If you’re fascinated by health and how the body works then a degree in Pharmacology could be right for you.
Pharmacy and Pharmacology are closely linked degrees but you’ll leave with a different qualification depending on which one you take.
Pharmacy is the study of Medicines and taking the four year MPharm degree, which is accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, is the only way to become a registered pharmacist in the UK.
Pharmacology is the study of the actions of drugs on the human body, whether that’s medicines, toxins, or illegal substances. Essentially pharmacologists look at anything that changes how the body normally functions and how these drugs actually work.
Here’s more about studying Pharmacology and accreditations to look for when applying for a Pharmacology degree:
Similarly to Medicine degree courses you’ll need to have at least Chemistry at A Level and many universities will ask that you have an additional science subject as well – Physics, Biology, or Maths.
Grade requirements are often also on the high side – for example, Aston and the University of Glasgow both ask for AAB. Cambridge offers their Pharmacology degree as a natural sciences course and asks for A*AA, University College London asks for AAA-AAB, and Bristol asks for ABB.
Most Pharmacology courses are three years in length, and as you might expect, heavily science based.
You’ll start by building a solid grounding in the skills and knowledge you’ll need to progress through the course and into your future career.
By the end of the course you’ll be given the opportunity to branch out into diverse scientific areas and you’ll have a gained a deep understanding of the molecular mechanisms of drug actions.
Students are often given the chance to study the use of drugs to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes, anxiety, and depression.
Many Pharmacology degrees also offer students the chance to take a year away from academic study to have a year’s placement in the pharmaceutical industry.
Unlike studying to become a pharmacist, where you’ll need to take the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain MPharm course (there are 26 UK universities that offer this), there are no accreditations you’ll need as a Pharmacology student.
However, in order to maintain a high quality of teaching for Pharmacology degrees, the British Pharmacological Society has produced Core curricula as a guideline for universities offering Pharmacology courses.
The British Pharmacological Society suggests that the core curricula might be useful for the following purposes:
UK universities that offer courses where the content follows the BPS requirements include the University of Kingston.
If you’re considering studying Pharmacology and you’re concerned about your career prospects, then good news. Graduate starting salaries are generally higher than other industries – roughly £21,000 - £35,000 – and this could increase significantly once you have a few years of experience.
Staying in education and completing further qualifications (Master’s and PhD) are popular options for Pharmacology graduates and by joining a professional development programme, such as those offered by the BPS, you’ll be able to keep your skills and experience up to date throughout your career.
If you’re considering a PhD then you might like to know that the BPS offers one studentship per year to fully fund a PhD student.
They also offer a small number of vacation studentships to financially support undergraduate students who are undertaking pharmacology summer vacation research projects.
The majority of Pharmacology graduates remain in the industry, working in forensic science, health laboratories or the pharmaceutical industry. There are also non-lab based jobs available, such as marketing, product registration, or audit of quality assurance.
Common employers of pharmacology graduates include: