Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they affect the body. This means creating new chemical substances and analyzing the effects of established medicinal compounds, as well as understanding both the beneficial and harmful effects of drugs.
The subject involves elements of toxicology, biology, chemistry, and physiology, and is a broad scientific field applicable to many careers in the life sciences area.
It is important to note the difference between the studies of pharmacy and pharmacology. Courses in pharmacy are geared towards equipping graduates with licenses to dispense prescription medicines in pharmacies, or to become a pharmacist.
Pharmacology courses focus more on the research aspect of this science, teaching the student to investigate the effects of chemical compounds and to innovate ways of creating remedies to the many physical and mental ailments which affect people and animals.
Programs leading to a BSc in pharmacology address the fundamentals of the biological sciences within the first year of study, before moving on to pharmacology specializations. These may include:
• Medicinal chemistry
• Drug delivery systems
• Drug design and development
• Molecular cell biology
You’ll also spend time focusing on developing research skills, and understanding the ethics involved in pharmaceutical research. Some programs offer opportunities to study additional subjects, such as a modern language, or to gain practical work experience in the field.
A bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from a top university can lead to a multitude of careers, and the opportunity to undertake further studies in pharmacology at master’s or PhD level.
A good number of students from undergraduate programs in pharmacology take on laboratory work, often in research or pharmaceutical companies.
Developing new drugs for diseases is one popular career path. Jobs in hospital labs or within the public and private health sectors are also sought after by pharmacology graduates.
Those who go on to become licensed pharmacists may work in a local pharmacy or open up one of their own, while others remain in the realm of academic research.
As well as preparation for a career within the pharmacology sector, a degree in this subject should provide the following transferable skills:
• Technical expertise and laboratory skills
• General research skills
• General IT skills
• Self-management, including planning and meeting deadlines
• Professional communication, spoken and written
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