What is Pharmacology?

Pharmacology is the science of medicines and other drugs, and how they interact with the body. 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.

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?

You should study pharmacology because it offers you the chance to understand how we discover new ways to treat illness. You will have the opportunity to ask questions such as ‘can we find a simple and effective drug to stop obesity?’ and ‘how can we understand the human brain and produce drugs that cure mental illness?’

  • The School of Biomedical Sciences scored 96% overall student satisfaction with 94% of students satisfied with teaching on their course (National Student Survey, 2015).
  • 94% of our graduates are employed or in further study six months after graduation (DLHE 2013/14).

MBiol, BSc Biochemistry (Integrated Masters) has received interim accreditation by the Society of Biology. Find out more about MBiol BSc Accreditation (pdf download).

See also: Human Physiology

Course overview

Our Pharmacology degree offers you the chance to get a broad understanding of the biomedical science disciplines, whilst also learning about how drugs are discovered and developed for human use and the unwanted effects they can sometimes cause.

BSc Year 1 BSc Year 2 BSc Year 3
  • Foundations of Biomedical Sciences
  • Basic Laboratory Scientific Skills
  • Biology of the Mind
  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Human Endocrinology
  • Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills 2
  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Physiology and Pharmacology
  • Neurobiology
  • Advanced Scientific Skills
  • Research laboratory or literature project
  • Advanced Topics in Pharmacology 1 and 2

Programme options, one from

  • Medical Microbiology
  • Introduction to Genetics
  • Introduction to Immunology
  • Philosophy of the Mind
  • Psychology
  • Extreme Human Physiology

Plus any other elective from across the University that timetables with the core modules.

Programme options

  • Experimental Techniques in Pharmacology
  • Topics in Pharmacology
  • Principles of Drug Discovery
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Exercise Biochemistry
  • Signalling In and Between Cells
  • Human Diseases
  • Introduction to Bioinformatics
  • Human Genetics
  • Medical Bacteriology
  • Medical Immunology
  • Medical Virology
  • Biomedical Nanotechnology

Programme options

  • Integrative Biomedical Sciences
  • Systems Neurophysiology
  • Drug Development
  • Pre-Clinical to Practice
  • Inherited Disorders
  • Cellular Cardiology
  • History of the Body 1
  • History of the Body 2
Total Credits: 120 Total Credits: 120 Total Credits: 120

Course changes may occur given the fast-moving nature of the field and the above is an indicative list only.

BSc year one

Year one provides the necessary background in physiology, neuroscience and anatomy to understand how the body works. You will also be taught the principles of pharmacology which are essential for understanding how to treat disease. Lectures are complimented by practical sessions to give you the skills relevant to pharmacology.

BSc year two

In year two you will focus on the drug treatments used for various diseases, including cardiovascular and brain disorders. More advanced practical classes will see you develop your pharmacological experimental skills, covering areas such as chemotherapy and toxicology.

BSc year three

Year three will see you use all the knowledge and expertise you have developed over the first two years to study advanced topics in pharmacology. You will undertake your own research project, covering a cutting-edge topic working under the supervision of a leading expert.

MBiol year three and four

In year three of the MBiol you will undertake practical classes and undertake a literature based research project to help you prepare for year four. In year four, as well as studying the latest breakthroughs in research, you will also undertake your own extended laboratory research project, further developing yourself and opening up even more career opportunities upon graduation.

Please note that year one and two are the same as the BSc for the MBiol.

To find out more about this MBiol degree programme download our guide and our overview on MBiol programmes.


Our degrees are delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practicals. The first and second year will see a focus on these three teaching methods, building your skills, understanding and knowledge for your final year research project, which will see independent research and learning complemented with the guidance of leading experts.

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.

Discover more about our teaching.

The structure of your course will depend on the pathway that you choose:


Course Title




3 years


Pharmacology with industrial placement year

4 years


Pharmacology with a study year abroad

4 years

MBiol, BSc


4 years

MBiol, BSc

Pharmacology with industrial placement year

5 years

MBiol, BSc

Pharmacology with a study year abroad

5 years


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You can use Unistats to find out what previous students thought about the course, as well as to learn about the likely costs and the kind of jobs or further study  which students who completed the course went on to do. 

It is important to remember when you use Unistats that the information here is designed to give an indication of what it might be like on the course you select.  Obviously, the experience of each course will be different for each person, and will differ from year to year.

Some of the information on Unistats, for example on student satisfaction and employment outcomes, is retrospective - and some of it, like fee information, is for the next academic year.  You should be careful to make sure that you understand which year the data relate to.