Pharmaceutical Science with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (4 years)



This course is taught on a semester basis.


Pharmaceutical scientists are in demand in the public and private sectors. Become one. On this course, you'll gain the theory, medical knowledge and laboratory skills you need to work successfully in pharmaceutical companies, but also in clinical research and public health as well as the food and cosmetic industries.

Full description


A wide range of job opportunities will become available to you when you graduate. This includes areas of the pharmaceutical industry such as research, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and marketing and sales. 

Or you might choose to complete further studies at Masters and postdoctoral (PhD) level.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Biomedical Science Foundation
    A firm biological foundation is an essential requirement for studying a range of life science and health related courses. This module is designed to develop your life science scientific skills and in particular your biomedical science skills giving you an understanding of the key principles in biomedical science. The essential anatomical and physiological aspects of human biology will be covered and you will develop an understanding of the cellular and molecular process which underpins life sciences. Topics covered will included and introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, cell division embryonic development, metabolic pathways genetics, endocrinology and human physiology and nutrition. This module will be delivered using face to face learning and students will be expected to attend face to face sessions as well as participate in online study using our VLE, internet resources and online discussions as required The practical component of this module will ensure that you are familiar and competent with the principles of good laboratory practice and learn a range of fundamental life science laboratory techniques developing confidence in using equipment as well as collection, presentation and interpretation of data. Summative assessment for this module is by multiple choice question paper equivalent to 6,000 words.
  • Analytical Skills in Medical Science
    Mathematics and algebra are often daunting subjects for students but a good grasp of the fundamentals needed for analysis of biological, chemical and medical data is essential for you when studying a life science degree. This module is designed to provide you with the basic skills to handle and analyse scientific data. The fundamentals of algebra, geometry/trigonometry, probability theory and descriptive statistics will be simply explained in the context of real scientific data. You'll learn not only how to solve fundamental algebraic equations, express solutions to desired accuracy, and become familiar with classes of functions (exponential, logarithmic etc) but will be introduced to data presentation and descriptive statistics.
  • Practice and Professional Skills
    This module will help you develop a range of skills that will form a firm foundation for you to effectively build on during your degree. Professional skills such as self-motivation, goal setting and effective and timely delivery are essential to develop your full potential throughout your course and will be developed and reinforced during this module. During this module you'll develop the necessary skills for undergraduate study and build a foundation for academic and professional practice. An important part of our academic world is the effective use of technology and digital sources, not only ensuring that the resources you access are academically reliable but to be able to communicate science, both orally and in writing in a formal scientific style. During this module you'll develop confidence in rapidly acquiring and using scientific information and be able to understand, begin to analyse and present scientific findings. You'll be expected to attend face to face sessions as well as participate in on-line study using our VLE, internet resources and online discussions as required Assessment of this module will be by a presentation (small groups of students (max 4), lasting no more than 15 minutes, by video. Supported with production of a short written paper which demonstrates ability to use citation software.
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry for Medical Science
    This module provides a basic introduction to chemistry for life sciences. The study of materials and the undergoing chemical changes will be discussed and investigated using a variety of laboratory investigations, tutorials and lectures. These principles will then be developed further by exploring periodic table, concentrations and calculation of relative molecular mass, oxidation- reduction, chemical kinetics and thermochemistry. You will learn about quantitative chemical analysis such as spectrophotometry, chemical equilibria, pH, pKa, buffers; inorganic and organic chemistry. The final part of this module will be an introduction to the structure and function of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. The practical component of this course will allow you to gain practice in some basic laboratory techniques such as preparation of solutions and buffers, spectrophotometry and purification of an organic compound from a mixture etc. Assessment will be by a multiple choice paper equivalent to approximately 3000 words and a short laboratory report equivalent to 2000 words.
  • Biology of Disease
    One of the major goals of the life scientists is to develop an understanding of human disease, it’s prevention and treatment. This module will provide an introductory overview of globally important endogenous diseases (cancer, autoimmune etc.) and exogenous diseases (viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasites) that affect us today. It will review both the basic biology of these major diseases and how we react to them in terms of pathology and immune responses. This module will also examine the methods we have developed, and are developing, to prevent and overcome human disease. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the epidemiology of the global burden of disease and our current public health approaches to control them, including nutritional and environmental influence, antibiotics and vaccines. This module will be delivered using Face to face learning and you'll be expected to attend face to face sessions as well as participate in on-line study using our VLE, internet resources and on line discussions as required. Assessment will be by production of a 3,000 word equivalent essay which identifies and explores one globally important endogenous disease, i.e. Influenza, pandemics.
  • Applied Chemistry for Life Sciences
    This module examines the physical properties of atoms and the relationships formed in different phases of matter. An exploration is made into the influence that these atomic interactions have on the macromolecular properties observed. Bonding and Periodicity of the elements is discussed and the role of many common organic molecules, and their constituent elements are examined in detail with respect to their function in life processes. The theory of many techniques introduced in other foundation year modules (spectrophotometry, use of pH meters, titration). Summative assessment is through in class test with many formative assessment points along the way.

Year two, core modules

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
    Cell biology studies the properties of cells including their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. Molecular and cellular biology are interrelated, as most of the properties and functions of a cell can be described at the molecular level. You’ll cover the relevance of cell biology to medicine with reference to various diseases, cancer cell biology, technologies and bioinformatics. The practical element of this module will ensure you’re familiar and competent with a range of fundamental laboratory techniques and skills. You’ll not only develop confidence in using equipment to collect data, but also in the presentation and interpretation of this data. You’ll have regular tests in class with feedback to allow you to monitor your own progress and understanding. In addition, you’ll work in a group to create a poster presentation.
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
    The human body is a complex collection of systems interacting in a way that allows it to meet the demands of a daily routine. It has the ability to adapt to changing environments to maintain the internal environment within the physiological range for its survival. This module will span 2 semesters. In the first semester, you’ll focus on the basics of human anatomy and physiology that provide an underpinning basis for future modules. Links with ill health, well-being and disruption to homeostatic mechanisms will be put into context of normal anatomy and physiology. Followed up by cell structure, function and histology, the nervous system and endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal - and respiratory systems. In semester two, you’ll study the organ systems, including the cardiovascular system, urinary system, the lymphatic system, digestive system and the reproductive system. Where appropriate, you’ll be introduced to relevant pathophysiology in parallel with the normal structure and functioning of the systems. You’ll undertake physiology-based practical sessions in the SuperLab that will develop your practical lab skills.
  • Scientific Communication and Professional Skills
    Secure the scientific and professional skills that are essential for employment in the scientific industry. We’ll teach you the pre-laboratory work, planning and prep, health and safety and laboratory experimental design needed to work safely and competently in a lab. Secure the professional skills and training needed to operate common laboratory apparatus, such as glassware, microscopy, pH meter, weighing and measuring volumes, pipetting and spectrophotometer. Communication of scientific information is vitally important for your employability and it spans many forms such as laboratory reports, journal articles and presentation skills. We’ll teach you the skills you need to succeed. Skills such as referencing, and searching for literature will be addressed. You’ll cover related numeracy skills such as SI units, converting between different expression of concentration, and basic statistics. You’ll present your findings to different audiences (scientific and non-scientific) using a variety of methods. We’ll enhance your digital literacy skills, allowing you to drawing graphs, use functions in spreadsheets, present data in tables and creating presentation slides. Regular formative activities will be undertaken in class to enable you to monitor your progress, such as online quizzes and laboratory activities. You’ll complete a lab report and deliver an oral presentation.
  • Fundamentals of Drugs and Medicine
    Introducing the physicochemical principles underlying a range of disciplines that constitute Pharmaceutical Science (pharmacology, pharmaceutics, drug discovery and development as well as pharmacovigilance).You’ll explore the concept of formulating medicines, the design of dosage forms, the factors that influence the route of administration as well as the basic physicochemical principles underlying the formulation and stability of liquid and colloidal dosage forms. You’ll get hands on in the SuperLab, to gain good laboratory practice and learn a range of fundamental physical pharmacy and laboratory techniques. You’ll develop confidence in using equipment as well as collection, presentation and the interpretation of data. Your assessment will be a coursework portfolio that compiles elements of practical lab work (discussion of results), and an in-class test as well as a signed off skills sheet.
  • Principles of Biomedical Science
    Biomedical science is the application of biological sciences to the study of medical sciences. This module builds on the Human Anatomy and Physiology module and looks at the multidisciplinary nature of biomedical science. Biomedical science requires a sound understanding of each of the constituent clinical disciplines. These are medical microbiology, clinical biochemistry, haematology, histopathology and cytology, clinical genetics and clinical immunology. Focus on global diseases and infections, alongside methods of prevention and cure. Explore the diagnostic techniques used to analyse human samples in the investigation of causative agents. A range of common human diseases, such as cancers, anaemia, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and microbial infections will be used to provide background theory. Explore the mechanism of pathology, the physiological consequences to the human body and range of diagnostic investigations used as part of a differential diagnosis. Gain an understanding of the basic laboratory techniques which are relevant to the biomedical disciplines, such as aseptic technique, human blood smears, polymerase chain reaction and gram stain. You’ll put theory into practice to enhance your understanding, develop professional and practical skills and to enhance your employability profile. You’ll be assessed in a group through the oral defence of an e-poster based on a patient case study involving a disease or infection.
  • Principles of Metabolism
    Get an overview of the biochemical, nutritional and physiological processes in health and disease. Form a solid basis to enable you to appreciate the major nutrient need and sources through the lifespan, how they are absorbed into our bodies and the metabolic reactions that occur to produce energy. You’ll become aware of the major nutrient sources required for health and the major biochemical processes occurring in human cells including the major pathways of carbohydrate, amino acid, lipid metabolism. Understand the relationship between diet, energy production and health forming a basis to understand how factors influence metabolic balance and whole-body homeostasis. Linkage to disease states also allows you to appreciate, at a basic level, how select states (e.g. ageing, nutrient deficiencies, digestive pathologies, endocrine imbalance or genetic mutations) can disrupt normal metabolism and/or physiological function. You’ll complete a skills log throughout this module alongside regular tests to facilitate your expansion of knowledge and understanding on the effect of altered states in health and in disease.

Year three, core modules

  • Essential Physiological Biochemistry
    Biochemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. By controlling information flow through biochemical signalling and the flow of chemical energy through metabolism, biochemical processes give rise to the complexity of life. Over the last decades of the 20th century, biochemistry has become so successful at explaining living processes that now almost all areas of the life sciences from botany to genetics are engaged in biochemical research. Today, the main focus of pure biochemistry is on understanding how biological molecules give rise to the processes that occur within living cells, which in turn relates greatly to the study and understanding of tissues, organs, and whole organisms. This module builds on ‘Principles of Metabolism’. It demonstrates how the physiological actions of selected organs can be explained by their particular biochemical processes. It focusses on the metabolic integration, rather than pathways, investigating the liver, communication systems (endocrine and neurological), blood and vascular system, muscle and adipose tissue and renal biochemistry. You’ll have regular in class test to prepare you for the end of module exam.
  • Pharmaceutical Formulations
    Pharmaceutics is the process where a new drug can be presented to patients in a suitable form (tablets, capsules, liquids etc.) to maximize absorption and achieve the required therapeutic concentrations in the body. You’ll explore the formulation and manufacturing of solid dosage forms (tablets and capsules) and semi-solid dosage forms (creams and ointments) as well as other dosage forms. You’ll be introduced to the properties and function of excipients, the impact of crystal structure on the formulation as well as the important characteristics of powders relevant to formulation and the theory of tablet compression. In addition, you’ll examine the process of extemporaneous preparation, labelling and packaging of different dosage forms including ointments, creams, suppositories, powders, tablets and capsules. You’ll get hands on in the SuperLab, ensuring you are familiar with the principles of pharmaceutical technology and laboratory practice and learn a range of formulation techniques developing confidence in using equipment as well as collection, presentation and interpretation of data. Assessment will be via a coursework portfolio that compiles elements of practical lab work (critical discussion of methods and results) and an in-lab practical exam.
  • Principles of Pharmacology
    Understand the principals of pharmacology. Including how drugs produce their effects on the body by acting at specific targets (pharmacodynamics), as well as the absorption, disposition of drugs in body compartments with time, metabolism of drug molecules and ultimately the elimination of drugs (pharmacokinetics). In addition, the mechanism of chemical neurotransmission in the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system will be explored along with the function and neurotransmission in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Drugs acting on both systems, their mechanism of action and their applications will also be discussed, as well as the action of neurotransmitters through the development of the concept of drug-receptor interactions. You’ll learn how drugs are producing their effects and the different mechanism of actions they show when interacting with their receptors, how to distinguish between agonists and antagonists and how to create dose-response curves and how to interpret them. The application of these concepts will be illustrated by examples of the pharmacology of drugs used to treat cardiovascular and behavioural disorders. You’ll have regular in-class tests to help you monitor your progress and the final assessment will be via an exam.
  • Medicinal Chemistry and Analytical Techniques
    Understand the role of medicinal chemistry in the discovery, design and development of therapeutic agents. Presenting current approaches to drug discovery including structure-based design, analogue-based design, combinatorial and multiple parallel synthesis. Emphasising the production and characterisation of clinically important drugs from natural sources and the relationship between the chemical structure of a drug and medicinal properties, and the application of docking and scoring functions. Identify potential drug targets and their exploitation for therapeutic purposes. The principles and applications of spectroscopic techniques in the analysis of pharmaceuticals. You’ll use analytical techniques such as chromatographic and spectroscopic methods (ultra violet (UV) infrared spectroscopy (IR), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS)). The main methods of inorganic analysis and the principles of chromatographic separation. You’ll learn through a combination of taught lectures, practical and tutorials. The practical and tutorial sessions will complement the lecture material and will develop your laboratory skills and the ability to conduct relevant calculations. Assessment will be an exam as well as a submission of a coursework.
  • Research Methods
    As you’ll be completing a research project in your final year, this module will give you the tools you need to undertake qualitative and quantitative research; culminating in the development of your research proposal. You’ll develop your critical analysis of published research and build on those transferrable skills introduced from the beginning of the course. You’ll look at the development of a research project from conception to completion, concentrating on the shaping of a study using a variety of approaches. You’ll be introduced to the use of statistics in research and will use statistical data analysis techniques used in the medical and scientific literature. You’ll gain an appreciation for the rationale involved in making the correct choices when undertaking research and evaluating the relative ‘strength’ of evidence-based practice in healthcare.

Year four, core modules

  • Applied Pharmacology
    You’ll consider the therapeutic application of drugs for specific conditions. You’ll cover the principles of drug action on major organ systems including the cardiovascular, central and peripheral nervous system, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and the endocrine system. Explore major disease processes in each system and the mechanisms by which drugs exert their pharmacological/therapeutic effects. This includes a thorough grounding on intrinsic and extrinsic factors influencing physiological function, incorporating mechanisms at the integrated systemic. You’ll focus on changes in structure and function in different physiological conditions (including ageing) and disease states and to pharmacological control of homeostasis. Understand undesirable side-effects brought about by combinations of drugs. You’ll learn the importance of pharmaco-economics and pharmacovigilance in clinical pharmacology and the regulatory aspects of the pharmaceutical industry. This module will cover aspects of genetic factors that affect the metabolism of foreign compounds and drug-receptor interactions. Hear current views on the relationship between pharmacogenetic polymorphisms and disease susceptibility and potential approaches to drug design using pharmacogenomics. Pharmacogenetics promises a future where a therapeutic regimen is tailored to individual patients (i.e. personalised medicine). Your assessment will be 100% coursework activities made up of reports, in-class test and case studies.
  • Biotechnology
    You’ll explore the use, manipulation and application of biotechnology in areas such as health, industry, and the environment with particular emphasis in pharmaceutical and medical sciences. Knowledge of current key examples of the use of biotechnology in these areas will be investigated. You’ll learn through face-to-face and independent study to develop an in-depth knowledge on mechanisms by which biological systems can be manipulated. Workshops will be held to critically examine recent advances in biotechnological products. Case studies will introduce you to the assessment and therapeutic efficacy of biotechnology products and explore the major approaches in pharmaceutical and medical sciences. You’ll analyse examples of research studies pertinent to biotechnology and investigate the importance of ethics within research and its application. You’ll debate the development of biotechnology products. You’ll be required to submit written coursework as well as a 10 min video of role-play of an interview covering topical issues and debating the therapeutic efficacy of biotechnology products.
  • Specialist Case Studies
    Designed to help you integrate your specialist subject knowledge in the wider context of medical and pharmaceutical science. You’ll work together with students from different disciplines and interest areas on a patient scenario to identify the diagnosis. You’ll then collaborate to establish the most effective treatment for the diagnosis. This will be achieved through student-led discussions, workshops, practicals, tutorials and lecturers, all centred on problem-based learning. You’ll be assessed in a mock court, where you’ll need to justify your findings and defend your evidence, from probing questions from a panel of judges. Team working, leadership and management are an essential skills which employers are increasingly seeking evidence for. To enhance your employability skills, you’ll be assessed on your ability to lead one of your in-class team activities. You’ll create an agenda prior to the session that you’ll lead (as a ‘chairperson’), document the key points of the discussion through creation of the minutes from the meeting, and write a short reflective account of your experience from your session (such as time management and facilitating a team discussion). This will be a pass/fail assignment.
  • Drug Development and Regulatory Affairs
    Building on the knowledge gained in pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry, you’ll explore the processes involved in the development of a new drug, from discovery to marketing including a chronological account of the drug development process. You’ll assess the quality assurance applied to the processes involved in the development, manufacture and distribution of medicines. It’ll include market assessment and evaluation of clinical need for different stages of clinical trials, drug licensing procedures patents, approval and post-marketing surveillance. We’ll introduce you to current topics about advanced drug delivery systems. You’ll be involved in workshops and team work to critically discuss topical issues in the pharmaceutical industry and to develop your own prospective applications for new products. You’ll have opportunities to develop your presentation and writing skills and to reflect your previous learning experience by writing drug development reports and advanced drug delivery system assignment.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    The Undergraduate Major Project is the culmination of the degree – it gives you a chance to demonstrate all you have learned. This project module is very different from other modules. Although you are supervised, the onus is on you to identify the research question and generate aims, objectives and hypotheses. The Undergraduate Major Project therefore allows you to engage in a substantial piece of individual research that will focus on a topic relevant to you, which follows on the research proposal and ethics application developed in the ‘Research Methods’. Your project may be in the form of primary research (e.g. laboratory, population studies, generating questionnaire-based data, clinical service evaluation, or other relevant acceptable research). Your chosen topic will require you to apply your subject knowledge and apply suitable methodologies. Importantly, you’ll apply and demonstrate your problem-solving skills through creative and innovative thinking.


We'll make sure you're progressing correctly in a number of ways, including multiple choice tests, exams, reflective essays, oral and poster presentations, scientific report writing and independent project work.
In the first year of this degree, one-to-one tutor sessions will help you get a solid understanding of all the relevant subject matter. In years 2 and 3, assessments will focus on helping you change from someone who consumes knowledge, to someone who generates it and is able to think independently.

This is a four year programme

Please note that you will need to complete all of the above core modules. This course does not have any optional modules. Modules are subject to change and availability.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care is the largest in ARU, with over 7,000 students. Our Faculty is teeming with expertise and primed to meet the demand for creating health professionals, teachers, doctors, scientists and educators for the three districts we serve: Chelmsford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

We have been training undergraduates for professional roles for over 25 years, with a reputation for quality, dedication and ambition balanced with student satisfaction.

We know that to give our students the very best experiential learning, prior to getting into the workplace, simulation is second to none, for safe, realistic, learning environments. We have invested heavily in purpose built simulated wards, science labs and skills space, to support or students through their learning.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2018/19 or 2019/20 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students starting 2019/20 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

You can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

International students

You must pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit or sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

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