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Pharmacy MPharm - University of Sunderland

Course overview

We have taught pharmacy for more than 90 years, and research into pharmacy at Sunderland has been described as ‘world leading’ by the latest (2014) Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Our Masters in Pharmacy course is accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council and rated ‘excellent’ by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Typical starting salaries for community pharmacists range from £21,000 - £35,000 depending on location, conditions of employment and experience. There is virtually no unemployment of qualified pharmacists.

The MPharm begins with a broad overview of the fundamental pharmaceutical sciences. You then develop more specialised knowledge and skills in medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutics, therapeutics, clinical management and patient-focused clinical skills.

Qualifying as a Pharmacist

This course lasts for four years and you will graduate as a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm). The MPharm is the only qualification in the UK which leads to professional registration as a pharmacist.

To become eligible for registration as a pharmacist in the UK, you will need to undertake a further year of postgraduate training after the end of the course. This one-year course is known as the ‘pre-registration training year’. We offer a support programme to help pre-registration trainees through their year in practice and prepare them for the GPhC Registration Assessment: Pharmacy pre-registration training programme.

Once this pre-registration training year is complete, you must sit the registration assessment set by the General Pharmaceutical Council and start your career as a Pharmacist.

For information about the University of Sunderland's Pharmacy research activity, please see the Sunderland Pharmacy School website.

See some of the facilities you'll be using as a Sunderland Pharmacy student:

Course content

Year 1 (national level 4)

Healthy Systems: From Patient to Gene (60 Credits)

Take an introductory look at the profession and programme of Pharmacy. Gain an understanding of plant, prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure, function and physiology. Learn about the role of the pharmacist within public health, as well as the sources and physical properties of pharmaceutical substances, including reactivity and interactivity. Understand the processes involved in drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination, as well as the various routes of administration of pharmaceutical products based upon their physical and chemical properties and patient specific requirements.

Healthy Systems: From Atom to Gene (60 Credits)

Gain an understanding of the importance of biochemical molecules and relate their characteristics to different biological functions within a range of cell types. Perform a range of laboratory techniques, analyse the data and communicate the outcomes in oral and written form. Learn fundamental clinical skills and how those skills may be applied in the pharmacist-patient consultation, as well as the role of pharmacists in the safe and effective use and distribution of medicinal products.

Year 2 (national level 5)

Fundamental Therapeutics: From Molecule to Medicine (60 Credits)

Focus on the epidemiology, natural history, aetiology, pathogenesis, pathophysiology and clinical presentation of diseases of the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and renovascular systems. Understand the legal supply of medicines and related products, as well as due recognition and appreciation of the legal, statutory and ethical requirements for prescribing. Learn physical examination skills in order to conduct a cardiovascular examination of a patient, including communication and consultation skills.

Clinical Therapeutics: From Medicine to Patient (60 Credits)

Examine the epidemiology, aetiology, pathogenesis and pathophysiology of diseases of the gastro-intestinal system and respiratory system. Understand the safe and effective supply of medicines and appropriate related products in primary and secondary care, covering concepts around clinical governance including audit, risk, patient safety, error reporting and the context of CPD within a professional governance framework. Apply the acquired integrated knowledge and skills to patient-focused pharmaceutical care, with due regard to critical awareness of clinical literature, current evidence-based management guidelines and standard operating procedures.

Year 3 (national level 6)

Diseased Systems: Central Nervous and Musculo-skeletal Systems (60 credits)

Gain an understanding of the epidemiology, aetiology, pathophysiology, diagnostics and treatment aspects of a variety of central nervous system and musculoskeletal disorders.
Acquire knowledge of modern drug discovery techniques used to design CNS drugs, and understand the theoretical and practical aspects of topical drug delivery systems and their manufacture. Calculate parameters associated with pharmaceutical care including drug dosages, and critically evaluate appropriate therapy for CNS and musculo-skeletal disorders.

Diseased Systems: Endocrine and Genito-urinary Systems (40 credits)

Acquire comprehensive knowledge of the epidemiology, aetiology, pathophysiology and treatment aspects of endocrine and genito-urinary conditions. Further develop essential skills in communication, medication history taking, personalised patient counselling and critical appraisal of prescribing. Examine public health issues and the role of the pharmacist in public health intervention.

Research Option (20 credits)

Apply your learning of research methodology, statistics and ethics from earlier in the programme to continue your studies in a particular area of pharmacy. Design and implement a research project applying rational principles of scientific investigation. Critically evaluate scientific data and relate personal findings to those of other studies, and present a final oral defence to a supervisory team, compiling and writing a high quality report.

Final Year (national level 7)

Diseased Systems: Principles of Oncology, Infection Control and Immunology (60 Credits)

Gain a critical understanding of the clinical therapeutics strategies in relation to the treatment of cancer, immunological disease and infectious disease in the context of the practice of pharmacy. Equip yourself with knowledge of the application of biological nanoparticles in drug delivery and theranostics for the treatment of infectious disease, immunological disorders and cancer. Use appropriate communication and physical examination skills to assess patients in context of cancer, infectious disease and immunology.

Applied Practice (60 Credits)

Equip yourself with the knowledge and skills needed to enter the clinical workforce as a pharmacy graduate able to contribute fully to the delivery of safe, effective, evidence-based patient care. Understand the principles and wider implications underpinning evidence-based therapeutics in the key clinical specialities, as well as the legal and ethical responsibilities of pharmacists working in all sectors. Objectively analyse the rationale underlying the treatment of disease, including pharmacological therapy and non-pharmacological therapy, with consideration of the evidence-base, underpinning scientific principles, cost and political agenda around healthcare.

Teaching and assessment

Lectures cover key principles and are delivered by experienced and research active academics in the field. You will also learn in small seminar groups, practical laboratory classes and dispensing classes.

You can expect an average of around 25 hours of contact time a week, with the remaining non-contact time to be used for independent study.

Assessment methods include examinations, time constrained tests (some web-based), assignments, essays, reports and presentations.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

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.

Senior Lecturer Michael Collins shows SimMan's capabilities:

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 an 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

Our typical offer is 128 - 120 UCAS points from three A Level passes or equivalent, which must include Chemistry and one other science subject at Grade B or above excluding General Studies. Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017.

We also require at least three passes at GCSE grade C or above which must include Mathematics and English Language.

If English is not your first language, you need an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with at least 6.0 in each band. 

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.

Some applicants may be invited for interview. 

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 128 - 120 points from a BTEC Extended Diploma. In some cases you will also require a Chemistry A Level at grade B or above.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. Our typical offer is three distinctions which must include Chemistry and one other science subject. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 128 - 120 points, which must include Chemistry and one other science subject at grade B. Please note these must be Advanced Highers.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is 128 - 120 points which must include minimum of five Bs, with Chemistry and one other Science subject at B1 together with English and Maths at Ordinary level (excluding Irish).

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Fitness to Practise

Pharmacy is a registered health care profession for which the ability to practice safely and effectively is essential, so all pharmacy students will be subjected to Fitness to Practise procedures.

This means you are required to complete two self-declaration forms, one about your health and the other about your conduct. For UK students you will also be required to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and for overseas students, a Certificate of Good Conduct from your home police force is necessary. All overseas students will then be required to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check after six months after starting the programme.

A ’Fitness to Practise’ information pack containing the relevant documents will be sent to you by the University of Sunderland once you hold a conditional firm offer with us. These forms are then reviewed alongside your application, and you must meet both the academic and fitness to practice requirements before you will be given an unconditional offer. These checks enable us to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain activities including the pharmacy work experience placements.

Fees & finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 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.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

The MPharm course is a stepping stone towards registration as a pharmacist. Pharmacists are experts in the use of medicines who provide medications to patients and help them understand what the medications are, and how they should be taken. A good pharmacist has mastery of scientific knowledge, clinical expertise and interpersonal communication.

Around 70% of our graduates will go on to work in community pharmacy. Most of the remainder work in primary or secondary care or become industrial pharmacists or progress to research degrees.

  • 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
  • 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

Financial rewards compare favourably with most other professions. Typical starting salaries for community pharmacists range from £21,000 - £35,000 depending on location, conditions of employment and experience. Currently, there is virtually no unemployment of qualified pharmacists.

Qualifying as a Pharmacist

This course lasts for four years and you will graduate as a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm). The MPharm is the only qualification in the UK which leads to professional registration as a pharmacist.

To become eligible for registration as a pharmacist in the UK, you will need to undertake a further year of postgraduate training after the end of the course. This one-year course is known as the ‘pre-registration training year’. We offer this course at Sunderland: Pharmacy pre-registration training programme.

Once this pre-registration training year is complete, you will be qualified to sit the registration exam set by the General Pharmaceutical Council and start your career as a Pharmacist.

Other career options

Although the MPharm is primarily a route to becoming a pharmacist, it can also open up many other career pathways where expertise in medicines is vital. Examples include chemical research and working in Research & Development industry.

Guest speakers

We have well-established links with professionals working in all the main branches of pharmacy. Through these links we organise a programme of guest speakers who help you relate academic theory to current trends and issues.

Teacher practitioners

Many of the staff teaching on this course are practitioners from hospital, community and primary care backgrounds. This ensures that our course is employer-led, and means that you will have regular contact with the ‘real world’ of the pharmacy profession.

Work placements and study visits

We encourage you to undertake work experience during vacations. After the end of the course you will need to undertake a one-year placement as part of your pre-registration training. We offer considerable assistance and advice in securing a suitable placement. 

We also organise visits to community and hospital pharmacies. We link these trips to specific modules so that you can see the practical application of the knowledge and skills you are learning. It’s all part of broadening your learning so that you’re prepared not just for exams but for life as a pharmacist in a clinical environment.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme:

Student jobs, volunteering and paid projects (earn while you learn) 

Our Careers & Employability Service advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study. 

Volunteering positions in local organisations, charities and community groups can help you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer. Past opportunities have included working with children and the elderly, conservation work and sporting activities.

CES also advertises details of paid part-time and vacation work in areas from call centre and retail work through to telesales and marketing and promotion and more.

Opportunities to work with companies on flexible, paid, part-time projects in areas such as IT, design, law, media, HR and event management, to name a few, are available too. These projects are a great chance to gain valuable work experience. 


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For full details, please see our Employability page.


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, workshops, seminars and case studies. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be researching and studying on your own in preparation for assignments and seminars. If you have individual queries or difficulties within subject areas, you can book an appointment with your tutor to gain more in-depth support and guidance.

From the start of the course, you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the 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, we encourage you to take up opportunities for practical experience related to pharmacy. At the end of the course the next step would usually be to complete a year’s pre-registration training.

From September 2012, we are offering the Pharmacy pre-registration training programme at the University of Sunderland. The final step towards registration is to undertake competency assessments and final examination set by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

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.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"With University life, the more effort you put in the more you get out of it."

Kathryn Moffitt

Kathryn Moffitt - Graduate

Community Pharmacist

"Studying for a degree is not just about the few years you spend at university. It is about investing in the rest of your life.

"My university education proved to be a vital part of my pathway to employment; it gave me invaluable life skills, work experience and effectively set me up with a job and a career. Without my degree and the experience I gained at Sunderland, I would not be earning the salary I am today.

"While I was studying the lecturers encouraged me to get work experience with a local company. The University has many partnerships with private companies which led me to get a Saturday job with Norchem Healthcare, which has a regional network of pharmacies.

"The experience was invaluable, and once I graduated, I was offered the chance to complete my training year and then went on to be offered a full-time pharmacy role.

"With university life, the more effort you put in, the more you get out of it. There are so many opportunities to take part in activities outside of the course that are really worth looking into.

"I loved my time at university; it improved my knowledge, self-confidence and prepared me for going out into new environments and meeting new people."

"Studying at Sunderland has set me up for a lifelong career."

Sinead McHugh

Sinead McHugh - Graduate

Working at South Tyneside District Hospital

"Studying at Sunderland has set me up for a lifelong career. The programme was geared towards life in the workplace, with the right balance of expert tuition, knowledge and experience.

"The staff and lecturers were all really friendly and approachable which helped me settle in immediately and get the most out of my studies.

"The facilities at Sunderland are first class. The University even has its own mock pharmacy where we could train for life in the real world and build our confidence, learning skills that could be seamlessly transferred to the workplace.

"It is clear that the programmes at Sunderland are designed with career prospects in mind and my time at the University of Sunderland also led to me making contact with my current employer, South Tyneside District Hospital.

"The great thing I found about life at Sunderland is there are so many different people from all sorts of cultures studying here, which certainly broadened my horizons.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Sunderland and it really did exceed my expectations. I have made many lifelong friends and also my programme led me to get a job that I love doing, with a career path stretching ahead of me."

"University life teaches you independence and you definitely mature as a person being away from home."

Paul Tasker

Paul Tasker - Graduate

Pharmacist, Sunderland Royal Hospital

"After looking around at the courses on offer I chose Sunderland as the pharmacy qualification has an excellent reputation among employers.

"I visited the University during one of their Open Days and was impressed by what I saw. The campus looked so modern and the new facilities were really impressive.

"After graduating, I did a placement at a hospital in Airedale before doing my pre-medical training at Hull Royal Infirmary. I quickly got the chance to return to Sunderland when a job came up at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

"My career has come full circle as we take visiting students at the hospital from the University. It reminds me of how much of my studies I actually put into practice every day at work.

"I think university life teaches you independence and you definitely mature as a person when you study away from home."

"My training at Sunderland provided me with a wide range of skills."

Mark Burdon - Graduate

Mark Burdon - Graduate


"Since graduating from the University of Sunderland in 1999 with a degree in Pharmacy, my career as a pharmacist has developed in a number of ways.

"Following my pre-registration training, I went on to build a successful community pharmacy business. In conjunction with this I am also involved in national pharmacy matters as a member of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), representing pharmacists in the North East.

"My training at Sunderland provided me with a wide range of skills and I am proud to continue my association with the University."

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017
  • Time: 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Science Complex, City Campus, Sunderland SR1 3SD

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 


The details

Course Name Pharmacy
Classification MPharm
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 4 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

128 - 120 points

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