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Guide to studying Pharmacology & Pharmacy

Of all the subjects on offer at UK universities today, few have more modern applications than the study and research of new medicinal drugs.

Two scientists working in a library


  1. What's Pharmacology & Pharmacy?

  2. Why study Pharmacology & Pharmacy?

  3. What jobs can you get with a Pharmacology & Pharmacy degree?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Pharmacology & Pharmacy?

Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural or endogenous substance.

Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing the drugs studied and produced by pharmacologists. It links health with chemical sciences to ensure safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Why study Pharmacology & Pharmacy?

You'll be at the forefront of medical research. Evaluating new generation antibiotics, solving the problems of drug toxicity, finding the best way to treat diseases – pharmacologists are pioneers.

Pharmacology students who want to gain more experience also have the opportunity to take a year out. Most courses offer fully paid chances to work in the pharmaceutical industry.

Later work tends to allow more project work and individual focus. You can turn your attention to working on drugs for particular ailments that interest you, such as Alzheimer's and autism.

Graduate prospects for the top universities in this subject area are high, meaning you're in with a great shot of professional-level employment or further study after finishing your undergraduate degree.

Most Pharmacology & Pharmacy courses last four years, and offer real-world experience working for major pharmaceutical companies – which you get paid for.

Quite a few courses not only allow a year in industry, but can allow it to be taken abroad. For most this will be in English speaking countries such as Ireland or the USA, but if you also speak a foreign language, the possibilities go further. Drug knowledge and research offer skills and knowledge that can be applied in any country or culture around the world.

One of the key benefits of studying Pharmacology & Pharmacy is the earning potential. The starting salaries are among the best across all industry sectors. With demand outstripping supply, expect at least something around the national average for graduate salaries.

Packets of antimicrobial pills

What jobs can you get as a Pharmacology & Pharmacy graduate?

A Pharmacology & Pharmacy degree opens the door for many professional opportunities, as there is a growing need for medical research into drugs and medicine.

Particular job roles include analytical chemist, clinical researcher, pharmacologist, pharmacist, teacher or lecturer, medical sales representative, science journalist or toxicologist.

Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Pharmacology & Pharmacy graduates, such as the NHS.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Pharmacology & Pharmacy have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Pharmacology & Pharmacy students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Pharmacology & Pharmacy courses tend to require high A Level grades (or equivalent) in Biology and Chemistry.

However, it depends on the institution. Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • BSc Pharmacology
  • MPharm Pharmacy
  • MSc Research in Pharmacology
  • BSc Pharmacology and Biosciences

How will you be assessed?

You'll be assessed in most courses by a mixture of coursework and written examinations. Design-based work can be assessed through presentations, team projects and group assignments.

Many students undertake a pharmacology or pharmacy research project in their final year, which includes experimental laboratory research. This is particularly useful when thinking about what to do for your future career or further study.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include straight MSc Pharmacology or MPharm Pharmacy, which are also typically available in four-year courses. Also available are courses in Specialist Healthcare, Analytical Science and Applied Drug Discovery.

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