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Pharmacology - Natural Science

The University of Cambridge offers an undergraduate course in Natural Science. Pharmacology encompasses the study of all elements of the interactions of chemical substances with living systems. This may include the mechanisms of drug action, drug discovery and the effects of drugs on people and animals.

In this subject, students are taught pharmacology using discussion groups, lectures, research project and supervisions. Students are provided lectures on a selection of contemporary topics. The subjects covered at the cellular level include:

  • Anti-cancer drugs
  • Ion channels and transporters
  • The structure and function of receptors
  • Intracellular messengers

At higher level, following topics are included:

  • Strategies for drug discovery
  • The control of neurodegenerative disease
  • The scientific basis for drug treatment of neurosis
  • The use of drugs to suppress the immune response

A research project starts after the Christmas break. The project is long for students to become a part of an active research group. It is also short enough to get the time for their studies. The aim of the research project is to provide students an insight to gain into the practical problems related to new discoveries and the excitement that occurs in their resolution. Apart from preparing a written report, students may give a presentation of their work at a meeting attended by their fellow students and other members of the department.

Students who seek for this option will have studied Pharmacology in part first 'B'; however, students who have different background are welcome. Knowledge of biochemistry, physiology, and chemistry are useful, nevertheless, none of these is necessary. Some Veterinary Medicine and Medicine students also choose to study Pharmacology at part second. Students may get more information by visiting the university website.


The University of Cambridge has produced many renowned physicists such as Maxwell who first predicted electromagnetic waves, Newton, Rutherford, the founder of nuclear physics, J J Thomson, the discover of the electron and Watson and Crick who discovered the genetic code of DNA.

The Experimental and Theoretical Physics are options in the third and fourth year. Students may specialize in one or other these areas. They may take more broadly based approach. In the third year, the emphasis is laid upon achieving professional standards. Students shall obtain graduate level knowledge in the core areas of:

  • Relativity
  • Statistical Physics
  • Electrodynamics
  • Advanced Quantum Theory

The subject incorporates both classical and non-classical topics. There are options associated to the key research themes within the Department. Students have an excellent opportunity to study:

  • Quantum Condensed Matter Physics
  • Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • Astrophysical Fluids (as a first option in Astrophysics)
  • Soft Condensed Matter Physics (as a first option in Biophysics and Soft Condensed Matter)

The course encourages students to develop professional expertise in computational physics, theory and experimentation. Communication skills and research may be developed with the help of an optional research review. If students are not continuing with the fourth year, then they shall enhance these skills subsequently through a special Physics in action paper.

In the fourth year, students make choices from an extensive range of minor and major options. These options reflect to some of the extent the research interests of the Cavendish Laboratory.

  • Optoelectronics
  • Astrophysics and radio astronomy
  • Experimental particle physics at CERN
  • Polymers, colloid and biological polymers
  • The physics and chemistry of solids
  • A major interest in the theory of condensed matter
  • Collective phenomena including superconductivity
  • Condensed matter physics including semiconductor physics

The options also encompass courses taught by members of other departments such as:

  • Chemistry
  • Applied Mathematics
  • The Institute of Astronomy
  • Earth Sciences
  • The Medical Physics Group at Addenbrooke's Hospital

Students need to undertake a considerable research project within one of the research groups. In the third and fourth years, independent work performed during the earlier summer vacation. This work can be counted for assessment purposes. Admission to the fourth year based upon reaching the required standard in the second and third year exams. Students are advised to visit the university website for more information.

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