Pharmaceutical Sciences for the Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme MSc/PgDip

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Join the only University in the North of England to offer an Overseas Pharmacist Assessment Programme (OSPAP) that is accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Register and apply for roles as a practising pharmacist in the UK.

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The course is designed for qualified pharmacists outside the European Economic Area who are looking to become registered pharmacists in the UK, and is one of a small number that are accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Completing the OSPAP postgraduate diploma allows for entry to the next stages of registering as a pharmacist in the UK, and in addition you can also apply to undertake a Masters research project. The content of this course reflects the accreditation requirements of the General Pharmaceutical Council.

You can choose to study this course as a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) or a Masters (MSc). If you choose to study the Masters level, you will also undertake a research project. This will be an original piece of work in which you will demonstrate both theoretical and practical knowledge.

Why us?

  • Sunderland Pharmacy School is accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council
  • Pharmacy has been taught at Sunderland for over 90 years
  • Research in Pharmacy at Sunderland has been described as ‘world-leading’ by the latest Research Excellence Framework

Course structure

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, practical assessments as well as assignments throughout the year.

Modules on this 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; and pharmaceutical calculations.

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 achieve 120 credits from 'Pharmacy, Law, Ethics and Practice' and 'Clinical Therapeutics', and a Masters route in which you must achieve 180 credits.


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

  • 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: 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
    • PsycARTICLES: Includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
    • PubMed: Contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
    • Science Direct: Offers more than 2,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
    • Web of Science: Covers a broad range of science areas
    Library Services - sciences
  • 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.

    Pharmacy Practice
  • This course is based in the Sciences Complex in our City Campus, which has benefited from multi-million pound investment in modern facilities.

    IT facilities are excellent with hundreds of workstations available as well as wireless internet access. If you have any computer problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    The Sciences Complex
  • Map and directions


Sunderland's exceptional facilities include state-of-the-art equipment for pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry and pharmacology. 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.

Entry requirements

To apply for this course, you must first apply to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and pass their adjudication process, please see the GPhC website 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. Proof of English proficiency (please refer to the GPhC’s guidance on how they assess evidence of English language skills).

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

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

Fees and 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.

Postgraduate Diploma

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,128 per 120 credits if you are from the UK or EU
  • £8,400 if you are from outside the EU


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £6,500 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £13,000 if you are from outside the EU

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

Student at the graduation ceremony


This is one of the few courses in the UK that allow pharmacists from other countries to qualify for practising in the UK. Currently there is virtually no unemployment of qualified pharmacists.

Career options

On completing the OSPAP postgraduate diploma you can enter pre-registration training, this is the next stage of your training process. You must successfully complete a 52 week pre-registration position and pass the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) registration assessment before being allowed to apply to join the register and practise as a pharmacist in the UK.

An entry-level pharmacist usually starts within Band 5 of the NHS pay rates (up to around £28,000). Advanced pharmacists, consultants, team managers and managers of pharmaceutical services are rated as Bands 8-9 and can earn up to £99,000.

Typical starting salaries for community pharmacists range from £21,000 to £35,000 depending on location, conditions of employment and experience.

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: this involves areas such as research and development, quality assurance and product registration.

Pre-registration applications

The application process and interviews will all take place before you start your OSPAP course. Once the application deadline has passed late applications will not be accepted, therefore if you wish to be considered for a pre-registration position starting in 2019 you must complete this process.

Only one application will be required to apply for all programmes advertised and you will be able to preference both hospital and community programmes. All English and Welsh hospital preregistration pharmacist training programmes will be recruited to via Oriel plus a large number of community pharmacies have joined the scheme.

For more information please visit Oriel and Health Education England.

For applications to Scotland visit NHS Education for Scotland.

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