Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2016

Pharmacology BSc

The subject of pharmacology is immensely broad and covers areas of physiology, chemistry, neuroscience, biochemistry, and genetics. This flexible three-year programme offers a thorough scientific training in the subject, and students have the option of transferring to the MSci at the end of year two.

Key Information

Degree Programme
Pharmacology BSc
UCAS code
3 years
Application deadline
15 January 2016
Subject area
Total intake (by subject area)
31 (2016 entry)
Applications per place (by subject area)
5 (2014 entry)
Research Excellence Framework
82% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Entry requirements

A Levels

Chemistry required plus one from Biology, Mathematics or Physics.
AS Levels
For UK-based students a pass in a further subject at AS level or equivalent is required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade B. For UK-based students, a grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) is required. UCL provides opportunities to meet the foreign language requirement following enrolment, further details at: www.ucl.ac.uk/ug-reqs

IB Diploma

A total of 17-18 points in three higher level subjects including Chemistry and one subject from Biology, Mathematics or Physics, with no score below 5.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

D3,D3,D3 - D3,D3,M1 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects. Chemistry required plus one from Biology, Physics or Mathematics

A,A,A - A,A,B at Advanced Highers (or A,A at Advanced Higher and A,A,A at Higher to A,A at Advanced Higher and B,B,B at Higher). Chemistry required plus one from Biology, Physics or Mathematics, at Advanced Higher.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Diploma Core with grade A or B, plus 2 GCE A-levels at grades AA. Chemistry required plus one from Biology, Physics or Mathematics.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

UCL offers intensive one-year foundation courses to prepare international students for a variety of degree programmes at UCL.

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

For more information see our website: UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Degree benefits

  • Pharmacology at UCL offers you an outstanding academic environment. We are internationally renowned in the discipline and are recognised for numerous major discoveries.
  • It is our aim to combine excellence in research with high-quality pharmacology teaching. We have particular expertise in areas such as neuropharmacology and immunopharmacology.
  • In your final year, you will have the opportunity to join a world-leading research team to carry out your own experimental research project.
  • We offer state-of-the-art modern facilities, and are located adjacent to the Medical Research Council's Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, allowing for collaborative final-year projects.

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual courses, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Courses are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional courses varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 1.0 credit is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

The subject of pharmacology is immensely broad and covers areas of physiology, chemistry, neuroscience, biochemistry and genetics. As a result, some of your courses will be taken with other Life Sciences students and will draw on expertise across the faculty.

In the first year, all courses are compulsory, giving you a solid foundation on which to draw in years two and three. Year two is mainly compulsory, with wide-ranging practical classes and lectures. In your final year you have only one compulsory course, leaving you free to pursue your interests by choosing from a wide range of specialist options.

Many students undertake a nine-week pharmacology research project in their final year, including experimental laboratory research. You may find this particularly helpful in making choices about your future career, and whether you would like to pursue postgraduate study.

You may also consider a 'sandwich' year in your programme, taken between years two and three, spending your time in the pharmaceutical industry or another pharmacology-related area. These are offered on a competitive basis but contacts between our staff and colleagues in industry open up many opportunities.

Year One

Compulsory courses

An Introduction to Mechanisms of Drug Action
Cells and Development
Cellular And Molecular Biology
Chemistry For Biology Students
Mammalian Physiology

Optional courses

All first year courses are compulsory.

Year Two

Compulsory courses

Experimental Pharmacology
General and Systematic Pharmacology
Immunity to Infection
Structure and Function of the Nervous Systems

Optional courses

Options may include:

Animal And Human Physiology - Maintenance And Regulatory Mechanisms
Cellular Neurophysiology
Developmental Neurobiology
Human Neuroanatomy
Management Information and Control
Medical Microbiology
Modern Languages
Science in the Mass Media

Final Year

Compulsory courses

Molecular Pharmacology
Plus either:
Laboratory Research Project (1.5 credits)
Library Research Project (1.0 credits)

Optional courses

You will select either 2.5 or 2.0 credits from a wide range of optional courses, depending on which research project you choose. Options may include:

Drug Design And Development
Receptor Mechanisms
Synaptic Pharmacology: The Synapse, A Major Site Of Disease And Drug Action

Your learning

Teaching is mainly conducted through lectures and laboratory classes together with regular small-group tutorials involving in-depth discussion of topics being studied. Courses run concurrently; lectures and tutorials are usually held in the morning with practical classes in the afternoons.


You will be expected to submit coursework (e.g. essays and practical write-ups) and make oral presentations as part of your assessment. You will also take written examinations at the end of each year.

Further Information

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: Pharmacology BSc.


This programme not only provides detailed knowledge of the subject, but also trains you in planning, executing and analysing scientific projects and in quantitative and analytical skills, equipping you with a versatility that will be attractive to many employers.

As with any science degree, our graduates move into many types of employment including financial and managerial professions, scientific publishing, journalism, law and health administration, for example, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Unlike many degrees, however, there is a related industry involving drug safety, drug research, drug sales and patent law.

If you are interested in laboratory research, you could progress to a postgraduate research degree (PhD) leading to opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, governing research institutes, hospital laboratories, forensic science or university-based research.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2010-2013) of this programme include:

  • Medical Sales, Pfizer (2012)
  • Assistant Scientist, AkzoNobel (2011)
  • Data Manager, Institute of Cancer Research (2011)
  • Full-time student, MSc in Analytical Toxicology at King's College London (2011)
  • Tax Consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers (2010)

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2010-2013 graduating cohorts six months after graduation and, where necessary, department records.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers, UCL Advances and other entrepreneur societies here: Careers and skills.

Fees and funding


UK & EU fee
£9,000 (2016/17)
Overseas fee
£21,320 (2016/17)


Details about financial support are available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/study/ug-finance


The Scholarships and Funding website has a comprehensive list of scholarships and funding schemes available for UCL students. These can be available for specific nationalities, regions, departments or open to all students.

Application and next steps

Your application

We will read your UCAS application to ascertain whether you meet, or are expected to meet, our academic entry requirements, and also to find out why you are interested in pharmacology.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Application deadline: 15 January 2016


Selection will be based on information provided in your UCAS application.

Candidates who receive an offer (either conditional or unconditional) will be invited to attend an open day at UCL. Attendance at the open day is optional and its purpose is to provide you with information about UCL and the Pharmacology degree programmes. You will also have the opportunity to meet staff and current undergraduate students.

We offer the flexibility of a three-year Pharmacology BSc or a more in-depth four-year Pharmacology MSci programme. If in doubt, we recommend you apply for the MSci initially, as this may keep more options open.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students