Your A-levels are behind you and you're considering your options. University next stop. And then a career. Life awaits.

Take a good look at yourself. If you want to make a contribution to society, if a life in science interests you, and if your A-levels include chemistry and biology or physics and maths then you could be on the way to becoming a pharmacist.

The other thing to consider is what sort of person you are. Are you good with people? Do you like them and care about them? You will need to be if you are going to deal with patients on a day-to-day basis, looking after their health concerns and perhaps offering a word of comfort or reassurance.

Or maybe your talent lies in finding out things, discovering new ways to tackle the job. Pharmacists are increasingly involved in cutting edge medical research and there are exciting new ways of diagnosing and treating illness on the horizon. You could be part of those discoveries.

If the answer is “yes” to these questions then perhaps it's worth your time to look a little more deeply at pharmacy as a career choice.

The MPharm Degree
The four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree is offered by accredited universities in the UK.

All UK pharmacy degrees are approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council, to ensure that students have received a thorough and appropriate education for their professional registration and subsequent development and careers.

Although most courses are geared to those with A-levels in chemistry and two of biology/mathematics/physics, students may be also considered with chemistry or biology (and one other subject). You need basic literacy and numeracy skills (eg; GCSE in English language and mathematics). If you have taken the Scottish Highers the Scottish equivalent to A levels you will need passes in chemistry, maths (with either calculus or statistics), English and either physics, biology, human biology or geography.

Approximately one third of students admitted to schools of pharmacy have other qualifications. These include Irish School Leaving Certificate, National or Higher National Certificate/Diplomas, International Baccalaureate, Access qualifications.

You might find the UCAS website helpful in finding out further information about pharmacy degree courses, including specific entry requirements.

Course syllabus
The course comprises four main subjects:

  • Origin and chemistry of drugs. Emphasis is placed on the study of synthetic drugs, though drugs from natural sources are also studied.
  • Preparation of medicines. This includes pharmaceutics, which is the study of the formulation of drugs.
  • Action and uses of drugs and medicines. This covers physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology.
  • Pharmacy practice. This covers the supply of medicines and provision of advice, including the laws and standards applying to pharmacy. It will include managing symptoms, promoting healthy lifestyles and advising on all aspects of drug therapy and medicines usage.

Pharmacy students are then required to work for one year and pass an exam before they can register as a pharmacist in the United Kingdom.

Haytham Mohamed, pharmacy student

“I chose pharmacy because it is a science-based career that enables me to work in the medical profession. I really enjoy being a pharmacy student because of the placements we do, the labs we work in, the challenges and the hard work!

The diversity of the pharmacy school and the students themselves means it is a very positive environment. Pharmacy is a fast-paced environment where you are always going to be on your toes!"

Haytham Mohamed
Pharmacy student