Pharmacy is a scientific profession. The overall period of education and training required to become a pharmacist is five years, which includes four years at university completing a masters degree in pharmacy (MPharm) course.
Good A level grades (a combination of As and Bs or equivalent) are normally required for entry to a school of pharmacy.
Although the MPharm degree courses are geared to students with A level passes in chemistry and two of biology/mathematics/physics, students may also be considered with chemistry and one science (preferably biology) together with another subject. Students must also have basic literacy and numeracy skills (for example GCSE grades A to C in English language and mathematics). In Scotland, the course starting point is taken to be Scottish higher, with a strong emphasis on the sciences, particularly chemistry.
About a quarter of students admitted to schools of pharmacy have qualifications other than A levels or Scottish highers. These include Irish School Leaving Certificate, National or Higher National Certificate/Diplomas, International Baccalaureate diplomas, access qualifications and other degrees.
Those seeking entry to a masters in pharmacy course without the normal academic requirements must be able to demonstrate that they are capable of academic study at this level. Applicants may achieve this by successfully completing an approved Access to science course. Details are available from individual institutions.
Alternatively, the pharmacy foundation degree has been developed as another potential route into the MPharm. This is a two year full-time course which includes the content of year one of an MPharm degree and work experience placements. The purpose of the foundation degree is to equip a student with the appropriate knowledge and experience to allow them to apply to enter an accredited MPharm degree directly into year two.
The foundation degree does not guarantee a place on an MPharm degree, however, it can be used as an entry route for anyone wanting to pursue a career in pharmacy who does not currently have the required qualifications to go straight into an MPharm degree.
The admissions process to schools of pharmacy includes checks on health and good character such as the self-certification of good health, enhanced Criminal Records Bureau and/or Disclosure Scotland checks and the self-declaration of any adverse determinations by any regulatory bodies, in particular healthcare regulators.