Pharmacology BSc (Hons)

Study level: Undergraduate
Two female pharmacologists one working with a microscope

On our Pharmacology BSc (Hons) degree you will further your understanding of how our bodies function in both health and disease from molecules and cells to whole organ systems.

Course option

Year of entry


Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode



3 years full-time
4 years sandwich

UCAS codes


Start date

September 2023
January 2024

Available through Clearing

Clearing applications for September 2023 are now closed to international students due to visa and immigration requirements. Check out our January 2024 entry courses.

Course overview

Successful completion of this course will equip you with the skills and knowledge to contribute to current and emerging challenges in the understanding of drug actions and reactions and the development of new drugs to help fight disease.

  • Not only will your studies focus on the investigation of how drugs are developed and their effects on living systems, but your studies will also take on a multidisciplinary approach incorporating aspects of human physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology, underpinned by chemical principles.
  • Upon successful completion, you will have the skills and knowledge to meet the demand for suitably trained professionals within the global pharmaceutical industry to expedite the critical task of translating basic laboratory medical research into technology and drugs that can be used to diagnose and treat patients.
  • It is anticipated that on successful completion of this course you could have employment opportunities in a range of industries including pharmaceutical research and development roles, clinical trials, drug regulation and sales and marketing.
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Why you should study this course

  • Hands-on experience for a wide range of laboratory techniques such as gene amplification using PCR, gene sequencing, cell culture, flow cytometry using real world applicable techniques and clinical simulations in our cutting edge Superlab4.
  • Extensive industry links (e.g. Biocity) and opportunities to spend a year in industry in the UK or overseas as a placement student2; past students have worked at John Radcliffe Hospital and companies like Binding Site, and in countries as far afield as Canada, Spain and the Netherlands.
  • Our experienced research active teaching team have worked within cardiovascular and respiratory pharmacology, clinical toxicology, NHS pathology laboratories. Staff bring their professional and research expertise into their teaching through the use of contemporary clinical case studies as the basis for problem-based learning activities (staff may be subject to change).
  • This course would be ideal for students who wish to pursue careers in integrative medical and pharmacological science or are interested in focusing on drug development.
  • Following British Pharmacological Society (BPS) guidelines, this course is designed to give you a solid foundation in areas of biology that support an understanding of pharmacology.

Our Award-winning Green Superlab

With space for over 250 students and packed full of industry-standard equipment, the Coventry University Superlab is an amazing place to learn, experiment and discover. Find out what we’re doing in our Superlab to make it greener and reduce our waste and carbon emissions.

What you'll study

This course has a common first year.

The common first year enables you to work alongside students doing similar courses to you, to widen your knowledge and exposure to other subject areas and professions. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with other students, so you can share your insights and experience which will help you to develop and learn.

If you discover an interest in a specific subject you have studied, upon successful completion of your first year, you could swap degrees with another course in your common first year (subject to meeting progression requirements).

Common first year courses

  • Biomedical Science BSc (Hons)
  • Human Biosciences BSc (Hons)
  • Biological and Forensic Science BSc (Hons)

In the first year, the curriculum is shared across related courses allowing you to gain a broad grounding in the discipline before going on, in the second and third years, to specialist modules in your chosen field. It provides underpinning knowledge, laboratory and data analysis skills relevant for Pharmacology. This shared approach allows you to appreciate a diversity of applications and roles for biosciences and to gain a broad topic understanding.


  • You will study the physiology, organisation, structure, and function of key physiologic/organ systems (e.g., nervous, musculo-skeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, gastrointestinal, and renal systems). You will investigate cause-and-effect mechanisms and the interaction between systems in maintaining homeostasis and good health. There will be some discussion of consequences of homeostatic mechanisms breaking down to foster an understanding of human body function with an appreciation of disease states. You will be introduced to laboratory-based techniques e.g., electromyography, electrocardiograms, and spirometry, for the measurement of different physiological variables. You will also develop study skills such as accessing scientific literature, appropriate referencing and academic writing.


  • This module will introduce the fundamental principles of inheritance, human genetics, population genetics and evolutionary principles. Inheritance patterns including human blood groups and mitochondrial inheritance patterns will be explored. Ethical issues surrounding access to genetic information will be discussed as well as the impact of historical events and projects. You will take part in collaborative working and develop presentation and peer feedback skills.


  • This module examines the structure and function of key biological molecules. Chemical principles relating to proteins, carbohydrates and lipids will be considered and linked to function. This module will also place emphasis on the fundamental techniques used to analyse biological molecules and the principles of these methods. The theory and practical application of relevant analytical methods will be considered. Throughout this module there will also be the development of Good Laboratory Practice and fundamental laboratory procedures and techniques. You will be introduced to R, a programming language for statistical computing and graphics, and use it in the analysis of data.


  • You will examine cellular structure, communication, enzymes and metabolic pathways in this module. Cellular interactions and cell signalling will be included and considered alongside aspects of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The energy used to drive these processes will be considered especially in relation to the role of enzymes of catalysts. Key metabolic and signalling pathways will be explored and considered in relation to drug development processes.


  • This module introduces the different types of infectious agents that are relevant to human health and considers the different ways in which these agents can be cultured, enumerated, controlled and analysed. Relevant laboratory techniques are also developed and used to consolidate the theoretical teaching. The immune system and the key components are also introduced and examined in the way in which these are relevant to preventing and eliminating infection. Current and emerging topics such as vaccination and antimicrobial resistance are also discussed.


  • In this module you will explore the application of fundamental biology principles to practical exercises, to mimic real-life scenarios in commercial and applied biology. The module considers, among other things, our genetic information, its structure, function and inheritance (genotype), and how this determines the characteristics of an individual (phenotype). The module introduces you to human individual variation and the central dogma of DNA to RNA to protein (transcription and translation). In addition, you will gain knowledge and skills relating to the retrieval and analysis of biological sequence information using bioinformatics tools and analytical software such as Excel and R. Ethical issues, such as increased access to genomic information, quality control and accreditation issues, will be considered. You will be supported to understand and practice effective collaboration strategies, including record keeping and use of collaborative software, plus giving and receiving of feedback.


In the second year there is a greater emphasis on the biology of disease. You will begin to specialise in pharmacology and related areas including physiology, biochemistry, immunology, and genetics.

Laboratory work is a key component of the course, enabling you to learn the experimental techniques and develop the key experimental, data handling and reporting skills required for careers in science. Practical sessions will introduce you to modern laboratory techniques and clinical approaches to diagnosing and treating disease, while your research skills are broadened to include an understanding of research methodology and design, medical statistics, and methods of data analysis.


  • This module integrates key disciplines of human physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology to explore disease states, their diagnosis within the clinical laboratory, and the rationale, mode of action and pharmacokinetic properties of drug therapies. The module considers four fundamental topic areas (nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems plus infectious disease) and the properties and modes of action of commonly prescribed drugs. Pharmacological considerations such as individual variation are addressed where relevant for these examples.


  • Extending from the learning in Disease Pathophysiology & Therapeutics within this module you will consider normal and pathophysiology, biochemical diagnosis and management, and pharmacological agents for therapy of disease states affecting the gastrointestinal, renal, and endocrine systems. The key pharmacological principles relating to drug mechanisms and pharmacokinetics are applied.


  • This module focuses on development of laboratory practical and associated data analysis skills that are of key importance in pharmacology, for example to measure drug and metabolite concentrations, detect drug contaminants and to determine pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic parameters.


  • In this module, you will explore the activities of the cell that are fundamental to understanding disease states. A myriad of chemical reactions and molecular interactions allow cells to grow and divide, alter their activities and functions, organise into tissues, communicate with each other, and ultimately die. These normal processes are frequently altered or hijacked in disease. The module will also explore how novel therapeutic approaches are emerging based on this molecular understanding.


  • This module explores the immune system in both health and disease and considers pharmacological agents which modulate immune responses. The links between chronic inflammation and multiple disease phenotypes will be discussed. The ability to exploit elements of the immune system for use as stratified immunotherapies will be introduced and explored in the context of hypersensitivity reactions, allergy, and cancer.


  • This module takes the form of a group based “mini-project”. You will be recruited to research teams and act as consultants for a pharmaceutical company. The consultancy project will involve literature and technical research, laboratory practical investigation and generation of a report for the company. You will be required to apply for roles within the teams and successful appointment to the chosen project team will be determined by interview. During the project, you will then be expected to demonstrate professional behaviours and conduct, collaborative team working, leadership and time management skills. As part of this module, you will be expected consider topics such as ethical requirements, COSHH, intellectual property, confidentiality, and commercial application of research findings. The literature review, experimental planning, data analysis and critical evaluation, plus logistical considerations will help prepare you to tackle your final year capstone project.


There’s no better way to find out what you love doing than trying it out for yourself, which is why a work placement2 can often be beneficial. Work placements usually occur between your second and final year of study. They’re a great way to help you explore your potential career path and gain valuable work experience, whilst developing transferable skills for the future.

If you choose to do a work placement year, you will pay a reduced tuition fee3 of £1,250. For more information, please go to the fees and funding section. During this time you will receive guidance from your employer or partner institution, along with your assigned academic mentor who will ensure you have the support you need to complete your placement.


  • This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved placement undertaken during your programme. A placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.


  • This module2 provides you with an opportunity to reflect upon and gain experience for an approved international study/work placement undertaken during your programme. A work/study placement should usually be at least 26 weeks or equivalent; however, each placement will be considered on its own merits, having regard to the ability to achieve the learning outcomes.


The final year of your course aims to bring you to the level to enter the world of work by consolidating your knowledge and skills from Year one and two. You will also have the opportunity to carry out an independent research project in an area of your interest, with the support of a mentor and your Academic Personal Tutor.


  • Within this module you will study drug development processes and how these have evolved from ancient times to the current day and beyond. Starting with pharmacognosy and pre-industrial drug discovery, the module will go on to consider stages of the process including target identification, in vivo and in vitro drug screening, testing of large and small molecule compounds, compound optimisation, clinical trials and marketing. The focus will then consider recent breakthrough technologies, the impact of genomics in the development of personalised therapies and what future developments may yield.


  • This module will focus on the role of toxicology in drug development alongside testing for the presence of drugs in patients where for example, poisoning/abuse may be present. Drug abuse concerns the use of chemicals for pleasure or reward. Users of these chemicals may become dependent and suffer long term consequences for health and wellbeing. The scale of drug abuse worldwide affects hundreds of millions of individuals, putting pressure on health and social care resources. In addition, addiction to prescription medication is recognised as a growing concern. In this module you will explore the physiological mechanisms leading to drug addiction, the mechanisms of action and consequences of prolonged drug use, and strategies for detoxification and future avoidance. It also considers the role of the toxicology laboratory in monitoring prescribed drug therapies and management of accidental or deliberate overdose and ensuring the quality and safety of medication.


  • Cancer continues to be one of humanity’s greatest health challenges and consequently, the development of anti-cancer therapies to improve the clinical management of cancers has been a central objective of the pharmaceutical industry and worldwide research efforts. This module will review the multiple oncogenic processes that allow cancer to arise, including consideration of emerging cancer hallmarks of metabolic adaptation, immune system evasion and the importance of the tumour microenvironment. Advances in understanding of molecular oncology has enabled the generation of rationally designed targeted therapies which selectively interfere with discrete oncogenic effectors. This new generation of therapies for specific cancers will be covered in detail and compared to traditional cytotoxic chemotherapeutics. Focus will also be given to new concepts that break away from traditional therapeutic paradigms by targeting the non-malignant, rather than malignant, cell components within tumours.


  • This module considers two key areas which present contemporary pharmacological challenges. Cardiovascular conditions, heart disease and stroke are still major disease concerns globally. Events occurring in the brain are complex and, in some cases, still poorly understood. This module will consider the current challenges in cardiovascular and neuropharmacology and explore the potential opportunities and barriers to future developments.


  • In this module, you will prepare for your final year research project and for life after graduation. The module will support you through the process of defining your research question, planning your experiments, and considering the most appropriate data analysis methods. The module will enhance skills in literature searching, experimental design, scientific writing, data processing and statistical analysis. You will be required to submit your proposal for ethical and health and safety approval, and to address key aspects of project management and logistics. The module will also consider how novel ideas and findings can be harnessed to deliver commercial value. The multidisciplinary nature of enterprise and innovation, opportunities for commercial development of ideas and an awareness of intellectual property will be discussed.


  • The aim of this module is for you to conduct a piece of investigative research, which may be laboratory or non-laboratory based, in a specialised area of Pharmacology/related bioscience. This module follows from Research Design and you will implement your research proposal in this module. The variety and scope of projects allows you to pursue your own interests, potentially linked to future career aspirations, and to integrate prior skills and knowledge. Thus, this module, together with Research Design provides a capstone experience and is a key requirement for graduation with an Honours classification. You will be supported and guided by your supervisor, but are encouraged to develop independence of thought, and the ability and confidence to adapt and evolve your research ideas, based on reflective practice. The skills and competencies developed during the project period that enhance employability will be articulated in a short personal skills reflection.


We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop a good knowledge of a range of disciplines and how they apply to human health and disease and how drugs are developed, work and used in the treatment of disease. Your learning experience will include a mix of both theory and lab-based classes.

During your degree you will have the opportunity to undertake challenging lab and non-lab based independent research projects, dealing with important life science research questions.

Teaching methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Presentations
  • Projects
  • Workshops
  • Practical laboratory sessions, supported by an extensive suite of analytical and biological laboratories staffed by experienced technicians.

You will be allocated a dedicated Personal Academic Tutor for the duration of your course, with whom you can make an appointment whenever you need to; you can also arrange to see other members of staff in ‘drop in’ sessions for any additional help you may need.

Teaching contact hours

Depending on the year of study you will typically have between 9-18 hours of structured weekly teaching and learning hours which may include activities such as workshops, laboratories, online tutorials, seminars and lectures. This will be supported by a weekly course programme hour with your tutors. In addition, you will be expected to undertake around 18 hours of self-directed study each week.

The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, and online classes and tutorials.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared for courses due to start in or after the 2023/2024 academic year to be delivered in a variety of forms. The form of delivery will be determined in accordance with Government and Public Health guidance. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending upon the module.

Assessment methods include:

  • Phase tests
  • Essays
  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Reports
  • Projects
  • Coursework
  • Individual assignments

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

International experience opportunities

Medical research takes place in higher education institutions, research institutes, hospitals and industry throughout the world. This international perspective is reflected in a number of modules on the course, which deal with issues of global importance, such as drug discovery and development from natural products including treatments for malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and worm infections (helminths).

The course provides the opportunity for online collaboration with overseas institutions on a joint problem-based learning assignment. For example, previous students have joined others from University of Seville investigating the prevalence and approach to managing neurodegenerative disorders and the differing policies with regard to legal highs within the UK and Spain. Our sandwich degree option also allows a year’s work placement or study, which can be taken abroad2.

Please note that all international experience opportunities may be subject to additional costs, competitive application, availability and meeting applicable visa and travel requirements are therefore not guaranteed2.

One of the best parts of my job as an academic is to observe how our students develop and gain confidence as scientists and go on to succeed in their chosen degree and career pathway.

Sadie Dean, Course Director for Pharmacology BSc (Hons), 2022
Sadie Dean lecturer

Entry requirements

Clearing places available on this course

See if you have enough points (UCAS tariff 2023)

Don't know your points total? Work it out
Additional requirements may apply

Typical offer for 2023/24 entry.

Not got the required grades? We offer this degree with an integrated foundation year.

Fees and funding

2023/24 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £9,250 per year Not available
EU £9,250 per year with EU support bursary**
£18,300 per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International £18,300 per year Not available

If you choose to do a work placement2, you should consider travel and living costs to cover this. There is also a tuition fee3 of £1,250 that will cover your academic support throughout your placement year.

For advice and guidance on tuition fees and student loans visit our Undergraduate Finance page and see The University’s Tuition Fee and Refund Terms and Conditions.

We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them. Find out what's included in your tuition costs.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad)

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU support bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in-line with that of UK students. Students studying a Degree with a Foundation Year with us are not eligible for the bursary.

  • We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Your fee status determines your tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available to you. The rules about who pays UK (home) or international (overseas) fees for higher education courses in England are set by the government's Department for Education. The regulations identify all the different categories of student who can insist on paying the home rate. The regulations can be difficult to understand, so the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has provided fee status guidance to help you identify whether you are eligible to pay the home or overseas rate.

    If you meet all the criteria required by any one category, including any residence requirements, your institution must charge you the home rate. You only need to find one category that you fit into.


The course will be predominantly taught in the multi-million-pound Alison Gingell Building on the Coventry University main campus. It is home to microbiology, cell culture, molecular biology/genetics, biochemistry and forensic science laboratories, allowing you to work in a professional environment from day one4.

  • Superlab: Our state-of-the-art SuperLab has facilities for cell culture and equipment for microscopy, DNA, RNA and protein analysis, and forensic testing.
  • Analytical Chemistry Suite: Students apply their practical and theoretical knowledge to real-life working scenarios e.g. use of new generation chromatography technique to analyse products ranging from pharmaceutical agents to cosmetics, drinks and toxins.
  • Physiology Suite: Separate physiology and health laboratory facilities enable the measurement of physiological parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, lung function test and neuromuscular functioning.
Students in the biochemistry lab

Alison Gingell Building

The Alison Gingell Building is home to microbiology, cell culture, molecular biology/genetics, biochemistry and forensic science laboratories, allowing you to work in a professional environment from day one.

Laboratory with people wearing white coats taking samples


Our state-of-the-art SuperLab has facilities for cell culture and equipment for microscopy, DNA, RNA and protein analysis, and forensic testing.



Students using physiology testing equipment

Physiology suite

Separate physiology and health laboratory facilities enable the measurement of physiological parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, lung function test and neuromuscular functioning.


Careers and opportunities

A large number of medical scientists are employed by companies in the pharmaceutical industry, where they are involved in discovering and developing drugs and carrying out clinical trials. Medical scientists may also work for contract research organisations (CROs) or academic departments within universities on research projects. There are also career options within government laboratories (including environmental agencies), charity-funded research organisations, such as the Medical Research Council (MRC), and with other research institutes. 

This course is specifically designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge required for a career in a range of sectors in a variety of roles in companies and organisations in both the UK and abroad. In addition to discipline specific theory and practical laboratory competence, you will also develop transferrable skills in digital fluency, numeracy, communication and teamwork.

The scientific knowledge and skills you acquire during the course can be a useful basis for a career in: teaching; technical and scientific writing (such as medical writing or writing for the media); clinical trials; drug registration, patenting or monitoring; medical publishing or other information services; regulatory affairs or sales and marketing.

Upon successful completion of your course, you will be equipped with the knowledge and hands on practical experience required from the scientific and pharmaceutical industries to maintain and advance their activities to meet the global challenges of health and disease. There is also a growing demand for highly skilled staff with the ability to work in multidisciplinary teams, right across industry, in the health service, government establishments, research and educational institutions and our degree is designed to give you a wide range of key skills that will be attractive to such employers.

Coventry University is committed to preparing you for your future career and giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market. We provide a wide range of support services to help you plan and prepare for your career.

Where our graduates work

Our graduates have gone on to careers in drug discovery and development, clinical trials development and governance within the pharmaceutical industry and university and hospital departments. Recent examples include working as a regulatory strategist and trials manager for Pfizer, as an education administrator for Education for Health and as activities coordinator for the TLC group.

Further study

The course is an excellent foundation for further postgraduate studies leading to an MSc or PhD. We run a range or related taught MSc courses that allow our graduates to specialise in the area that they have a passion for and would like to pursue a career in. These courses also have a ‘with professional experience’ option, allowing students to apply for and complete an extended period of experience in a professional environment.

How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London Campus, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the “University”) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University. 


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or International opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel COVID and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand the visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For International Students, we may increase fees each year but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Due to COVID-19, some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) and some non-academic offerings (particularly in relation to international experiences), may vary from those advertised and may have reduced availability or restrictions on their use.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the 2023/24 contract can be found here. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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