Life of a Pharmacology student at Manchester

Hello UMASS! I’m new around here, so let me introduce myself. I’m Claire and I study Pharmacology, with industrial experience (we’ll get onto that). I’m in my second year and I like cats, cake and the cinema. Here’s a picture of me at the Giant’s Causeway when I went to visit some friends from university in Northern Ireland last summer.


Probably a good idea to clarify that my course is not the same as Pharmacy. It’s very similar to Biomedical science in that it’s all about the underlying science of human health, disease and treatments. It’s a science degree with a lot of focus on research and how drugs are developed, rather than clinical training to deliver the drugs to patients.

So being second year, I’m currently applying for placements for a ‘year in industry’, these are 9 to 12 month full-time placements all across the UK and abroad. They could be within research teams at universities, pharmaceutical companies, NHS trusts, museums… you name it! Some placements are open to all UK undergrads, and some are exclusively for Manchester students, but either way it’s very competitive so first year and even A-level grades are important. As you start to put together your UCAS application, you’ll begin to realise how LONG it takes, so you can be safe in the knowledge that I’ll be feeling your pain too as you write those pesky personal statements!

In terms of what I actually do on my course, it’s pretty intense. I have lectures in everything from genetics to cell biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, neuroscience, anatomy and physiology and more, as well as labs and tutorials. The first year is very broad, everyone does a bit of everything just to get a feel for what you like, and check you’re on the right degree: I was on Biomed at first, and switched onto pharmacology at the start of this year. In second year, Pharmacology is pretty structured as there is essential knowledge I need to know, but Biomed and Biology are very broad and flexible, you pick almost every module from second year onwards.

My course is intense and hard, but interesting; it’s really cool when everything ties together and suddenly it all makes sense, even if it takes a bit of time and effort to get there. It’s also fun being able to understand and explain to people what different diseases are, and what different drugs do. No, I did not geek out over my gran’s blood pressure meds… (I did).

So besides my course, I’m also a member of FuseTV, our student media station. We make loads of films including dramas, documentaries, sketches and interviews. I’d say my highlight so far was last year, when I had the pleasure of recording an interview with an up and coming musician Jack Savoretti. (if you’re curious here is the link to the 8 min. video on YouTube.  Sorry about the weird camera angle and slightly unbalanced sound, this was one of my first videos, and the first time I’d ever used Premier Pro for editing!)

The pharmacology course, although fairly large is quite close, and we all like doing stuff together like going to the SU bar after labs for sweet potatoes fries and nachos. There’s also loads of Pharmacology Society and Faculty of Life Science Society (FOLSS) socials like pub quizzes and nights out.

Last year I lived in Halls, and I was on the Halls hockey team, mostly just for the fun and exercise (but more on this later). I’m now living in a classically student house in Fallowfield with the same people I shared a flat with in Halls last year, 4 boys and 3 other girls.

The other major thing I do with my time is work. My housemates joke about how many jobs I have. I have a few, but they’re all casual because I didn’t want to have to commit to set shifts around my studies. So my favourite one, and the one I do most often is work for the University as a Student Ambassador. I give tours, lead workshop and meet loads of new people, and I also work on the Manchester Access Programme and Manchester Higher teams. Its good pay and a great environment to work in, as everyone’s putting their all in and having a good time doing it, which makes even car park duty on the Open Days somewhat enjoyable. I’m also a Brand Ambassador for a couple of different companies, and my main jobs are to promote the brand to students and be the ‘eyes and ears’ on campus. I occasionally do weird things like studies for a bit of extra cash too, like last year when I got paid £30 to lie an MRI scanner for a couple of hours for a guy’s PhD research (talk about earning money in your sleep!).

So I hope that’s given you a little taster about me and my university journey so far. I’ll be putting up a new post every month with tons of stuff about student life, UCAS applications and more, so be sure to check back next month for my take on time management.