Postgraduate Diploma in (Bio) Pharma Processing

University College Cork (PDBPP)
Key Programme Details

Postgraduate Diploma

NFQ Level

9 About NFQ

Delivery Method

Classroom - Daytime, Mixed


Part Time

ECTS Credits



School of Pharmacy

General Information

Lorna Moloney





Adult Continuing Education
University College Cork
The Laurels
Western Road


Programme Coordinator

Important Dates
Application Deadline


Start Date


End Date


About this Course

This level-9 Postgraduate Diploma will provide students with knowledge and experience covering (Bio)Pharmaceutical industrial processes, from the design and development of biological drugs, to the manufacture, purification and formulation of active drug substance. Programme content, which has been designed to meet the existing and expected needs of the industry, will produce graduates who not only have a fundamental understanding of the (Bio)Pharmaceutical sector, but additionally possess critical-thinking skills to meet the growing research and optimisation needs in the (Bio)Pharma workplace. In response to feedback received during course development, there will be a focus on technical and practical aspect of upstream and downstream processes. The course will improve the skillsets of those already employed in the industry, and provide a much needed increase in the talent pool available for employment.

Entry Requirements

A candidate must have obtained at least a Second Class Honours primary degree in a relevant Pharmacy, Science or Engineering discipline (NFQ level 8).

In exceptional cases applicants not meeting the above criteria will be considered for entry based on an interview and successfully demonstrating that they hold an equivalent professional qualification, or significant industrial experience relevant to the course.

All applicants whose first language is not English are expected to have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with no individual section lower than 6.5.

Places are limited and will be awarded on a competitive basis. Candidates may be invited to interview by the programme team to assess their suitability for the programme.

Long Description

Students will complete 60 credits as follows:

PF6610 BioPharmaceutical Technology and Processes (10 credits)
PF6605 Microbiology and Sterile (Bio) Pharmaceutical Processes (5 credits)
PF6609 GxP - Introduction to Regulatory and Best Practice Standards in the (Bio) Pharmaceutical Industry (5 credits)
PF6603 Introduction to the Principles of Formulation and Dosage Form Design (5 credits)
PF6607 Pharmaceutical Process Design and Verification (5 credits)
PF6612 Research Methods in (Bio) Pharma Processes and in the Development of Novel BioTherapeutics (10 credits)
PF6613 Introductory Statistics for the (Bio) Pharma Industry (5 credits)
PF6614 Advanced (Bio) Pharma Technology and Data Analysis (10 credits)
PF6611 Biologics: Formulation and Dosage Form Design (5 credits)

The 60 credits of content on this course is designed to facilitate science or engineering graduates who hold sufficient educational or professional experience to transition into the BioPharmaceutical sector nationally. The core programme contains nine module that provide students with foundational material relating to sterile manufacturing in the (Bio)Pharmaceutical sector, as well as applied modules relating to validation and regulation. Critically, the Postgraduate Diploma course has additional content compared to the 30-credit Postgraduate Certificate course. This reflects the increasing need for graduates who can research and optimise process, and who are capable of dealing with the management and statistical analysis of large data sets associated with In-Process Testing of biological drugs.

The course was designed with significant input from local industries, with content that reflects the changing industrial requirement for the production of drug substance for manufacturing and both clinical and non-clinical toxicology testing. It was agreed that the current combination of modules will be of interest and relevance to employed individuals wishing to upskill within the workplace environment, and improve the prospects of those wishing to gain employment.

The programme will be delivered as a combination of online distance learning, classroom, laboratory teaching and site visits that will give participants a strong practical and theoretical understanding of the processes involved in the manufacture of drug substance and drug products. Participants will be provided with teaching materials (online notes and videos) in advance of attending classroom and practical sessions. This approach to content delivery, which will enable students to work through topics in advance of attending weekly classroom sessions, or revise material post-delivery, is aimed at facilitating the learning needs of the diverse group of students that we expect to have on the course (returners to the workplace, previously self-employed, unemployed and those in employment). Practical sessions will be delivered in the state of the art pilot scale facilities in UCC and the Cork ETB BioPharma Training Centre in Carrigaline, Co.Cork.

The unemployed and returner student cohorts will be expected to register for an optional module (Transitioning into the Workplace) that provides training in professional career management skills. This module will involve career coaching, and, where possible, an experiential work placement with a local company.

Why Choose This Course

This NFQ level 9 part-time course has been developed with input from world-leading companies based in Munster, and has been designed to meet the expected shortage of appropriately skilled employees in the sector in the coming years. It combines flexible on-campus and blended on-line teaching methods to deliver workshops, lectures and practicals to students from a range of disciplines and circumstantial backgrounds. The course features significant engagement with local industry through the provision of site visits, off-campus training opportunities and guest speaker lectures. Students will have the opportunity to avail of Career Services at UCC and take a non-credit bearing module that aims to assist them in transitioning to the workplace and facilitating a placement in a local company.

Career Opportunities

As is referenced in the EGFSN’s recent report “Future Skills Needs of BioPharma Industry in Ireland’ (2016), as the BioPharma sector continues to grow, many companies are experiencing difficulties in sourcing individuals with relevant experience. Key skills identified in this report, and addressed in modules for this programme, include:

*Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
*Aseptic and sterile manufacturing
*Upstream/downstream processing
*Clean utilities
*Good Lab Practice
*Documentation management
*Quality person duties
*Regulatory filings.

Following consultation with some of our industrial collaborators, it is envisaged that applicants with a suitable primary degree, who upskill and graduate from this programme, would be in a position to apply for a variety of positions in local companies including, but not limited to:
*Process Technician
*Production Supervisor
*Quality Assurance Specialist
*Technical Services Scientist
*Validation Science
*Scientist (BioPharma)
*BioProcess Engineer
*Process Scientist (Manufacturing Support).

A dedicated UCC EMPLOYABILITY AND WORK PLACEMENT COACH will work with students on this programme and provide a tiered approach to supporting the participants with the development of their job readiness and their transition into employment. The activities of the Coach will be structured to meet the differing needs of the 3 categories of eligible applicants for the 2019 Springboard+ call: those unemployed/ previously self-employed; returners; and those in employment. Main activities will include:

1. ONE-TO-ONE CAREER COACHING to formulate Individual CAREER ACTION PLANS leading to employment: Individual career coaching will be provided for each participant to reflect on:
* Where they are now in their careers;
* Where they want to be;
* Strategies for gaining employment on completion of their Springboard+ course.
These individual coaching sessions will be customised to the needs of the student within the three categories of Springboard+ 2019 applicants.

2. JOB READINESS WORKSHOPS to complement individual coaching sessions will be built into the programme as outlined below:
* Positioning oneself for job readiness (4 workshops): Setting realistic career objectives; Understanding strengths and skills; Learning from successful role models; Developing a career management strategy.
* Moving forward into a job (4 workshops): Taking action by developing career goals and implementing them;
* Creative job-hunting both on-line and off-line; Written applications, CVs and interview preparation and Implementing career plans.
* Small Group Workplace skills training will also be delivered to help individuals with barriers to employment to gain confidence, develop the people skills and the insights needed to transition to the world of work.

3. Participants will be given the opportunity to MEET EMPLOYERS by
* Attending UCC organised recruitment fairs, jobs roadshows and other events where employers will be invited on campus to meet students;
*Attending employer-led events on building workplace competencies.
*Meet with employers for informational interviews.

Timetable Info

Lectures/workshops will be scheduled on Fridays (09:30-17.30pm) from mid-September 2019 to end July 2020.

The programme will be assessed through a variety of formal written examinations, and continuous assessment (written assignments, practical reports, MCQs).

Pre-reading for classes will be delivered online.

Delivery Location

UCC Campus

Delivery Notes

Blended Delivery

RPL Information

RPL may be used by Springboard participants applying to this course to gain admission to the programme where an applicant many not otherwise reach the standard educational qualification entry requirements.

Application Procedures

Apply online at Candidates are advised to apply early as high demand is anticipated and places are limited.

Applications will NOT be assessed until all supporting documentation has been received. Please ensure that you have the following documentation available at the time of application:

* Copies of transcripts and parchments for any previous relevant educational qualifications

* Current CV

* References where applicable

*Application statement (in no more than 500 words, please outline why you wish to study this course at UCC and explain how you meet the programme entry requirements)

* Copy of IELTS/TOEFL certificate for non-native English speakers


No fee applicable for jobseekers (unemployed and formerly self-employed) and returners (homemakers, carers, etc.).

Fee applicable for those currently in employment - €600. This fee will be collected by UCC prior to the commencement of the course.