Master of Science by Coursework in Pharmacology

  • 1. The Divisional Board of Medical Sciences shall appoint for the supervision of the course an Organising Committee, which shall have the power to arrange lectures and other instruction.

  • 2. The Organising Committee shall appoint for each candidate an academic advisor (mentor).

  • 3.  Each candidate shall:

    • (a) follow a course of study in Pharmacology for at least three terms and for a substantial part of the three subsequent vacations, as determined by the course timetable;

    • (b) attend practical classes which will be compulsory (a record of attendance will be kept);

    • (c) when they submit their dissertations in September, produce a certificate from their academic advisor to the effect that they have fulfilled the requirements of (a) and (b).

  • 4.  Candidates shall be examined in all of the following ways:

    • (i) each candidate must pass a computer-based qualifying examination at the end of Michaelmas Term. The test shall consist of multiple choice questions on the topics covered by the Pharmacology Introductory Course, as set out in the Schedule, and must be completed in two and a half hours. Candidates who fail the qualifying examination once shall be permitted to take it again before the end of the Hilary Term of the year of the final examination.

    • (ii) each candidate will sit a three-hour data handling and experimental design examination (also known as the quantitative examination) before the end of Hilary term. Candidates who fail once (<50% of the maximum mark) shall be permitted to sit the examination on one further occasion before the end of the Trinity Term of the year of the final examination.

    • (iii) each candidate will complete a three part examination.

      • Part A: An essay examination at the beginning of Trinity Term on the material covered in the Advanced Pharmacology courses. The mark will contribute to the final course mark according to the pre-specified weighting.

      • Part B: Each candidate will be required to submit to the examiners two copies of a printed Critical Literature Review of not more than 3,000 words which will be an extended introduction to their approved research project. One practical notebook in which all practical class experiments are recorded will also be submitted. The mark will contribute to the final course mark according to the pre-specified weighting.

      • Part C: Each candidate will be required to submit to the examiners three copies of a printed dissertation of not more than 10,000 words (excluding bibliography and appendices) on the research project selected for study as set out in the Schedule. The mark will contribute to the final course mark according to the pre-specified weighting. The arrangements for approval will be notified to candidates not later than the start of Michaelmas Term of the academic year in which the examination is taken.

    • Those who fail shall be permitted to re-sit Part A and submit rewrites of Part B and Part C on one further occasion. These resubmissions will occur with the following year's submissions cycle.

    • (iv) each candidate will be expected to give a public oral presentation on his or her research project, on dates to be determined by the Organising Committee.

  • 5. Each candidate shall be examined viva voce.

  • 6. Before being given leave to supplicate, candidates must have demonstrated understanding of and competence in the topics covered by the professional development programme as set out in the Schedule, to the satisfaction of the programme organisers, who shall submit a certificate to the examiners to this effect.

  • 7.  The required written submissions must be sent to the Chair of Examiners, M.Sc. in Pharmacology, c/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford on the following dates:

    • (a) The dissertation on the research project must be submitted by dates to be specified by the Organising Committee and which will be published in the University Gazette not later than the start of Michaelmas Term of the academic year in which the examination is taken.

    • (b) The essay and the practical notebook must be submitted by deadlines determined by the Organising Committee and posted in the Gazette no later than the end of the term preceding submission.

    Each submission must be accompanied by a certificate indicating that it is the candidate's own work.

  • 8. The viva voce examination will normally be conducted in September in the year in which the candidate is examined on dates to be determined by the examiners.

  • 9. The examiners may award a distinction for excellence in part of or in the whole examination.

  • 10. The examiners shall retain one copy of each dissertation of each successful candidate for deposit in the Radcliffe Science Library.


The syllabus for study will include four principal components:

  • (a) Professional Development Programme for Pharmacologists

    To provide transferable skills for a career in scientific research, this programme will consist of classes, exercises and interactive discussions in the following areas:

    • (i) Presentation skills, verbal and written;

    • (ii) Career planning, assessing personal skills and values, curricula vitae and interview techniques;

    • (iii) Exploitation of science: getting ideas to the marketplace, patents, intellectual property rights; the relationship between academic and industrial research; government science policy and research funding;

    • (iv) Ethical and social issues in science.

  • Creativity and teamwork are integral components of the learning undertaken during the practical classes and research projects. Time management and learning skills are developed as part of the structured timetable of examinations and coursework submission deadlines throughout the year.

  • (b) Introduction to Pharmacology

    Three module introduction to pharmacology, each consisting of lectures and practical classes. Candidates who have already received training in some of the topic areas covered may, at the discretion of the Organising Committee, be exempted from attendance at one or more of the introductory lecture series. Such candidates will be required to pass the qualifying examination, which will cover the topics covered in the Introduction to Pharmacology.

    • Module I: Cell & Receptor Pharmacology

    • Module II: Tissue and Organ Pharmacology

    • Module III: Neuropharmacology

    Candidates will also be required to take courses on experimental design, data interpretation, computing and statistics, approved by the Organising Committee. Candidates will have the option to obtain a Home Office licence. Those candidates who wish to carry out a research project involving animal work will be required to attend the Home Office Licence course for modules 1 to 4 in due time.  Students will not be permitted to carry out a project involving animal work without the licence should they change their mind at a later stage.

  • (c) Advanced pharmacology courses

  • This will consist of the following five taught courses consisting of lectures, seminars and practical classes: Cardiovascular & Systems Pharmacology, Cell Signalling, Neuropharmacology I, Neuropharmacology II, Drug Discovery & Personalised Medicine.

  • (d) Research Project Dissertation

    Candidates shall submit a dissertation on a research project undertaken under the supervision of a research supervisor. The subject of each dissertation and the supervision arrangements for each student must be approved by the Organising Committee. The research project will normally be laboratory-based, but in exceptional circumstances students may undertake a library-based project, subject to approval from the Organising Committee.