Pharmacology BSc (Hons)
BSc Hons Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they affect the human body and other living systems. If you love performing experiments in a lab and want to work in an industry that improves the lives of millions of people, this BSc (Hons) Pharmacology degree is for you.
You'll deepen your chemistry and biology knowledge as you study how drugs – such as painkillers, antibiotics and even caffeine – alter the body's systems.
You'll investigate why people's bodies respond differently to the same drugs and look at how new medicines are developed, tested and launched.
You'll have the opportunity to further enhance your career prospects and workplace skills by applying to do a sandwich year in industry. An optional module allows you to study the business side of the pharmacology industry.
When you graduate, you'll be set for a career or further study in areas such as new drug development, medical writing, regulatory affairs and pharmaceutical marketing.
Live Q&A – Pharmacy and biomedical science
Come along to our Live Q&A on YouTube with course leader, Helen Hull. Ask Helen your questions about pharmacy and biomedical science, find out more about the course and about studying with us.
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This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology.
You can also apply for Associate Membership of the Royal Society of Biology when you complete the course. This gives you membership benefits including access to professional networks and conferences.
95% Graduates in work or further study (Unistats data on DLHE, 2017)
92% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2020)
BSc (Hons) Pharmacology degree entry requirements
Qualifications or experience
- BCC-ABB from A levels, or equivalent, to include Biology or Chemistry, plus a second pure Science subject or Mathematics. Applied Science not accepted. For A levels which include a separate science practical component, a pass is desirable and may strengthen an application.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Use our pharmacology, chemistry and microbiology laboratories
- Explore the latest techniques and methods for diagnosing and treating diseases, such as using DNA drugs, and investigate how cells communicate with each other
- Use our high-tech specialist facilities, which include live cell imaging, spectroscopy equipment, chromatography instruments, molecular modelling facilities, chemical synthesis facilities, and confocal, electron and fluorescence microscopes
- Develop transferable skills you can use in all areas of your life and career, such as communication, team working, decision making and time management
- Have the opportunity to learn a language and earn credit towards your degree as part of the University's Institution-Wide Language Programme
You can also:
- Apply your learning in the workplace on a laboratory-based work experience module and on a sandwich year in industry, boosting your career prospects (subject to successful applications)
- Join one of our internationally-recognised research groups
- Apply to the Erasmus+ exchange scheme, which involves a summer research placement at a European university
Students and staff at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedicine talk about our Pharmacology BSc (Hons) course at the University of Portsmouth
I chose the University of Portsmouth because it was a really friendly place. The lecturers have an interest in you, you can have a chat with them, there’s an open door policy and they’re always there to help you if you need it.
As part of the Pharmacology course I was allowed to go on an Erasmus placement in Madrid. You put all the years that you’ve had training to be a pharmacologist and you put all that into it and that represents you. It is definitely well worth it.
In every unit we have a practical. All of the lecturers make sure that the experiments that we are doing will give us some kind of skill, that they know we can use later on in a different area of our career. Lecturers are more than willing to help you and picking their brain will definitely benefit you in the long run.
For those students that are thinking of studying pharmacology as a course at the University of Portsmouth, have fun along the way, think about the opportunities you’ve been given to do those experiments and just to be in university, and go to the library and study!
Careers and opportunities
From the medicines in your bathroom cabinet to the drug combinations used to treat cancer, the work of pharmacologists plays a crucial role in society. So there's always demand for pharmacology graduates.
With your degree in pharmacology, you could start a career in any part of the pharmaceutical industry, including:
- Drug development and testing
- Medical writing
- Marketing and sales
- Regulatory affairs
Roles you could do include:
- Clinical trial assistant/administrator
- Pharmacovigilance officer
- Research and development scientist/technician
- Secondary school teacher (with additional training)
- Regulatory executive
- Operations scientist
- Research associate
You can also continue your studies at postgraduate level on a PhD, MRes or MSc programme.
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work. After you graduate, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years as you advance in your career.
Work experience and career planning
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, this course includes an optional sandwich year in industry (subject to a successful application).
Our Careers and Employability service can also help you find additional relevant work experience during your course. We can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities, including a summer research placement at a European university, that will complement your studies.
The responsiveness of the professors to any questions is very helpful and their support has prepared me for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.
Sophie is President of our Pharmaceutical society, and wants to eventually complete a PhD in the field. Find out why Sophie is thriving at the University of Portsmouth.
What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Pharmacology degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
Due to changing circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may need to make changes to courses to ensure your safety and to ensure compliance with Government guidelines. We'll provide you with as much notice as possible of any such changes. Your course leader will inform you of these. Changes may include things such as modules being taught in teaching block 2 instead of teaching block 1 and teaching activities occurring in smaller group sizes.
Modules currently being studied
Core modules in this year include:
- Cells to Systems
- Introduction to Formulation
- Introduction to Neuroscience and Pharmacology
- Key Skills
- Laboratory Skills and Analytical Techniques
- Pharmaceutical Chemistry
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Biomedical Toolbox for Pharmacologists
- Immunology, Inflammatory Diseases & Infective Organisms
- Neuroscience, Endocrine and Gastrointestinal Pharmacology
- Pharmacokinetics & Data Analysis
- Respiratory, Renal & Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Optional modules in this year currently include:
- Business for Biosciences
- Enzymes and Metabolism
On this course, you can apply to do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in the pharmaceutical industry.
We'll help you find work placement opportunities that fit your situation and ambitions. If you successfully secure a placement, you’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Antimicrobial and Antineoplastic Agents
- Cellular & Molecular Drug Targets
- Drug Development & Clinical Pharmacology
Optional modules in this year currently include:
- Erasmus+ Laboratory Based Work Experience
- Laboratory Based Work Experience
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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- Diagnostic tests
- Written assignments
- Oral and poster presentations
- Online tests
- Group-based assessments
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
Teaching activities on this course include:
- Practical laboratory work
- Guided reading
All of the modules you'll take are fully supported by online lecture and study materials, and our academic staff will share their expertise in practice and research.
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.
For more about the teaching activities for specific modules, see the module list above.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
At university, as well as spending time in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars and tutorials, you’ll do lots of independent study with support from our staff when you need it.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your pharmacology degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, workshops and tutorials for about 13.5 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
It's divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- Teaching block 1 – September to December
- Assessment period 1 – January (and early February for some courses in 2020/21 only)
- Teaching block 2 – January to May (February to May for some courses in 2020/21 only)
- Assessment period 2 – May to June
Extra learning support
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get face-to-face support from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.
Learning support tutors
You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
Academic skills support
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- Academic writing
- Note taking
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Presentation skills
- Working in groups
- Revision, memory and exam techniques
If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from the faculty librarian for science.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Tuition fees (2021 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – awaiting confirmation
- International students – £17,600 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
You’ll get free safety equipment at the start of the course. However, you may have to pay a small amount to replace lost or damaged equipment.
If you take optional work-based learning units, you’ll need to pay for travel to and from placements, which normally costs around £50.
How to apply
To start this course in 2021, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – B210
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS or apply directly to us (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.