Neuropharmacology Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Neuropharmacology?

Neuropharmacology is a branch of study which deals with drugs that affect the nervous system. It is focused on the development of compounds that may be of benefit to individuals who suffer from neurological or psychiatric illnesses.

Neuropharmacologists study how drugs affect the brain and nervous system through experiments and clinical trials. They may find how to prevent and/or treat dysfunctions and standardise dosing for mass distribution. They frequently guide teams of technicians or students.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Neuropharmacology in the following subject areas:

  • MSc Neuropharmacology – An introduction to Neuropharmacology and the skills necessary to develop a career in the field.
  • Pharmacology – The scientific study of drugs and their action on biological systems, ranging from genes and cells up to tissues and even human populations.
  • MSc Neuroscience – Study of the nervous system in health and disease, improved treatment strategies for brain disorders relies entirely on increased understanding gained from research which integrates molecular, cellular and clinical aspects of disease.
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics – Learn about drug composition and properties, interactions, toxicology, therapy, and medical applications and antipathogenic capabilities.

Studying Neuropharmacology in college

There are many courses in Neuropharmacology that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. It is important to get relevant laboratory experience which is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favourably by employers. Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Neuropharmacology course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of pharmacology and the nervous system, how medicines and other drugs work and how they’re processed by the body so they can be used effectively and safely.

As a pharmacologist your role will be to investigate how drugs interact with biological systems. You may carry out in vitro research, using cells or animal tissues, or in vivo research, using whole animals, to predict what effect certain drugs might have on humans. Your work may be used to discover new and better medicines, improve the effectiveness and safety of current medicines understand how and why people react differently to different drugs and find out why some drugs cause addiction or unwanted side-effects.

A large number of pharmacologists are employed by companies in the pharmaceutical and biosciences industries involved in discovering and developing drugs and carrying out clinical trials.

You may also work for clinical or contract research organisations or for companies that target particular aspects of bioscience that relate to drug discovery and development.

If you work in a university department you’re likely to be part of a research team and, as your career progresses, you may become principal investigator leading a team.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. Typically working hours in this field are Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, but you may need to be available to monitor and manage experiments. This can include some weekend, evening or shift work.

Related jobs include:

  • Pharmacologist
  • Toxicologist
  • Biomedical scientist
  • Biochemist
  • Biophysicist
  • Clinical research associate
  • Immunologist
  • Academic researcher
  • Medicinal chemist
  • Research scientist
  • Scientific laboratory technician
  • Community pharmacist
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Medical sales representative
  • Medical science liaison
  • Neuroscientist
  • Regulatory affairs officer
  • Science writer

Further study

After completing a course in Neuropharmacology you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as biochemistry, biology, biomedical science, chemistry, microbiology, molecular and cell biology, neuroscience, physiology or toxicology.


What is the importance of Neuropharmacology?

Neuropharmacology has contributed to many important advances in neurosciences in the past several decades. Drugs have been used as tools to dissect the functions of the brain and of individual nerve cells under normal and pathophysiologic conditions.

What is Pharmacodynamics?

Pharmacodynamics is the study of a drug’s molecular, biochemical, and physiologic effects or actions. It comes from the Greek words “pharmakon” meaning “drug” and “dynamikos” meaning “power.”

Where can I study Neuropharmacology?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • Neuropharmacology itself came into existence only five decades ago, prior to which there were only four drugs available for nerve disorders: morphine, caffeine, nitrous oxide, and aspirin.
  • Every person’s body contains billions of nerve cells (neurons). There are about 100 billion in the brain and 13.5 million in the spinal cord.
  • Neurons come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on where they’re located in the body and what they’re programmed to do. Sensory neurons have dendrites on both ends and are connected by a long axon that has a cell body in the middle. Motor neurons have a cell body on one end and dendrites on the other end, with a long axon in the middle.
  • The parasympathetic nervous system controls bodily functions when a person is at rest. Some of its activities include stimulating digestion, activating metabolism, and helping the body relax.
  • The brain uses more than 20% of the body’s total energy production. Most of this energy is channelled through the brain towards the transmission of electrical impulses whether we are awake or asleep.

Mariza Halliday

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