Study pharmacy in the UK for international students: courses, top universities, admission eligibility, cost, and career prospects
Pharmacy is a highly sought-after career choice for all those with a knack for chemistry and integrated healthcare studies. In the UK, the job of a pharmacist commands one of the highest median salaries and bridges the gap between doctors and patients. Following the implementation of EU regulations, UK universities offer a comprehensive Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree, following a methodical four-year program.
Pharmacy schools usually overview a significant intake of international students. On average, around 3000 students enroll in pharmacy degrees annually, out of which the international student strength is seen to be 15%. This number shot up drastically in 2021 after the Home Office put pharmacists on the occupation shortage list. 4,400 MPharm seats were offered last year as pharmacy schools recorded double-digit growth.
Some universities offer Bachelor of Science programs in Pharmaceutical Science, but these do not render their graduates licensed pharmacists. Students opting for this course can pursue a career in research, but MPharm is the only degree in the UK that allows you to dispense medicine. Although there is a significant return on investment, the annual tuition fee can range anywhere between 18,000-35,000 USD.
The NHS provides lucrative career options for pharmacists. You can be employed in the hospital, community, or primary care sectors. international students bag jobs almost immediately after graduation. This is because according to data in a report by the Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group, 9% of full-time equivalent community pharmacist positions in England lay vacant in July 2020.
Course details and duration of Master of Pharmacy courses in the UK
|Valid Degree in the UK:||Master of Pharmacy (MPham)|
|Duration:||4 years of learning + 1 year of paid training|
|Topics Taught:||Pharmacology, cell physiology, pathology, chemistry, drug ethics, economics, patient care|
The MPharm degree is 4 years long. Through the course of their curriculum, students will learn extensively about pharmacology, cell physiology, pathology, chemistry, drug ethics, and economics. Patient care is prioritized and the course also incorporates learning skills that can be used to effectively communicate with ailing patients. In addition to obtaining the Masters of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree, prospective pharmacists also have to undertake a year’s worth of supervised training in clinical practice. This is a period of paid employment during which students have to demonstrate their competence whilst being observed at work.
These criteria must be fulfilled for students to be eligible for the national registration exam set by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). After clearing the exam, you can choose to pursue doctorate courses or continue your career as a licensed pharmacist in the UK. As part of the registration process, interested candidates have to sign health declarations. Character checks are also carried out.
Top Pharmacy universities in the UK
Gyanberry works in close collaboration with several pharmacy schools in the UK. Our partner pharmacy universities strive to ensure that the highest echelon of education is offered. Extensive care is taken to foster a diverse space that promotes professional and personal growth. The following is a list of 31 top pharmacy universities to study at in the UK.
|University Name||Complete University Guide Ranking||Course Name|
|Queen’s University Belfast||3||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Cardiff University||4||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Ulster (Coleraine)||7||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|The University of Ulster||7||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Nottingham||9||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Bath||10||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Manchester||11||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University College London||12||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of East Anglia (Norwich)||15||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Newcastle University||16||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Bradford||18||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|King’s College, University of London||19||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Keele University||20||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Aston University (Birmingham)||21||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Birmingham||21||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Strathclyde (Glasgow)||22||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Reading||23||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Huddersfield||24||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Lincoln||26||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Portsmouth||27||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Liverpool John Moores University||28||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Greenwich and Kent||29||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Sunderland||31||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen)||35||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Brighton||36||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|De Montfort University (Leicester)||37||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Central Lancashire (Preston)||38||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Hertfordshire (Hatfield)||40||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Wolverhampton||43||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Kingston University London||44||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Durham University||NA||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|University of Sussex||NA||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
|Swansea University (provisionally accredited)||NA||GPhC-accredited MPharm degree|
Some UK universities have started providing 5-year courses with intercalated registration training, which is a pre-requisite for GPhC registration. The universities accepting applications from international students include
- Keele University
- University of Birmingham
- University of Bradford
- University of the East Anglia
- University of Nottingham
Admission requirements for Pharmaceutical courses in the UK
Since entry requirements for international students vary across universities, it is best if you apply via Gyanberry. However, by a general rule of thumb, prospective MPharm applicants should have a decent academic track record in English, Maths, and Chemistry.
The University of Oxford, which is the #1 pharmacy school globally, requires international students to have obtained 65% or more marks in their UG examination. In addition to that, other documents that need to be furnished during admission include
- Past transcripts from school
- A recognized Bachelor’s degree in any pharmacy-related field like chemistry, biology, etc.
- A purpose statement
- Letters of recommendation
- IELTS, TOEFL iBT, or PTE scores as proof of English proficiency
- Other relevant ID proofs
According to the norms set by most coveted universities in the UK, a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is mandatory with no component lower than 5.5. A minimum TOEFL (iBT) score of 90 should also have been obtained.
If you are looking to pursue an International Baccalaureate, the typical score requirement is 34 points and AAB is a mandatory A-level requirement. Since the MPharm course takes a holistic approach to developing clinical acumen, an interview round is also conducted by the top universities in the UK. Here, you will be evaluated based on your work experience, aptitude, and commitment to quality of care.
Average cost to study Pharmacy in the UK
Most pharmacy schools in the UK group the fee status of their students into two categories as the amount varies for EU citizens and overseas applicants. For the first 4 years of their course, students will have to pay the university but during their 5th year of clinical training, they will be eligible to receive a monthly stipend.
However, most universities still do charge an annual tuition fee of 3,000 to 5,000 USD* in the placement year as well. Through the table given below, we shall take a look at the expense international students will have to incur in the first 4 years of their MPharm course.
|Name of College||Annual Tuition Fee in USD*|
|University of East Anglia||22,754 USD|
|Aston University||24,903 USD|
|Queen’s University, Belfast||25,223 USD|
|University of Bradford||26,641 USD|
|University of Hertfordshire||17,656 USD|
|King’s College, University of London||34,165 USD|
|University of Manchester||30,268 USD|
|Newcastle University||30,268 USD*|
*Note: The costs are converted on the basis of the current exchange rate, i.e., 1 pound sterling = 1.26 USD. Exchange rates are subject to periodic change.
To practice as a licensed pharmacist, students need to clear a registration assessment examination conducted by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Upon successful registration, international graduates can also apply for community or hospital pharmacist roles. These professionals usually obtain a lucrative median salary between 54,200-100,000 USD** annually.
Other pharmacy graduates can also opt to apply for faculty positions in academia or conduct research as part of governing regulatory bodies. Although being part of hospitals and the industrial pharmacy sector are conventional goals for pharmacists, other career prospects for international MPharm graduates can include
- Becoming a Scientific Writer: Considering the huge amount of specialist knowledge pharmacy graduates possesses, they can easily turn the biggest developments in health care into engaging content. Given the rising awareness regarding vaccines and newer drugs available in the market, this is an attractive role in the present day.
- Becoming a Regulatory Affairs Officer: To be successful as a regulatory affairs officer, you need a pharmacy-based degree and an analytical brain. You will need to study drug ethics and associated laws in detail to ensure the safety and efficacy of new drugs being launched by pharmaceutical giants.
- Becoming a Medical Sales Representative: This role does not require much clinical acumen. Here, you will mainly be using your communication skills to persuade health professionals to buy the medicines you are selling to them. Opting for this role is also a good choice, provided you can prove why your products are better than the competition.
Most pharmacists find a job immediately after graduation while some go on to pursue doctoral studies. However, to promote international immigration, the UK allows non-EU Students a 2-year extended stay to find work. After finding employment, these students can also apply for PR status.
**Note: The salaries are converted on the basis of the current exchange rate, i.e., 1 pound sterling = 1.26 USD. Exchange rates are subject to periodic change.