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Programme Specification: Part II Pharmacology

This course is taught by the Department of Pharmacology.


  1. to provide a balanced and critical treatment of pharmacology with an emphasis on understanding the mechanisms of drug action at every level of biological organisation;
  2. to enable students to achieve research-level knowledge and understanding in selected areas of pharmacology;
  3. to provide a training in research skills through the provision of a laboratory-based supervised research project;
  4. to provide students with analytical and presentational skills.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should:

  1. be able to think critically and with appropriate knowledge over a wide spectrum of pharmacology;
  2. be able to analyse and assess their own research methods, and results obtained during their research project;
  3. be able to communicate their own results and the work of others to scientific and more general audiences in both oral and written presentations;
  4. be able to undertake searches of the scientific literature as the basis for critical evaluation of the retrieved information;
  5. be able to assess the feasibility of published techniques and methods to solve pharmacological problems.

Teaching and learning methods

These include lectures, supervisions, discussion groups, technique talks and research projects.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four written unseen examinations (for aims 1-2 and 4 and learning outcomes 1 and 3-5);
  • a dissertation based on a research project undertaken by the student over an eight-week period (for aims 2-4 and learning outcomes 2-5);
  • evaluation of the student's performance in the laboratory by the research project supervisor (for aims 3-4 and learning outcomes 2-3);
  • judgement of the student's oral presentational skills by all research project supervisors (for aims 3-4 and learning outcomes 2 and 3).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: Part IB of the NST, including either one biological subject or Chemistry A and/or B.

Recommended: NST Part IB Pharmacology; or Part IB of the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.