Modern medicines are very powerful and have a great potential for relieving suffering and curing disease, but also for misuse and inducing dangerous side effects. The pharmacist is the focus for all strands of knowledge which support the rational and safe use of medicines. This is reflected in the professional aspects of pharmacy which have a commitment to people as patients or as clients and to their well-being. Practising pharmacists are part of the wider healthcare team along with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and others. - Kings College London
The MPharm (Hons) degree consists of four years full-time study, followed by pre-registration training spanning a year supervised by a professional pharmacist. The pre-registration year placement can be in a hospital, community or in an industry environment. After the pre-registration year, an additional exam set by the GPhC must be taken and passed in order to be accepted for registration as a qualified pharmacist.
Bradford University offer a 5-year sandwich course. Instead of completing the pre-registration placement in a year, it is split up into two periods of 6 months. These two periods are integrated into the normal four year course as part of the third and fifth year of the MPharm degree. These types of courses can give a pharmacy student the experience of two different fields of pharmacy.
In general, entry requirements range from AAA - BBB at A-level depending on the institution. The details of these requirements for the current 29 Schools of Pharmacy are shown below. [Updated 19/01/2015 - however please check all entry requirements on each individual university website]
- Aston Unviersity: AAB*
- University of Bath: AAB*
- University of Birmingham: AAB*
- University of Brighton: ABB* (Aptitude test)
- University of Bradford: ABB including an A in Chemistry*
- Cardiff University: AAB-ABB*
- Durham University: AAB
- De Monfort University: 300 UCAS points
- University of East Anglia: AAB or ABBB*
- University of Hertfordshire:ABB or 320 UCAS points including at least a B in Chemistry*
- University of Huddersfield: AAB-ABB* (Aptitude test)
- Keele University: AAB*(Admission's test) FPC
- Kings College London: AAB*
- Kingston University: 320 UCAS points including at least a B in Chemistry FPC
- University of Central Lancashire: ABB* FPC
- University of Lincoln: 320 UCAS points
- Liverpool John Moores University : 320-300 UCAS points (Aptitude test)*
- Manchester University: AAA-ABB* FPC
- Medway School of Pharmacy: ABB or 320 UCAS points*
- Nottingham University: AAB* FPC
- University of Portsmouth: ABB or 320 UCAS points
- Queen's University of Belfast: AAB
- University of Reading: AAB- ABB/AAC including at least a B in Chemistry*
- Robert Gordon University: ABB including at least a B in Chemistry
- University of Strathclyde: AAB
- University of Sunderland: 320-300 UCAS points including at least a B in Chemistry
- University of Sussex: UNKNOWN (Starting for 2016/2017 entry)
- University of Wolverhampton: BBB*
- UCL School of Pharmacy: AAA-AAB*
- University of Ulster: AAB or 340 UCAS points
- Star (*) : Interview
- FPC : 5 year Foundation pharmacy course is available
There are also a number of 5 year courses run by a selection of universities for those applicants who do not have the required subjects to apply for Pharmacy at A level (see FPC key). The first year is a foundation year, in which the student will reach an acceptable academic level in which they can begin the standard Pharmacy course. The entry requirement are normally the same as the standard 4 year MPharm requirements.
Interviews are commonplace for the MPharm degree at most institutions.
An applicant would require Chemistry as an A level subject, taken at AS and A2, where most universities require a minimum of a B at A level. The addition of a science, such as Biology, or Mathematics is preferred by all institutions offering pharmacy.
Have not achieved the grades to study Pharmacy?
If you have not achieved the A levels grades required for the standard route, it may not be the end of the world! There are alternative options that you can take; such as clearing, resitting A levels or if going back to sixth form is not ideal - a foundation course.
A foundation course differs to the standard pharmacy foundation courses, which accept students with ABB or more. This course accept students with lower A levels grades than normal required for MPharm entry, where some of these can be as low as 240 UCAS points. Please check UCAS for further information.
In addition, certain universities have set programmes to allow students to transfer internally from a similar background course to an MPharm course. Such courses are not stated on the prospectus or on a university website, so please check with the admissions tutors' before considering to apply.
- University of Brighton - Students can applyinternally in their first or second year of BSc in Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences, where they need "an overall average mark of not less than 65%; Not less than a mark of 50% in any assessed component; Any modules that are assessed as pass/fail only, will need to be passed but will not be part of the calculation above and these will need to be achieved at the 1st attempt at the module".
- Kingston University: the BSc in Pharmaceutical Science course allows you to transfer to the first year of Pharmacy, when certain marks have been obtained in modules of the Pharmaceutical science course.
Interview Hints and Tips
Common Interview Questions
Each school of pharmacy will have their own set of questions on what to ask potential undergraduates and it can vary slightly within each school. Some common ones include:
- Name three drug delivery systems
- What does MRSA stand for?
- Name three ways we isolate/discover drugs
- Name a prescription only medicine (POM) and what it does
- Why does insulin have to be administered intravenous only?
- A long division question
- Name some drugs which you will find exclusively in a hospital pharmacy
- What is insulin?
- If a patient wants to take insulin orally, what must be done to the drug? (Hint: dosage form)
- What is antibacterial resistance? How does it occur?
- What can one do to prevent resistance?
- Would you prescribe a patient who is suffering from flu antibiotics? Why?
- What functional groups give certain properties to a molecule?
- Name three ways a pharmacist helps to promote health in the community
- Have you read anything interesting in the news recently related with pharmacy?
- Why do you want to study Pharmacy?
- What skills does a pharmacist need/have?
- What particular subject in pharmacy interested you?
- Where in the profession do you see yourself in 10 years time?
- What's the difference between Medicine and Pharmacy?
Specific University Questions
These are example questions - NOTE: you will not necessarily be asked the questions below.
University of Reading: These questions CAN be a part of your interview and are not exclusive to this university
- Why Reading and not a university in London?
- TWO mental arithmetic question e.g adding things together that are in diff units e.g .3ml + 30ml + 3L
- Tell me about your work experience.
- What part of chemistry do you enjoy and why?
- Tell me what you know about pharmacy?
University of Hertfordshire: Standard questions for UCAS cycle 10
- Why Hertfordshire?
- What skills do pharmacists require?
- Name 3 ways in which pharmacists' promote healthy living in the community
- If you were a qualified pharmacist now, what one thing would you like doing and dislike doing?
Liverpool John Moores University: The interview is in small groups of about 5-6 students, the following questions are not exclusive to this university:
- Why Liverpool?
- Which subjects other than science do you study that may be helpful when you are a pharmacist?
- What is your other favourite university after LJMU? And why?
- What qualities must a pharmacist have?
- Talk about how the heart works.
- Give a way in which a drug may be administered.
To get an idea on what the aptitude test is like, visit this link on the Facebook page where you can find some practice questions.
UCAS Form & Personal Statement
Work experience within a pharmaceutical, or health care related facility would be looked upon favourably by any institution; it shows you are aware of what health care is really about, and not just in theory. Also worth mentioning is any other science activity you have done outside your A level syllabus - competitions, Science Fairs, attending University public lectures etc.
All Admissions Tutors want to know WHY you want to study their subject. What was it that fired your enthusiasm for science in general? Why Pharmacy in particular? Give (brief) examples of any important moments within school study or at a Science Fair etc where you decided that Pharmacy interested you. Don't use phrases like 'I've always wanted to be a Pharmacist' - you haven't, no 6 week old baby 'wants to be a Pharmacist'. And remember, Pharmacy as a career is also about people, not just science - have you included something about your 'people skills'?
There are some examples of pharmacy personal statements which can be found here.
Each university must fulfill the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) required subjects. However the order in which these subjects will be taught within the MPharm degree, will differ slightly from one university to another. Therefore, the list of subjects below indicate the general topics taught in the four year's of a pharmacy course:
Normally the first year is a foundation year, where the theory behind pharmacy is first taught. You will get to interview a few patients and possibly go on a pharmacy placement.
First Year Topics
The common subjects are:
- Biochemistry Organic Chemistry
- Pharmaceutical Analysis
- Pharmacy Practice
- Physical Pharmacy
Some universities also cover health psychology, mathematics and statistics in the first year. Furthermore some university may cover microbiology in your first year and this varies between the universities.
- Second Year Topics
- Cardio-Respiratory System
- Pharmacy Practice
- Nutrition, Metabolism and Excretion
- Drug Development, Formulation and Product Design
- Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Immunology and Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Some universities will cover Pharmacy Ethics or Psychiatric Medicine in the second year.
Life as a Pharmacy Student
How to Cope on a Pharmacy Placement
Code of Conduct
Pharmacy students, like many others studying on a health professional course have a code of conduct. This code of conduct was written in 2009 by the Regulatory arm of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (the old regulator) and endorsed by the British Pharmaceutical Students Association (BPSA) and the Council of University Heads of Pharmacy Schools (CUHOPS). In 2010 the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) was formed as the new regulator for pharmacy and now publishes the Student Code of Conduct.
When starting your pharmacy degree your university will deliver a session telling you about the Code and you will be expected to formally agree to its principles. In the past the Code of Conduct was given to all first year pharmacy students as a hard-copy, but this is no longer the case. The Code of Conduct can be read on the GPhC's website HERE.
The basis principles of the code of conduct is to follow seven key points. Therefore as a pharmacy student you must:
Make patients your first concern
Use your professional judgement in the interests of patients and the public
Show respect for others
Encourage patients and the public to participate in decisions about their care
Develop your professional knowledge and competence
Be honest and trustworthy
Take responsibility for your working practices
As the supporting and representative body for pharmacy students, the British Pharmaceutical Students' Association gives information and support to those who are worried about the Code or Fitness to Practice: Click here to access their Code of Conduct page.
Graduate Destinations and Career Prospects
Following the completion of an MPharm degree, graduates can become qualified pharmacists through undertaking 52 weeks of paid pre-registration training and passing the pre-registration exam.
Once qualified, most pharmacists are employed in general practice community pharmacies, or in hospital based pharmacy departments. Pharmacists are also involved in research, manufacture, analytical control, marketing and administration within the pharmaceutical industry; others teach in schools of pharmacy or hold administrative and scientific posts in the National Health Service (NHS). Also, a small number of pharmacists have the opportunity to work as a pharmaceutical journalist.
There remains a shortage of pharmacists not only in the United Kingdom but also in many other countries. Therefore graduates in pharmacy readily obtain employment.
Opportunities also exist for graduates in European countries, where the mutual recognition of EU member states' pharmaceutical qualifications enables British pharmacists to practise with ease in Europe.
Adapted from the Universities of Strathclyde and Cardiff
For further information about the careers paths and starting salaries in pharmacy click HERE
Professional Issues and Professional Bodies
Professional and Regulatory Bodies
The regulator for pharmacy is the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC): www.pharmacyregulation.org
The professional leadership body for pharmacy is the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS): www.rpharms.com
The British Pharmaceutical Students' Association (BPSA) is the official student organisation of the RPS. It is the only national body that solely represents and supports both pharmacy undergraduates and preregistration pharmacists: www.bpsa.co.uk
There are a vast number of other pharmacy professional organisations out there that let students use their services. These can be organisations the RPS work with is also listed on their website.A full list of the organisations the RPS work with is also listed on their website.
Resources for Pharmacy Students
Here are a list of books and other related sources that can be useful for pharmacy students:
MUST BUY BOOKS:
- Rang & Dale's Pharmacology by Humphrey Rang, Maureen Dale, James Ritter and Rod Flower.
- Aulton's Pharmaceutics: The Design and Manufacture of Medicines by Michael Aulton.
A-Z OF RELEVANT BOOKS FOR STUDYING PHARMACY:
Anatomy and Physiology
- Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (12th edition) by Gerard J. Tortora and Bryan H. Derrickson.
- Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics by Roger Walker and Cate Whittlesea.
- Oxford Handbook of Practical Drug Therapy by Duncan Richards, Jeffrey Aronson, D.John Reynolds and Jamie Coleman.
- Oxford Handbook of Clinical Pharmacy by Phillip Wiffen, Marc Mitchell, Melanie Snelling and Nicole Stoner.
- Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms and Drug Delivery by Ram I. Mahato and Ajit S. Narang.
- Crash Course: Endocrine and Reproductive Systems by Alexander Finlayson.
- Hugo and Russell's Pharmaceutical Microbiology by Stephen P. Denyer, Norman A. Hodges, Sean P. Gorman.
- An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry by Graham L. Patrick.
- Molecular Biology of Cancer: Mechanisms, Targets, and Therapeutics by Lauren Pecorino.
- The Molecular Biology of Cancer by Stella Pelengaris and Michael Khan.
- Pharmaceutical Analysis: A Textbook for Pharmacy Students and Pharmaceutical Chemists by David G.Watson.
- Introduction to Pharmaceutical Calculations by Judith A. Rees and Ian Smith.
- MCQs in Pharmaceutical Calculations by Ryan F. Donnelly and Johanne Barry.
Pharmacy Law and Ethics
- FASTtrack: Law and Ethics by Ruth Rodgers, Catherine Dewsbury, Andrew Lea.
- Pharmaceutical Practice by Arthur J. Winfield, Judith Rees, Ian Smith.
PHARMACY PRE-REGISTRATION TRAINING:
- The Pre-registration Interview: Preparation for the Application Process by Nadia Bukhari
- Hospital Pre-registration Pharmacist Training by Aamer Safdar and Shirley Ip.
- Symptoms in the Pharmacy: A Guide to the Management of Common Illness by Alison Blenkinsopp, Paul Paxton, John Blenkinsopp (this book is a recommended book for the GPhC pre-registration exam).
- Community Pharmacy: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment by Paul Rutter BPharm MRPharmS PhD.
- British Pharmaceutical Students' Association
- Pharmaceutical Journal Online
- Tomorrow's Pharmacist
- National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
- British National Formulary
- Chemist + Druggist
- The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
- Future Pharmacist Magazine
- Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education
- Electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC)
- National Prescribing Centre (NPC)
- NHS Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacist Training Website
- General Pharmaceutical Council
- UCAS Course Search - Pharmacy
- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain - A Career in Pharmacy
- NHS Pharmacy Careers
- British Pharmaceutical Students' Association (BPSA)
- University of Brighton Careers - Pharmacy
Another forum that can help you out, which has pre-registration and current pharmacists there is:
Anything else that should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments.
We hope you find this article useful. If you've got any comments on how we can make it even better, please add them to our articles feedback thread.