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Formative Assessment

Students are expected to complete and submit essays and laboratory reports throughout the first two terms of lectures and practical sessions. Essays should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words. Mentors will provide advice and feedback on essay style but students are expected to use the essays to explore topics in some depth while  encouraging individual analysis and thought. Laboratory reports should present and discuss results and conclusions in a clear, concise manner.

At the end of Michaelmas term one week is allocated for a student driven practical aimed at identifying unknown drugs using in vitro experiments. There will be an introductory session provided before this practical, but the students are wholly responsible for the design and running of the experimental work. The practical will be assessed by a group presentation with prizes awarded for correct identification of drugs, team work and clear presentation of findings.

In the second term, students will conduct weekly journal club and participate in discussions and debates on topics derived from the 5 advanced themes. These group sessions will give ample opportunity to develop presentation skills, critical analysis of research articles and opportunity to expand knowledge in specific areas.



Three examinations are taken during the course:

  • The Qualifying exam (end of first term) is an assessment of basic understanding of pharmacology in the form of multiple-choice questions. Students must pass this paper or a re-sit in order to continue with the Masters programme
  • The Quantitative exam (second term) is a written paper focusing on mathematical problems associated with Receptor Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics
  • The Essay exam (start of third term) allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in three specific areas of pharmacology out of a choice of five modules


Laboratory research project

Students spend 16 weeks carrying out research and preparing a written dissertation. Students will also be required to present their work to the examiners as a poster. They are expected to give a brief oral presentation of about 5-10 minutes before answering questions from the examiners.



The final mark for the course is determined by results in the following assessments: Quantitative paper (contributing 20%), Essay paper (35%),Dissertation (35%) and Oral presentation (10%). All other assessment is compulsory but will not contribute to the final paper grade. A final grade above 70% will be noted as a distinction.


For full details of deadlines, entry requirements, funding and studentships, Colleges and how to apply, see the University’s Graduate Studies webpages.