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Pharmacology BSc(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time B210 2017
4 years full time including sandwich year B211 2017
4 years full time including foundation year B212 2017
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2017
Joint honours: see course combinations for UCAS codes

Why choose this course?

This course explores how chemicals – in particular, drugs – interact with living systems both in health and disease. It focuses on biological rather than chemical processes, and addresses the curriculum requirements set out by the British Pharmacological Society. The course includes the option to undertake an extended period of work experience. 

You can choose to study Pharmacology on its own or in combination with Business. See the course combinations for more information.

Professional recognition

This course meets the core curricular requirements set out by the British Pharmacology Society (BPS) – the professional association for pharmacologists and one of the leading pharmacological societies in the world.

What you will study

Year 1 gives you an essential understanding of how the human body works, and provides the knowledge that underpins the study of pharmacology. You will gain a comprehensive overview of physiology from the cellular to organ-system level, as well as chemistry, genetics and molecular biology. The Scientific and Laboratory Skills module gives you training and confidence in a number of laboratory techniques. 

Year 2 introduces pharmacology as a distinct subject, including the action of drugs at their target sites and the actions of the body on drugs once they've been administered. The Systems Pharmacology module covers drugs acting on the major organ systems of the body, including the cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal, renal, respiratory and endocrine systems. Further coverage of immunology, microbiology and molecular biology enables you to study relevant disease and its treatment. A module in pharmacological principles and research skills and methods prepares you for undertaking your independent research project during Year 3.

Year 3 aims to provide further in-depth study of pharmacology – drugs used to treat cancer and infectious diseases; drugs acting on the brain and peripheral nervous system, such as analgesics and anaesthetics; novel drugs used to treat degenerative brain diseases; and the mechanisms of action of drugs of abuse. You will have the opportunity to investigate current concepts in the biomolecular sciences, as well as the option to study bioinformatics and molecular genetics. An independent research project enables you to specialise within a particular area of interest.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

  • This module introduces basic cell biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, molecular, organismal and population genetics, germ layers and basic tissue types in the human body, and a variety of microorganisms. The laboratory work incorporates selected current techniques used to study cells, tissues, chromosomes and microbial organisms.  

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the major cell components and discuss their functions in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in molecular, population and evolutionary genetics.
    • Perform simple calculations relating to inheritance and population genetics.
    • Display a basic knowledge of the early development and structure and functions of major tissue types in the human body.
    • Recognise and discuss the characteristics of a variety of medically important microorganisms.
    • Demonstrate a comprehension of selected current techniques in light microscopy, histology, cytogenetics and microbiology and explain their relevance in employability.
  • The Chemical Foundations of Life
  • This module provides a foundation in general scientific and laboratory skills. In addition, the module includes basic research skills such as practical skills in the laboratory, the principles of experimental design and the statistical analysis of data.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Manage their time to become effective independent learners.
    • Exhibit competence in basic numeracy and scientific calculations, and to statistically analyse and interpret data.
    • Use word processing and spreadsheet packages to present text, graphics and data competently.
    • Write succinct scientific reports with appropriate referencing.
    • Locate contemporary research publications both in text and electronic format.
    • Explain the theory behind biological experimental design, carry out basic laboratory procedures safely and accurately, and demonstrate the application of good laboratory practice.
  • This module introduces fundamental physiological concepts which underpin the co-ordinated functioning of the human body, including homeostasis, cellular communication and movement of molecules through body compartments. The module progresses through to the main physiological systems of the body to include the nervous, muscle, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, renal and digestive systems.

    On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental physiological concepts.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the functioning of selected human physiological systems, and an appreciation of some of the experimental observations from which this knowledge is derived.
    • Write clear explanations of physiological mechanisms.
    • Understand how to perform simple physiological experiments and clearly and accurately record, analyse and interpret experimental data.
    • Demonstrate skills that will enhance employability.

Year 2

  • This module further develops the knowledge of genes, cells and tissues and explores more advanced concepts in cell and molecular biology. The module provides an insight into the structure and function of cells, and takes an integrated approach to looking at how cells respond to changes in their environment - from receptor interactions and intracellular signalling pathways through to the regulation of gene expression and changes in cellular processes.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Explain cell structure and function and the techniques that have allowed them to be determined.
    • Describe in molecular detail cell cycle processes and cell death.
    • Discuss the structure and function of receptor proteins and mechanisms of intracellular signal transduction.
    • Evaluate the role of DNA packaging, chromatin modification and epigenetic mechanisms in the regulation of gene expression.
    • Discuss processes involved in DNA replication, transcription, translation and the regulation of gene expression.
    • Interpret data related to practical and theoretical aspects of the module.
  • This module further develops the scientific and research skills to enable the study of research methods deployed in pharmacology and associated industries. The module introduces basic concepts of pharmacodynamics (how drugs take their effect at given targets) and drug disposition/pharmacokinetics (the effect the body has on administered drugs) whilst considering outcomes that lead to individual variability in drug response. The principles of toxicology, how drugs are discovered and developed; the role of the pharmaceutical sector/regulatory bodies in this process are also covered.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Appreciate the importance of experimental design in pharmacological research, and select, apply and interpret appropriate statistical tests for data analysis.
    • Locate, analyse and critically evaluate research papers, and demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues relating to biological and pharmacological research.
    • Present concise, analytical and objective scientific information relating to pharmacology in the form of essays, reports, scientific literature reviews, posters and/or oral presentations.
    • Reflect on your personal and academic skills, and to research potential employment opportunities in the pharmacological and related industries, demonstrating an awareness of the attributes and skills needed to achieve your aspirations.
    • Describe the general principles of pharmacology and toxicology, indicating the targets for drug and toxicant action, and the processes by which the body can affect the fate of such agents.
    • Discuss the factors leading to individual variability in drug / toxicant response altering therapy outcomes and adverse drug events.
    • Describe how pre-clinical and clinical evaluation of new drugs is conducted, including ethical considerations, and to be able to critically evaluate data from such studies.
  • This module aims to extend existing knowledge of the structure and function of microbiological agents in health and disease and the immunological responses raised as a consequence by the human body. Microbiological processes will be examined along with methods of controlling the organisms responsible in the laboratory environment as well as within a patient. The module also deals with the  different cells and organs of the immune system and how these function and interact to protect the body from infection. An introduction to molecular processes and signalling events that are important in communication between cells of the human immune system are studied.

  • This module complements concepts delivered in Principles of Pharmacology with Research Methods and its application to a number of physiological system disorders. The main focus of the module is to study and discuss the disease pathophysiology and the types of drugs used in therapy of such disorders, alongside a rationale for their usage and any associated side effects.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Discuss the clinical indications for, mechanisms of action and adverse effects produced by drugs acting on inflammatory responses and the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, endocrine and nervous systems (peripheral and central).
    • Critically evaluate experimental design and results generated.
    • Assess research based literature, and evaluate current state of knowledge of drugs acting on physiological systems

Optional sandwich year

Year 3/4

  • This module considers the scientific basis of recent technological advances in biomolecular science through selected example of contemporary scientific research and its impact on society. The module consolidates previous knowledge in order to demonstrate the application of theory to current research, developments in the bioindustry and the effect of advancements on society. In addition, the module looks at the interaction of science and the media, public engagement and how this can guide scientific policy and the challenges facing the bioindustry, including intellectual property rights, bioethics and enterprise.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the scientific basis underlying selected recent advances in biomolecular science.
    • Identify and critically evaluate the impact of selected recent advances in biomolecular science on society and the challenges facing the bioindustries.
    • Interpret and critically assess the role of intellectual property rights, bioethics and enterprise in translational research.
    • Recognise the role of communicating scientific information to the public and its effect on public engagement and scientific policy.
    • Develop and apply scientific and professional skills to enhance employment opportunities along with a demonstrated knowledge of the diverse employment opportunities within the biomolecular sciences.
  • This module provides an opportunity to learn about the various chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of both infectious and neoplastic disease. Treatments for infectious diseases will cover drugs that have actions on bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, while the neoplastic disease therapy will include a range of different cancers, including both solid and blood cancers. The lectures will focus on the mode of action, side effects and mechanisms of resistance of both antimicrobials and anti-cancer drugs.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Critically analyse the rationale for the choice of chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of specific infectious/neoplastic diseases.
    • Describe the side effects associated with the use of chemotherapeutic agents.
    • Discuss the theoretical and practical considerations relating to the use and testing of chemotherapeutic agents.
    • Discuss the mechanisms thought to be responsible for resistance to chemotherapeutic agents in micro-organisms and cancers.
    • Demonstrate the ability to acquire, evaluate and communicate information from a variety of sources.
    • Perform and evaluate appropriate practical microbiological skills.
  • Molecular Genetics and Bioinformatics
    This module introduces the processes involved in maintaining genome stability, causing genome variability and controlling the coding potential of the genome. Mutation, recombination and transposition, and the interplay between them, are examined as causes of genome instability. The two main themes of the module are the impact of genome instability/change upon gene expression, and its control. An introduction to bioinformatics and sequence analysis with the use of sequence databases and analysis tools permits the analysis of gene/genome variability with an introduction to the importance of bioscience research, including molecular diagnostics and drug development.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the processes by which genetic information may be altered, including by mutation, recombination and transposition.
    • Discuss and explain the regulation of gene expression.
    • Demonstrate practical skills involved in the investigation of the genome and analysis of the regulation of gene expression.
    • Identify and discuss basic bioinformatics databases, including their structures, properties and relationships.
    • Critically evaluate the key techniques used to search databases, to carry out pairwise and multiple sequence alignment and to predict protein or gene structure.
    • Demonstrate appropriate IT skills to enable students to research the theoretical aspects of the module.
    • Produce detailed, coherent, scientific reports.

    Brain and Behaviour
    This module is research-driven and will provide a thorough background in the fields of neurophysiology and neuropharmacology and introduce a range of current topics in neuroscience, selected from such areas as cellular and molecular neurobiology, sensory and motor systems, cognitive neuroscience and degenerative neuropathologies. The module implements current research techniques and deals with how to critically evaluate and discuss different ways of studying the brain.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Explain key cellular and molecular processes in neurobiology, and investigate selected processes experimentally.
    • Discuss the function of human sensory and motor systems in health and disease.
    • Carry out and interpret laboratory experiments in selected areas of neuroscience.
    • Critically evaluate current clinical and scientific literature on neurological diseases and their treatments.
    • Assess selected experimental techniques used in neuroscience.
  • This module forms a major part of the degree; involving several types of projects that may be offered; a laboratory project, a library-based dissertation, or the production of a multimedia resource from blended learning or a website contributing to public engagement with science or public health awareness, with accompanying documentation. The project will require a review and critical evaluation of data generated from the determined research sources and culminating in a written report.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Devise, develop and implement a plan of research.
    • Undertake a critical and analytical evaluation of research literature; acquire primary and/or secondary sources of information and data; analyse and evaluate data and other sources of information.
    • Prepare a structured, critical evaluation of a research topic in the form of a written report.
    • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of a selected research topic both orally and in writing.
    • Demonstrate key communication skills (written and oral) and appropriate ICT skills. Present scientific information in a variety of contexts and to different audiences. You will be expected to demonstrate independent learning skills throughout the course of the module.  Numeracy skills will also be required to successfully acquire, analyse and/or evaluate data.

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Study abroad as part if your degreeMost of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

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