MSc in Pharmacology

The programme provides specialist training in the field of pharmacology, as well as promoting skills for career and professional development.
Prescribing drugs

Why choose this course?

  • Aston is rated in the top 10 for Pharmacology and Pharmacy in The Complete University Guide’s 2014 league tables
  • Physiology is taught alongside the core Systems Pharmacology module, helping students qualified in non-biological disciplines to cross-over into the life sciences
  • Provides hands-on experience of in vitro pharmacology with high staff –to –student ratio during research project
  • Ideal foundation for entering the pharmaceutical industry  or further studies leading to PhD

Entry requirements

This programme is open to suitably qualified international and UK graduates. Prospective students must possess a good Honours Degree (minimum lower 2nd class) in Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Science, Pharmacology, Physiology, Physical Science, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Genetics, Materials Science, Medicine, or a related field, from a recognised university or an overseas degree recognised by Aston University.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements 

English language test requirements may be waived where students’ undergraduate degree was studied in an English speaking country.

Course Information

Duration of programme: Full-time: 12 months

Start date: late September 

Application deadline:

1st August for International students

31st August for UK/EU students

If you are applying close to the deadline, please ensure you have all supporting documentation ready for the application. If the deadline has passed, we may still be able to consider you, so please contact us.

Distance learning available: No

Intake: 15


Fees for 2016 entry:

UK/EU students: £6,900
International students: £16,850

International scholarships - We have scholarships for African & South American students

Aston Alumni discount - 20% discount


The programme provides specialist training in the field of pharmacology, as well as promoting skills for career and professional development. The MSc in Pharmacology is designed around a strong theoretical education in basic and advanced pharmacology with practical experience of pharmacological and neuropharmacological techniques in the laboratory. Students will gain insight into receptor theory, molecular pharmacology, neuropharmacology and pharmacokinetics /pharmacodynamics. Physiology will also be taught alongside these elements, facilitating crossover of students qualified in non-biological disciplines to the life sciences. This will allow students to offer skills that cross boundaries and provide an excellent foundation for studies at PhD level.

The course is based around the core Systems Pharmacology module which describes the basics of receptor theory, second messenger actions and autonomic pharmacology. Understanding of fundamental aspects of pharmacology of neuromuscular junction and synaptic function are also delivered via the physiological pharmacology module and the actions of drugs and the nature of receptors are then considered at the molecular level, with a focus on the exciting and important field of neuropharmacology. The Drug Discovery module gives an overview of the pharmaceutical industry; an introduction to receptors and drug action and chemical and biological aspects of evaluation and development of new compounds

The supervised research project will last for approximately four months, and will be at the level expected for first year PhD study. Topics might include, for example, the actions of cannabinoids in cortical synaptic plasticity.


The taught modular programme will consider various aspects of pharmaceutical sciences e.g. the biology of disease states, pharmaceutical analytical analysis, pharmaceutical formulation, research methods and exploiting your research. Modules are:
The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the drug discovery process from target to market.
This module covers the basic physiology of neuromuscular junction, ANS and CNS synapses, the basis of neurotransmitter release and action potentials.
The aim of this module is to provide a description of receptor theory, second messenger and G-protein action, and to describe the pharmacology of the autonomic nervous system, the core of any pharmacological understanding of ligand-receptor interactions.
This module covers more advanced topics such as glutamate and GABA receptor pharmacology, central neurotransmission and expands the material covered into areas of CNS function and dysfunction including, for example, the molecular pharmacology of memory formation, anxiety and depression.
This module aims to present cutting edge topics including cannabinoid receptor pharmacology, further molecular aspects of memory formation at CNS synapses, and advanced aspects of GABA function.
The professional skills taught in this module will equip students with a range of professional skills for academia and the biotechnology sector whilst familiarising you with professional issues such as research funding and ethical codes for guiding 'best practice' in research.
This module includes the following - critical analysis of published work, reviewing papers, writing abstracts, writing research papers, preparing poster presentations and oral presentation skills.

The supervised research project will last for four months and be at the level expected for the first year of PhD studies. Examples of potential topics include computer-based drug design of antimicrobial compounds and chemical synthesis of compound libraries for screening and assay development.

There is a clear focus on neuromodulators / neuropeptides using isolated tissue preparations    

 Please click here for Programme Specification

Tutorials and workshops provide an opportunity for computer-aided learning of selected topics and also allow discussion of advanced aspects of selected topics, for example, the nature of partial agonist/receptor interactions and quantitative methods in pharmacology.

Assessment is in the form of written examinations, coursework essays and the project report/poster. Examinations usually take place once yearly in summer. Repeat examinations are offered in the summer of the subsequent academic year.

Please note that the course is not accredited by any professional body.

MSc in Pharmacology at Aston is a taught course, designed primarily to introduce fundamental aspects of pharmacology to non-pharmacologists or those with degree qualifications outside the life sciences. As such, whilst the course lends itself towards careers in the pharmaceutical industry, it does not provide direct practical training in specific techniques outside of the four-month research project. The course does not offer placements, internships or assistantships at drug companies or in University laboratories.

Previous students on this programme have successfully moved on to:

  • ·         become an research assistant at Oxford University
  • ·         become a clinical trials coordinator
  • ·         undertake a PhDs at Aston University, Newcastle University and Drexel University


  • Lectures and seminars are conducted in modern audio-visually equipped lecture theatres and classrooms.
  • “Wet” practicals are conducted in newly refurbished laboratories equipped with a range of pharmaceutical and analytical instruments.
  • The exceptional quality of research in the School of Life and Health Sciences (LHS) has been confirmed in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) results – with research in Allied Health Professions and Studies ranked 5th out of 97 UK higher education institutions. 94% of our research was rated as being internationally excellent or world leading.
     Projects are conducted alongside established research groups, specialising in biotechnology research.
  • Teaching and organisational material is communicated via an electronic learning environment.
  • Access to journals is provided via Aston University’s library including a mixture of hard-copy publications and electronic access to several large scientific databases.

Course director

Dr Eric Lattmann
Dr Lattmann's research interests include in vitro and in vivo pharmacology and the research is targeting towards the discovery and development of new drugs. In particular it is focused on the design, SAR optimisation and evaluation of cholecystokinin antagonists and their use in the treatment of CNS disorders, such as anxiety/depression and pain management.
Aston Pharmacy School
LHS Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3000      
Fax: +44 (0) 121 204 4187
Email: lhspgt@aston.ac.uk

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