Pharmacology is concerned with the study of drugs and the key role they play in the treatment of most human diseases. Increasingly, doctors rely on drugs not only to cure disease, for example antibiotics and infections, but also in the prevention of diseases, such as lipid lowering drugs and heart disease.
A major in pharmacology will give you a thorough knowledge of the discovery, development and testing of drugs, and its importance to the future of medical research and practice. In this major you will learn about the mechanisms of drug action, drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination, drug activity and chemical structure, the effect of drugs on body systems, the toxic effects of drugs and more.
For more information on the program structure and content, view the Science Undergraduate Handbook.
To prepare for a major in pharmacology, it is recommended that you take junior biology or molecular biology and genetics, and junior chemistry.
It is highly recommended that you take intermediate molecular biology units, and you will need to take intermediate pharmacology units which are prerequisites for your senior pharmacology units.
To successfully complete your pharmacology major, you must complete at least 24 credit points of senior pharmacology units.
Drug Design and Development
With a major in pharmacology, you could pursue a career as a pharmacologist who discovers, designs and tests drugs. Some pharmacologists extract new drugs from plants and other living sources, some design and synthesise new chemicals for use as drugs.
You can find pharmacology roles in many different organisations: basic pharmacology research occurs in both universities and in pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacologists play key roles in both the conduct an analysis of these trials and in reviewing them for government before a drug is allowed on to the market. A special group of pharmacologists - toxicologists - play a particularly important role in the evaluation of the safety of drugs and other chemicals which may affect humans.
Further study for major
If you are interested in furthering your specialisation in pharmacology, you may wish to undertake an honours year and a subsequent postgraduate research program, subject to admission requirements.
Opportunities for honours and postgraduate research are available for eligible students in a variety of specialised pharmacology fields including neuropharmacology, medicinal chemistry, cancer therapeutics, chemical biology, among others.
Completing your honours year is an important step in exploring your potential for a career in research, as it involves completing a research project in your specialised area, under the supervision of an expert in that field. If you do well enough, you might be eligible to apply for a research program like the MSc or PhD, where you can take your research even further.
Related subject areas
Anatomy and Histology