Pharmacology BSc(Hons) 2017-18

This course also available for 2018-19 entry

Want to join us in September? You can now apply via Clearing


Here’s what student Eleanor has to say about her course in the subject area of Biological Sciences.

Biological Sciences ‌Find out more about Biological Sciences at Huddersfield


About the course

Pharmacology focuses on how drugs work and how they are used for the treatment of disease. To prepare you for careers in pharmaceutical industries, the health sector and research you will learn about the drug discovery pipeline and challenges and opportunities associated with new medicine delivery to treat major chronic and infectious diseases affecting the today's global population. Our advanced programme of lecture and practical-based study will include neurodegenerative disease and other conditions affecting ageing populations – cancer, heart disease, diabetes and immunological disorders. You will study infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, and illnesses arising from emerging and antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

All our teaching staff are educated to doctoral level in their respective subject areas and have expertise in most areas of biological sciences. You'll also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience using scientific instrumentation in our modern biological sciences labs. In the third year of your course, you'll also have the chance to benefit from a work placement. This could help you to gain relevant real-world experience and enhance your future employability prospects.

Course scholarships available – up to £3000. More details.

UCAS code:

Start date:
18 / 09 / 2017


3 years full-time
4 years inc. placement year

Course type:

Full Time inc. placement year


Clearing helpline:
03301 232 277

Course content

Watch our Biological Sciences subject area video to hear how student Eleanor has found her course at Huddersfield.

Pharmacology emphasises how drugs work and are used in the treatment of disease. The course aims to develop your technical and scientific competence along with your deductive, analytical and communication skills. The course has a modular structure that allows you to follow your own interests. In the final year you'll have the opportunity to undertake an extended research project in the laboratory with expert supervision.

Year 1

Core modules:

Molecular and Cellular Biology

The module is designed to give a basic introduction to cellular biology and genetics. You’ll have the opportunity to study the cellular basis of life, comparing the simple prokaryotes with much more complex eukaryotic cells - looking at the structure and function of many of the sub-cellular organelles. You’ll also be introduced to simple Mendelian genetics, together with more complex linkage analysis and its use in identifying genes. You will be assessed by coursework and exam.

Biochemistry 1

This is a fundamental module for all biological sciences courses. Lectures and seminars provide insight into (i) the structure and function of biological macromolecules, including proteins and DNA; (ii) the processes by which the central biochemical pathways make energy, and build new cells from raw materials. Basic concepts in metabolism and metabolic regulation are introduced to show how biochemistry underpins a multitude of processes from athletic performance to human disease. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Physiology 1: Structure and Function

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to normal and abnormal human bodily functions. The module introduces basic physiological concepts and the clinical relevance of these will be highlighted using clinical examples. This insight into human physiology is designed to enhance your understanding of related subject areas such as pharmacology . A variety of teaching activities will be used on this module including lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes. The laboratory sessions help you to gain basic laboratory skills in physiological measurement through assessed written practical reports. You’ll also be assessed by a final examination.

Research Skills

This module enables you to develop the requisite background skills for successful completion of an Honours degree in which understanding of scientific research methods plays an important part. The type of skills that you’ll be encouraged to develop during the year can be divided into two areas, numerical skills and information and communication skills. The numerical skills component begins with some basic mathematical skills such as rearranging equations and working with logarithms and exponential data. You’ll then be introduced to a variety of statistical methods during lectures and tutorials. Assessment is by a series of coursework.

Medical Pharmacology

This module will provide an introduction to drug action in the body and an introduction to basic pharmacokinetics with respect to how the body deals with a drug. Drugs used for treating disorders of the gastrointestinal system, skin, musculoskeletal system as well as for the eye, ear, nose and throat will be considered

Pharmaceutical Chemistry 1

This module will lay the foundations for the study of those aspects of chemistry that are necessary in order to understand the science behind the discovery and use of medicines of chemical synthetic and plant/natural origin. The importance of physicochemical principles and the use of physical and chemical tests and analytical methods (principles, design, development and application) will include an introduction to infra-red, ultra-violet and mass spectrometry and also NMR. In the second half of the module, the chemistry and properties of the principal functional groups will be considered to highlight how physical, chemical and drug properties can be predicted.

Year 2

Core modules:

Research Skills 2

Understanding and interpreting modern scientific data and literature is an important skill needed for modern careers in biological sciences. This module is designed to help you to develop key research and presentation skills that help prepare you for your final year research project, and also for interviews and careers in science. Topics are individually selected with guidance from the module leader. The main objective is to develop the core scientific skills of researching appropriate peer-reviewed literature, interrogating the primary research, meta-analysis and then building a detailed and focused report and scientific presentation.

Cell Biology

This module is an extension of the Molecular & Cellular Biology) module. You’ll be encouraged to study both cells and tissues in some depth, paying particular attention to the complex ways in which cells have evolved to communicate with each other at both intercellular and intracellular levels. You’ll also compare connective tissues and epithelial tissues, paying particular attention to the extracellular matrix proteins, which give each type of tissue is own unique properties. The module is assessed by an extended practical report and an examination.

Physiology 2: Control and Integration

Physiology is the study of how the body works. It uses information from disciplines ranging from biochemistry to anatomy to explain how cells work and form organ systems, which are integrated to enable the body to function. In your first year you’ll have had the opportunity to learn about basic physiological concepts. This second year module covers the control and integration of physiological functions by the nervous and endocrine systems. Practical laboratory classes complement the lectures and tutorials. The module is assessed by reports and an exam.

Molecular Aspects of Drug Action

The module will start with an overview of fundamental concepts in pharmacology including the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of drugs (ADME). The module will then explore the molecular aspects of drug action, with detailed examples of various targets (including receptors, ion channels, enzymes and transporters). You'll then have the opportunity to investigate the theoretical relationship between ligand concentration and binding-site occupancy (Hill-Langmuir equation). This will be combined with discussion in lectures of protein-ligand interactions and what factors may influence binding affinity. You'll also have the chance to learn about biopharmaceuticals and gene therapy. The module will conclude with a brief overview of the drug discovery industry and technologies involved (chemical screen libraries, assay development), including high throughput screening. The stages of development of a new drug with details of initial lead-finding, optimization, pre-clinical development, phase I, II, III trials and regulatory approval will be discussed.

Pharmaceutics and Formulation

This module introduces students to the underpinning biophysical pharmaceutics for the formulation and compounding of medicines valuable for understanding of extemporaneous preparation, but also for the rational design of existing drug formulations. The theory outlining the formulation of drugs for improved absorption, metabolism and biological targeting will lead to a practical understanding of efficient pharmaceutical design.

Option modules: Choose one from a list which may include-

Infectious Diseases and Therapeutics

The aims of this module are to introduce you to a range of pathogens responsible for major and emerging infectious diseases globally. To outline how pathogen biology not only influences pathology and transmission of disease, but is also the target for therapeutic intervention. We'll provide you with an overview of the drug discovery pipeline and other factors involved in the control of infectious diseases. This module also covers the mechanisms of action of existing and potential new therapies and discusses the significance of infectious diseases in the context of 21st century life. It also introduces the emerging importance of the commensal microflora and the concept of dysbiosis in the aetiology of a range of pathologies.

Epidemiology and Public Health

Epidemiology is the study of epidemics in the population. In this module you’ll investigate the extent and distribution of diseases and the factors that influence these distributions. By conducting epidemiological studies we can assess factors that may be causative of diseases in the population and therefore reduce the risk. You’ll look at the different kinds of studies used to obtain such information. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Year 3 - optional placement year

Supervised Work Experience

This placement year allows you to experience employment within an organisation related to your chosen course. The placement is usually 48 weeks in duration.

Final year

Core modules:

Research Project

This module provides you with the experience of working independently on an open-ended research project depending on your career aspirations or interests. There is a choice available from a wide range of cellular, genetic, physiological and biochemical topics. You’ll be assigned to a supervisor who will give advice on both the day to day running of the project and the writing of the report. Tutorial support covers health and safety risk assessments, project planning, literature searching, writing a report and referencing. The module is assessed by coursework.

Medical Pharmacology 3

The aim of this module is to extend the knowledge of use of drugs from years 1 and 2 to the management of disorders in the CNS, endocrine and immune systems.

CNS topics will include depression, psychosis and anxiety, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Other topics will include pain and the use of opioid analgesics, CNS stimulants, psychotomimetics and the physiological basis of drug dependence and drug abuse. The mechanisms of general and local anaesthesia with reference to the CNS and the peripheral nervous system will be covered.

The endocrine system will include the pituitary gland, adrenal cortex, pancreas, thyroid and parathyroid glands and the reproductive system. There will be a focus on diabetes and obesity in the control of blood sugar and energy balance.

Pharmacology of drugs in cancer treatment will be covered. Drugs used in veterinary practice are also included to link with SHP3001..

Pharmaceutical Formulation and Drug Analysis

This module will extend the student’s understanding of pharmaceutics and biopharmaceutics and their knowledge of all the different dosage forms not covered in years 1 and 2. Different delivery methods, routes of delivery and formulation type will be individually reviewed including oral and aerosol formulations. Formulation approaches to targeting the different routes of delivery (buccal, colon, rectal, nasal ophthalmic pulmonary and transdermal) will also be covered. The structure and the nature of the barrier properties of the tissue will be discussed in terms of the advantages afforded by delivery to the site and strategies for maximising absorption. The design, manufacture and performance of modified release drug dosage forms and factors governing release kinetics from reservoir, osmotic and monolithic systems and mathematical calculations will be covered. Aspects of formulation and the importance of pharmaceutical analysis to maintain the quality, safety and efficacy of the product will be consolidated in the practicals. Pharmaceutical analysis techniques not covered elsewhere in the course-thermal analysis, Karl Fischer and rheological analysis are covered in theory and practical classes along with release testing, UV analysis, aerosol testing and particle sizing.

Innovations of Drug Design and Development

This module provides a detailed investigation of all the stages of drug development. The module begins with drug design and methods of discovery (chemical synthetic, biotechnological, animal and plant origin). The fundamentals of the pre-clinical, clinical and prescription phased trials and monitoring of new drugs will be covered, outlining the required stages and difficulties of introducing new drugs. The drug development process will be extended to an appreciation of how genetic variation may underpin personalized medicine, especially in the context of pharmacogenomic analysis. Biomarkers are used as surrogates for genotypic direction of personalized medicine and the science of these developments will be considered in detail. The pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic perspectives will be studied as well as inter-patient variation in the expression of drug metabolising/ activating enzymes and differences in expression of drug targets such as receptors, genes, enzymes and growth factors. Biometric analysis, bioinformatics and the relevant IT will be explored in relation to ‘OMIC’ technologies as applied to pharmacogenomics.

Option modules: Choose one from a list which may include-

Advanced Physiology

The module continues the theme of control mechanisms introduced in the module Physiology 2 whilst studying some physiological systems first encountered in the module Physiology 1. Major topics include renal physiology and in-utero programming of disease; the physiological basis for angiogenesis and; the regulation of transport across the gut. The module is assessed by coursework and an exam.

Immunology and Infection

After a brief introduction to the nature of the immune system, you’ll have the opportunity to study the different ways in which the body has evolved to deal with infectious organisms. You’ll pay particular attention to the function of both B and T lymphocytes and their role in fighting of bacterial and viral infections. You’ll also have the chance to study some selected infectious agents including a range of bacteria, viruses, prions, protozoa and parasites, looking at the ways that these organisms have evolved to overcome detection by the immune system. Assessment is by coursework and exam.

Medical Genetics

The module introduces you to molecular genetic and cytogenetic techniques. You'll start with DNA technology in disease, gene mapping, cloning and sequencing, and the latest modern methods for disease diagnosis, including DNA chips. You'll then move onto prenatal diagnosis, population screening and developmental mutations, and will consider the current state of gene therapy and animal models for human disease. The module focuses on two particular diseases - cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Finally, you'll have the opportunity gain further understanding of the role of ethics in medical genetics. Understanding/problem solving will be assessed by examination (and via an in-class problem solving assessment).

Mechanisms and Pathology of Cancer and other Chronic Diseases

The aims of this module are to introduce you to a range of chronic diseases and their global significance. To explain in detail the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are responsible for the development of chronic diseases, and describe the symptoms and progression of chronic diseases including modern methods in diagnosis and screening. This module also discusses the targets and treatments for therapeutic intervention in chronic diseases.

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

We review all optional modules each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let students know in good time the options available for them to choose for the following year.

We will only change core modules for a course if it is necessary for us to do so, for example to maintain course accreditation. We will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before you begin the relevant academic year.

Sometimes we have to make changes to other aspects of a course or how it is delivered. We only make these changes if they are for reasons outside of our control, or where they are for our students’ benefit. Again, we will let you know about any such changes as soon as possible, usually before the relevant academic year. Our regulations set out our procedure which we will follow when we need to make any such changes.

When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.


The optional placement year (48 weeks) offers you the opportunity to apply what you have learned in Years 1 and 2 to the workplace. This can help you to relate theory to practice and develop skills in a real-world environment. We encourage you to gain this real-world experience as it may help to enhance your employability after graduation. We also provide guidance and support to help you secure a placement.

Biological Sciences students have undertaken placements within the pharmaceutical sector as well as in hospitals and schools. Recently, students from this subject area have completed placements with Bradford University, University of Leeds, Prince Charles Hospital and Protein Technologies Ltd.

Career opportunities

Whilst this is a new course and therefore no graduate statistics for this specific course are available, 85% of graduates from courses in this subject area go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.

Graduates can consider careers in the pharmaceutical industry, clinical laboratories or hospitals.

Teaching and assessment

39% of the study time on this course is spent in lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions etc.

You will be taught through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. Assessment will include written exams, multiple choice questions, problem solving exercises, oral presentations and assessment of laboratory skills. The final year research project contributes to your degree classification.

Your module specification/course handbook will provide full details of the assessment criteria applying to your course.

Feedback (usually written) is normally provided on all coursework submissions within three term time weeks – unless the submission was made towards the end of the session in which case feedback would be available on request after the formal publication of results.Feedback on exam performance/final coursework is available on request after the publication of results.

Huddersfield is the only University where 100% of the teaching staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy.*

*permanent staff, after probation: some recently appointed colleagues will only obtain recognition in the months after their arrival in Huddersfield, once they have started teaching.

How much will it cost me?

The full-time undergraduate tuition fee for 17/18 entry is £9,250.

Tuition fees will cover the cost of your study at the University as well as charges for registration, tuition, supervision and examinations. For more information about funding, fees and finance for UK/EU students, including what your tuition fee covers, please see Fees and Finance. Please note that tuition fees for subsequent years of study may rise in line with inflation (RPI-X).

If you are an international student coming to study at the University of Huddersfield, please visit the International Fees and Finance pages for full details of tuition fees and support available.

Please email the Student Finance Office or call 01484 472210 for more information about fees and finance.

Course scholarships available – up to £3000. More details.

Further study

Progression to a postgraduate course is dependent on successful completion of your undergraduate studies. There may also be minimum qualification requirements such as a first class or higher second (2.1) degree. Please check the course details to confirm this.

Upon successful completion of your undergraduate studies, you may also be interested in training to become a secondary school teacher by taking a PGCE. Look at further details and entry requirements for Science with Biology or Science with Chemistry.


If you're an international student (including EU) you can check if you meet our entry requirements (both academic and English language) by visiting our country pages.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you can consider completing a degree preparation programme (if you are from a country outside of the EU) at the University's International Study Centre (ISC). You can call the ISC on +44 (0) 1273 339333 to discuss your options. You can also complete the online application form or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers.

If your English language is not at the required level (IELTS 6.0 overall), we have a range of Pre-Sessional English programmes that you can enrol on before starting your degree course. You will not need to take an IELTS test after completing one of our Pre-Sessional English programmes.

Research community

Research plays an important role in informing all our teaching and learning activities. Through research our staff remain up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, which means you develop knowledge and skills that are current and highly relevant to industry. For more information, see the Research section of our website.

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