Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP) - University of Sunderland

Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP)

Course overview

Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP) is designed for those who are qualified pharmacists outside the European Economic Area and who are now looking to become registered pharmacists in the UK.

Our course is one of a small number of courses that are accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Their accreditation is based on quality reviews that ensure Sunderland is meeting the required standards.

This course allows you to gain a Masters qualification within one year. There is an option to exit the course early with a postgraduate diploma, if you do not wish to undertake the Masters research project. The diploma is sufficient for entry to the next stages of registering as a pharmacist in the UK: firstly, 52 weeks of supervised training in employment; secondly, a registration assessment.

Once all these stages are successfully completed, and assuming you have the necessary visa and work permit, you would be in a position to apply for roles as a practising pharmacist in the UK. There is virtually no unemployment of registered pharmacists in the UK.

Pharmacy is a particular area of strength at the University of Sunderland and our Department is ranked No.6 in the country, according to The Guardian University Guide 2013.

Course content

Modules on the course include:

  • Pharmacy, Law, Ethics and Practice (60 Credits)

This module will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to practise legally and safely as a pharmacist in the UK. Areas covered in this module include: legal and regulatory aspects of pharmacy practice; the dispensing process; the public health role of the pharmacist; independent prescribing and pharmaceutical calculations.

Postgraduate Diploma stage:

  • Clinical Therapeutics (60 Credits) 

This module will extend your ability to respond appropriately to clinical situations. You will cover core therapeutic areas including epidemiology, aetiology, pathogenesis, pathophysiology, clinical presentation and evidence-based treatment strategies. You will also gain experience of clinical case scenarios, ‘expert’ patients, patient simulators and practical sessions where you will be taught physical examination techniques.

Masters stage: 

  • Research Methods for Pharmaceutical Practice and Masters Research Project (60 Credits) 

This module covers a wide range of topics for conducting scientific research from conceptualising research to statistical analysis. You will gain both a theoretical and practical framework for conducting pharmaceutical practice research. You are expected to apply this knowledge in the project report where you will focus on a particular area of a hospital, community or general practice.

There are two routes for this programme - a Postgraduate Diploma route in which you must acheive 120 credits from Pharmacy, Law, Ethics and Practice and Clinical Therapeutics, and a Masters route in which you must acheive 180 credits. 

Teaching and assessment

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods which include lectures, debate sessions, online learning packages, tutorials and seminars.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working.

Assessment methods include end-of-year examinations as well as assignments throughout the year.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

This course is based in the Sciences Complex at our City Campus, which boasts multi-disciplinary laboratories and cutting-edge equipment thanks to multi-million pound investments.

Facilities for Pharmaceutics

We have pharmaceutical-related equipment for wet granulation, spray drying, capsule filling, tablet making, mixing inhalation, film coating and freeze drying.

As well as standard pharmacopoeial test methods, such as dissolution testing, friability and disintegration, we also offer highly sophisticated test methods. These include rheometry, thermal analysis (differential scanning calorimetry and hot stage microscopy), tests for powder flow, laser diffraction, photon correlation spectroscopy, image analysis and laser confocal microscopy.

Facilities for Medicinal Chemistry

Our state-of-the-art spectroscopic facility allows us to confirm the structures of new molecules that could be potential pharmaceutical products and to investigate the structures of potential medicinal substances that have been isolated from plants.

We are equipped with Liquid Chromatography-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectroscopy (LCNMR/MS) platforms; this is an exceptional facility for a university. We also have low and high resolution mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance and elemental analysis equipment.

Our facilities allow you to gain hands-on experience of a wide range of analytical techniques such as atomic absorption spectroscopy and infra-red spectroscopy, which are of great importance in determining both ionic/metal content of pharmaceuticals and simple chemical structures.

You will also gain experience of revolutionary protein and DNA separation techniques, as well as Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography for separating unknown chemical mixtures.

Facilities for Pharmacology

Our highly technical apparatus will give you first-hand experience of the principles of drug action and the effects of drugs on pharmacological and cellular models. As a result, you gain a better understanding of the effects of drugs on specific receptors located throughout the human body and related physiological effects.

Simulation technology

You’ll have the opportunity to apply your training in a realistic setting with our two advanced simulation technology ‘SimMan’ models.

Each of our £57,000 SimMan mannequins has blood pressure, a pulse and other realistic physiological behaviour. The models can be pre-programmed with various medical scenarios, so you can demonstrate your pharmacological expertise in a realistic yet safe setting. Our academic team is also actively working with the SimMan manufacturers to develop new pharmacy simulations.

Pharmacy Practice

One of the most important skills of pharmacists is to communicate their expertise in a manner that the public can understand and accept.

The University has invested in a purpose-built model pharmacy complete with consultation suite. This allows you to develop skills in helping patients take the correct medicine in the right way, with optional video recording of your interaction with patients for the purposes of analysis and improvement.

In addition, we can accurately simulate hospital-based scenarios in a fully equipped ward environment where medical, nursing and pharmacy students can share learning.

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on pharmaceutical and biomedical science, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your studies include:

  • Embase, which is a complex database covering drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine and biomedical engineering/instrumentation
  • PsycINF, which includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
  • PubMed, which contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
  • Science Direct, which offers more than 18,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
  • Web of Science, which covers a broad range of science areas

Learning Environment

Sunderland Pharmacy School has a rich heritage in scientific studies and our degree courses are extremely well respected in the industry. We are fully plugged into relevant medical and pharmaceutical industry bodies, with strong links and an exchange of ideas and people. Our vibrant learning environment helps ensure a steady stream of well-trained pharmacists whose most important concern is patient-centred pharmaceutical care.


Fleming Building

Sciences Complex, City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

To apply for this course, you must first apply to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and pass their adjudication process. Please see for full details on how to apply. After adjudication the University will be informed of successful candidates. We will then invite you to apply by filling in our online application form and attaching a number of required documents.

As part of your application, we will also need the following documentary evidence:

1. A copy of your GPhC approved adjudication letter

2. An authenticated photo of yourself

3. A copy of your IELTS certificate with a minimum score of 7 in each element of the test, achieved at one sitting*

4. A letter of good standing from the police or a a completed Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (if available)

Please contact us if you wish to discuss any of these requirements. 

*After 6 April 2015 you must take your IELTS exams at one of the test centres listed on the UKVI website. If you took your IELTS exam before 6 April 2015 this does not apply, and your qualification is still valid regardless of which test centre you used.

Fees & finance

The time it takes to complete a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) is approximately two-thirds of the time it takes to complete a Masters (MSc). For this reason, the fees for the PGDip are two-thirds of the cost of the MSc.

Similarly, if you apply for the PGDip and are eligible for scholarships, you will receive two-thirds of the scholarship.

Postgraduate Diploma 

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £2,780 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £7,000 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,180 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

On completing this course you can register and practise in the UK as a qualified pharmacist. An entry-level pharmacist usually starts within Band 5 of the NHS pay rates (up to around £27,000). Advanced pharmacists, consultants, team managers and managers of pharmaceutical services are rated as Bands 8-9 and can earn up to £97,000. Currently there is virtually no unemployment of qualified pharmacists.

Most pharmacists work in the following areas:

Community pharmacy: this involves working in pharmacies on high streets or in large stores. You will dispense prescriptions, deal with minor ailments, advise on the use of medicines and liaise with other health professionals.

Hospital pharmacy: this involves the purchasing, dispensing, quality testing and supply of medicines used in hospitals.

Primary care: this involves working in General Practice surgeries, either as an employee of the Practice or the Primary Care Trust. Roles include Medicines Management Pharmacists, who are responsible for prescribing budgets and the development of prescribing directives.

Secondary care: this involves working in hospitals to supply medicines, manage clinics, provide drug information and prescribe medicines.

Industrial pharmacists are involved in areas such as Research & Development, Quality Assurance and product registration.

Research degrees can be undertaken in many aspects of pharmacy. Sunderland Pharmacy School offers excellent facilities and a wide range of research expertise.

You can also work in areas of the pharmaceutical industry, medical writing and in education.

A Masters degree will also enhance opportunities in academic roles or further study towards a PhD.


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will meet with you at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore career opportunities and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.


Apply for this course

To apply for this course, download the Course application form (.pdf). Information on how to complete the form and where to send it can be found on the form. Alternatively, you can apply online using the link/s below. 

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact:

The Recruitment Team
Tel: 0191 515 2731

Programme Starts  
Monday 14th September 2015 - If you wish to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma Apply now
Monday 14th September 2015 - If you wish to apply for the MSc route Apply now

The details

Course Name Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP)
Classification MSc / PgDip
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting To be confirmed
UK/EU Fee £See entry requirements page
Intl Fee £See entry requirements page

Entry requirements

Please see Entry requirements tab for more details

Related courses

If Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP) MSc / PgDip isn't right for you, try these courses instead:

Search for something different?