The degree will give you a fascinating insight into the world of medicines; how they work, how they are developed, and how they are used to treat patients in healthcare. You will receive academic and practical training so that when you complete the course you will be ready for work or further study in scientific research or healthcare.

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The BSc (Hons) in Clinical Pharmacology is a modular, three-year degree course. Each academic year comprises 120 credits. The tables below give an indication of the modules you will study in each year of the course and an outline of how the course will be assessed. Note that this may be subject to change.

The BSc (Hons) in Clinical Pharmacology is a three year undergraduate degree. Teaching throughout the three years of the course will be based on six main themes. These are:

  • Fundamentals of science (FS) – the human biology needed to understand and learn pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics (PK) –how the body handles drugs
  • Pharmacodynamics (PD) –how drugs exert their effects on the body
  • Drug development and clinical trials (DD) – how drugs are discovered and developed as medicines
  • Drugs in healthcare (DiH)–how information from clinical trials and drug development is used to guide the use of medicines for patients in clinical practice
  • Data and statistics (DaS) – how to generate, handle, analyse and interpret research data relating to drugs

In years 1 and 2, the course will be taught and assessed by theme. This will help students with their overall understanding, rather than teaching information in isolated pockets.

The tables below give an indication of what will be learnt about the different themes in years 1 and 2 and roughly the proportion of learning time that will be spent on each topic.

Table 1. Proportion of teaching, learning and assessment by theme in year 1


Overview of Content

Proportion of teaching, learning and assessment

Fundamentals of Science

This theme will give a good introduction to the human biology that students will need to understand to learn pharmacology. Lectures will be shared with Biomedical Science students.

·                     Fundamentals of the living cell

·                     Fundamentals of pathology

·                     Fundamentals of physiology


Introduction to pharmacokinetics

Pharmacokinetics is the science of how the body handles drugs. Students will learn how drugs are given and absorbed into the body, how they are cleared from the body by the liver and kidney and how the concentration of drugs in the body relates to their effect


Introduction to pharmacodynamics

Pharmacodynamics is the science of how drugs exert their effects on the body. Focus will be given to the major targets: receptors, ion channels enzymes and transporters and learn about how commonly used drugs work in the treatment of disease.


Introduction to drug development

Drugs are discovered and tested in the laboratory, given to humans for the first time, then tested in clinical trials before they are licensed to use in healthcare. Students will learn the theory behind these processes and the practical skills needed to do research studies in humans.


Introduction to drugs in healthcare

Students will learn about the prescribing process and through healthcare visits will observe practitioners prescribing medicines.


Introduction to data and statistics

A good understanding of data and statistics is essential to be able to do research and understand the results of other researchers. Students will be introduced to statistical theory step by step and be taught to use computerised statistical packages to perform their own data analysis.



Table 2. Proportion of teaching, learning and assessment by theme in year 2


Overview of content

Proportion of teaching, learning and assessment

Fundamentals of science

Fundamentals of genomics



Material will focus on factors that change how the body handles drugs. Topics will include: age and size; pregnancy and breastfeeding; disease; genetics; and interactions with other drugs. Students will learn about how pharmacokinetics affect dosing of drugs and how monitoring patients can be used to adjust drug doses using patient case studies.



Material will focus on drugs used to treat common diseases, including heart disease, infection, pain, dementia and ‘hot topics’, development of novel therapies and new treatment modalities including gene therapy and biologicals.


Drug development and clinical trials

Several types of clinical trials and the processes need to deliver them will be covered in this section. The skills portfolio will be developed through writing scientific documents, doing clinical skills (e.g. taking blood, measuring blood pressure, doing basic life support) and reading scientific papers.


Drugs in healthcare

Students will learn about the processes required to get a drug to market and how data about drugs is processed and used to decide how to treat patients in healthcare


Data and statistics

Students will develop data analysis skills and learn how to interpret statistical reports in scientific papers.


Research project

Students will spend time during year 2 working up a research project proposal and protocol and gaining research approvals as needed. Towards the end of the year they will spend four weeks full time doing the project. Data collected will be analysed and presented as a short report and oral presentation. Projects may be laboratory based or clinically-focussed.


In the first 18 months of the course, each week will start with a Pharma HUB session. In this session you will work with 7-8 other students. The HUB will start with a quiz for you to test your learning from the previous week. The quiz will be marked and you will get the answers immediately so you can see how you have done. The tutor for the session will go over the answers with you to make sure you understand what has been taught. The second part of the HUB will look forward to next week. Students will do presentations and solve problems. During the week you will do a ‘data capture practical’, with scientific experiments in the science or clinical laboratories. You will collect the data in spreadsheets and use it in a ‘data analysis’ session to learn about analysis and statistics. Towards the end of the week you will have a small group tutorial, pulling the science learnt that week together with the pharmacology. In between these sessions there will be lectures and tutorials, as well as time for you to learn and revise on your own.

In year 3, the course will be taught and assessed by modules. Modules are chunks of focussed learning. Each module is allocated a number of credits that relate to the amount of time to be spent teaching and learning on the module and the amount that that module counts to the overall mark for your degree. There are 120 credits for year 3.

Table 3 summarises the modules for year 3

Table 3. Credits for teaching, learning and assessment by module in year 3

Module title

Overview of Content



Hot topics in clinical pharmacology

This module will look at latest advances in therapeutics through the lens of the clinical pharmacology themes studied in years 1 and 2

30 credits

Research project

Students will select a research topic relating to some aspect of pharmacology. They will use the scientific literature to establish what is already known on the subject. They will develop a research question or hypothesis based on their findings and will design a study to investigate their hypothesis. They will write this up as a funding proposal for assessment. Projects may focus on laboratory or clinical science as they relate to pharmacology. Students should select one laboratory-focussed and one clinical-focussed topics for their 2 research projects (years 2 and 3).

15 credits

One or two advanced clinical pharmacology modules from:

Advanced pharmacokinetics

In this advanced module students will be taught basic computer techniques to ‘model’ pharmacokinetic processes from human data and learn to interpret these models. These techniques are used in drug development to help select the right dose of the drug.

30 Credits

Advanced drug development and clinical trials

In this advanced module students will develop more advanced knowledge and skills in clinical trials and drug development. They will learn about novel trial designs, trials using high risk drugs (e.g. for cancer), trials using novel therapies (e.g. nanomedicine, gene therapy) and how drugs are tested in children and pregnant women.

30 Credits

Advanced drugs in healthcare

In this advanced module students will learn more about how drugs are regulated and how organisations such as the national institute for healthcare excellence (NICE) and the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA) influence the use of medicines. Students will learn how to pull lots of research studies together (systematic review) and how to interpret data from these big reviews (metaanalysis).

30 Credits

One to three optional 15 credit modules from a list of 6


15 Credits


120 Credits



In year 1 you will do in-course assessment including weekly quizzes to test your knowledge and collect evidence of your skills development using a portfolio. At the end of the year, you will sit an examination, consisting of two 2.5 hour papers. You will need to pass 80% of the quizzes (pass mark 50%),  show evidence of good progress with your skills portfolio and pass your exams to progress to year 2. To give you time to adapt to university, the quizzes in the first 5 weeks are for practice only. The quizzes will use the same types of questions that you will see in the exams to help you become familiar with them. Also your marks from year 1 do not count to the grade of your final degree.

In the first half (semester) of year 2, you will do in-course assessment (quizzes) and build up your skills portfolio, as in year 1. You will need to pass 80% of the quizzes (pass mark 50%) and show good progress with your portfolio to enter the year 2 exams. You will need to pass these to progress to year 2. After the exams you will spend time doing your research project, which will be assessed by writing 2 scientific reports and doing an oral presentation. The exam mark and the research project each contribute 15% to your overall grade of your final degree (year 2 therefore contributes 30%).

In year 3, modules will be assessed by in-course written work and by end of year exams. You will write up your year 3 research project as a scientific report. The marks from year 3 contribute 70% to the overall grade of your final degree.



Last Updated: Wednesday, 02 May 2018 15:35