Programme Specification for BSc (Hons) Pharmacology and Pharmacology with Placement Year


Final award

BSc (Hons) Pharmacology

BSc (Hons) Pharmacology with Placement Year

Intermediate awards available

Dip HE, Bioscience

Cert HE, Bioscience

Mode of delivery

UEL on campus

UCAS code


Details of professional body accreditation


Relevant QAA Benchmark statements


UEL Academic School

Health Sport and Bioscience

Date specification last up-dated

July 2014


The summary - UCAS programme profile


This programme offers excellent employment prospects for a wide range of careers in the pharmaceutical industry particularly for students taking the third year placement option.


For students entering with AS/A2 qualification, the minimum requirement is 240 points at A2 level with a preferred minimum of 100 A2 points in Biology or Chemistry.

We also accept Access to Science, Advanced GNVQ in Science at merit grade, and BTEC National Diploma in Science with a minimum of 6 modules at merit grade or higher. All students should also have a minimum of grade C at GCSE, or equivalent, in English language, mathematics and double science.

Applicants with overseas or alternative qualifications are considered on an individual basis. For mature students, credit may be given for relevant work experience.

Direct entry to the second year of the programme is available for students with Higher National Certificate or Diploma in an appropriate area, or for those who have successfully completed study equivalent to level one at another University.

If you want to study Pharmacology but have not achieved the right entry qualifications, why not start with our extended degree programme in Bioscience (feeds in at Level 4).

Students may be admitted through Accreditation of Experiential Learning (AEL) or Accreditation of Certified Learning (ACL) processes.

In the case of applicants whose first language is not English, then IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent) is required. International qualification will be checked for appropriate matriculation to UK Higher Education undergraduate programmes. 

At UEL we are committed to working together to build a learning community founded on equality of opportunity - a learning community which celebrates the rich diversity of our student and staff populations. Discriminatory behaviour has no place in our community and will not be tolerated. Within a spirit of respecting difference, our equality and diversity policies promise fair treatment and equality of opportunity for all. In pursuing this aim, we want people applying for a place at UEL to feel valued and know that the process and experience will be transparent and fair and no one will be refused access on the grounds of any protected characteristic stated in the Equality Act 2010


What is Pharmacology

Pharmacology is the study of drugs; their biological effects on physiological systems and application to the prevention and treatment of disease. Pharmacology is at the interface of biochemistry, human physiology, molecular biology and toxicology, all of which are studied in this degree. 

Pharmacology at UEL 

  • The aim of the programme is to introduce students to all aspects of the subject including biochemical and molecular pharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, immunopharmacology, psychopharmacology, drug discovery processes and toxicology.
  • In line with current knowledge in the field, teaching in the pharmacology programme at UEL encompasses advanced and emerging areas of therapy that include personalised medicines, gene and stem cell therapy.
  • A strong emphasis is made on enhancing the students’ knowledge and practice of the experimental side of pharmacology, which will help to improve the students’ understanding of the drug discovery and development processes.
  • This degree programme will equip students with strong knowledge, practical and professional skills to be able to pursue a career in pharmacological research or in a career related to pharmacology.
  • We offer a full programme of laboratory practicals, including an individual research project and the option of taking a credit rated 48 week placement.
  • The flexibility of sharing a common first year (Level 4) with our other Bioscience degrees provides you with the option of transferring to another degree programme on completion of the year.
  • There is also the option of taking a short term summer training placement in pharmacovigilance.

Programme structure 

  • Most students follow a 3-year full-time BSc (Hons) programme, however the 4-year placement, 4- or 5-year extended and part-time (minimum of 4 years) routes are also available.
  • Level 4 is designed to bring students from a diversity of backgrounds to a common understanding of a number of generic and specific skills required for progress to Level 5 of any of the Bioscience degrees at UEL. These include HE study and ICT skills, biology, chemistry, cell biology, genetics, human physiology, microbiology, statistics and experimental design.
  • At Level 5 you will study modules (modules) in advanced human physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, immunology and molecular biology.
  • At Level 6 (the third year for full-time or fourth year for placement students), areas of pharmacology introduced at Level 5 are studied in depth, together with toxicology and a laboratory or non-laboratory based research project.

Learning environment

Learning is encouraged through participation in a wide variety of activities including lectures, seminars, workshops, laboratory classes and computer-based/-aided learning (CBL/CAL) as well as through seminars delivered by guest speakers with specialist expertise in areas related to pharmacology. Each module has 4-5 hours formal contact per week, but you should allow yourself an additional 8-9 hours each week for private study (student-centred learning).

Success at degree level depends on developing your ability to study independently using the variety of learning resources on offer. The Level 1 programme will help you make the major shift from the more teacher-centred learning delivered at school or FE college to independent learning at HE.


Students are assessed in practical work and theory. In most modules 50% of the module mark is derived from coursework during the semester (this can take a variety of forms including laboratory work, data analysis, essays, portfolios, oral presentations etc.) and 50% from unseen written theory examination at the end of the semester. Some modules also include laboratory practical exams.

Level 4 (Year 1) modules introduce you to the standards and types of assessment used at university. Some have theory exams staged at intervals through the semester. Although they do not contribute to your final Honours grade, you are expected to achieve at least 40% in all Level 4 modules.

Your final Honours grade uses marks from Level 5 and Level 6 modules only. Your Level 4 modules prepare you to do your best in these later years.

Students with disabilities and/or particular learning needs should discuss assessments with the Programme Leader to ensure they are able to fully engage with all assessment within the programme

Work experience/placement opportunities

The 4-year placement programme offers you the experience of one year's work in a hospital, research organisation, small-medium biotechnological enterprise or large pharmaceutical company in the UK, EU or further afield.  There is also the opportunity to gain 20 Level 2 credits if you choose to take the Work-based Learning module during the year. In addition to this, there is also the opportunity to undertake a summer placement in drug regulatory affairs at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) or at small/medium pharmacovigilance companies. 

Project work 

  • Project work is an essential component of an Honours degree programme and one that most students enjoy. Small projects and group work exercises feature throughout the programme.
  • One third of your final year is spent on an individual research project. This will contribute over 20% to your total Honours mark.
  • Project work encourages students to show initiative in their individual work under supervision, using appropriate analytical techniques to generate and interpret new data.
  • Laboratory based projects are encouraged but library based research projects may also be undertaken.

Added value 

  • Extensive personal support throughout the programme.
  • Staff with extensive experience of teaching students from a wide range of backgrounds.
  • Sound practical and academic training.
  • The placement year working in a laboratory will add value to your job prospects at the end of the programme.
  • Effective careers advice and support available. 


If you are interested in... 

  • Studying practical methods relevant to Pharmacology.
  • Understanding how current knowledge in Pharmacology depends on study at many levels: molecules, cells, and whole organisms.
  • Improving your scientific skills of logical argument and analysis.
  • Developing your knowledge of medical and industrial oriented areas of Pharmacology.
  • Becoming a scientist with specialist knowledge on medicinal drugs and their mechanisms of action
  • Keen on pursuing a career in biomedical-related research.

If you enjoy... 

  • Reading or hearing about research and/ or medicine
  • The challenge of increasing not just your knowledge of facts, but also your understanding of how science contributes to the search for new solutions to problems.
  • Doing scientific procedures and experiments in laboratories and IT labs with precision.
  • Working in laboratories using standard and novel techniques to solve problems.
  • Being able to study quietly and individually away from formal staff-led sessions. 

If you want... 

  • The chance of reviewing your degree programme at the end of the first year with the possibility of changing to a related Bioscience degree.
  • The option of a year's work experience in a laboratory away from the University.
  • To be able to spend up to one third of your final year on your own research project (ICT-, laboratory- or library-based) at the university, or by agreement, in the laboratory where you enjoyed your work experience.

Your future career

This degree will enable you to pursue a career in pharmacological research and development with global pharmaceutical companies and small-medium biotechnological enterprises, government funded research institutes and laboratories. Non-laboratory based careers include working as a CRA (clinical research associate), in medical sales and pharmacovigillance with the Government's MHRA (medicines & health care products regulatory agency) or private industry.

Many graduates opt for further study and enrol on Masters and doctoral degrees to develop a deeper understanding of areas of their BSc (Hons) that stimulated their interest or to enhance their employment prospects with conversion programmes in business or computing. 

How we support you

The School of Health, Sport and Bioscience provides immediate contact with University support systems.

  • In your first year, you are allocated a Personal Tutor (a member of staff familiar with your degree). You will see your Tutor at regular intervals to discuss progress and life in general.
  • Module leaders and Programme leaders also give support on academic matters, and advice about other specialist help available through the University.
  •  The School also has a Help Desk to provide administrative assistance and advise how to get the right help.
  • Internet homepages are used by many staff to support their teaching and your learning.
  • Lecture and practical files, quizzes, mark summaries and much more is now available for several modules via Moodle.
  • Throughout the programme you will find a number of scheduled support activities devoted to specific aspects e.g. how to write your project report, or more general aspects such as careers.

Support for students on a University level includes:

  • Libraries and Learning Resource Centres
  • Childcare for students with children aged 21/2 years to 5 years.
  • Careers advice and information
  • Counselling and Advice for practical problems
  • Health Centre with a nurse regularly on duty.
  • Language tuition
  • Dyslexia support
  • Accommodation

Bonus factors

  • A small and friendly campus. 
  • A School with staff and facilities to match to the wide interests and backgrounds of students.
  • Good connections with employers.
  • State of the art sports facilities Sports Dock on Docklands campus
  • Close proximity to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Westfield Stratford City shopping complex
  • Multiplex cinema, theatre, supermarkets, high street shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs a few minutes walk away in Stratford - a major site of new development in East London.
  • Central London only 20 minutes away by underground and extensive transport links with all parts of London
Programme aims and learning outcomes

What is this programme designed to achieve?

This programme is designed to give you the opportunity to: 

  • To gain an understanding of the basic mechanisms which are found in all living systems.
  • To apply that basic understanding to the study of specific, more advanced, topics enabling students to have current knowledge in selected areas.
  • To develop skills in the performance and interpretation of a range of appropriate experimental techniques.
  • To develop research skills
  • To develop independent learning skills, which can be carried on throughout life.
  • To gain an insight into the work of biologists in modern society. 

What will you learn?


  • All students gain a broad overview of the biology field at level one. Thereafter you will acquire more detailed specialist knowledge in your chosen areas.
  • The programme aims to provide a background to a large number of the scientific techniques used in biological investigations.
  • Students will acquire an understanding of the laboratory procedures and techniques used, which will allow the rapid acquisition of more specialist skills later in their career.
  • An awareness of the wider implications of scientific research on society as a whole. 

Thinking skills

  • The ability to comprehend, analyse and criticise published information in biology.
  • The ability to formulate hypotheses with the minimum of assistance.
  • The ability to use integrated approaches to problem solving.

Subject-Based Practical skills

  • The ability to analyse data from your own and other people's experiments and to interpret them in the light of published work.
  • The ability to select and apply a range of practical skills relevant to your chosen areas of biology.
  • The ability to design and carry out experimental work.
  • The ability to effectively communicate your work to scientists and the general public.
  • The ability to select and utilise appropriate computer software.
  • The ability to carry out literature searches effectively to find information on a specific topic.

Skills for life and work (general skills)

  • The development of your own style of independent learning.
  • The ability to communicate ideas and experiments to others and to debate relevant scientific and /or ethical issues.
  • IT skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Team work.
  • Time management.
  • Confidence.

The programme structure


All programmes are credit-rated to help you to understand the amount and level of study that is needed.

 One credit is equal to 10 hours of directed study time (this includes everything you do e.g. lecture, seminar and private study).

Credits are assigned to one of 5 levels: 

3         equivalent in standard to GCE 'A' level and is intended to prepare students for year one of an   undergraduate degree programme

4         equivalent in standard to the first year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

5         equivalent in standard to the second year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

6         equivalent in standard to the third year of a full-time undergraduate degree programme

7         equivalent in standard to a Masters degree

Credit rating

The overall credit-rating of this programme is 360 credits.

Typical duration

The expected duration of this programme is 3 years full-time or 4 years part-time. 

It is possible to move from full-time to part-time study and vice-versa to accommodate any external factors such as financial constraints or domestic commitments.  Many of our students make use of this flexibility and this may impact on the overall duration of their study period. A student cannot normally continue study on a programme after 4 years of study in full time mode unless exceptional circumstances apply and extenuation has been granted. The limit for completion of a programme in part time mode is 8 years from first enrolment. 

How the teaching year is divided

The teaching year begins in September and ends in June

A typical student, in full-time attendance mode of study, will register for 120 credits in an academic year. A student in a part-time mode of study may register for up to 90 credits in any academic year. 

What you will study when

A student registered in a full-time attendance mode will take 120 credits per year. Typically this will be comprised of four 30 credit modules. The exact number may differ if the programme is comprised of 15, 45 or 60 credits modules.  An honours degree student will complete modules totalling 120 credits at level four, modules totalling 120 credits at level five and modules totalling 120 credits at level six.







Distance learning












Cell Biology






Essential Chemistry






Human Anatomy and Physiology






Biology of Disease






Cellular Biochemistry






Fundamental and Experimental Pharmacology












Physiological Regulation






Work Placement (short)






Work Placement (year)












Research Project






Systems Pharmacology and Therapeutics


































*Please Note – A core module for a programme is a module which a student must have passed (i.e. been awarded credit) in order to achieve the relevant named award. An optional module for a programme is a module selected from a range of modules available on the programme.


Requirements for gaining an award

In order to gain an honours degree in Pharmacology you will need to obtain 360 credits including:

  • A minimum of 120 credits at level four or higher
  • A minimum of 120 credits at level five or higher
  • A minimum of 120 credits at level six or higher

In order to gain an honours degree in Pharmacology with Placement Year you will need to obtain 360 credits including:

  • A minimum of 120 credits at level four or higher
  • A minimum of 120 credits at level five or higher and P/F credit sandwich module at Level P
  • A minimum of 120 credits at level six or higher

In order to gain an ordinary degree  in Pharmacology you will need to obtain a minimum of 300 credits including:

  • A minimum of 120 credits at level four or higher
  • A minimum of 120 credits at level five or higher
  • A minimum of  60 credits at level six or higher

In order to gain a Diploma of Higher Education in Bioscience you will need to obtain at least 240 credits including a  minimum of 120 credits at level four or higher and 120 credits at level five or higher

In order to gain a Certificate of Higher Education in Bioscience you will need to obtain 120 credits at level four or higher

Degree Classification

Where a student is eligible for an Honours degree by passing a valid combination of module to comprise an award and has gained the minimum of 240 UEL credits at level 5 or level 6 on the current enrolment for the programme, including a minimum of 120 UEL credits at level 6, the award classification is determined by calculating;

The arithmetic mean of the best 90 credits at level 6




The arithmetic mean of the next best 90 credits at levels 5 and/or 6



and applying the mark obtained as a percentage, with all decimals points rounded up to the nearest whole number, to the following classification

70% - 100%

First Class Honours

60% - 69%

Second Class Honours, First Division

50% - 59%

Second Class Honours, Second Division

40% - 49%

Third Class Honours

0% - 39%

Not passed

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching and learning

Knowledge is developed through

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Practicals
  • Reading
  • Internet, Moodle and CAL

Thinking skills are developed through

  • Computer aided learning
  • Presentations
  • Preparing for tutorials and seminars/workshops
  • Completing coursework assignments (including data analysis essays, presentations etc)
  • Independent reading

Practical skills are developed through

  • Laboratory Practical and/or fieldwork
  • Computer simulations and use of IT

Skills for life and work (general skills) are developed through

  • Managing time
  • Presenting ideas and arguments in a structured manner - written and oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Team work


A wide variety of assessment methods are used including

  • Written examinations
  • Practical reports
  • Essays
  • Data analysis
  • Poster presentations
  • Oral presentations
  • Portfolios
  • Final year research project and dissertation
  • MCQ tests
  • Database searches
  • Library exercises

Knowledge and Thinking Skills are assessed by

  • Evidence of reading and comprehension of the topics covered in the module being assessed. This will be particularly apparent in essay work and examinations.
  • Ability to describe, explain and discuss various aspects of the programme material in the context of class tutorials, group work, presentations and other pieces of assessed coursework for the module.
  • In the final year particularly, thinking skills will be assessed by the ability to take information presented in any module out of its original context and to utilise this information in the construction of arguments, comparisons, hypotheses etc as required to address the specific assessments in each module. 

Practical skills are assessed by

  • The ability to carry out laboratory practical work effectively, within the timeframe allocated.
  • The ability to interpret and report on work carried out in the laboratory.
  • The ability to complete assignments using appropriate resources.
  • Evidence of logical planning and management of time in the preparation of materials for assessment.

Skills for life and work (general skills) are assessed by

  • The ability to work to strict deadlines
  • The ability to select and utilise appropriate problem solving skills
  • Demonstration of effective oral and written communication skills
  • Evidence of interpersonal skills such as teamwork and /or team leadership
  • Evidence of general numeracy skills

How we assure the quality of this programme

Before this programme started

Before this programme started, the following was checked:

  • there would be enough qualified staff to teach the programme;
  • adequate resources would be in place;
  • the overall aims and objectives were appropriate;
  • the content of the programme met national benchmark requirements;
  • the programme met any professional/statutory body requirements;
  • the proposal met other internal quality criteria covering a range of issues such as admissions policy, teaching, learning  and assessment strategy and student support mechanisms.

This is done through a process of programme approval which involves consulting academic experts including some subject specialists from other institutions.

How we monitor the quality of this programme

The quality of this programme is monitored each year through evaluating:

  • external examiner reports (considering quality and standards);
  • statistical information (considering issues such as the pass rate);
  • student feedback. 

Drawing on this and other information, programme teams undertake the annual Review and Enhancement Process which is co-ordinated at School level and includes student participation.  The process is monitored by the Quality and Standards Committee.

 Once every six years an in-depth review of the whole field is undertaken by a panel that includes at least two external subject specialists.  The panel considers documents, looks at student work, speaks to current and former students and speaks to staff before drawing its conclusions.  The result is a report highlighting good practice and identifying areas where action is needed.

The role of the programme committee

This programme has a programme committee comprising all relevant teaching staff, student representatives and others who make a contribution towards the effective operation of the programme (e.g. library/technician staff).  The committee has responsibilities for the quality of the programme. It provides input into the operation of the Review and Enhancement Process and proposes changes to improve quality.  The programme committee plays a critical role in the quality assurance procedures.

The role of external examiners

The standard of this programme is monitored by at least one external examiner.  External examiners have two primary responsibilities: 

  • To ensure the standard of the programme is maintained;
  • To ensure that justice is done to individual students.

External examiners fulfil these responsibilities in a variety of ways including: 

  • Approving exam papers/assignments;
  • Attending assessment boards;
  • Reviewing samples of student work and moderating marks;
  • Ensuring that regulations are followed;
  • Providing feedback through an annual report that enables us to make improvements for the future.

The external examiner reports for this programme are located on the UEL virtual learning environment (Moodle) on the school notice board under the section entitled ‘External Examiner Reports & Responses’. You can also view a list of the external examiners for the UEL School by clicking on the link below.

Listening to the views of students

The following methods for gaining student feedback are used on this programme:

  • Module evaluations
  • Student representation on programme committees (meeting each semester)
  • Personal tutor, module leader, programme leader, field co-ordinator

Students are notified of the action taken through:

  • Circulating the minutes of the field committee and the annual quality improvement report
  • Verbal feedback to specific groups
  • Providing details on the appropriate noticeboard

Listening to the views of others

The following methods are used for gaining the views of other interested parties:

  • Feedback from former students
  • Industrial liaison committee
  • Liaison with sandwich placement employers

Further Information

Where you can find further information

Further information about this programme is available from:

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