Pharmaceutical Sciences Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Pharmaceutical Science?

Pharmaceutical science is the study of the formulation, development, and manufacture of new drugs. Pharmaceutical science encompasses chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and physiology.

Pharmaceutical scientists focus on how medicines work, how safe and effective products are brought to the market, their impact on the body, and their effect on the prevention and treatment of disease.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Pharmaceutical Sciences courses in the following subject areas:

  • MSc in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing – Develop in-depth knowledge of biologics manufacturing and skills relevant to the biopharmaceutical sector.
  • MSc in Biopharmaceutical Processing -Biopharmaceutical Processing involves the study of the discovery, development, and processing of modern, medical drugs.
  • Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs – The study of design, development, analysis, and production of medicines, the drug industry, and regulatory affairs.
  • MSc in International Pharmaceutical Business Management – A study of research current trends and developments in the Pharmaceutical Business Management.
  • Biopharmaceutical Analysis & Cell Culture – Gain in-depth knowledge and skills in biopharmaceutical production, analysis, and cell culture-related topics.
  • MSc in International Pharmaceutical Business Management – Gain the specialist skills required for successful management careers in the pharmaceutical range of industries.
  • A Degree in Pharmaceutical Business Operations (BA) – A study of Pharmaceutical Business, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Regulatory Affairs, Data Analysis, Business Improvement (Lean Sigma), Clinical Research Coordination, Data Processing, and Project Co-ordination.
  • MSc Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Process Technology – Gain in-depth knowledge of manufacturing processing issues related to the global pharma, biotech, food, and device industries.
  • MSc Pharmaceutical Business and Technology – The study of technology and business qualification for those involved in manufacturing, compliance, business improvement, quality assurance, validation, data analytics, clinical trial coordination, and engineering.
  • Biopharmaceutical Processes – A course for graduates of laboratory science with majors in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, or related disciplines to supplement their core skills to meet the requirements of the biopharmaceutical sector.
  • Industrial Microbiology & Biopharmaceuticals – An introduction to the principles of pharmaceutical microbiology and biopharmaceutical production.

Studying Pharmaceutical Sciences in college

Many Pharmaceutical Sciences courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses are available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or job shadowing a community pharmacist, or talking to your local pharmacist about their role. It may also be possible to get part-time work within a pharmacy to get a feel for the working environment.

Practical experience of working in a laboratory environment is very useful for providing you with practical skills. Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future

Career options

After completing a course in Pharmaceutical Sciences you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of Pharmaceuticals and Chemistry.

Work can be found in a diverse range of scientific industries and typical employers include Agrochemical companies, Biotechnology or contract research organizations, Chemical and polymer manufacturers, Environmental agencies, Food companies, Government agencies, Hospital laboratories, Multidisciplinary consultancy or testing companies, Petrochemical companies, Pharmaceutical companies, and Public health laboratories. Research and development are carried out in a variety of organizations in both the commercial and the public sectors.

You must keep abreast of developments in drug research including new drugs on the market, new ways of treating conditions with drugs, and the government policy on drug treatment. This will involve reading professional journals and publications and attending courses and training sessions throughout your career.

The majority of community pharmacists work in high street pharmacies, in large, multiple retail chains or supermarkets, or independent pharmacies of various sizes. The remainder is employed by small or medium-sized chain stores, GP surgeries, or health centers.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. If you are working in a lab or other facility, you will usually be expected to work 9 am to 5 pm but may have to do some extra hours depending on your workload and sample schedule.

As a Community Pharmacist, working hours may include unsocial hours in a shop environment. Many pharmacies are open for extended hours during evenings and weekends. Most employers operate a rota system.

Self-employment is very unlikely due to the significant financial investment in equipment and staffing, plus the need for accreditation. There are opportunities for freelance consultancy work, although large companies tend to have their experts.

Related jobs include:

  • Analytical Chemist
  • Animal Technician
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Biomedical Scientist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Clinical Research Associate
  • Clinical Scientist
  • Community Pharmacist
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Environmental Health Practitioner
  • Food Technologist
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Hospital Pharmacist
  • Medical Science Liaison
  • Medicinal Chemist
  • Metallurgist
  • Microbiologist
  • Nanotechnologist
  • Neuroscientist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Geneticist
  • Research Scientist
  • Science Writer
  • Scientific Laboratory Technician
  • Toxicologist

Further study

After completing a course in Pharmaceutical Sciences you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as scientific writing, research, publishing, and consultancy, including recruitment and training. 


What is the difference between pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences?

Pharmacists are directly involved in patient care and work with existing drugs. Pharmaceutical scientists create new drugs, therapies, and approaches to maximize benefit established therapies.

What are the different areas of Pharmaceutical Science?

You can work in areas as diverse as:

· Drug formulation and development

· Chemical or forensic analysis

· Process development

· Product validation

· Quality control

· Toxicology

Where can I study Pharmaceutical Sciences?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Penicillin was the first antibiotic used by doctors discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928.

· Only in the USA and New Zealand are pharmaceutical companies allowed to create direct-to-consumer ads.

· Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant responsible for Aspirin, once marketed heroin as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant.

· John Stith Pemberton, a local pharmacist, developed the syrup for Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia in 1886.

· Before he discovered electricity, Benjamin Franklin dispensed medicine as a pharmacist. He worked as a clerk in a local mercantile store, where he dispensed medicines, herbs, and other cures. Agatha Christie was a pharmacy technician.

Mariza Halliday

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