International Master of Science in Sustainable Drug Discovery

S-DISCO is a two-year Master programme, organised by four European universities: Ghent University, Medical University of Gdańsk, University of Lille and the University of Groningen. The programme focuses on drug discovery from a sustainability perspective.

Master's Programme
2 year 120 credits
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
download brochure 
About the programme
Programme summary
Find out more
Off to a good start
After graduation


This master programme focuses on drug discovery, the challenging phase in the life cycle of a medicine that precedes first-in-human studies and clinical development. The programme is unique in that it will pay notable attention to sustainability, an aspect that currently receives little attention in traditional educational programmes in this area. Sustainability boundaries, including environmental, ecological and socio-economic dimensions, add an extra level of complexity to drug discovery, but are of increasing importance to competent authorities and the society at large.

The S-DISCO programme, coordinated by Ghent University, is a two-year Master programme consisting of logically aligned modules with stepwise build-up knowledge, skills and competences. By applying case-based learning, it will stimulate students to integrate, connect, confront and reconcile multi-perspective ways of looking at sustainable drug discovery.

For whom

The admission requirements vary. Depending on your prior education, you are either able to enrol directly, or there are additional requirements.


The International master S-DISCO is a two-year study programme (120 ECTS) in English: 90 ECTS (semesters 1-2-3) consist of face-to-face and online learning and 30 ECTS (semester 4) are dedicated to a master thesis.

The programme is preceded by a one-week summer school at Ghent University, starting with a half-day assessment of the selected candidates (compulsory), in order to help them identify sub-optimal starting competences. While one unit (i.e. Scientific communication) will be compulsory for all students, two additional units will be assigned to each student based on the results of the assessment.

The first semester follows immediately after the summer school at Ghent University and will introduce the students to the broad perspectives and basics of sustainable drug discovery. At the end of the first semester, students will go to Lille for the S-DISCO day, organized at the University of Lille. During this day, students will be exposed to the research activities of doctoral, postdoctoral and senior researchers.

The second semester will take place at the Medical University of Gdańsk, comprising more in-depth courses on e.g. molecular modelling, omics and green analytics.

The third semester takes place at the University of Lille or the University of Groningen. The different stages in the drug discovery process up to drug development are discussed, i.e. screening, target identification and validation, hit-to-lead, preclinical studies up to first-in-human trials. By selecting the appropriate mobility track, students will be able to become more proficient in certain aspects of drug discovery by benefitting from the specific expertise of the selected partner university. In Lille the focus will lie on sustainable sources, hit-to-lead and target validation, while in Groniningen it will be on green chemistry, lead-to-patient and pharmacokinetics.

The final semester is dedicated to the execution and writing of the master thesisn which will be performed under the supervision of a lecturer of one of the four consortium universities and will preferentially take place at an international (incl. non-academic) partner worldwide.

Labour Market

Our graduates will be trained to find creative and innovative solutions for the various challenges in the pharmaceutical field. Emphasis is on the crucially important discovery phase, taking into account environmental, ecological and socio-financial sustainability aspects. Workforce shortages exist for almost every position within the pharmaceutical and related industries, and scientists with the skills offered by our Master programme are extremely in-demand by the industry. Moreover, both national medicine-competent authorities as well as international agencies, such as EMA, FDA or WHO, will look for our high-level graduates. The same is true for civil society organizations, such as NGOs, working in this field. Finally, our graduates will have acquired useful competencies for further academic studies, i.e. Ph.D., thereby deepening the drug discovery field while propagating the sustainability viewpoint in pharmaceutical research and education.