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Pharmacology (MSc)

Course Description

The course aims to provide students, with the opportunity to greatly enhance and expand their understanding of pharmacology, toxicology and closely associated disciplines. Cutting edge content will allow students to take a more proactive role in understanding research and development of novel pharmacological agents, as well as evaluating their safety. Additionally, students will also evaluate the subject in a broader context by looking at how funding for health care and pharmaceconomics impacts upon the drug discovery and development process. The overall course objective is to develop students' competencies so that they can establish a career in pharmacology, toxicology and drug discovery, including the public and private sector and non-government organisations at local, national and international level.

You will study a number of core modules and option modules thus allowing you to tailor the course to your own particular requirements through a pure pharmacology route or via a more business-orientated route depending on module choice/availability. You will expand your knowledge of the basic principles of pharmacology, drug discovery and toxicology. In addition you will gain knowledge of specialised areas of pharmacology including bioinformatics, immunopharmacology, neuropharmacology and state-of-the-art research in cellular signalling cascades, relevant to disease, drugs and therapeutics at the molecular and genetic level.

To enhance your learning experience you will be assigned a personal tutor and take part in our postgraduate training programme, designed to develop and enhance skills such as academic writing, presentation skills and interpretational analysis. You will also have the opportunity to attend our seminar series within the Factuality, and utilise some of the excellent tools available to our students including computer simulation software and our Human Patient Simulator (METI).

As we help you to develop as scientists, there will be an emphasis on the development of critical analysis skills, through interpretation of literature and data. You will also get the opportunity to undertake an independent research project within our research laboratories, thus developing your practical skills. Candidates wishing to enhance their experimental skills will be given the opportunity to take an extended research project. The course team are dedicated to the development of the field of pharmacology, through membership of the British Pharmacological Society and through their published research. In addition, we are supported by visiting lecturers helping to bring diversity of knowledge from many areas of the discipline to enhance this course.

Core Modules

• Molecular Bioinformatics
Bioinformatics is an exciting new discipline at the interface of computer science, information and biology and is playing a crucial role in the development of personalised medicine. From genome sequencing projects thigh to rational drug design protein engineering it offers great opportunities for enhancing our understanding of biology at the molecular level and for the developments of new therapeutics. Topics covered include: analysis of protein sequences and structure, modelling protein structure and function, rational drug design, protein structure predication and protein engineering.

• Molecular Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics
This module combines a focus on significant recent advances in studies of drugs and their targets at a molecular or chemical level, with exploration of how individual variation in the human genome underlines variable responses to prescribed drugs. Pharmacogentic tests are already in use for some conditions and personalised medicines are predicted to become the norm in future.

• Postgraduate Project
This module aims to enhance your skills of self-management, experimental design, critical analysis and interpretation of data, enabling you to present and justify your research.

• Postgraduate Research Methods
You will be able to develop your skills in information retrieval, critical analysis and presentation relevant to your research topic, and form a clear plan for your project.

• Principles of Pharmacology and Drug Discovery
This module is an introduction to pharmacology, exploring the role that pharmacology plays in the development of drugs from bench to bedside, examining the need for improving pharmacotherapy for existing and emerging diseases and the role that pharmacoeconomics plays in the drug discovery process.

• Xenobiotic Metabolism, Pharmacokinetics and Toxicology
This module provides a sound understanding of toxicokinetics and reviews the molecular mechanisms underpinning toxic side effects. You will explore the role of major metabolic pathways in the variation of an individual's drug response, and the protocols for toxicity testing.

Option Module

• Communicating Science
Introducing you to key concepts in science communication, its challenges, rewards and applications, this module is designed to incorporate scenarios related to your interests, such as health, drug discovery and water science. The roles of science and scientists in society and how the public perceives, interacts with and responds to the information produced by scientists are explored, with the history of communicating science used to contextualise current issues in disseminating information.

• Extended Postgraduate Project
Project This module gives you the opportunity to investigate an appropriate research topic, generate and critically analyse data, and present your results and discuss findings in the context of previously published work. The project proposed and undertaken must include rigorous and critical analysis of data with a high level of initiative. This module is intended for students wishing to gain greater research experience and includes an extended period of research activity and extended assessment regime.

• Immunopharmacology
The module examines the pathological basis of inflammatory and immune disease states in a number of areas including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It will explore in depth the pharmacology of drugs acting on the immune system and the identification of novel therapeutic targets for their treatments.

• Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics
This module reviews and discusses the ways in which molecular biology has been used to treat inherited and acquired diseases. You will investigate the ethics and legislation involved in the use of novel therapies in humans.

• Neuropharmacology
The module provides a comprehensive review of the major CNS disorders and drugs used to treat them. It will explore in depth how drugs interact with the neuronal and system level allowing for integration of the disciplines of neuropharmacology, clinical neuroscience and neuropathology.

• Science, Technology and Commercialization
You will gain an insight into the scope of commercial biotechnology, starting and financing a company, the role of intellectual property protection, writing a business plan, assessing projects, managing a company, managing company finances, and coping with industrial safety legislation.

Associated Careers

The course is aimed at those aspiring to be researchers within university research laboratories, work in the pharmaceutical industry or for personal development and career enhancement. During the course you will develop a range of transferable skills that will enhance your prospects for employment and research opportunities in the UK and overseas.


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. We place as much emphasis on gaining skills relevant to the workplace as on learning the academic discipline that you are studying.

Obtaining a placement, part-time or vacation job while you study will provide you with extra cash and help you demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for.

In London, there is a plentiful supply of part-time work - most students at the University of Westminster work part-time (or full-time during vacations) to help support their studies.

Visit the Pharmacology (MSc) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A good (at least lower second class) BSc Honours in Pharmacology, Physiology, Biochemistry or a closely related subject, a professional qualification of equivalent status and associated work experience or an equivalent qualification deemed suitable by the course team. If you are applying for part-time study, you will normally be working in a relevant area and will require written support from your employer including confirmation that facilities will be available in your workplace for you to carry out your research project.

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