A major in Pharmacology provides a modern understanding of how medicines produce their effects on the body and how such knowledge is used to alleviate suffering caused by disease.


Pharmacology is the branch of science that seeks to provide a deep understanding of the effects of drugs on the human body.

Some of the main questions addressed are:

  • How do medicines produce their effects on specific body systems such as the cardiovascular or central nervous systems?
  • How do drugs act at the cellular and molecular level?
  • How can we avoid their toxic effects?
  • How does the body protect itself against drugs and other foreign chemicals?
  • Why do many drugs work better in some patients than in others?

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Course description, features and facilities

This major will provide an appreciation of how drugs produce changes in such key bodily functions as blood pressure, lung performance or pain perception.

You will learn how common drugs target specific receptors in body tissues, exerting effects as either agonists or antagonists. You will also explore the major biochemical pathways that are activated when drugs interact with their respective receptors.

Other key topics include pharmacokinetics, drug metabolism, drug dependence, toxicology, pharmacogenomics and drug discovery.

The major provides a basis for further training in pharmacology leading to a research career or to further study in complementary fields such as pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy and science education.

Since pharmacology is a very practical area of science, theoretical concepts from lectures are reinforced and expanded upon during regular lab classes.

The Pharmacology and Anaesthesiology Unit is well equipped for the latest methods of pharmacology teaching and research. When completing a major in pharmacology at UWA you will be taught by excellent lecturers who are actively engaged in modern biomedical research.

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Student profile – Massimo Berneri

Pharmacology is where biochemistry, physiology and pathology collide to form a para-clinical discipline that is invariably immersive and ubiquitous in the health sciences. The word pharmacology connotes the study of drugs alone; in reality the field is vastly more complex.

In order to assess candidate drugs we must study their binding to drug targets and how these targets orchestrate an amelioration of symptoms based on very intricate pathophysiological states.

Studying Pharmacology has provided me with a wealth of theoretical knowledge in addition to a variety of practical skills fostered in facilities of the highest quality. This major will suitably prepare a student for a career in biomedical research or further studies in professional degrees such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or podiatry.

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UWA's streamlined course structure allows you to pursue studies in a wide range of areas and to take one or two majors in your degree. Your second major can be from a similar field to your first (degree-specific) major, or from a different area or degree entirely.

As well as the units specified in your major, you will study broadening units outside your main area of study and may be able to take a number of elective subjects as well.

You can explore the structure of this major in detail in the University Handbooks.

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Career opportunities

Graduates in pharmacology can pursue a range of career options. As with most other biomedical disciplines, the prospects of satisfying employment are enhanced by completing an Honours or higher degree.

Graduates in pharmacology have typically pursued a number of destinations following completion of their majors: Research in a hospital (diagnostic or research lab), employment in a pharmaceutical industry (research or commercial setting) Clinical trials coordinators State or Federal Regulatory agencies with oversight for drug use (e.g. Therapeutic Goods Administration, State Health Department), Science education (secondary or tertiary sector), Vocational study (e.g. medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, etc).

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Further study opportunities

Students with a Pharmacology major can pursue further studies at honours level, undertake a Graduate Diploma or Masters in Pharmacology, or complete a PhD.

Other further study options include the Master of Biological Arts, Master of Forensic Science,Master of Nursing Science, Master of Teaching, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Doctor of Medicine, and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine.

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Check the Entrance requirements

This course is available to Australian and international students.

On this page

  1. Prerequisites and minimum scores
  2. Additional information
  3. Recommended subjects
  4. English competency
  5. Advanced standing

Prerequisites and minimum scores

Qualification and prerequisite subjectsCourse entry score
Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) 2014-15
  • A scaled score of 50 or above in at least WACE Mathematics 2C/2D
Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) 2016 onwards
  • A scaled score of 50 or above in Mathematics Applications ATAR
International Baccalaureate
  • A score of 4 or above in SL or HL Mathematics (at least Mathematical Studies)

Additional information

If you do not have a scaled mark of at least 50 in Mathematics: Applications ATAR or higher, you will need to successfully complete additional Mathematics units during your first year.

Please note: to complete this major within the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) will require a minimum ATAR of 98 (or equivalent).

Recommended subjects

Qualification and recommended subjects
Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) 2014-15
  • A scaled score of 50 or above in WACE Chemistry 3A/3B
  • A scaled score of 50 or above in WACE Mathematics: Specialist 3A/3B
Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) 2016 onwards
  • A scaled score of 50 or above in Chemistry ATAR
  • A scaled score of 50 or above in Mathematics Methods ATAR
International Baccalaureate
  • A score of 4 or above in HL Chemistry
  • A score of 4 or above in SL or HL Mathematics (at least Mathematical Methods)

English competency

University study demands strong English language competency. To be eligible for admission to an undergraduate program at UWA, you must demonstrate satisfactory performance in a UWA-approved test of English. This is the case even if English is your first language.

The minimum requirement is a scaled score of 50 or more in WACE English, Literature or English as an Additional Language/Dialect achieved at Stage 2 or Stage 3 – or an equivalent level of achievement in an interstate or international qualification.

Advanced standing

If you have undertaken prior tertiary study within the last five years, you may be eligible for advanced standing (credit and/or exemption).

Applications for advanced standing are assessed upon acceptance of any offer of admission made by the University.

How to apply

This course is available to Australian and international students.

On this page

  1. How to apply
  2. Semester one entry
  3. Semester two entry
  4. Fees
  5. Information for…
  6. Contact us

How to apply

We have two intakes of undergraduate students each year: Semester One (commencing in late February) and Semester Two (commencing in late July/early August).

Semester one entry

Australian citizens or permanent residents, including humanitarian visa holders, and New Zealand citizens apply online via the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC).

Applications open mid-August, with the on-time deadline in late September the year prior. Submissions are available after this date, but a late fee applies

Refer to the TISC website or contact Future Students for further details.

Semester two entry

Apply through the University's Online Application System (OASys) for mid-year entry to a range of courses at UWA.

Applications generally open early May and close in late June.

Contact Future Students for advice.


As some units vary in cost, the actual student fee will depend on the mix of units you choose. The domestic student fees page has further details.

Information for

Contact us

Future Students

(+61 8) 6488 3939
Enquire on-line
Frequently Asked Questions
First Floor, Ken and Julie Michael Building
7 Fairway (corner Cooper Street)
Crawley, Perth
Western Australia 6009
Normal opening hours
Monday – Friday, 8.30am–5pm (Western Standard Time)

Note: If you have already submitted an application, contact Admissions.

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Pharmacology: the details

Available 2016
Locations offered
Albany (selected Level 1 units), Crawley
Attendance types
Part-time, Full-time
Delivery mode
Starting dates
Semester 1, Semester 2
Weekly first year time commitment
16-25 hours teaching time, plus your own study time
Standard full-time completion
3 years (BSci), 4 years (BPhil(Hons))
Maximum time to complete
10 years
Degrees (available in)
This major is available in:Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)All majors (except Economics and Biomedical Science double majors, Architecture, Specialist Music Studies and Science Communication) can also be taken as second majors in any of our undergraduate degrees
Honours available
Contact details: course information
Pharmacology & Anaesthesiology Unit
School of Medicine & Pharmacology, Ground Floor M-Block, QE2 Medical Centre, Nedlands, Western Australia
(+61 8) 93461212
(+61 8) 93462987
Additional information