What you’ll learn
Pharmacy will teach you all about medicines, their uses, and how to manage and dispense them. You will study the origin and chemistry of drugs, the preparation of medicines, their uses and effects, and good pharmaceutical practice. You will also need to keep up to date with new drugs on the market.
Pharmacology, meanwhile, focuses on the ways medicinal drugs are delivered, the effects they have on the body and whether new ones could work better. You will study cells and tissues in detail and learn how to examine infection rates and assess the effects of drugs in combating symptoms.
How you’ll learn
Pharmacy is very different to many degrees, in that you should expect a full timetable, working in lectures, seminars, laboratories and on placements in hospital wards or in pharmacies.
By the time you graduate you will have gained a substantial body of knowledge and will be fully prepared for your pre-registration year (this is a requirement if you want to work as a professional pharmacist).
You’ll also need to complete a final-year research project. Pharmacology courses should give you the option to specialise after your first year, to focus on the research and treatment of particular groups of diseases.
Places on courses are competitive and often require chemistry and biology, or perhaps another science subject or maths. Many will want high grades, particularly in the sciences.
What job can you get?
Unemployment rates among pharmacists are low, and most graduates will get jobs in NHS hospitals or in a high street chemist. Some will venture into industry or stay in universities as researchers or tutors.
Government proposals are being developed to allow pharmacists to transition to be doctors through additional training – a scheme aimed at plugging NHS workforce shortages.
An obvious career choice for pharmacology graduates is in industry, in the lab or working in marketing or quality checking. If this doesn’t appeal, jobs in forensic science or other health-related work are possibilities, or you could undertake further research or train to be a teacher.