Undergraduate School

Pharmacology

B210 BSc Pharmacology
B219 MBiol, BSc Pharmacology (Integrated Masters)

Pharmacology offers great diversity and covers the cutting-edge specialities of modern pharmacology. This degree programme will give you a sound scientific understanding of how and why drugs successfully treat the whole spectrum of human diseases and also how they can produce unwanted effects.

drug researchThis course offers:   

  • exciting and current topics e.g. the "arms race" between antibiotics and drug-resistant bacteria; medicines for the world-wide heart disease epidemic and the challenges and innovative approaches necessary for treating brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and depression
  • the chance to study in a Faculty ranked 4th in the UK for research in biological sciences by the leading scientific journal ‘Nature’ based on the numbers of staff producing research that was “world leading or internationally excellent”


Pharmacology offers a fantastic opportunity to excel in a rapidly evolving and up-to- the minute discipline.

What is Pharmacology?

Many pharmacology students go on to medicine-related careersPharmacology is the science of medicines and other drugs:

  • how and why they work
  • where they work
  • what our bodies do to them

It is an essential arm of most medical disciplines as it covers all aspects of health and disease. By studying pharmacology, knowledge of physiological processes is directed into developing drugs to target disorders of the human body caused by bacteria and viruses or even man-made mutagenic chemicals.

Did you know? The word pharmacology comes from the Greek pharmakos meaning medicine or drug and logos meaning study.  

As a disease- and medically- based area of biological science, modern pharmacology covers an almost endless array of possibilities of career specialism. Pharmacology can be combined with virtually any other area of biological science, these include:

Cardiovascular pharmacology

Researchers study the actions of drugs to treat common disorders such as high blood pressure and heart failure.
Cardiovascular disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent and within the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Leeds we have world-leading researchers looking at the scientific basis of these disorders from the molecular to the gross physiological level.

Neuropharmacology

An exciting and challenging topic area combining neuroscience and pharmacology. Research in this field first looks at how a healthy human brain actually works to try to further understand the many disorders that can affect this vital organ, and ultimately, how we can find successful drug treatments for them.

The brain is a very complex organ and this area of pharmacological research particularly illustrates how the study of pharmacology incorporates many of the areas of life sciences such as physiology, anatomy and neuroscience. To produce successful treatments we must first understand the biological basis of bodily systems both in health and disease states.

Depression & schizophrenia: Psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder and schizophrenia are very complex mental disorders, and seriously affect the normal functioning of individuals suffering from them. In particular they affect the ability to socially interact and severely change the way we think and feel. Ultimately, research to produce better drugs for these disorders may help us understand fundamental questions about ourselves, such as the way that we think and how we make sense of the world around us.

Alzheimer's: Alzheimer's disease affects around 420,000 people in the UK. It is named after the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer who first described the disorder and is a disease affecting the brain. It is classed as a neurological disease and has a definite 'neuropathology' or identifiable cause, in that 'plaques' or 'tangles' of protein develop in the brain which then cause brain cells to die. People with Alzheimer's tend to get progressively worse as, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, the symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and mood swings become more severe and ultimately the person affected can no longer look after themselves. There is a clear and immediate need to understand and treat disorders such as this.

Chemotherapy

Researchers study the ways that certain drugs can have selective toxicity by killing invading organisms or cancer cells but do not harm healthy cells.
Although chemotherapy is a very broad term used to describe drugs with selective toxicity to a whole range of invading micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi and even worms), it is probably better known for the treatment of cancer. However, more recently chemotherapy's other use has taken a more centre stage with respect to the increasingly prevalent drug resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus more commonly known as MRSA.

Toxicology

Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms and is a vital part of the drug discovery process. As toxicology is the study of chemicals on living organisms it is used extensively in the area of criminal forensics to try to find out if people have been poisoned, either accidentally or on purpose!

Further examples include molecular pharmacology, pharmacogenomics, toxicology and many, many more.

Important note: Pharmacology is commonly confused with pharmacy. Pharmacy is a completely separate profession, mainly concerned with the preparation and dispensing of drugs.

Why study pharmacology?

Pharmacology is a constantly evolving scientific discipline and novel drugs are being discovered at an ever-increasing rate. The next generation of pharmacologists are urgently required and this presents an ideal opportunity to train as a scientist in a medically-orientated field that could lead on to a career with a truly global impact.

As a pharmacologist you will look into new ways to treat illnesses and ask questions such as:

  • How and why can a drug make one person better but cause another to fall ill?
  • How does the human body change drugs and how do we get rid of them?
  • How does drug resistance in bacteria evolve e.g. MRSA?
  • Can we find a simple and effective drug to stop obesity?
  • How can we understand the human brain and produce drugs that cure mental illness?

Will you be the person who finds a cure for cancer ?



Entry Requirements

2014 entry requirements

BSc Pharmacology - UCAS code B210

A Level or Advanced Higher: AAA-ABB from 3 A2/Advanced Higher including Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry plus another science or science-related subject. Critical Thinking and General Studies excluded.

We consider applications on an individual basis and an offer will depend on the information given on your UCAS form. Applications are assessed from a combination of the following; the balance, nature and quality of A2, AS and GCSE subjects (or equivalents); the referee's comments and your personal statement.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF): DDD in Applied Science plus Distinctions in 10 of the following units: Fundamentals of Science, Scientific Investigations, Scientific Practical Techniques, Perceptions of Science, Mathematics Calculations for Science, Using Statistics in Science, Physiology of Human Body Systems, Physiology of Human Regulation and Reproduction, Genetics and Genetic Engineering, Biomedical Science Techniques, Physiological Investigations, Diseases and Infections

International Baccalaureate: 35-34 (with 18-16 at higher level) including 6 in higher level Biology or Chemistry and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Irish Leaving Certificate: AAAAAB-AAABBB including an A in higher level Biology or Chemistry and another science at higher level.

Scottish Higher: Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

Cambridge Pre-U: D3/D3/D3-D3/M2/M2 including Pre-U Biology or Chemistry plus one other science or science-related subject.

Science subjects: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
Science- related subjects: Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, ICT, P.E, Psychology, Science in Society, Statistics and Sports Science.

BSc (Hons) Pharmacology with Industrial Placement

If you are interested in this programme, apply via UCAS for the standard BSc programme above. We will provide you with further details of the placement and study abroad schemes in year one, and you can transfer at the end of year two (subject to academic performance).

Read more about Industrial Placements

BSc (Hons) Pharmacology with Study Year Abroad

If you are interested in this programme, apply via UCAS for the standard BSc programme above. We will provide you with further details of the placement and study abroad schemes in year one, and you can transfer at the end of year two (subject to academic performance).

Read more about Study Year Abroad

MBiol, BSc Pharmacology (Integrated Masters) - UCAS code B219

A Level or Advanced Higher: AAA from 3 A2/Advanced Higher including Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry plus another science or science-related subject. Critical Thinking and General Studies excluded.

International Baccalaureate: 35 (with 18 at higher level) including 6 in higher level Biology or Chemistry, and another science or science-related subject at higher level.


Irish Leaving Certificate: AAAAAB including an A in higher level Biology or Chemistry, and another science at higher level.


Scottish Higher:
Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

Cambridge Pre-U: D3/D3/D3 including Pre-U Biology or Chemistry, plus one other science or science-related subject.

Applications are assessed from a combination of the following; the balance, nature and quality of A2, AS and GCSE subjects (or equivalents); the referee's comments and your personal statement.

Science subjects: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
Science- related subjects: Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, ICT, P.E, Psychology, Science in Society, Statistics and Sports Science.

Duration of the course 3 Years Full Time (B210)
4 Years Full Time (B219)
An Industrial Placement or Study Year Abroad will add a year to the duration of the course
English language requirements If English is not your first language, please check our minimum English language requirements. UG brochure 2014
Admissions policy Download our Admissions Policy for 2014 entry. (PDF format). This includes information on the application process, our admissions intake and the selection process.

Admissions enquiries

Maureen Cummings:
Tel. +44/0 113 343 4226
Email: fbsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk

Admissions tutor

Dr. Charlotte Haigh:
Tel. +44/0 113 343 4226
Email: biomed.admissions@leeds.ac.uk

Department

Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School

Programme Leaders

Dr Dan Donnelly

Course brochure

Download a course brochure

BSc Course Structure

In the first and second years, lectures, practicals and tutorials are the most important forms of teaching. You will have lectures and tutorials each week, and regular laboratory sessions. In the final year, you will be able to choose your favourite topics to study under the guidance of leading experts; your research project will take up about one third of your time with the rest devoted to lectures and tutorials. Formal examinations are held twice a year, in January and May/June, to spread the assessment load.

Qualification Course Title Duration
BSc Pharmacology 3 years
BSc Pharmacology with industrial placement year 4 years
BSc Pharmacology with a study year abroad 4 years
MBiol, BSc Pharmacology 4 years
MBiol, BSc Pharmacology with industrial placement year 5 years
MBiol, BSc Pharmacology with a study year abroad 5 years

Modules

All degree programmes are modular and offer wide choice.

Modules may be core (you have to take them), optional (you can choose from a list of alternatives) or elective (you have a free choice); the balance depends upon your year and programme of study. We offer a wide range of modules. Examples include:

Pharmacology Year 1

Introduction to Pharmacology

The module will include an introduction to the principles of how drugs produce beneficial effects in disease and how drug action is quantified. The lectures will provide explanations of how drugs such as curare produce muscle paralysis, an effect that is useful in general anaesthesia; how adrenaline stimulates the heart; why Botox is a biological warfare agent and a cosmetic treatment and why beta blockers are widely used in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Foundations of Biomedical Sciences

This module will give students a basic understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the main human body systems, together with how pathology and pharmacology can alter them. This should provide students with the understanding and ability to describe, the structure and function of body components, and how they interact, at a basic level.

Biology of the Mind

This module will introduce students to the workings of the nervous system and will cover all major aspects of neuroscience from a basic level. The module will take students on a journey starting with the development and evolution of the nervous system through the anatomy and physiology of neurons, exploring sensory/motor systems and culminating in discussion of higher cognitive functions. During the module, relevant neuroscience techniques will be explained. There will also be an introduction to the major disorders of the nervous system.

Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills

This module will initially cover the basic laboratory and numerical skills that are essential to proper understanding of experimental work in biomedical science and development of some basic laboratory skills. It will then extend further to develop many more transferable skills such as data handling, scientific report writing, oral communication, poster presentation and team work skills.

Human Endocrinology

This module covers the anatomy and pathophysiology of the main endocrine systems, including the endocrine pancreas; the thyroid; the parathyroids; the adrenal gland and its disorders; the hypothalamus and pituitary as well as reproductive endocrinology and fertility.

Pharmacology Year 2

Principles of Drug Discovery

This module is directly relevant to understanding how major drug companies develop new drugs. It examines molecules interact and the structures of classical drug targets. It then moves onto the measurement of drug-receptor interactions and the analysis and interpretation of those interactions. Drug screening technologies, from the simple to the sophisticated will also be covered along with the core strategies for drug development including principles of lead optimization, preclinical and clinical testing and knowledge of key principles such as pharmacokinetics.

Cardiorespiratory Physiology & Pharmacology

The module covers the activity of the heart and lungs and their functions, and considers central and peripheral neural and hormonal control mechanisms involved in the maintenance of respiration, blood pressure and blood flow through tissues. Mechanisms are considered in relation to normal physiological circumstances as well as in challenging situations such as high altitude, haemorrhage and shock. Integrated within this module is a description of the detailed mechanisms of action, effects and adverse properties of the various major drugs that affect the heart, vasculature and respiratory systems. The module covers the activity of the heart and lungs and their functions, and considers central and peripheral neural and hormonal control mechanisms involved in the maintenance of respiration, blood pressure and blood flow through tissues. Mechanisms are considered in relation to normal physiological circumstances as well as in challenging situations such as high altitude, haemorrhage and shock. Integrated within this module is a description of the detailed mechanisms of action, effects and adverse properties of the various major drugs that affect the heart, vasculature and respiratory systems.

Introduction to toxicology

Most people already know a great deal about toxicology without realizing it. This module will help you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the adverse effects of chemicals so that you can form your own opinion about the potential harm that exposure to chemicals may cause. You will be introduced to the history of toxicology and to the principles of the subject. You will learn about poisons, some famous poisoners, the treatment of poisoning and how toxins from animals, micro-organisms and plants produce their deadly effects. There will be an opportunity to research the toxicology of some important environmental contaminants and industrial chemicals.

Experimental techniques in Pharmacology

This module is an investigative laboratory based module running over two semesters. In Semester 1, students learn the principles of experimental design. Practical exercises focus on the use of biochemical techniques and their application to the study of drug action. Practicals are also included to familiarize students with some of the methods used in molecular biology and culturing mammalian cells and bacteria. In Semester 2, the emphasis will be on the use of isolated tissues to study the actions of drugs. Students are introduced to the methods used to: a) prepare viable tissues; b) evoke and record responses from isolated tissues and c) analyze response data in graphical form.

Neuropharmacology

In this module students will study the pharmacology of a wide range of disorders that affect the nervous system, focusing on a wide range of clinical examples of disorders including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, psychiatric disorders, sleep disorders, epilepsy and drugs of abuse. You will also study the drugs used to alleviate pain including clinically used opioids and anaesthetics, and other drugs which act on the nervous system.

Topics in pharmacology

In this module students will be exposed to a variety of important discoveries and concepts in pharmacological research, which will enrich their understanding of the whole area of biomedical sciences. Students discuss key topics in biomedical sciences with the guidance of experienced researchers, and communicate their findings in tutorial sessions. The tutorial sessions allow students to examine areas of specific interest more closely, providing a solid foundation for understanding of current research topics in their final year.

Neurobiology

This module covers the structure and function of the human central nervous system and its control of a range of physiological processes including neurotransmission; pathways responsible for the sensation of pain, touch, audition, smell and vision. As well as the pathways responsible for voluntary movement, and the mechanisms for maintaining balance and upright posture.

Pharmacology Year 3

Drug discovery preclinical to practice

Have you ever wondered where drugs come from? How they are tested to ensure they work and are safe to use? This module addresses these questions through lectures and role play in a fictitious pharmaceutical company.

Advanced Scientific Skills

A tutorial based module dealing with advanced scientific data analysis and interpretation. Many of the topics in this module are related to the research strengths and interests of the Faculty.

Advanced topics in Pharmacology 1 and 2

Students are able to choose a minimum of five topics from a shortlist of subjects which reflect current research in the pharmacological sciences.

Inherited Disorders

The syllabus will comprise of a general introduction to the study of inherited disorders and the general principles involved in the study of a diverse range of inherited disorders. Web-based resources will be used for these studies, and each student gains excellent transferable skills in oral presentation or written report writing.

Systems Neurophysiology

The module System Neurophysiology is aiming for a broad understanding of neural circuits of the brain. The main focus of twelve lectures is on the emotional motor system. This includes the integration of sensory information from the body in brainstem circuits controlling homeostatic functions. Later the links and interactions between the brainstem functions to the limbic system which controls the emotions is further explored in detail to reveal the current knowledge of the fundamental organization of the body and mind interface.

Module Details

This link takes you to detailed information (on another part of the University of Leeds website) about this degree for the 2012/13 academic year. Please bear in mind that programme details may change and that entry requirements refer to previous years.

Research Projects

Final year students choose an individual project from a wide range of topics to suit their interests and career aspirations. The project is an original study which may be laboratory-based or a critical review of the literature. Alternatively, students may develop an educational package for use in teaching or a “Science and Society” activity for communicating our science to the general public. All projects are supervised by an academic member of staff. These projects are an important way for students to learn about independent scientific research and develop important skills for future employment. Recent examples include:

Ion channels in stem cells

Dr Alex Cheong: Stem cells? you must have heard of these fantastic cells. These cells can retain the ability to renew themselves and can differentiate into a wide range of specialised cell types. What this project offers is the opportunity of a lifetime, to be in an exciting and controversial area of research. The project involves characterising the ion channels that are found in stem cells (channels that allow the passage of ions in and out of the cells) and compare their expression to differentiated cells, namely smooth muscle cells. There are many transferable laboratory skills developed during the course of this project but specifically the techniques will involve molecular biology, qPCR and cell staining.

The physiological role of amyloid β protein in neuronal development and survival

Dr Hugh Pearson: Although amyloid β protein (Aβ) has a suggested role as a neurotoxic peptide in the Alzheimer's disease (a disorder of the brain), its role as a physiologically produced peptide has been largely overlooked. Recent evidence from several laboratories including our own suggests that Aβ is essential for neuronal survival and may be important early in development of the brain. In this project, the student will study this physiological role using a variety of neuronal and non-neuronal cell types. Cell survival, development and growth will be measured using a variety of biological detection methods and the effects of removing endogenous Aβ will be assessed using drugs to alter Aβ production. Cell signaling pathways used by Aβ and the exact mechanism by which Aβ maintains the survival of neuronal cells will be investigated. The results of this study has important implications for the design of Aβ-interacting drugs in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

MBiol Course Structure

To find out more about how the MBiol differs from the BSc programme, download our PDF guide to MBiol degrees.

Visit the Studying with us pages to find out more about studying in the Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School.

Please be aware that course details do change from time to time. ...

... If in doubt, please contact us to verify course content and availability. Whilst the University endeavours to ensure that the information on this website is accurate at the date of publication it does not accept liability for any inaccuracies. The University reserves the right to change or cancel its courses or services at any time without liability even after students have registered at the University. The University's contract with its students does not confer third party benefits for the purposes of Contracts (Right of Third Parties) Act 1999.

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Teaching and Assessment

Pharmacology student Keturah in the lab Our approach to teaching and learning is based around developing your knowledge and skills, and training you to be independent and to think critically. This means that you will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials with additional timeallocated to private study, project work and laboratory practicals, the balance of which will vary through your course and as you become more confident and experienced. At Leeds you will learn in many different ways:

Typical timetable (3 year BSc)

  • A typical week in year one includes twelve hours of lectures, a three hour practical session in the lab, additional tutorial, workshop and seminar sessions, plus private study.
  • Year two consists of around eight to ten lectures per week, four hours in the lab either on a single practical or ongoing project, additional tutorial, workshop and seminar sessions, plus private study time.
  • In year three you will have around eight lectures per week and tutorial and seminar sessions (Semester One). Your research project will take around three days per week (Semester Two), you will also attend three to six lectures per week, plus private study time.

Assessment

We use a variety of assessment methods including:

  • reports
  • multiple-choice testing
  • practical work
  • data handling and problem-solving exercises
  • group work
  • discussion groups (physical and online),
  • computer-based simulation
  • essays
  • posters
  • oral presentations.

Current assessment details for each individual module can be accessed via the programme catalogue.

Careers

Pharmacology graduates enjoy excellent career prospects as their training opens up opportunities in scientific and non-scientific careers alike. Our Pharmacology programmes foster the development of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers throughout the world.

"I work in the pharmaceutical industry for Renovo - a company that specifically researches new ways of preventing and reducing scarring. Without my experience at Leeds I wouldn't have been considered for this role . My tutors helped me to develop the skills I needed to give me a footing in the industry, such as laboratory techniques and report writing."  

Jessica Lindo, BSc Pharmacology 2007, now a research associate at Renovo

student in pharmacology research labPharmacology Careers

View scientific careers

In the pharmaceutical industry, medical sales, medical writing. Pharmacology can be combined with virtually any other area of biological science which means modern pharmacologists can pursue careers within an almost endless array of specialisms.

View non-scientific professions

Some of our graduates go on to non-scientific careers, such as patent law, accountancy and graduate business training.

View further study

Many graduates embark on further study especially those choosing pharmaceutical research careers e.g. PhD, MSc, medicine, dentistry.

Careers Support

Faculty careers events

We organise regular careers workshops especially for biological sciences students. We also organise an annual Bioscience Careers Networking Event, offering a chance to meet bioscience employers, speak to alumni, attend workshops and get masses of information. Browse the careers fair photo gallery.

University Careers Service

Our on-campus Careers Centre is one of the largest in the country, with experienced advisers and strong relationships with graduate recruiters. The Careers Centre will help you to find out how to develop your employability right from the start and provide support after you graduate. Find out what the Careers Centre has to offer. .

Gaining work experience

Work experience is increasingly important in a competitive job market and Leeds offers many opportunities to gain experience and develop skills valuable to employers, including our industrial placement and year abroad schemes, laboratory placement schemes, and volunteering via Leeds for Life.

Industrial Advisory Board

Our Industrial Advisory Board gives employers the chance to input directly into programme and module content. This ensures that our programmes include appropriate training and skills so that our students and graduates are desirable to a broad range of graduate employers.

Join a global network of Leeds graduates

A remarkable variety of opportunities result from our relationships with our graduates, including access to the Leeds Graduate Careers Network.

Recent graduate jobs include:
Recent graduate employers include:
  • Clinical Effectiveness Coordinator
  • GP Registrar (following further study)
  • HIV/Aids Project Coordinator
  • Medical Information officer
  • Project Officer
  • Covance
  • NHS
  • Professional Information Ltd
  • VSO Rwanda

Read about more BSc Pharmacology graduates...

See more graduate profiles.

For more information on our approach to graduate employability, please see: www.leeds.ac.uk/employability

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Students' Experiences

Keturah Darbyshire

Keturah did an Industrial Placement at AstraZeneca.

Keturah Darbyshire"My placement year was undoubtedly the best year of my life. I really enjoyed my project work and the experience I gained, especially of working in a large, well-known pharmaceutical company."

 


James O'Brien

James O'Brien"The highlight of my time at Leeds has been working in the labs, researching and experimenting"

 


 

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