Immunology and Pharmacology BSc, Joint Honours

Immunology and Pharmacology, BSc

Introduction

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.

Contact

Email
study@abdn.ac.uk
Phone
+44 (0)1224 272090

Key Facts

UCAS Code
BC25
Duration
4 Years
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

Interested in this Degree?

How to Apply

Overview

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

Introduction

Year 1 courses include Medical Sciences and Chemistry for Life Sciences plus additional courses selected from science and other areas.

Compulsory Courses

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 today.
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.

The 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 Enterprise
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.

Workshops and labs complement lectures by consolidating learning and developing problem-solving and hands-on practical skills.

Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.

Optional Courses

  • Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Introduction

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.

Compulsory Courses

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 evolutionary relationships;
  • 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 teaching methods;
  • 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 environment;
  • 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 lives;
  • 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 laboratory skills
Research Skills for Medical Sciences (SM2501)
  • this course cultivates literature research skills, building confidence in team-working and communication through scientific writing and seminar presentation;
  • it encourages student-led learning and organisation in researching a topic on human health or disease of your own choice, with tutors providing guidance;
  • you 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;
  • these are all fundamental skills for scientific researchers, but are also transferrable talents for many other career pathways

Year 3

Introduction

In year 3 courses include biochemical pharmacology and toxicology and mechanisms of disease and principles of chemotherapy.

Compulsory Courses

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 research project;
  • 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 discussed;
  • 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 employers

Optional Courses

  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 4

Introduction

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.

Compulsory Courses

Current Research in Immunology (IM4006)
  • this course enables the students to extend their knowledge in basic Immunology to frontline research into specific mechanisms that focus on infectious agents and maintaining immunity;
  • 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;
  • the process of drug development will be examined from the importance of understanding the metabolic profile of drugs and their transport to covering molecular aspects of pre-clinical toxicology;
  • external 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

  • time-management skills;
  • the ability to design and plan research strategy;
  • the ability to critically assess the work of others;
  • skills in data analysis and interpretation;
  • 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.

Undergraduate Open Day

Our next Open Day will be on

Find out more

How You'll Study

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.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Lab Work
  • Workshops
  • Seminars

Assessment

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?

Why Pharmacology

  • 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.

Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Nationality Status Amount
Home / EU All Students £1,820
RUK All Students £9,000
International Students Students admitted in 2014/15 £15,700
International Students Students admitted in 2015/16 £16,200
International Students Students admitted in 2016/17 £17,200
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trip courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

The University of Aberdeen is associated with a Nobel Prize for research which led to the development of insulin as a treatment for diabetes.

Entry Requirements

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.

Qualifications

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.

Further detailed entry requirements for Sciences degrees.

Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Students undertaking Education, Medicine or Dentistry programmes must comply with the University's fitness to practise guidelines.

Facilities

  • Dedicated teaching labs

    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.

  • Library facilities

    Library facilities

    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.

Careers

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
  • The option of an industrial placement year and graduation with an undergraduate MSci
  • 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

Industry Links

  • 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)

Our Experts

Deputy Programme Coordinator
Dr Steve Tucker
Programme Coordinator
Dr Isabel Crane

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

  • Ina Mastalurova, at

    Ina Mastalurova

    Graduated
    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.

Key Information Set (KIS)

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.

100 Percent Satisfaction for Pharmacology

Source: National Student Survey 2016

Find out more

Contact

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen

AB24 3FX
Email
Phone
+44 (0)1224 272090
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