Where do I start?

A degree in pharmacology provides a solid grounding in scientific knowledge and opens up opportunities in a wide range of careers. This career guide intends to help you explore the different career paths open to pharmacology students and also for those who wish to consider alternative options outside pharmacology.      

As a Pharmacology student you will gain understanding of medications, their sources, chemical properties, biological effects and therapeutic uses. You will explore drug interactions in biological systems, the formulation and operation of clinical trials, drug regulation and the marketing of pharmaceuticals.​​​​​​​


Overview of the pharmaceutical industry

A good starting point is the British Pharmacology Society which has a useful section entitled Where can Pharmacology take you?  Equally, the Bright Networks site has a Science and Pharmaceuticals guide that also provides a comprehensive overview of the sector.


Roles in the pharmaceutical industry

To research different sectors in the industry to find out about available roles, you can use these links on the ABPI (The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry) website:

In addition, the ABPI website also has a range of case studies to learn about the personal journeys of those working in the industry.

You can also find detailed job profiles for the following roles on the Prospects website.


Roles in the NHS

The NHS health career website profiles more than 350 different careers. You can explore the roles section for more information.

Some roles you could research include the following: 


Roles in medical research charities and institutions

If you are interested in working in medical research a good place to start your research is the NHS Health Careers website.

The Research Scientist (Medical) profile on Prospects has useful links for job seeking in this area.


Roles in biotechnology and contract research organisations

Biotechnology is the application of biological systems to solve problems, improve processes and develop and manufacture products. Biotech companies exist in a number of industrial sectors, which include: biomedical, food and agriculture, and environmental. The UK Biotech website has a life science map where you can find and research companies by location or research by specific sectors.

Depending on their size, biotech companies may use support companies (Contract Research Organisations), to whom they contract out some aspects of their work, such as the development or marketing of their products as well as clinical trials. Biopharmguy.com lists UK based Biotech, Pharma and Life Science Companies and is a great resource for identifying potential employers of interest.

To research the role of a Biotechnologist the Prospects profile is a good starting point.

If you are interested in working for a Contract Research Organisation a good resource to search for UK based CROs is the Contract Research MapGaining a job as  Clinical Research Associate with a CRO or a pharmaceutical company can be challenging for new graduates because of a lack of experience in clinical research.  Therefore to start out in this career area, you could look for entry level roles such as a Data entry assistant, Clinical trials assistant or a Clinical research assistant.  To research the role in greater detail, the Clinical Research Associate profile on Prospects provides a useful starting point. How to become a clinical research associate (CRA) provides some useful information to start out a career as CRA.


Pharmacology Graduate Schemes

To research graduate schemes relevant for Pharmacology graduates you can use:


Other Career Options

There are many opportunities for pharmacology graduates in the broader job market such as, banking and business, working in roles in accounting, insurance or investments. Some of these organisations run graduate training schemes and want applicants with the transferable skills that you will develop during your pharmacology studies, like problem solving, innovative thinking and working independently and as part of a team. ​Different schemes offer different roles depending on the size and business focus of the organisation, so take a look at these schemes to see which you think you would be most interested in.

These roles can be researched on a number of graduate job sites -  here are some suggested sites for you to explore: 


Further Study Options

You may wish to progress onto further study (Masters, MRes or Phd) after completing your pharmacology degree. Some examples of possible taught postgraduate courses include:

  • MRes Neuroscience
  • MSc. Drug, Discovery and Development
  • MSc. Biomedicine
  • MSc. Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • MSc. Cancer and Therapeutics
  • MSc. Medical Biotechnology

If you wish to research further study options a good starting point would be the Prospects website.  If you wish to see the range of both taught and research focused masters available at the University of Portsmouth, use this link.

Contact us

The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:

  • Career options
  • Further study
  • CV and covering letters
  • Application forms
  • Job search
  • Interviews

We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.


Get in touch with us