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How to Become a Pharmacist in the UK?

How to Become a Pharmacist in the UK?
Shishant KumarNov 11, 2022

Become a Registered Pharmacist in the UK: Qualifications, Licensing Requirements, and Registration Process 

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC) is the governing organization for the registration of pharmacists in the UK. Being a registered pharmacist in the UK takes at least five years. This comprises a four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree and a one-year paid work placement known as a foundation training year. After completing the requisite training, prospective pharmacists must then register with GPHC. Let’s go over the steps to becoming a pharmacist in the UK, especially for international students. And discuss the educational qualifications, licensing requirements, and registration process.

Overview of becoming a registered Pharmacist in the UK

Here are some highlights for anyone interested in becoming a pharmacist in the UK. 

Accrediting and licensing body  General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC)
Entry-level degree  MPharm degree
GPHC application fee 129 USD*
First-year fee 446 USD*
Licensing exam GPHC registration assessment examination
Average salary  39,536 to 56,099 USD*/year

Educational qualifications to become a Pharmacist in the UK

Pharmacy is one of the best professions to study in the UK. As per the National Careers Service, the average starting salary for UK pharmacists is 39,536 USD*/year. The experienced ones receive a salary of 56,099 USD*/year.  The M Pharm is an entry-level degree for becoming a pharmacist in the UK. But only the MPharm degree, which is accredited by GPHC, is registrable. A few colleges in the UK provide bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmaceutical science. But they are not valid for pharmacist registration under the new EU regulations.  

 To study pharmacy in the UK, students can enter the MPharm degree via the following routes: 

  1. MPharm degree: It is a full-time four-year course offered by a number of GPHC accredited universities in the UK. The applications for these pharmacy courses are accepted through the UCAS service. Some top pharmacy universities offer an MPharm degree as a five-year integrated degree incorporating the foundation training year. The entry requirements for an MPharm degree vary from one university to the other. The following are some general entry requirements as given by some universities:
  • High school education with A levels in chemistry and A levels in either biology, mathematics, or physics
  • Grade C and above in GCSEs (SSC or equivalent) in English, science, and mathematics
  • Work or volunteer experience (healthcare-related)
  • Personal interview
  • Personal statement 
  • English language tests score like IELTS (7.0) or TOEFL (90)
  • Students visa
  • Health clearance
  • Academic transcripts (UK equivalency)
  • Passport photographs
  • A copy of bank statement showing adequate funds for at least one academic year of tuition
  • Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks
  1. Pharmacy foundation degree: This route is suitable for students who do not have minimum qualifications to be accepted straight into an MPharm degree. It is a two-year full-time course that contains coursework from year one of the MPharm degrees. It makes sure that students are equipped with knowledge and skills to enter directly into year two of an accredited MPharm degree.
  2. MPharm 2+2 degree: Some pharmacy colleges in the UK have partner universities in foreign counties where students can study for the first two years of their MPharm degree. And then spend the last two years of their education in a pharmacy school in the UK (accredited by GPHC).
  3. Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Program (OSPAP): International candidates from an overseas college are also eligible for UK pharmacist registration. But they have to complete the OSPAP program. It is a one-year post-graduate diploma. It provides education and training to international graduates. Once they clear OSPAP, they then can apply to the foundation/pre-registration training. The entry requirements for the course are based on previous qualifications, work experience, fitness to practice, and English language competency.

Note: A list of all the approved colleges offering MPharm degrees via the above routes is available on the official GPHC website. 

Licensing requirements for Pharmacists in the UK 

To join the professional register of GPHC in the UK, students need to complete the following prerequisites:

  • A four-year MPharm degree from a GPHC accredited pharmacy college
  • A foundation training year (previously known as the pre-registration year)
  • A registration assessment examination/GPHC exam

The foundation year is a 12 months or 52 weeks pre-registration training period. Students can take this training either in community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, or a combination of all these. The learners of the foundation year are called trainee pharmacists. This one-year program is designed to bridge the transition from studying to registering as a pharmacist. Here are some places where students can apply for their foundation year training in the UK:

  • Approved training premises as provided on the GPHC website
  • The online portal: Oriel by the Health Education England. Students need to apply to this scheme in the June of the year before the completion of their MPharm degree 
  • Pharmacy trade magazine which advertises foundation training places
  •  NHS Education Scotland website for Scotland
  •  Health Education and Improvement Wales for Wales

The next step before applying for registration is to clear the GPHC exam. The exam takes place twice a year in summer i.e. last Friday in June and in Autumn, last Friday in September. Students can have a maximum of three attempts at the GPHC exam. The exam consists of two parts: 

  1. Part 1: 2.5 hours calculation paper
  2. Part 2:  2.5 hours MCQ paper

Candidates are required to clear both parts in one sitting. Upon clearing the exam, students can go ahead and apply for the registration as a UK pharmacist. 

The Registration Process for Pharmacists in the UK 

The pharmacist registration process in the UK is quite simple, students have to create an account on “myGPhC” portal of the GPHC website. The rest of the process is summarized in the following steps:

  • Click the application tile on the home page and enter the name, address, date of birth, qualifications, etc.
  • In the next section enter the details of the training site and click to confirm
  • Enter the details of GPHC exam
  • Upload a letter of good standing 
  • Click on the declarations about health fitness
  • Upload all scanned copies of the required documents (proof of identity, birth certificate, academic transcripts, photos, and other required certificates)
  • Once everything is confirmed, click on the review button to select a registered pharmacist to countersign the application
  • Pay the application fee of 129 USD*
  • Once the traction is complete, submit the application

The approved applicants will receive a notification through myGPhC. They have to pay the first-year fee of 446 USD* to officially join the GPHC register as a registered pharmacist in the UK. 

Students must join the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) after completing their registration to stay up to date on the newest advances and best practices. The RPS offers courses, seminars, and workshops for pharmacists to stay current and network with others in the field.

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

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The entry-level salary for a pharmacist in the UK is 39,536 USD*/year. With experience, the salary can rise up to 56,099 USD*/year (National Careers Service).

No, the UK government has declared that a four-year MPharm degree, accredited by GPHC, will be the entry-level degree for pharmacists in the UK.

Yes, international pharmacy graduates can apply for pharmacist registration in the UK. They have to complete a one-year post-graduate diploma called OSPAP. After passing OSPAP, they must complete a foundation training year and pass a registration assessment exam to become a member of the GPHC.

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