BSc (Hons) Pharmacology - University of Portsmouth
A Gold rating in teaching excellence Read more
BSc (Hons)


UCAS codeB210

full time3yrs

Learn how drugs affect the human body

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Pharmacology is the study of drugs – their development and their preventive functions for the human body. If promoting human health is something that appeals to you as a career, this could be the ideal course.

You’ll learn how drugs are discovered, trialled and used to treat disease while gaining the lab-based research skills essential to professional practice.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Use our modern laboratories and state-of-the-art facilities to enhance your learning
  • Opt to join one of our internationally-recognised research groups and complete a final-year project
  • Apply to the Erasmus exchange scheme, which involves a summer research placement at a European university

What opportunities might it lead to?

Do you see yourself testing new drugs? Or perhaps selling to GPs and hospitals? Whichever area of the pharmaceutical industry interests you most, this course enables you to focus on an array of specialisms leading to numerous employment opportunities within the field.

Graduates are eligible to apply for Associate Membership of the Society of Biology. This entitles them to membership benefits which include access to professional networks and attendance at conferences. Associate members are awarded the post-nominal letters AMSB.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • scientific research
  • teaching
  • scientific writing and the media
  • regulatory affairs
  • pharmaceutical sales and marketing


Katrina Belavskis, Pharmacology student

I love how the practical sessions put the theory that is learnt in lectures into practice. This course has given me an excellent base to go into research after I have finished my degree.

Katrina Belavskis, Pharmacology student


Health Sciences and Social Work

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The clinical and real-life learning approach that will equip you for your chosen career
  • Our simulated environments that mean you’ll gain and practise the skills you’ll need before entering the workplace 
  • Approachable lecturers, many of whom are teacher practitioners

Browse all courses in Health Sciences and Social Work

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

A general introduction to university level-education and to the systems of the body and the diseases that affect them.

Core units in this year include:

  • Introduction to Neuroscience and Pharmacology
  • Cells to Systems
  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Key Skills
  • Introduction to Formulation
  • Laboratory Skills and Analytical Techniques

Year two

During the second year you will explore drug treatments for diseases affecting a broad range of organ systems.

Core units in this year include:

  • Biomedical Toolbox
  • Immunology,Inflammatory Diseases and Infective Organisms
  • Neuroscience, Endocrine and Gastrointestinal Pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics and Data Analysis
  • Respiratory, Renal and Cardiovascular Pharmacology

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Protein Science
  • Business for Bioscience
  • Institution-wide Language Programme

Year three

In your final year you will consider future targets for drug discovery and focus on a research project of your choice.

Core units in this year include:

  • Antimicrobial and Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cellular and Molecular Drug Targets
  • Drug Development and Clinical Pharmacology
  • Neuropharmacology

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Laboratory Based Work Experience
  • Project

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical laboratory work and guided reading. Our academic staff have expertise in clinical practice as well as research, and we provide a student-centred approach to teaching, with all units fully supported by online lecture and study materials.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 28% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 72% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 28% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 72% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 32% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 68% studying independently and 0% on work placement


On this course there is a balance of formal examinations and coursework. You will be expected to complete coursework throughout the year, whereas exams take place at the end of the academic year. Here’s how we assess you:

  • diagnostic tests
  • written assignments
  • simulated patient-focused case studies
  • oral and poster presentations
  • online tests
  • group-based assessments

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 40% by written exams, 23% by practical exams and 37% by coursework
  • Year two students: 55% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 37% by coursework
  • Year three students: 50% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 47% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr Sassan Hafizi
Health Sciences

I am a strong proponent of research-informed teaching, where I try to communicate to students a range of information on a topic, from the historical background to the latest research-led developments that further your knowledge. For teaching, I employ the formats of lecture, laboratory practicals, seminars, tutorials, journal article discussions, and problem-based learning sessions.

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Facilities & Features


Due to the significant practical element of the course, you’ll be spending a lot of your time in our pharmacology, chemistry and microbiology laboratories. Using our advanced labs, you will be exploring new techniques in the diagnosis and treatment of disease such as DNA-drug and drug-protein interactions, as well as investigating novel therapeutic targets and cell signalling. This is one of our strongest areas of research and you’ll benefit from high-quality facilities to match.

Scientific Equipment

We have an outstanding array of microscopy facilities and excellent analytical instrumentation facilities in our labs, including:

  • confocal, electron and fluorescence microscopes
  • chemical synthesis facilities
  • live cell imaging
  • spectroscopy equipment
  • chromatography instruments
  • molecular modelling facilities

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

You will be issued with safety equipment and audience response handsets free of charge at the start of the programme (fees of £100 apply if not returned in good condition at the end of the course).


If you undertake optional Work-Based Learning units you will be required to pay for travel to and from placements. This will be in the region of £50.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

As a pharmacologist you may be involved in developing and testing new drugs for therapeutic and toxic effects, or organising clinical trials of drugs. You may be registering new products, ensuring that regulatory requirements are met or could move into medical sales and the development of marketing strategies. There are many routes you can pursue within the medical field or specifically in the pharmaceutical industry. Alternatively, there’s also the option to continue with postgraduate study or academic research.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Clinical Research Associate
  • Teaching
  • Medical writer/research executive
  • Development technician for prosthetics
  • Medical representative

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

At the final stage of your course, you’ll carry out a laboratory-based project with the opportunity to compete for a limited number of industry-based projects and Erasmus placements. Such opportunities help to develop your skills in laboratory research and confident presentation of scientific findings. This can be an important foundation if you intend go on to postgraduate study or research. It is also a great way to gain first-hand experience of industrial and professional environments.

If you are lucky enough to secure an Erasmus placement – ask anyone who has taken a study/work abroad programme and they will tell you that it was one of the best experiences of their university life. This fun and challenging experience will not only improve your language skills and ability to communicate with a range of people, but you will become more adaptable and resilient – qualities that will undoubtedly make you stand out to future employers.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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Portsmouth PO1 2UP

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