Pharmacology BSc (Hons)
BSc Hons Pharmacology
If you love performing experiments in high-tech labs and want to study alongside researchers who are doing important work to understand how diseases such as Covid-19 spread and evolve, this BSc (Hons) Pharmacology degree is for you.
Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they affect living systems. Using specialist facilities, you'll deepen your chemistry and biology knowledge as you study how drugs – such as painkillers, antibiotics and even caffeine – alter the body.
You'll set yourself for a fulfilling career working in an industry that improves the lives of millions of people. You could work in areas such as new drug development, medical writing, regulatory affairs and pharmaceutical marketing.
- Explore the latest techniques and methods for diagnosing and treating diseases
- Investigate how cells communicate with each other and why people's bodies respond differently to the same drugs
- Look at how new medicines are developed, tested and launched
- Enhance your CV on a laboratory-based work experience module and on a sandwich year in industry (subject to successful applications)
- Have the opportunity to do summer research placement at one of our partner universities overseas
90% of graduates in work or further study 15 months after this course (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19)
No.12 in the UK for pharmacy and pharmacology courses (The Guardian University Guide, 2022)
This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment.
Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.
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.
Students highlight what they like about this Pharmacology BSc (Hons) course.
Teodora: I chose the University of Portsmouth because it was a really friendly place.
Luke: 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.
Teodora: 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.
Luke: Lecturers are more than willing to help you and picking their brain will definitely benefit you in the long run.
Teodora: 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!
- A levels – ABB–BBC
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
- International Baccalaureate – 30–31
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.
Electron microscopy and microanalysis unit
Develop your practice in high-magnification imaging and analysis of natural and manufactured materials with microscopy, diffraction, laser-ablation and mass spectrometry equipment.
Develop a better understanding of the causes and consequences of diseases in these labs, as well as the skills and expertise needed to develop and test new drugs.
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.
What can you do with a pharmacology degree?
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
You could specialise in a particular area of pharmacology, such as:
- cardiovascular pharmacology
- animal pharmacology
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.
Previous graduates have gone on to work for organisations including:
- Barts Health NHS Trust
- Hammersmith Medicines Research
- PharmaTargeting – a research house
- Reckitt – health, hygiene and nutrition products
- Molecular Dimensions – a supplier of specialist lab equipment
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.
Sophie is President of our Pharmacological Society, and wants to eventually complete a PhD in the field. Find out why Sophie is thriving at the University of Portsmouth.
Sophie: I love studying Pharmacology at Portsmouth because there's a really great community of students and lecturers.
After graduation, I'm hoping to do a Masters of Research in Drug Discovery and then after that hopefully I'll be doing a PhD and then working in a lab in a pharmaceutical company.
I'm president of the Pharmacological Society, we run loads of really cool events which are both social and academic.
I would definitely recommend Portsmouth to any students who wants to go into further education, it's not only a great university academically, there's a great community feel here, you get great student support, so I'd definitely recommend it.
Work experience and placement year
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, this course includes an optional sandwich year in industry and an optional lab-based work experience module (both subject to a successful applications). You could also do a summer research placement at a European university.
Previous students have completed work placements at organisations including pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Catalent.
Our specialist team of Science and Health Careers advisors can help you with finding a work placement and improving your employability skills. They'll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search – including help with applications and interviews – and support throughout your placement year.
I travelled to France and took part in a three-month lab work experience collecting all of my data for my third year dissertation work.
What you'll study
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, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.
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:
- 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.
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.
The responsiveness of the professors to any questions is very helpful and their support has prepared me for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.
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're assessed
- 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.
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.
We're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.
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.
Supporting your learning
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 support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Types of support
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.
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
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK) for 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 require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to:
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
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.
Course costs and funding
Tuition fees (2022 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £18,300 per year (subject to annual increase)
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
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 2022, 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
See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. 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.