Back to: Pharmacology major Pharmacology major

Studies in this discipline are available in both the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Biomedicine.

Pharmacology contributes to major advances in the treatment of diabetes, heart attack, asthma, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and many other ailments affecting the human race. Breakthroughs are continually being made as a deeper understanding of how the body works has developed from the analysis of drug actions.

In this major you will study the interaction between chemical agents and living matter, and learn about the action mechanisms of biologically active substances such as therapeutic agents and agricultural, household and industrial chemicals.


A Pharmacology major will provide the springboard for you to enter a career in many areas of biomedical research and associated industries.

Graduates will gain an in depth understanding of drug actions and a broad appreciation of the scientific process of knowledge acquisition and problem-solving.

As a pharmacology graduate, you can be employed in various roles in the pharmaceutical industry, universities, research institutes, government departments and other associated industries throughout the world.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • An individual program of supervised research in which the student, in consultation with the supervisor, designs, conducts and reports on the outcomes of a specific project. Detailed requirements are negotiated with the supervisor.

  • Cancer, disorders of the immune system, cardiovascular diseases and acute and chronic lung disorders are the most common types of afflictions affecting people worldwide. This subject will examine the medicines that have been developed, or are currently being researched, to treat these diverse conditions.

    This subject will present the scientific basis of present and likely future treatments of cancer, allergy, acute and chronic inflammation, infection, autoimmunity and transplant rejection, as well as of hypertension, heart failure, cardiovascular atheromatous disease and metabolic syndrome.

    You will examine current knowledge of the pathogenesis of these disorders and the mechanisms of action of the major classes of drugs used to treat immune disorders, cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases will be considered in the context of these systems and processes. The importance of biotechnology to these therapeutic areas will also be considered.

  • The working of the brain and nervous system is an important frontier of modern medicine and nerves are the target for many important drugs. This subject will address how drugs modulate the processes of neuronal communication and survival in the context of the management of mood and emotional disorders, addictive behaviours, neuro-degenerative diseases, pain and epilepsy. This subject will also discuss strategies for the development of future therapeutics. Students will gain an appreciation of how a detailed understanding of pathophysiological processes is important for the rational development of new therapeutics.

  • This subject is appropriate for all students interested in biomedical research. Students will learn how to design and perform experiments to investigate biological systems. Students will gain experience in a wide range of molecular and cellular approaches and in analytical techniques used in drug discovery.

  • This subject will provide an overview of modern drug discovery and development, with an emphasis on the pharmacology that underpins the endeavour. The social, economic and scientific challenges facing contemporary drug discovery and development with respect to choice of suitable drug targets will be discussed; current drug targets, including receptors and enzymes, will be highlighted. Strategies – contrasting the complementary chemical-to-target and target-to-chemical approaches – to identify and optimise lead compounds will be presented. The material will include a discussion of small molecules as well as “biologicals”, such as antibodies and nucleotides. A description of how these lead compounds become drug candidates and are characterised with regards to their pharmacodynamic (receptor binding and activation), pharmacokinetic (ability to reach their site of action) and toxicological/safety pharmacology properties will be provided. Finally the approaches to bring an identified drug candidate to the market will be examined. This part of the subject will consider the necessary human clinical trials, regulatory requirements and ongoing monitoring of approved drugs. The subject material will be presented via a combination of lectures, associated online learning materials, and “hot topic” tutorials. The latter will focus on recent innovations in drug discovery, and will serve to highlight the close relationship between basic science and actual therapeutic agents.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the Bachelor of Biomedicine & Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Science Extended pages.