that bridge the gap between science and society, or focus on Education (only in Dutch) and receive a teaching certification for secondary education.

You can find all course descriptions, the year schedule and the teaching and examination regulation in the Study guide. Note: the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

The start dates of this programme are September 1st and February 1st* 

*the February 1st start date is only available for students who completed their Bachelor's degree at VU Amsterdam.

Which first year specialisation do you choose?

Find out what the different possibilities are within the first year of this Master's programme

Summary

Study the interaction of biological active molecules with their target

In the Molecular Pharmacology specialisation you will investigate the interaction of biological active molecules (small molecule or an antibody [biological]) with their target. The research focuses on ligand-receptor interactions, modulation of signal transduction pathways, and novel concepts like ligand-independent receptor signaling, biased signaling and receptor dimerisation. You will learn concepts of molecular biology and pharmacology and use innovative imaging and biophysical approaches.

The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs.

Mandatory courses for Molecular Pharmacology (12 EC):

  1. ADMET (6 EC)
  2. Drug Target Biochemistry and Signaling (6 EC)
  3. Advanced Pharmacology (6 EC)

Optional courses:

  • Computer-Aided Drug Design and Virtual Screening (6 EC)
  • High-Throughput Screening (6 EC)
  • Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

*the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

Summary

Creating new molecules with interesting biological activities

Within the specialisation Synthesis of Drugs you will be working with a team of enthusiastic researchers in our modern labs equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to synthesize novel molecules that have exciting biological activities.

You can create new drug-like molecules that have clinical potential by using synthetic medicinal chemistry and developing structure-activity relationships that will improve drug design. You can also make molecules that will be valuable as chemical biology probes (tools) that will be used by molecular pharmacologists and toxicologists. If your focus is on radiopharmaceuticals, you will work with experts from the Molecular Imaging Center of the University Hospital to synthesise molecules as tracers in Positron Emission Tomography imaging studies.

The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs or with one of our external partners (e.g. biotech companies and -institutes).

Mandatory courses for Synthesis of Drugs (18 EC):

  1. Physical Organic Chemistry (6 EC)
  2. Spectroscopic Approaches in Medicinal Chemistry (6 EC)
  3. Synthetic approaches in medicinal chemistry (6 EC)

Optional courses:

  • Computer-Aided Drug Design and Virtual Screening (6 EC)
  • ADMET (6 EC)
  • Translational Radiopharmaceutical Sciences (6 EC)
  • Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

*the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

Summary

Develop better ways to test for drug safety

Within the Molecular Toxicology specialisation you will learn how chemicals are processed in the body and how they can interfere with cellular and biological processes. This includes biological systems involved in biotransformation and transport of xenobiotics, adaptive stress response pathways, and toxicity mechanisms. In this specialisation you can work with recombinant proteins, liver microsomes, human liver and renal cell models as well as differentiated iPS cells and use a wide range of high-end technology platforms, such as HPLC-MS, High Content Imaging and Seahorse.

The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs.

Mandatory courses for Molecular Pharmacology (18 EC):

  1.  ADMET (6 EC)
  2.  Molecular and Cellular Toxicology (6 EC)
  3.  Advanced course on Molecular Toxicology (6 EC)

Optional courses:

  • Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animal Experiments in Biomedical Research: From Origins to Implementation (6EC)
  • Human cells in culture (6 EC)
  • Advanced Bioanalytical Approaches (6 EC)
  • Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

*the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

Summary

Computational tools to improve molecular understanding

VU Amsterdam has a world-renowned reputation in the area of computational sciences and in the specialisation Computer-Aided Drug Design you will use our state-of-the art computational infrastructure and emerging computational technologies to understand the molecular features leading to biological activity.

You will explore the fascinating structures of proteins and other drug targets, using methods such as molecular docking, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and free-energy calculations. Even before a molecule has been created and tested, you will be able to predict whether it is likely to have medicinal applications. You can focus on the development of new computational methodology to study ligand-protein interactions and develop more accurate molecular simulation methods. Alternatively, you can focus on CADD applications in the field of drug design, molecular pharmacology or toxicology.

The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises two mandatory courses (2x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs.

Mandatory courses for Computer-Aided Drug Design (18 EC):

  1. Data Management in Drug Discovery (6 EC)
  2. Computer-Aided Drug Design and Virtual Screening (6 EC)
  3. Biomolecular Simulation in Drug Discovery (6 EC)

Optional courses:

  • Structure & function in medicinal chemistry
  • ADMET (6 EC)
  • Biomolecular Simulations in Medicinal Chemistry and Toxicology (6 EC)
  • Drug Target Biochemistry and Signaling (6 EC)

Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

*the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

Summary

Do you have a passion for bioanalytics, analytical -omics, drug discovery and are you interested in understanding the molecular basis of diseases?

Learn how to design, develop and apply bioanalytical sciences to study biomolecular mechanisms related to health and disease, and to analytically characterize next generation low-molecular weight drugs and biopharmaceuticals. The Bioanalytics specialisation will train you in translational systems approaches for diagnostic biomarker discovery, in studying innovative treatments, and in analyzing novel vaccine candidates. You can also specialise in analytics for forensic toxicology, and in -omics approaches to find and study next-generation drug targets and disease models at the molecular level. Advanced bioanalytical approaches centered around high-resolution chromatography and electrophoresis, and state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, are crucial techniques that you will learn in this specialisation.

The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and a large selection of elective courses that allow you to personalize the study programme towards your interests. This will prepare you for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in our bioanalytical labs or with one of our external partners (e.g. pharma, biocompanies and -institutes).

Mandatory courses for Bioanalytics (18 EC):

  1. ADMET (6 EC) 
  2. Advanced Bioanalytical Approaches (6 EC)
  3. Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

Optional courses:

  • Translational Radiopharmaceutical Sciences (6 EC)
  • Tumor Immunology (6 EC)
  • (Bio)Molecular Spectroscopy (6 EC)
  • Mass-Spectrometry (6 EC)
  • The Human Microbiome in Health and Disease (6 EC)

Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

*the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

  • Molecular Pharmacology

    Summary

    Study the interaction of biological active molecules with their target

    In the Molecular Pharmacology specialisation you will investigate the interaction of biological active molecules (small molecule or an antibody [biological]) with their target. The research focuses on ligand-receptor interactions, modulation of signal transduction pathways, and novel concepts like ligand-independent receptor signaling, biased signaling and receptor dimerisation. You will learn concepts of molecular biology and pharmacology and use innovative imaging and biophysical approaches.

    The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs.

    Mandatory courses for Molecular Pharmacology (12 EC):

    1. ADMET (6 EC)
    2. Drug Target Biochemistry and Signaling (6 EC)
    3. Advanced Pharmacology (6 EC)

    Optional courses:

    • Computer-Aided Drug Design and Virtual Screening (6 EC)
    • High-Throughput Screening (6 EC)
    • Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

    Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

    *the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

  • Synthesis of Drugs

    Summary

    Creating new molecules with interesting biological activities

    Within the specialisation Synthesis of Drugs you will be working with a team of enthusiastic researchers in our modern labs equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to synthesize novel molecules that have exciting biological activities.

    You can create new drug-like molecules that have clinical potential by using synthetic medicinal chemistry and developing structure-activity relationships that will improve drug design. You can also make molecules that will be valuable as chemical biology probes (tools) that will be used by molecular pharmacologists and toxicologists. If your focus is on radiopharmaceuticals, you will work with experts from the Molecular Imaging Center of the University Hospital to synthesise molecules as tracers in Positron Emission Tomography imaging studies.

    The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs or with one of our external partners (e.g. biotech companies and -institutes).

    Mandatory courses for Synthesis of Drugs (18 EC):

    1. Physical Organic Chemistry (6 EC)
    2. Spectroscopic Approaches in Medicinal Chemistry (6 EC)
    3. Synthetic approaches in medicinal chemistry (6 EC)

    Optional courses:

    • Computer-Aided Drug Design and Virtual Screening (6 EC)
    • ADMET (6 EC)
    • Translational Radiopharmaceutical Sciences (6 EC)
    • Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

    Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

    *the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

  • Molecular Toxicology

    Summary

    Develop better ways to test for drug safety

    Within the Molecular Toxicology specialisation you will learn how chemicals are processed in the body and how they can interfere with cellular and biological processes. This includes biological systems involved in biotransformation and transport of xenobiotics, adaptive stress response pathways, and toxicity mechanisms. In this specialisation you can work with recombinant proteins, liver microsomes, human liver and renal cell models as well as differentiated iPS cells and use a wide range of high-end technology platforms, such as HPLC-MS, High Content Imaging and Seahorse.

    The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs.

    Mandatory courses for Molecular Pharmacology (18 EC):

    1.  ADMET (6 EC)
    2.  Molecular and Cellular Toxicology (6 EC)
    3.  Advanced course on Molecular Toxicology (6 EC)

    Optional courses:

    • Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animal Experiments in Biomedical Research: From Origins to Implementation (6EC)
    • Human cells in culture (6 EC)
    • Advanced Bioanalytical Approaches (6 EC)
    • Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

    Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

    *the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

  • Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD)

    Summary

    Computational tools to improve molecular understanding

    VU Amsterdam has a world-renowned reputation in the area of computational sciences and in the specialisation Computer-Aided Drug Design you will use our state-of-the art computational infrastructure and emerging computational technologies to understand the molecular features leading to biological activity.

    You will explore the fascinating structures of proteins and other drug targets, using methods such as molecular docking, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and free-energy calculations. Even before a molecule has been created and tested, you will be able to predict whether it is likely to have medicinal applications. You can focus on the development of new computational methodology to study ligand-protein interactions and develop more accurate molecular simulation methods. Alternatively, you can focus on CADD applications in the field of drug design, molecular pharmacology or toxicology.

    The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises two mandatory courses (2x6 EC) and there is a list of elective courses that allow you to tune the study programme towards your own interests and prepare for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in one of the specialised labs.

    Mandatory courses for Computer-Aided Drug Design (18 EC):

    1. Data Management in Drug Discovery (6 EC)
    2. Computer-Aided Drug Design and Virtual Screening (6 EC)
    3. Biomolecular Simulation in Drug Discovery (6 EC)

    Optional courses:

    • Structure & function in medicinal chemistry
    • ADMET (6 EC)
    • Biomolecular Simulations in Medicinal Chemistry and Toxicology (6 EC)
    • Drug Target Biochemistry and Signaling (6 EC)

    Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

    *the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

  • Bioanalytics

    Summary

    Do you have a passion for bioanalytics, analytical -omics, drug discovery and are you interested in understanding the molecular basis of diseases?

    Learn how to design, develop and apply bioanalytical sciences to study biomolecular mechanisms related to health and disease, and to analytically characterize next generation low-molecular weight drugs and biopharmaceuticals. The Bioanalytics specialisation will train you in translational systems approaches for diagnostic biomarker discovery, in studying innovative treatments, and in analyzing novel vaccine candidates. You can also specialise in analytics for forensic toxicology, and in -omics approaches to find and study next-generation drug targets and disease models at the molecular level. Advanced bioanalytical approaches centered around high-resolution chromatography and electrophoresis, and state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, are crucial techniques that you will learn in this specialisation.

    The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. This specialisation will be part of your first year of study and comprises three mandatory courses (3x6 EC) and a large selection of elective courses that allow you to personalize the study programme towards your interests. This will prepare you for a major research traineeship (42-60 EC) in our bioanalytical labs or with one of our external partners (e.g. pharma, biocompanies and -institutes).

    Mandatory courses for Bioanalytics (18 EC):

    1. ADMET (6 EC) 
    2. Advanced Bioanalytical Approaches (6 EC)
    3. Biopharmaceuticals & Biopharma Proteomics (6 EC)

    Optional courses:

    • Translational Radiopharmaceutical Sciences (6 EC)
    • Tumor Immunology (6 EC)
    • (Bio)Molecular Spectroscopy (6 EC)
    • Mass-Spectrometry (6 EC)
    • The Human Microbiome in Health and Disease (6 EC)

    Visit the Study guide* for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

    *the current name of the Master's programme, Drug Discovery and Safety, is still mentioned here. From academic year 2023-2024, this Master's programme is called Drug Discovery Sciences.

Which second year specialisation do you choose?

Find out what the different possibilities are within the second year of this Master's programme

Summary

Gain experience for a career in Research

The second-year Research specialisation focuses on Drug Discovery and Safety Research. With this specialisation, you will gain experience for a career in research, both within a university (PhD) and in the pharmaceutical industry. Besides a major research project, you will also conduct a minor research project. The specialisation also offers space to follow elective courses from the Drug Discovery and Safety Master’s programme. You can also use this elective space to conduct research during a second internship abroad. 

The Research specialisation is the only one that offers an optional double degree programme. The first year of your Master’s, you study at VU Amsterdam. The second year, you follow courses and complete an internship at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. You can choose the Research specialisation in your second year.

You will conduct a major and minor research project. In addition, there is space to follow elective courses. 

Visit the Study guide for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

Summary

Bridge the gap between science and society

Science in Society is a transdisciplinary major that provides tools and strategies for understanding and approaching complex societal problems related to scientific and technological development.

Science in Society (SiS) is a collaborative programme (60 EC) of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). It teaches students how to identify, analyse and manage complex societal problems. The programme is concluded with an internship in which the student applies the acquired knowledge and skills.

For more information about the courses, internship, job opportunities or other questions, please have a look on the Science in Society page.

Summary

Become a reflective science communication practitioner

Science Communication is a transdisciplinary major that gives you insights in the fundamentals of science, communication and science communication.

You develop an in-depth understanding of communication processes between scientists of different disciplines, between different sciences and their stakeholders, and between science and citizens. The major (60 EC) is open to students of most two-year masters at the Faculties of Science of VU Amsterdam and UvA.

For more information about the courses, internship, job opportunities or other questions, please have a look on the Science Communication page.

Summary

Motivate & inspire students as a teacher in the STEM disciplines - This specialisation is taught in Dutch. 

During the specialisation Secondary Education Teacher Training for STEM Disciplines, you will learn how to transfer your knowledge and motivate and inspire students in your field of study, whether it is Geography, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology. For computer science, there is another route: the one-year teacher training programme. The courses for this teacher training specialisation are taught in Dutch and your teaching qualification will be valid in the Netherlands.

As a teacher, you make an important contribution to the future of young people, society and education in the Netherlands. In our knowledge economy, specialists in the area of knowledge transfer are indispensable. With an abundance of jobs in secondary education, obtaining a teaching qualification guarantees job security and—flexibility—because in addition to being a teacher, you are also a scientist in your field.

The teacher training programmes at VU Amsterdam are unique because of their modular structure that is built around 20 themes (core practices). You will apply these teaching practices directly in the classroom, as you will be working in a school for more than 50% of your study programme. At VU Amsterdam, personal attention and individual guidance are top priority. You will have a mentor from VU Amsterdam and a workplace supervisor who is an experienced first-degree subject teacher.

With this specialisation, you will obtain a specialist Master's degree in a STEM discipline and a first-degree teaching qualification (eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid).  This means that in two years, you will be qualified to teach both lower and upper secondary vocational education (HAVO/VWO) and pre-university education (VMBO) in the Netherlands. All teachers in the STEM disciplines are also qualified to teach the STEM elective NLT (Nature, Life and Technology). 

The teacher training specialisation in the STEM disciplines starts every academic year in September and February, unless you are following a Master's programme in Ecology, Earth Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, or Biomedical Technology and Physics. Within these Master's programmes, you can only start the specialisation in September.

Second year

What makes you unique as a STEM teacher? We explore your strengths as a teacher while focussing on personal attention, customisation and guidance. You will follow an integrated programme, which includes a practical component (internship) in secondary education and didactic theory at VU Amsterdam. You will be taught general didactics related to core practices as well as specific subject-related didactics for your school subject. The theory is always applied and tested in practice at the school where you conduct your internship. You will start immediately with the practical component. Internships are arranged by VU Amsterdam.

You can find the complete course overview in the study guide

  • Research

    Summary

    Gain experience for a career in Research

    The second-year Research specialisation focuses on Drug Discovery and Safety Research. With this specialisation, you will gain experience for a career in research, both within a university (PhD) and in the pharmaceutical industry. Besides a major research project, you will also conduct a minor research project. The specialisation also offers space to follow elective courses from the Drug Discovery and Safety Master’s programme. You can also use this elective space to conduct research during a second internship abroad. 

    The Research specialisation is the only one that offers an optional double degree programme. The first year of your Master’s, you study at VU Amsterdam. The second year, you follow courses and complete an internship at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

    The Master’s in Drug Discovery and Safety is a two-year programme. You can choose the Research specialisation in your second year.

    You will conduct a major and minor research project. In addition, there is space to follow elective courses. 

    Visit the Study guide for course descriptions and the year schedule. 

  • Science in Society

    Summary

    Bridge the gap between science and society

    Science in Society is a transdisciplinary major that provides tools and strategies for understanding and approaching complex societal problems related to scientific and technological development.

    Science in Society (SiS) is a collaborative programme (60 EC) of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). It teaches students how to identify, analyse and manage complex societal problems. The programme is concluded with an internship in which the student applies the acquired knowledge and skills.

    For more information about the courses, internship, job opportunities or other questions, please have a look on the Science in Society page.

  • Science Communication

    Summary

    Become a reflective science communication practitioner

    Science Communication is a transdisciplinary major that gives you insights in the fundamentals of science, communication and science communication.

    You develop an in-depth understanding of communication processes between scientists of different disciplines, between different sciences and their stakeholders, and between science and citizens. The major (60 EC) is open to students of most two-year masters at the Faculties of Science of VU Amsterdam and UvA.

    For more information about the courses, internship, job opportunities or other questions, please have a look on the Science Communication page.

  • Secondary Education Teacher Training for STEM Disciplines

    Summary

    Motivate & inspire students as a teacher in the STEM disciplines - This specialisation is taught in Dutch. 

    During the specialisation Secondary Education Teacher Training for STEM Disciplines, you will learn how to transfer your knowledge and motivate and inspire students in your field of study, whether it is Geography, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology. For computer science, there is another route: the one-year teacher training programme. The courses for this teacher training specialisation are taught in Dutch and your teaching qualification will be valid in the Netherlands.

    As a teacher, you make an important contribution to the future of young people, society and education in the Netherlands. In our knowledge economy, specialists in the area of knowledge transfer are indispensable. With an abundance of jobs in secondary education, obtaining a teaching qualification guarantees job security and—flexibility—because in addition to being a teacher, you are also a scientist in your field.

    The teacher training programmes at VU Amsterdam are unique because of their modular structure that is built around 20 themes (core practices). You will apply these teaching practices directly in the classroom, as you will be working in a school for more than 50% of your study programme. At VU Amsterdam, personal attention and individual guidance are top priority. You will have a mentor from VU Amsterdam and a workplace supervisor who is an experienced first-degree subject teacher.

    With this specialisation, you will obtain a specialist Master's degree in a STEM discipline and a first-degree teaching qualification (eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid).  This means that in two years, you will be qualified to teach both lower and upper secondary vocational education (HAVO/VWO) and pre-university education (VMBO) in the Netherlands. All teachers in the STEM disciplines are also qualified to teach the STEM elective NLT (Nature, Life and Technology). 

    The teacher training specialisation in the STEM disciplines starts every academic year in September and February, unless you are following a Master's programme in Ecology, Earth Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, or Biomedical Technology and Physics. Within these Master's programmes, you can only start the specialisation in September.

    Second year

    What makes you unique as a STEM teacher? We explore your strengths as a teacher while focussing on personal attention, customisation and guidance. You will follow an integrated programme, which includes a practical component (internship) in secondary education and didactic theory at VU Amsterdam. You will be taught general didactics related to core practices as well as specific subject-related didactics for your school subject. The theory is always applied and tested in practice at the school where you conduct your internship. You will start immediately with the practical component. Internships are arranged by VU Amsterdam.

    You can find the complete course overview in the study guide

Internships

You will conduct your major internship in one of the internationally renowned research groups within the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences at VU Amsterdam, other (academic) institutes or at a company in the Netherlands or abroad. If you conduct your internship at the VU, a PhD student or a postdoctoral researcher will supervise you, and you will be part of a research group, including work discussions and colloquiums.

If you choose the Research specialisation in your second year, you have the option to conduct a second internship at, for instance, a company or an academic institution. Just as with the major internship, this can be performed in the Netherlands or abroad. You can arrange a foreign research internship relatively easily through ULLA, the European Consortium for training in the Pharmaceutical Sciences. The consortium has grants available for Master’s students from ULLA member institutions who study as exchange students at ULLA partner institutions. The Master’s coordinators and other staff members from the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences can also help you find an opportunity to study abroad, either within the academic world or in the pharmaceutical industry.

Double degree programme

VU Amsterdam offers a double degree programme for students enrolled in the Drug Discovery Sciences Master’s programme. The first year of your Master’s, you study at VU Amsterdam. The second year, you follow courses and complete an internship at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. This programme is only available when you choose the Research specialisation.

Application for this programme is open to DDS students, but involves a selection procedure. Students who successfully complete the double degree programme will be granted a Master of Science degree from VU Amsterdam, as well as from the University of Copenhagen.

Change your future with the Drug Discovery Sciences programme

Change your future with the Drug Discovery Sciences programme

After completing this Master’s programme, you can choose to join a PhD programme or directly enter the job market. As a graduate in Drug Discovery Sciences, you can start work as a medicinal chemist, as a product manager at a pharmaceutical company or as a researcher at a hospital laboratory. There are also plenty of opportunities within research institutes and governmental agencies.

Explore your future prospects
Researchers in a lab

Want to know more?

Do you have any questions about the curriculum of this programme?

If you have any questions regarding this Master's programme, please contact the programme coordinator Stefan Dekker by sending an email to: s.j2.dekker@vu.nl