Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 12.4 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 26.8 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jan 6, 2025
1 place StudyQA ranking:4655 Duration:1 year

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Upon graduating from the MSc taught course in Pharmacology students will be able to:

  • Understand modern pharmacological principles and their clinical application
  • Apply an integrative and multidisciplinary approach to research investigation
  • Design experimental protocols
  • Critically appraise research methods and experimental results
  • Communicate research results and clinical implications to a wide audience

The integrative skills acquired during this training and practical experience are essential requirements in the pharmacological workplace in both academic and commercial environments.

Key features

  • Only eighteen graduate students each year
  • Teaching carried out by academic staff and specialist external tutors
  • One-to-one mentoring and support from one of the Oxford colleges
  • The intensive programme will cover pharmacology from gene to organism, combining fundamental pharmacological principles with essential practical training
  • All students study for a Home Office personal licence
  • Minimum of an upper second class undergraduate degree and higher level English qualification required


Pharmacology is a growth industry. Pharmaceutical companies are recruiting people with a good grounding in basic pharmacological techniques. Our course is specifically tailored to meet this deficit in employees and as such our graduates enjoy preferential recruitment options. There are also many opportunites for students wishing to continue in academia. Our top graduates are often offered sponsored doctoral training within the department.

First Term (October to December)

The first term covers core material using lec­tures, seminars and practical work and aims to ensure that all students have achieved the core knowledge of the principles and practice of pharmacology.

The subjects covered are:

  • Cell and Receptor Pharmacology
  • Tissue and Organism Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology of the Nervous System

During the term students are expected to write five essays and write up the results of practical classes. At the end of the first term stu­dents take a qualifying exam; passing this allows them to continue the course.

Second Term (January to March)

At the start of the second term, students follow a course in quantitative aspects of pharmacology covering pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and receptor pharmacology. This material is examined in a three-hour written paper sat in February.

Lectures in the second term are intended to take students beyond core knowledge. Students should now be reading original scientific papers and developing a critical approach to published work. Students will be exposed to a broad range of topics organised into five modules:

  • Cardiovascular and Systems Pharmacology
  • Cell Signalling
  • Neuropharmacology I (Cellular)
  • Neuropharmacology II (Neuropathology)
  • Drug Discovery and Pharmacogenomics

The work covered in these modules is examined at the beginning of the third term, allowing time over the Easter vacation for revision. Students are required to an­swer three essay questions from five different modules, thus allowing them to specialise in options for revision.

Third and Fourth Terms (April to September)

In terms three and four students undertake a four-month project intended to provide training in hypothesis-driven academic laboratory research. Many of these projects are provided within the department but there are also opportunities to work in other areas of the University or in collaboration with drug companies. A 3,000 word literature review acting as an extended introduction to the project is handed in towards the end of the third term. On completion of the project, students present their research findings in a 10,000 word dissertation followed by an oral poster presentation given in September.

Previous MSc Student projects include

  • The effect of infection on 5HT receptor expression in the CNS
  • Small molecules to direct differentiation of neuronal stem cells
  • Effects of general anaesthetics on cardiac muscle function
  • Investigation of NMDA-R subunit distribution in a neuronal model of schizophrenia
  • The role of PLC zeta in sperm
  • Use of small molecules to gain insight into the two NAADP binding sites

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a biological or chemical science, but applications from high calibre candidates with mathematical and physical science backgrounds are welcomed.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

2. English language requirement

Higher level


Standard level scores

Higher level scores

IELTS Academic 
Institution code: 0713

7.0 Minimum 6.5 per component  7.5  Minimum 7.0 per component 

Institution code: 0490


Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) 185

Minimum 176 per component


Minimum 185 per component

Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) 185

Minimum 176 per component


Minimum 185 per component


  • Three references (letters of recommendation)
  • Official transcript(s) of previous university-level degrees
  • CV/résumé
  • Statement of purpose/personal statement: One to two pages
  • Clarendon Scholarships. This unique scheme offers around 140 new, fully-funded scholarships each year to academically outstanding graduate students, as well as providing a lively and stimulating community of scholars.
  • Hill Foundation Scholarships. The Hill Foundation Scholarships fund Russian students to study for full-time graduate courses in any subject at Oxford. The Hill Foundation is a charity which aims to create a community of Oxford scholars and alumni who will work to improve Russian life and culture.The scholarship will cover 100% of University and college fees and a grant for living costs (of at least £14,296). Awards are made for the full duration of your fee liability for the agreed course.
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