There is a rapidly increasing number of immune system molecules now used to treat, or used as targets in the treatment of, a wide range of disease. The joint Immunology and Pharmacology degree has been developed to meet the need for understanding of both these subjects in drug development.
There is a rapidly increasing number of immune system molecules now used to treat, or used as targets in the treatment of, a wide range of disease.
Immunology is the study of how the body defends itself against pathogenic microorganisms and cancer but is also fundamental to debilitating autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies. Pharmacology is concerned with the discovery, characterisation and toxicology of drugs that are used either as medicines or as experimental tools for advancing our understanding of the body in health and disease. It also addresses drug toxicity and the processes by which drugs are absorbed, metabolised and excreted. We look at how the immune system can be exploited for novel therapies including vaccines.
Students will gain a broad, in depth, understanding of both subjects at the molecular, cellular and systems levels. Our research-led approach, which covers the latest advances provides graduates with the skills and knowledge for a wide range of careers in immunology and pharmacology and more generally in medical science.
5 year MSci degree
This degree offers you the opportunity to undertake a year's placement in an industrial, commercial or research environment and graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree) instead of a BSc. Find out more.
What You'll Study
A degree in Immunology and Pharmacology is taught via a selection of compulsory and optional courses to enhance your learning and prepare you for a future career or further study. In each year you will take courses adding up to 120 credits. Depending on the number of compulsory and optional courses offered by your degree, you can also choose other eligible courses which fit your timetable.
Year 1 courses include Medical Sciences and Chemistry for Life Sciences plus additional courses selected from science and other areas.
Introduction to Medical Sciences (SM1001)
Topics covered in this course span medical
science through the ages; from ancient civilizations to the modern day science
of genomics and synthetic biology.
Alongside lecture material, in depth practical
classes will cover biomedical measurement techniques, forensic science and a
research-based mini project.
Also included in the course is a trip to the
Institute of Medical Sciences where you will gain access to cutting-edge
laboratories and equipment.
Overall, this course is a journey through some
of the key milestones that underpin the discipline of medical science we see
Introduction to the Science of Sport, Exercise and Health (SR1002)
this course introduces core concepts of
physiology, sport science and biomedical science and sets foundations for further
study of these topics;
the course uses responses and adaptations to
exercise and physical challenges to integrate and highlight links between biomedical
subjects like anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology or bioenergetics;
the course uses a streamlined modular system to
deliver and assess the course content and fortnightly online assessments ensure
effective learning and are highly commended by students;
each subject or practical class is delivered by
specialized members of staff to ensure state-of-the-art content and delivery
Chemistry for the Life Sciences 1 (CM1020)
This course covers the foundations of chemistry that
underpin the life sciences at a molecular level. The course aims to consolidate
a general background in chemistry by putting chemical concepts into a life sciences
context. The basic concepts of chemistry
will be covered, along with organic molecules, acids and bases, and the basic
principles behind the driving forces of reactions.
Laboratory classes introduce important practical techniques,
with experiments that reinforce and complement the taught material.
course will allow students to continue with other chemistry courses as part of
their enhanced study by providing discipline breadth.
The Cell (SM1501)
cells are the fundamental unit of life – without
them life could not exist, and as such understanding how they function is
crucial to our understanding of biology and medical science;
this course provides theoretical knowledge in a diverse
range of topics covering the fascinating world of cells, from molecules like
DNA, to how different cell types function within our bodies;
all practical classes are research based and
will provide theoretical knowledge and skills training in many areas of
molecular and cell biology;
employability skills will also be explored
through a highly interactive session run by the Scottish Institute for
Chemistry for the Life Sciences 2 (CM1512)
Chemistry plays an important role in the life sciences,
explaining the shapes and properties of biomolecules, and helping to provide an
understanding of how biological processes work at a molecular level.
The shapes and function of important biomolecules will be
covered. Organic molecule reaction mechanisms will give insight into how different
types of molecules can be synthesised. The energetics and importance of
equilibrium in driving reactions will be covered.
Methods of chemical analysis and measurement introduce other
important topics linking the chemical and life sciences.
and labs complement lectures by consolidating learning and developing
problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.
Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)
Students will learn about careers and employability, equality and diversity, health and safety.
Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 2 courses introduce Immunity, Infectious Diseases, Genetics and cell biology. The year 2 curriculum includes two courses devoted to development of Foundation and Research Skills in the Life Sciences.
Genes and Evolution (BI2017)
look at how instructions in genes are transformed
by natural selection to produce the diversity of life on Earth;
learn how species evolve, how we determine
why populations change, understand why
humans (and other organisms) must carry genetic diseases;
meet enthusiastic staff; each teach about
areas we are expert on;
take 3 Genes & Evolution Practicals to
gain hands on experience of approaches used by researchers to map genes,
estimate rates of evolution, and determine evolutionary relationships;
keep up to speed with in-course tests, understand
basic statistics, see why mutations are not the only evolutionary currency
Physiology of Human Cells (BI20B2)
Physiology is the science of understanding
life. It allows you to explore and understand why your body does what it
does and how it does it;
This introductory physiology course explores living
processes at the level of cells and molecules;
The course lays down many of the fundamental
concepts of physiology required to appreciate advanced study of many of the
medical science disciplines;
You will gain practical experience and
understanding of electrophysiological techniques required for the study of
electrically excitable tissues, like nerves and muscle;
You will also gain valuable experience in the key
skill of writing formal scientific reports
Molecular Biology of the Gene (BI20M3)
this course will provide a comprehensive
understanding of how genetic information is stored, how it is accessed by the
cell to form functional proteins and how the release of this information is
controlled to produce a healthy human child;
understanding this process is essential to
understanding the basis of human disease and the course will examine how
genetic differences affect disease susceptibility;
this popular, comprehensive and cutting edge course
will equip students with the essential knowledge, skills and confidence in
molecular biology required to progress on all courses undertaken in the School
of Medical Sciences
Foundation Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2001)
this course is the cornerstone to all the
advanced science courses in later years and provides you with key skills for
success in science;
feedback from employers drove the course design
to give specific and focused science skills to enhance your employability;
analytical, professional, data interpretation,
experimental design and problem solving skills are core elements that are
essential for any graduate career portfolio;
this course and the additional specifically
developed online resources have been commended by employers and students alike.
Physiology of Human Organ Systems (BI25B2)
the digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory,
renal and reproductive systems are covered using a variety of innovative
you will participate in practical classes where
students act as subjects and
investigators. These will reinforce lecture material, develop scientific acumen
and build team working skills;
focussed and interactive problem solving
sessions apply knowledge to clinical scenarios, and begin developing
fundamental skills critically required in the final years of the degree;
informal teaching sessions allow one-to-one
staff-student interaction and encourage discussion in a non-threatening
a low stakes in-course mock exam is included to
prepare you for the high stakes degree exam
Microbes, Infection and Immunity (BI25M5)
if you were to count the
number of bacteria in your gut, you might be surprised to find that you have 10
times more of them than you have cells in your body;
from the moment we are
born, we become infested with microbial life that has an enormous impact on our
in this course we explore the positive and negative aspects of our
relationship with microbes, and how our immune system helps to maintain a
fragile peace with our closest neighbours
Energy for Life (BI25M7)
understanding the fundamental workings of cells
is important to a wide range of scientific disciplines;
this course integrates the key metabolic and
biochemical processes that underpin human, animal and plant life in relation to
health and disease;
this core knowledge prepares you for more
advanced study in all areas of life sciences and has wide ranging applications;
you will also participate in an award winning
practical series focussed on drug discovery which will build essential
employability skills in experimental design, data analysis and practical
Research Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2501)
course cultivates literature research skills, building confidence in
team-working and communication through scientific writing and seminar
encourages student-led learning and organisation in researching a topic on
human health or disease of your own choice, with tutors providing guidance;
will learn to use online and library resources to search for information
from primary research articles and relay that information in the form of a
written report and a Powerpoint presentation to peers and academic tutors;
are all fundamental skills for scientific researchers, but are also
transferrable talents for many other career pathways
In year 3 courses include biochemical pharmacology and toxicology and mechanisms of disease and principles of chemotherapy.
Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology (PA3004)
this will be the first specific Pharmacology
course encountered, and lays appropriate foundations upon which advanced
Pharmacological understanding is developed;
critical concepts of pharmacological and
toxicological relevance are covered in-depth at a molecular and biochemical
level, with the ultimate significance to the human organism also studied;
a modern and recently developed practical thread
(partly funded by the British Pharmacological Society) permits application of
lecture materials, and enhances employability through development of relevant
core practical skills;
research-led special topics are also embedded
where the materials studied are put in context through teaching driven by
recent organ system medical research
Cardiovascular Physiology and Pharmacology (BM3501)
cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of
death worldwide. Using teaching informed by high-quality research this course provides
a comprehensive understanding of cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology;
you will learn how the knowledge of physiological
processes is directed into identifying drugs targets for disease, which will improve
your understanding of drug discovery;
insight into the molecular and cellular action
of drugs in the cardiovascular system will prepare you for your final year
wider transferable skills include problem
solving, data interpretation and training in the ethical and safety aspects of recruiting
human subjects in research.
Mechanisms of Disease and Principles of Chemotherapy (PA3802)
by understanding the process of a disease we can find ways
of both treating it and/or preventing it;
this course uses the examples of
cancer, infectious disease and inflammatory disease to illustrate this;
the factors leading to or causing the disease
will be described;
using this knowledge
the way in which the drugs used to treat the disease work will be
problems that arise from drug
treatment such as drug resistance will also be covered
Fundamentals of Immunology (IM3501)
this course will give you a broad understanding
of the immune system, the way it works and its role in health and disease;
you will cover the core concepts which are
essential for advanced study in Immunology;
practical classes will extend your knowledge and
abilities in both generic laboratory techniques and those more specifically
related to Immunology;
you will gain wider transferrable skills
including team-working, improved ability to present and interpret data and write
reports, and improved numerical skills all of which are key requirements for
Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.
In your Honours year the focus of taught courses is on special aspects of immunology and pharmacology. An important feature is the ten-week research project, carried out in research laboratories at the University or in local research institutes.
Current Research in Immunology (IM4006)
course enables the students to extend their knowledge in basic Immunology to
frontline research into specific mechanisms that focus on infectious agents and
module 1 enables understanding of how human pathogens can
evade our immune system and the challenges of immunotherapeutic and vaccine
development for these pathogens;
module 2 focuses on molecular mechanisms that
shape the immune system and provide novel therapeutic targets for autoimmunity,
cancer, transplantation and infection
Overall, this course provides
the students with current knowledge in a variety of health and disease issues
that are attractive to potential employers in academia and industry.
Molecular Pharmacology (PA4005)
this course provides topical reviews of receptor diversity, expression and signalling in the contexts of both basic science and applications in the treatments of disease and ill health;
modern and developing aspects of pharmacology are linked with proteomics/ genomics, therapeutics and methods of drug discovery;
specialist emerging aspects of molecular pharmacology including biased ligands and receptor trafficking and their role in disease will be studied in detail;
in addition to lectures the course includes advanced data analysis-based tutorials and data presentation which will enhance transferable skills and add to graduate portfolios
Molecular Toxicology (PA4302)
this course extends previous knowledge in the area of drug
metabolism and toxicology;
of drug development will be examined from the importance of understanding the
metabolic profile of drugs and their transport to covering molecular aspects of
Experts from academia and the pharmaceutical industry contribute to the
teaching and assessment of this important area;
this course opens up new opportunities for employability in academia and
the pharmaceutical industry
Immunology or Pharmacology Project (IM4504)
This 10 week
research project will give the student experience in advanced laboratory or
literature research techniques.Wider
transferrable skills which will enhance employability are
the ability to design and plan
the ability to critically assess the work of others;
skills in data analysis and
the ability to maintain accurate,
detailed, up-to-date records of work;
the ability to write a clear
account of the aims of the work, what was achieved and its significance;
the ability to present the major
findings of the project orally to a general audience
We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.
You will be taught using a variety of methods and styles and we continually seek to make the teaching engaging, exciting and responsive to the latest research in your subject area. The research we carry out in the School directly informs and guides our teaching, particularly in the final Honours year. Our commitment to teaching is recognised by the range of University of Aberdeen Student-led Teaching Awards given to staff from our School.
As a student, your learning is supported by MyAberdeen, our virtual learning environment from which you can access the lecture Powerpoint slides, online practice tests, links to related reading, and tutorial support material.
We make innovative use of 'educational voting' handsets in class, remote control 'clickers' that allow each and every student to electronically respond in class by anonymous vote to questions posed by the lecturer.
Your academic development is supported from year 1 through to year 4 by an assigned personal tutor, who acts as adviser and mentor throughout your University career.
Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:
coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
written examinations at the end of each course.
The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.
Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.
Why Study this Degree?
You will receive cutting edge, applicable training and practical experience in classical pharmacology, toxicology and cell and molecular pharmacology.
The people involved in your teaching are at the forefront of pharmacology research and some may also be involved with successful spin-out companies.
Pharmacology teaching at the University was graded 'Excellent' in the last Teaching Quality Assessment.
Pharmacologists at the University of Aberdeen have been involved in fundamental scientific discoveries such as morphine-like and cannabis-like substances in the brain.
The University has been recognised by the British Pharmacological Society as a site of special scientific interest based on its achievements in pharmacology.
You will receive training in both specialist and employment-related skills.
Excellent staff and teaching facilities; 92% of our students were satisfied with teaching on courses in the School of Medical Sciences, and 91.8% of our students were satisfied that staff made the subject interesting (2014 National Student Survey)
The University is one of the top 10 UK Universities for spin-out company formation.
Award winning research on opioids and cannabinoids was carried out by world-renowned Professors Kosterlitz and Pertwee at the University.
Fees and Funding
You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.
For international students entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.
The University of Aberdeen is associated with a Nobel Prize for research which led to the development of insulin as a treatment for diabetes.
You will find all the information you require about entry requirements on our dedicated 'Entry Requirements' page. You can also find out about the different types of degrees, offers, advanced entry, and changing your subject.
SQA Highers - AABB* A Levels - BBB* IB - 32 points, 5 at HL* ILC - AAABB (B1 or B2 required)*
*Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.
Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers ABB or A Levels ABB, or IB 34 points (6 at HL) including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at A-grade.
Students undertaking Education, Medicine or Dentistry programmes must comply with the University's fitness to practise guidelines.
Dedicated teaching labs
Our commitment to teaching is underscored by our recent rebuild and modernisation of the teaching lab space dedicated to practical teaching at years 1, 2 and 3.
A dedicated Medical Library on the Foresterhill Health Campus and the fantastic facilities in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at King’s College, are complemented by online access to the key medical and health sciences journals and textbooks.
The Immunology and Pharmacology degree offers good prospects for research careers in academia, industry, the scientific civil service and hospitals. It can be used as an entry qualification for certain postgraduate courses, including MSc Clinical Pharmacology, Toxicology, Endocrinology, Nutrition or IT. Alternatively, it may lead onto careers such as marketing, publishing or teaching.
Our degree programmes are built to enhance your employability and three flagship options give our degrees a distinctively different flavour from many others. All our degrees offer:
A 10-week full time research project in the final year which will provide you with valuable experience of working in a medical science research environment
Highly relevant and sought after experience in bio-business aimed at giving you an understanding of the commercialisation of scientific ideas and an opportunity to learn about the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries
We have close links with the British Society of Immunology who provide funding for the Aberdeen Immunology Group enabling bi-weekly talks in term time from Immunologists across the UK and further afield as well as an annual symposium.
We have close teaching and research ties with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service in Aberdeen
Strong links with the British Pharmacological Society (BPS)
You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.
What our Alumni Say
The one thing you would notice at the very beginning of your studies is how easy it is to reach your new lecturers. And how much they like explaining everything from the beginning, again and again, if there is something you don’t understand.
Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.
You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.