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First Term (October to December)

The first term covers core material using lec­tures, seminars and practical work and aims to ensure that all students have achieved the core knowledge of the principles and practice of pharmacology.


The subjects covered are:

  • Cell and Receptor Pharmacology
  • Tissue and Organ Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology of the Nervous System


During the term students are expected to write essays and write up the results of practical classes. At the end of the first term stu­dents take a qualifying computer-based exam; passing this allows them to continue on the course.


Second Term (January to March)

At the start of the second term, students follow a course in quantitative aspects of pharmacology covering pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and receptor pharmacology. This material is examined in a three-hour written paper sat in February.

Lectures in the second term are intended to take students beyond ‘core’ knowledge. Students should now be reading original scientific papers and developing a critical approach to published work. Students will be exposed to a broad range of topics organised into five modules:

  • Cardiovascular Pharmacology
  • Cell Signalling
  • Neuropharmacology I ( Neurodegeneration)
  • Neuropharmacology II (Psychopharmacology)
  • Drug Discovery


The work covered in these modules is examined at the beginning of the third term, allowing time over the Easter vacation for revision. Students are required to an­swer two essay questions  and critically analyse a research paper.


Third and Fourth Terms (April to September)

In terms three and four students undertake a four-month project intended to provide training in hypothesis-driven laboratory or desk-based research. Many of these projects are provided within the department but there are also opportunities to work in other areas within the University. A list of available projects are provided to students in the second term.

On completion of the project, students present their research findings in a 10,000-word dissertation followed by an oral poster presentation given in September.

Previous MSc Student projects include

  • Investigating the action of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) using large scale neurophysiological recordings of 5-HT neurons
  • Chemical synthesis of a probe to study inositol phosphate signalling
  • Optical imaging calcium signalling in cardiac tissue
  • Effect of cholesterol lowering Statins on skeletal ryanodine receptors
  • Development and mechanistic investigation into small molecule modulators of stem cell pluripotency
  • Mechanism of action and physiological role of PLCzeta at fertilization and during early embryo development


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