Becoming a Pharmacist

Training to become a pharmacist takes a minimum of five years and includes the successful completion of a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) accredited Master of Pharmacy degree, one year’s pre-registration training and the GPhC’s registration assessment.

To qualify as a pharmacist takes a minimum of five years and includes the following steps:

  • Successful completion of a General Pharmaceutical Council accredited Master of Pharmacy degree (MPharm), which is a full-time, four-year course
  • Successful completion of one year’s pre-registration training, a period of paid employment in a community or hospital pharmacy during which a trainee is required to build up a portfolio of evidence and demonstrate their competence whilst being observed at work
  • Successful completion of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s registration assessment
  • Meeting the fitness to practise requirements for registration as a pharmacist.

Only after completing these steps can you apply for registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council as a pharmacist. As part of the registration process, applicants have to make a health declaration and character checks are carried out.

To get onto a Master’s course in pharmacy you need three A-B grade A-levels in chemistry and biology, maths or physics along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and at least one science.

Or you could use alternative qualifications, including:

  • foundation degree in pharmacy
  • BTEC, HND or HNC which includes science
  • relevant NVQ
  • science-based access course
  • equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications

Pharmacists need to be:

  • accurate and methodical
  • able to understand and apply the law
  • responsible
  • interested in people’s health
  • willing to supervise others
  • able to work with all types of people
  • able to explain clearly to members of the public
  • communication skills including listening
  • good customer skills
  • science skills

Pre-registration is an important step in the journey to become a pharmacist.

The pharmacy pre-registration training scheme is made up of:

  • a pre-registration training placement: under the supervision of a tutor, trainees spend at least 52 weeks in an approved training site, developing their practice to meet a range of performance standards. Their progress is guided by and verified by their tutor, using progress reviews set out in the General Pharmaceutical Council pre-registration manual.
  • a registration assessment: trainees sit an assessment which tests specific knowledge and skills set out in the assessment framework. Trainees must demonstrate that they are making sufficient progress to meet all the performance standards by the end of their placement to be eligible to sit the registration assessment

Apply to start the pharmacist pre-registration scheme

The MPharm degree is offered by Schools of Pharmacy at a number of universities in the United Kingdom. The course must be undertaken as the first part of the route to registration for those wishing to become a pharmacist within the UK.

The Masters of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree programme is a full-time course offered by Schools of Pharmacy at a number of universities in the United Kingdom. The programme integrates science and practice and equips students with the theoretical knowledge, professional behaviours and clinical skills required to become a pharmacist. The MPharm is normally a four-year programme which must be completed successfully in order to enter the one year of pre-regsitration training.

Some universities offer a five year integrated MPharm degree programme which incorporates the year of pre-registration training into a single programme of education and training. For details of these universities visit the General Pharmaceutical Council Accredited MPharm degrees page.

A five-year sandwich degree is also offered by one university which involves undertaking the four years of the MPharm programme and two six-month blocks of pre-registration training in an intercalated programme. Further details can be found on the General Pharmaceutical Council Accredited MPharm degrees page.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for a GPhC-accredited MPharm degree vary between universities. However, as a guide, you might be expected to have A-B grade A-levels in chemistry and two further A-levels in either biology, mathematics, or physics. If you have A-levels in chemistry and biology, you may also be considered with an alternative third subject.

The entry requirements are set by the individual university offering the MPharm degree. Universities may accept equivalent qualifications, other than A-levels, including qualifications gained outside of the UK. Universities may set other entry requirements for the course.

If you would like to pursue a career as a pharmacist, but do not have the required A-level grades or subjects, you might consider undertaking a GPhC-accredited foundation degree as an alternative route to enter an MPharm degree.

Accredited MPharm degrees

You can find a list of the universities that offer the MPharm degree course together with the latest accreditation reports.

For further information on the accreditation of MPharm degree courses please see Approval process for education and training providers

Some UK Schools of Pharmacy offer an accredited MPharm which is taught in part overseas at a partner university. This course is called an MPharm 2+2.

A number of the UK Schools of Pharmacy which currently offer an accredited MPharm degree also offer a version of their MPharm which is taught, in part, overseas at a partner university.

Students studying on this MPharm course – often referred to as a 2+2 course – study the first two years of the MPharm at the partner university and join the university’s UK MPharm course for years three and four.

Currently, several collaborations exist with partner universities based in Malaysia. Students who graduate from an accredited MPharm 2+2 are eligible to enter pre-registration training in the UK and, as such, may follow the UK route to registration allowing them to practise as a pharmacist in the UK.

Entry requirements

Applicants applying to enter the overseas MPharm degree must apply via the overseas partner universities’ application process and not through UCAS. Visit the website of the partner university for details of entry requirements.

Accredited MPharm 2+2 courses

You can find a list of the universities that offer the MPhram 2+2 course together with the latest accreditation reports.

For further information on the accreditation of MPharm degree courses taught in part overseas see Approval process for education and training providers.

This is a postgraduate diploma that is undertaken as the first part of the route to registration required by those who have qualified as a pharmacist from outside of the EEA.

The OSPAP is a one-year course designed to ensure that those who have qualified overseas receive the appropriate education and training to prepare them for UK practice and entry to pre-registration training.

Entry requirements

The OSPAP course is available to those who hold a pharmacy qualification gained overseas and are registered, or eligible to register, as pharmacists in their country of qualification.

For further information on the route to registration for pharmacists who have qualified overseas, please see Overseas (non-EEA) qualified pharmacists.

Accredited OSPAP courses

You can find a list of universities that offer the OSPAP course together with the latest accreditation reports.

For further information on the accreditation of OSPAP courses please see Approval process for education and training providers.

This course can be taken as an entry route for anyone wanting to pursue a career in pharmacy who doesn’t currently have the required qualifications to be accepted straight onto an MPharm degree.

The pharmacy foundation degree is a two year full-time course which includes the content of year one of an MPharm degree combined with 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.

Entry requirements

To view a list of accepted qualifications for entry to the foundation degree, please visit the website of the course providers.

Accredited pharmacy foundation degrees

You can find a list of the universities that offer pharmacy foundation degrees together with the lastest accreditation reports.

For more information on the accreditation of pharmacy foundation degrees please see Approval process for education and training providers.

The standards for pharmacy professionals are relevant to all pharmacy students while they are on their journey towards registration and practice. The standards explain the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that will be expected of students and trainees if they apply to join the register.

Students should use them as a tool to prepare for registration and read them alongside other relevant documents that are provided by their education and training provider

Student fitness to practise

Anyone applying to register as a pharmacist must demonstrate their fitness to practise. The General Pharmaceutical Council has issued guidance to all schools of pharmacy offering accredited MPharm degrees, foundation degrees and OSPAP courses to provide them with advice on how to develop and apply consistent fitness to practise procedures for students.

Guidance on student fitness to practise procedures

Health Education England’s course finder can be used to find undergraduate and postgraduate courses leading to clinical careers in health. Most of the courses lead to eligibility to apply for statutory professional registration.

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/career-planning/course-finder