The aim of the Pharmacology BSc degree programme is to produce scientists with a sound understanding of the biological action of drugs and chemicals, the way they work at the molecular, cellular and systems level and their use in medicines for the treatment of disease. It thus provides an ideal grounding for a career in the pharmaceutical industry or general biomedical research and for graduate entry to Medicine. However, the transferrable skills acquired, including data gathering, analysis and interpretation, presentation skills and team-work prepare you for graduate careers with a wide range of public and private sector employers.
All students are initially admitted onto the three-year Pharmacology BSc programme. However, conditional upon suitable performance in the first-year examinations, students may switch onto our four-year BSc Pharmacology with Extramural Year. Others may wish to specialise later in integrative, whole animal studies in which case they may progress, at the end of Year 3, onto our MSci Integrated Pharmacology and Physiology for Research.Year One
The first year of study is common to all degree programmes within the School of Biomedical Sciences. This so-called Common Year One programme introduces you to a broad range of subjects that provide a firm foundation for subsequent specialisation in pharmacology. In addition to pharmacology, modules cover biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, physiology, cell and tissue structure and function, neuroscience, statistics and issues related to the practice of science, including ethics and communication. This broad curriculum also allows flexibility to switch between programmes in subsequent years, if this is desired. First year is largely examined by multiple-choice and short answer type questions and makes up around ten percent of the final degree mark.Year Two
In year two, Pharmacology becomes the main focus of study. The courses allow a greater degree of self-directed study and are examined by essay-style examination questions and a range of different types of in-course assessments, including the writing up of practical experiments, oral and poster presentations. This year comprises about 30% of the final degree mark. Three core modules are taken.Drug Discovery & Development
is taught partly by experts from the pharmaceutical industry and offers insight into the process of drug discovery from the molecule to the bedside, as well as increasing practical skills for our students.Drugs & Disease
emphasises the mechanisms by which drugs in clinical use for a variety of diseases bring about their desired effects as well as unwanted side-effects. Oral and poster presentation skills are introduced as part of this module, alongside additional practical work.Physiology & Pharmacology of the Central Nervous System
gives an understanding of how electrical and chemical communication at synapses occurs and of how the functioning of neural circuits can be modified by transmission of information and drugs that are used therapeutically.
A number of optional modules also exist, such as:Animal Models of Disease and Injury
which provides students with an appreciation of the issues surrounding the use of animals in biomedical research, an understanding of how animal models can be used in "cutting edge research" and practical experience of carrying out experimental investigations in whole organisms;Psychology
, which is the scientific study of mental processes and human behaviour. Students gain the opportunity to discuss and evaluate the principal psychological findings and theories on cognitive, developmental, social and clinical psychology;Medical Microbiology
which examines a range of microorganisms that can give rise to human disease;Foreign Language
courses are available at the King’s Modern Language Centre.Optional year in industry/research
Following completion of their second year, about a quarter of our students opt to take an extramural year. If you choose this route you may take up a research placement at home or abroad, to gain valuable first-hand experience of research. Previous placement have included GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly & Co Ltd., Novartis and the William Harvey Research Institute. On returning to the College for the final year, a student’s performance during the extramural year is assessed through a written dissertation and poster presentation.Final year
Final year modules strongly reflect the research interests of our staff and some courses place great emphasis on developing practical expertise. The core module covers Cellular Pharmacology
, emphasising aspects relevant to the understanding of drug receptor, structure and function, and theories of drug dependence. All of our students also take a project module. Those offered include Literature, Drug Discovery and Experimental Research Projects
. This allows the student to examine a particular area of pharmacology, from molecular pharmacology through to clinical pharmacology, in greater depth through the appraisal of published literature or by undertaking a laboratory-based project. This year contributes around 60% to the overall degree mark.
A wide range of optional modules are available including:
Optional MSci in Integrated Pharmacology & Physiology for Research
- Cardiovascular Pharmacology. Examines the detailed mechanisms of drugs acting on the electrical and mechanical activity of the heart and vascular system alongside experimental models of cardiovascular disease.
- Pharmacology of Inflammation. Provides up-to-date information about the roles of the cells and endogenous substances (mediators) in acute and chronic inflammation and how these ideas underpin the use and development of drugs for treating inflammatory diseases like asthma and arthritis.
- Pharmacology of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders. Examines the pharmacology and pathophysiology of neurological and psychiatric conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and how this knowledge informs the use of current drugs and future drug development for treating these conditions.
- Drug Safety and Toxicology. Enables students to develop a breadth of understanding and critical appraisal of safety pharmacology and toxicology studies that are undertaken during the drug discovery and development process.
At the end of the 3-year BSc programme, some students opt to carry out a further year of study at King's to obtain specialist training in integrative models of disease. The MSci in Integrated Pharmacology & Physiology for Research
provides theoretical and practical training in state-of-the-art whole organism techniques to facilitate gaining relevant employment in industry or academia. Students also undertake a six-month research project with an industrial partner or leading academic.
ABOUT THE Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
King’s pharmacology graduates are highly attractive to a variety of employers. Some of our graduates are employed as research scientists in university, hospital or industrial laboratories where they design and carry out experiments to examine the usefulness of new drugs or new drug targets. Many are studying for higher degrees such as an MSc or a PhD. Others have joined pharmaceutical companies as medical sales representatives or medical information officers who monitor scientific literature for publications relevant to the company’s research.
Companies also employ pharmacology graduates as drug registration officers who submit research findings to the international registration authorities for approval before new medicines are released for general use, or as clinical research associates involved in the design and coordination of clinical trials of new drugs. Graduate entry into medicine is becoming increasingly popular and a pharmacology degree provides an excellent platform and training for this. Studying pharmacology will also equip you with a wide range of transferable skills including data gathering, analysis and interpretation, presentation skills and teamwork, which will be relevant for graduate careers with many public and private sector employers.
Recent graduates have found employment as…
• Pharmacologist, Novartis
• Clinical Research Assistant, Parexel International
• Laboratory Assistant, P&G
• Regulatory Compliance Administrator, a charity
• Project Manager, Ford Motor Company
Teaching is delivered by a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical laboratory work. Tutorials are teaching sessions between an academic tutor and small groups of students where there is an opportunity to discuss work in detail and where subjects for coursework are agreed. Student seminars, involving larger groups, poster presentations (like those used at formal scientific meetings) and personal tutor sessions supplement tutorials.
We use our research experiences not only to advance the scientific field, but also to enhance our teaching and in your final year especially you will be able to choose from a range of subjects that reflect our expertise. We also maintain strong links with colleagues in the pharmaceutical industries who support our extramural year programme and also deliver teaching on some of our courses.
STRUCTURE OF PROGRAMMES & ASSESSMENT
The first year is common to all degrees within the School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, to allow flexibility between programmes in subsequent years. Topics covered in year one provide a firm foundation for the subsequent in-depth study of pharmacology. In Year Two, pharmacology becomes the main focus of study with topics covering the mechanisms of drug action, their current clinical utility in disease and the drug discovery process in general.
In your final year, in addition to learning up-to-date information in a wide range of our specialist pharmacological areas, you may also work in one of our state-of-the art research laboratories investigating exciting topics as diverse as the regulation of intracellular messengers in single cells, the effects of novel drugs in animal models of disease or the effects of drugs on human guinea pigs. Assessment is usually by written examination at the end of each academic year. Increasing importance is being given to coursework which takes a variety of forms including essay writing, laboratory reports, talks and poster presentations.
As a large multifaculty university, we have excellent social and sporting facilities, but a key attraction is our central London location. Our three campuses along the River Thames are located in the cultural and social heart of the capital and offer our students the opportunity to explore art galleries, theatres, museums, markets, restaurants and cafés.
Year in industry/research
Between the second and final year of the BSc in Pharmacology you may apply to undertake an extramural year during which you are placed in paid employment to work on an approved experimental project. This provides an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience of research in industry as well as supplementing your overall learning experience.
You may also opt to study abroad for your second year with our partner institutions in the USA, Australia, Singapore or Sweden.
MSci in Integrated Pharmacology & Physiology for Research
Some students opt to carry our a fourth year at King's to obtain specialist training in integrative models of disease, graduating with an MSci degree in Integrated Pharmacology & Physiology for Research.