A career with Physiology
What subjects do you need to study do a physiology degree?
Entry requirements vary between universities and may change from year to year. All universities require at least three good A Levels (or equivalent).
Most require qualifications in at least two of the following subjects:
Biology and chemistry are usually preferred. If you are unsure about the eligibility of your qualifications, it is best to check with individual universities by visiting their website or contacting their admissions tutor for more information.
Details of universities that offer undergraduate physiology degree courses are available at the following websites:
Using physiology in your career
A physiology degree is a rigorous hands-on course, involving a wide range of different activities that allow you to develop specific scientific skills. These skills are highly sought after by graduate employers and valued in many professions. Studying physiology also develops a wide variety of transferable skills that are essential in any graduate career.
Below is a list of individuals who use the knowledge and skills they gained during their degree in their career:
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell
MRC Research Professor and Vice Chancellor, University of Manchester
I studied physiology at university because I was fascinated by how living things work (and sometimes don't work, as in disease). I had no idea of my career path until my final year research project. It was hard work and there were many failures, but the sheer joy of discovering something for the very first time that no-one else in the world knew got me totally hooked. Now, many years later, I can't imagine a better career.
Dr Simon Poucher
Principal Scientist, AstraZeneca
I chose to work in the pharmaceutical industry because I wanted my research to be used directly in developing drugs to treat diseases. There are a wide range of opportunities if you are prepared to take them. You will almost certainly not work in the same disease area for the whole of your career. You also get to work with colleagues from a broad range of scientific disciplines who share your goal of developing a medicine.
Dr Linda Donnini
Senior Medical Writer
I wanted to use the physiology I had studied but I didn't have the patience for lab research. In medical writing, you get to interpret the results of huge clinical studies without having to do the routine experiments. You get to work on a range of drugs across different therapy areas so you are always learning something new.
Contemporary Science Exhibitions Manager, Science Museum London
I love the challenge of working at the Science Museum. Taking complex scientific information and finding the best way to communicate it to a general audience can be demanding but fun. I particularly like the variety that a museum offers - when you work on an exhibition you need to think about the objects, images, text, video and interactives that will form the display. It was the perfect career choice for me as I get to constantly learn about new science and communicate it to others.
Dr Naomi Goodwin
Consultant Anaesthetist, University Hospital of Wales
When I qualified as a doctor, I had no idea that I would end up as an anaesthetist. However, as soon as I started, I was hooked! Anaesthesia involves the use of physiology in a very immediate fashion. Every action we take and every drug we give is immediately apparent in the way that the body responds. Anaesthetists make lots of interventions interspersed with long periods of stability - it's the ultimate career for a control freak! Anaesthesia is the largest hospital speciality and I love the team spirit and working environment of the operating theatre.
Dr Marco Cardinale
Head of Sports Science and Research, British Olympic Association
I work with world class coaches and athletes in Olympic sports to help them improve their performance. Every day is a new challenge. I share my scientific knowledge and apply scientific principles to the preparation of athletes. My science background also helps me to interact with engineers and computer scientists to design equipment and tools that improve the quality of training and athletes' competitive edge.
Dr Valerie Gladwell
Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science, University of Essex
I studied Medical Science at the University of Birmingham, as I enjoyed learning about how the human body worked. I was also a keen athlete and trained hard, so wanted to gain a greater understanding of how the body worked during exercise and in recovery. I was fortunate to get a Lectureship at Essex immediately after my PhD and, after receiving several grants, my research has now expanded to look at how exercise (and where you do it) can modify stress. My investigations focus on the cardiovascular system, the brain, the nervous system and the influence of hormones. I really like the flexibility of my job and enjoy communicating to different groups about exercise physiology.
Assistant Producer, Television
I am a freelance Assistant Producer for a documentary production company. During my degree, I realised that an academic career was not for me so I started out in science documentaries. My scientific knowledge has been useful in programmes on subjects as varied as foetal development, the extinction of the dinosaurs and childhood obesity. Being able to talk to scientists, distil complex information and establish the key scientific aspects of a story are definitely skills that I had honed during my degree.
I graduated with a degree in physiology and then decided to start a PhD, which enabled me to develop my understanding of a particular branch of physiology. I became skilled in lots of new experimental techniques and recently spent a month in a laboratory in Germany where I learnt about gene manipulation. Visiting an international research group was a fantastic opportunity and helped me develop as a scientist as well as expand my horizons. When things don't quite go the way I planned, this is what makes science such a fantastic career.
|Dr Mary Morrell|
Reader in Respiratory Physiology, Imperial College London
My job is excellent because I get to do research that makes a difference to patients and their families. I am currently working with scientists and doctors to test treatments for older people who have difficulty in breathing at night. This study was designed as a result of research on age-related changes in the physiology of breathing during sleep. Studies with patients overnight can be challenging but the data we collect on their breathing and heart function is fascinating.
Partner, RGL Forensics
After my physiology degree, I left to become a chartered accountant, specialising early on as a forensic accountant. I think the discipline of taking a scientific approach to an issue has been directly relevant to the work I do e.g. taking the reader through my thought processes, analysing information, and explaining why I have reached the conclusions I have. In addition, some of the work I do relates to personal injury cases and my physiology degree helps me to understand the medical reports!