Pharmacology BSc (Hons) (and degree combinations)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • School: Life Sciences

Pharmacology is the study of how drugs, as chemical agents, affect body functions in health and disease. 

It is therefore a very important biomedical discipline, with roots both in basic biology and chemistry, and plays a vital role in helping to safeguard our health and welfare.

Why study this course at Dundee?

Pharmacology is a biomedical science that studies how and where in the body drugs act to produce their effects, from the whole organism down to its individual cells. Most drugs produce their effects by interacting with particular molecular components (e.g. specific proteins) within cells. Pharmacology also considers the body's handling of drugs – how drugs are administered and absorbed, how they distribute within the body, and how they are eventually inactivated and/or excreted, often after being modified in chemical structure by the action of enzymes found in the body.

The term 'drug' encompasses not only the familiar idea of chemicals as medicines (e.g. aspirin, penicillin) or as legal or illegal ‘pleasure promoting’ agents (e.g. alcohol, cannabis) but also includes poisons such as environmental or industrial pollutants, toxins from snakes and other creatures, and agents (e.g. ‘nerve gases’) of potential use in chemical warfare. The study of pharmacology therefore has important links with a variety of factors affecting health and wellbeing in the modern world.

Pharmacology can be studied as a single Honours degree programme or can be combined with another discipline, e.g. physiological sciences, in a Biomedical Sciences degree.

What is so good about this course?

Research-led teaching 

Modules available at Levels 3 and 4 give progressively more specialisation in pharmacology, with units in Level 4 being taught by laboratory-based scientists who carry out pharmacology-related research at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, where the Level 4 sessions are held. 

Clinical perspective

This location also enables medical colleagues, who are involved in treating patients, to be included in some Level 4 teaching units to provide a first-hand clinical perspective of the use and actions of drugs.

Related Courses

We use a variety of teaching methods, with lectures and practicals forming the core. In addition, we use workshops, tutorials, computer-aided learning, and field excursions, as appropriate to each module.

Typical Degree Programme

Levels 1 and 2

All Life Sciences degree programmes share common core modules at Level 1 that provide a general introduction to the life sciences through an integrated programme of lectures, tutorials, practical work and field excursions.

Please refer to the Biological/Biomedical Sciences degree structure and overview webpage for details of the common curriculum in Levels 1 and 2.

Level 3

At Level 3 you specialise in pharmacology, and choose additional subjects that interest you to study alongside your main subject. You will develop your knowledge and skills in the following aspects of pharmacology:

  • peripheral and central nervous system pharmacology
  • mechanisms of cell signalling 
  • basic principles of drug-receptor interactions 
  • aspects of molecular pharmacology

Summer work placements

Many students take advantage of opportunities for summer work placements, normally between Levels 3 and 4, which are available as externally-funded competitive placements, or as voluntary laboratory work.

Level 4

Your studies at Level 4 will be at the level of current research in your chosen subject area.

Advanced study of topics in pharmacology that currently include:

  • cardiovascular pharmacology
  • pharmacogenomics (improving drug therapy and safety) 
  • modulating the immune response 
  • molecular aspects of toxicology and carcinogenesis 
  • targeted treatments of cancer 
  • neurodegenerative disorders 
  • molecular mechanisms of learning and memory 
  • psychobiology and treatment of mental illness 
  • analgesics and anaesthetics 

Your studies will involve extensive use of scientific literature and the opportunity to attend a regular programme of seminars given by invited speakers from Britain and abroad.

  • Research project - several formats are available including laboratory-based research under the supervision of a leading scientist, computer modelling, multimedia teaching packages, literature and electronic database review.

All modules are assessed by a combination of in-course and end-of-course procedures. Regular in-course assessments (e.g. practical reports, computer-based exercises, essays and data processing exercises) provide feedback on your progress and help you prepare for end-of-module examinations.

On-line assignments are used extensively at Levels 1 and 2, with access via a PC on or off campus. Peer assessment operates in many team projects.

Pharmacology graduates are employed in many areas of medical and veterinary research in universities, industry and government-financed institutions.

In addition, pharmacologists have not only played a pivotal role in the UK pharmaceutical industry with an excellent record of drug discovery and development, but their skills are also welcome in other fields such as clinical trials, drug regulation and pharmaceutical marketing.

Furthermore, a degree in Pharmacology can be used to apply for graduate entry to study medicine or dentistry. However, it does not provide the qualification to be a pharmacist in the UK, for which a degree in Pharmacy would be required.

The following are the minimum, up-to-date entry requirements.

You have to obtain your qualifications at the first sitting of examination.

Courses starting 2016

Level 1 Entry

Qualification Minimum Grade Typical Grade
GCE A-Level A Levels can be considered for the Foundation Year in Life Sciences or for advanced entry into Level 2 (see below), depending on the grades achieved.
IB Diploma IB Diploma can be considered for the Foundation Year in Life Sciences or for advanced entry into Level 2 (see below), depending on the grades achieved.
Essential Subjects Biology and Chemistry (Higher, ILC Higher) plus Mathematics and Chemistry (Standard Grade at 3, Intermediate 2/National 5 at C, ILC Ordinary Level at C)
EU & International Visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country"
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HNC with grade A in the graded unit with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate
SWAP Access Relevant science subjects with AAA grades to include Chemistry and Biology/Human Biology at SCQF Level 6
EDEXCEL BTEC Extended Diploma can be considered for the Foundation Year in Life Sciences.
Advanced Diploma
Welsh Baccalaureate
European Baccalaureate 70% overall with 7 in Biology and Chemistry

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher AB (AH) + BB (H) in different subjects
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects Biology and Chemistry (AH or A-Level or IB Higher level) plus Mathematics (Standard Grade at 3, Intermediate 2/National 5 at C, GCSE at C, or IB Subsidiary Level at 4)
EU & International Visit our EU and International webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country"
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HND with grade AA in the graded units with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate Distinction with AB at AH Biology and Chemistry. Mathematics at SG (grade 3) or Intermediate 2 (grade C)
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A relevant HND with Merits in appropriate Science modules
Advanced Diploma Grade A with ASL-A Level Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE C
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE grade C
European Baccalaureate 75% overall with 7.5 in Biology and Chemistry

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee categoryFees for students starting 2016
Scottish and EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2015 entry). Fees for September 2016 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2016.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year of study. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants.
Overseas students (non-EU) £15,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants.

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loans Company.

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students are guaranteed for the length of your course. This means that the tuition fee you pay in your first year (shown above) is the same fee you will pay for each year of your course. We guarantee that this will not increase while you are studying with us. The only exceptions to this are our MBChB Medicine, BSc Medical Sciences and BDS Dentistry degrees which charge a different tuition for the clinical years.

Your personal statement should demonstrate an interest in the subject you are applying for and a commitment to the study of that subject. How did your interest in the subject arise, and do you have a particular career path in mind?

You should comment on your participation in both school/college/work and extracurricular activities and on the extent to which they have aided in your personal development and the acquisition of skills that will be of value to you as a life sciences student.

  • Do you have an enquiring mind?
  • Do you have good analytical skills and problem-solving ability?
  • Are you self-motivated and able to work independently?
  • Are you a good team player?
  • Do you have good communication skills?

If you are planning a gap year, comment on the intended activity and the benefits that you think you are likely to gain from the experience.

Give careful consideration to both the style and content of your personal statement as it can be an indicator of your ability to communicate as well as providing an account of your personal achievements and skills.

  Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Apply NowPharmacology BSc (Hons)B210