Pharmacy student at RCSI in white coat)

Pharmacy

BSc (Hons) MPharm
School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Your journey

The Pharmacy programme is delivered through a modular system. Early modules provide the foundations, integrating around the themes of health, medicines and the pharmacist. Year 2 and 3 include modules based on the systems of the body. Each systems-based module integrates life sciences, chemical and physical sciences, clinical sciences and practice.

Structured placements occur in all five years of the programme. These provide opportunities to learn across different settings, in leading organisations in community, hospital, pharmaceutical industry, academia and other places where pharmacists make a difference. A four-month placement in Year 4 and an eight-month placement in the final year (Year 5) ensure that when you graduate you are ready for practice.

Case-based learning is a key feature of the curriculum. Cases are used in all modules for teaching and assessment. Patient and public involvement in education and interprofessional learning are key features. There is a focus on active learning, appropriately supported by technology-enhanced learning.

The teaching and learning strategy gives you the chance to learn in different ways:

  • Learning from experts (lectures, small group teaching, patient contact sessions)
  • Learning with others (interprofessional learning, group-based activities)
  • Learning through making (laboratory practicals, presentations)
  • Learning through exploring (research, projects)
  • Learning through practicing (simulation)
  • Learning from assessment (formative assessment, feedback, reflection)
  • Learning in and across settings (site visits, experiential learning)

There are plenty of opportunities to develop your research skills further, both at home through the Research Summer School, and overseas. There are research and exchange opportunities with our partner institutions in China, France, Japan and the US. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland commended the range of options at accreditation.

The programme spans five years, leading to the award of Master of Pharmacy (MPharm). When you complete Years 1-4 of the programme, you will be eligible for the award of a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Pharmacy. Once you complete Year 4 you will have the option to progress to the final Masters year of the programme.

Approved term dates for Undergraduate Medicine, Physiotherapy, Graduate Entry Medicine, MPharm and Advanced Therapeutic Technologies for the academic year 2022/23 can be found here.

Curriculum

Year 1 consists of two semesters:

  • Semester 1 - September to December
  • Semester 2 - January to May

Each semester comprises 12 direct-contact teaching weeks, one week of revision and two weeks of examinations.

In Year 1 you will be introduced to the foundation material that will provide you with the fundamental knowledge and skills in the areas of basic science and practice. You will gain a basic understanding of the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the human body and explore chemical concepts critical to human life. You will develop an appreciation of immunology and microbiology, along with the key principles of drug delivery. Modules are integrated using case studies and medicines. You will also begin your professional journey, exploring the role of the pharmacist and developing professional skills.

Year 1 is structured as follows:

Semester 1

  • The Cellular Basis of Life (5 credits)
  • Health - Body and Function (5 credits)
  • Fundamentals of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry (5 credits)
  • Medicines – Pharmaceutics 1 (5 credits)
  • Introduction to Research Methods and Data Analysis (5 credits)
  • Pharmacist - Beginning the Professional Journey (5 credits)

Semester 2

  • Fundamentals of Pharmacology and Immunology (5 credits)
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology and Infection (5 credits)
  • Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry (5 credits)
  • Medicines – Pharmaceutics 2 (5 credits)
  • Gastrointestinal Health: Medicines and Patient Care (5 credits)
  • Pharmacist – Professional Skills (5 credits)

Semesters 1 and 2

  • Professional Development 1 (0 credits)

Learning through experience

The first placement occurs in the first semester of Year 1, when you get an opportunity to visit a community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and an industrial site. The site-visit to a community pharmacy takes the form of a structured out-of-hours visit generally facilitated by a team of RCSI graduates.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessment (e.g. group presentations, laboratory practicals) and summative end-of-semester written papers. The year-long Professional Development module is assessed via the submission of reflections.

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical week for a Year 1 student:

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lab Lecture Tutorial Workshop Lecture
Lab Lecture Lecture Workshop Lecture
Lab Lecture Lecture Workshop Lecture
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Site visit Lab Lecture  
Lecture Site visit Lab Lecture  
Tutorial Site visit Lab Lecture  

Year 2 consists of two semesters:

  • Semester 1 - September to December
  • Semester 2 - January to May

Each semester comprises 12 direct-contact teaching weeks, one week of revision and two weeks of examinations.

In Year 2 the curriculum is integrated around the systems model introduced in Year 1. These systems-based modules have input from four disciplines: life sciences, pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacy practice. The actions, interactions and use of medicines and pharmaceutical care are mainly delivered through this integrated, systems-based approach, and there is an emphasis on patient care. The theme of medicines is further developed through modules dedicated to Dosage Formulation and the Drug Life Cycle. The Drug Life Cycle module will give you an understanding of the key regulatory and scientific aspects of drug discovery and the manufacture, preparation and quality control of medicines.

In the second semester of Year 2, you will have the opportunity to undertake a longitudinal community practice placement. Our research has shown that this type of placement helps you connect with patients, integrate your learning and enhances professional engagement. You will also have the opportunity to undertake a module of your choice to explore an area that interests you. The range of options varies, but may include topics such as philosophy, education, social justice, identifying unknown compounds and making your own microscope.

Year 2 is structured as follows:

Semester 1

  • Cardiovascular Health (10 credits)
  • Respiratory Health (10 credits)
  • Medicines – Dosage Formulation (5 credits)
  • Student Choice (5 credits) 

Semester 2

  • Musculoskeletal and Haematological Health (10 credits)
  • Central Nervous System (10 credits)
  • Medicines – Drug Life Cycle (10 credits)

Semesters 1 and 2

  • Professional Development 2 (0 credits)

Learning through experience

The experiential learning in Year 2 is in a community pharmacy a commutable distance from the RCSI campus. You will have an opportunity to meet and interact with patients. Placements are one afternoon per week in the second semester.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessment (e.g. poster presentations, practical examinations) and summative end-of-semester written papers. In addition at the end of the academic year, you will participate in an objective structured clinical examination, which will assess your skills, and a calculation skills examination. The year-long Professional Development module is assessed via the submission of reflections. 

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical week for a Year 2 student.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Online
activity
Lecture
Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Lecture Lecture
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Lecture Lab Lecture Workshop
Lecture Lecture Lab Lecture Lecture
Lecture Lecture Lab Lecture Lecture

Year 3 consists of two semesters:

  • Semester 1 - September to December
  • Semester 2 - January to May

Each semester comprises 12 direct-contact teaching weeks, one week of revision and two weeks of examinations.

Year 3 continues with the systems-based model of teaching in Year 1 and most of Year 2. In the second semester, you will learn about advanced therapies, which will integrate with teaching on immunology and cancer. You will get the opportunity to think about global and public health and medicines optimisation through the stages of life. At the end of Year 3, you will have the opportunity to participate in elective placements, which take place in Ireland as well as countries such as China, Japan and the US. 

Year is structured as follows:

Semester 1

  • Liver and kidney Health (10 credits)
  • Endocrine System (10 credits)
  • Sex, Gender and Health (10 credits)

Semester 2

  • Immunology and Protective Structures (5 credits)
  • Medicines – Advanced Therapies (5 credits)
  • Global and Public Health (5 credits)
  • Stages of Life (10 credits)
  • Cancer Care (5 credits)

Semesters 1 and 2

  • Professional Development 3 (0 credits)

Learning through experience

In Year 3 you will have placements with our clinical partners across a range of hospitals providing maternity, paediatric, rehabilitation and cancer care. On these placements, you will be able to integrate the academic content of the Year 3 modules with real-life cases and will have an opportunity to interact with patients and health professionals.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessment (e.g. practical examination) and summative end-of-semester written papers. In addition at the end of the academic year, you will participate in an objective structured clinical examination that will assess skills, and will  take a calculations assessment. The year-long Professional Development module is assessed via the submission of reflections.

Timetable

Below is an example of a typical week for a Year 3 student.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Lab
practical
Lecture Lecture Lab
practical
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Workshop   Placement Workshop Workshop
Lecture   Placement Lecture Workshop
Workshop   Placement Lecture Workshop

Year 4 consists of two semesters:

  • Semester 1 - September to December
  • Semester 2 - January to May

The pharmacy practice placement runs throughout the first semester and you will be based entirely off-campus during this time. Semester 2 comprises 12 direct-contact teaching weeks, one week of revision and two weeks of examinations.

Year 4 starts with a four-month placement, which you will complete in one of a range of settings, and runs from September to December. While you will not be on campus, you will complete three online modules on placement.

During Semester 2, you will focus on building clinical skills. You will complete “Mental Health First Aid” as part of the Mental Health module. You will also complete a research project as part of the Research Skills module, which is designed to give you a critical understanding of the research process, including research philosophy and governance.
When you successfully complete Year 4 you will be eligible for the award of a BSc Pharmacy and will have the option to progress to Year 5 (MPharm).

Year 4 is structured as follows:

First semester

  • Placement in a practice setting
  • Online module: Organisation and Management Skills (10 credits)
  • Online module: Professional Skills Development (10 credits)
  • Online module: Professional Practice (10 credits)

Second semester

  • Clinical Pharmacy (5 credits)
  • Mental Health (5 credits)
  • Clinical Reasoning & evidence based decision making (5 credits)
  • Research Skills (15 credits)

Both semesters

  • Professional Development 4 (0 credits)

Learning through experience

During Year 4, you will be assigned a practice placement, from the wide range of options available including the pharmaceutical industry, regulation, education and other non-traditional settings where the role of the pharmacist is valued (e.g. GP practices and primary care centres). The placement starts in September and will finish in December. You will attend placements for approximately 30 hours per week and will have dedicated time for both directed and self-directed learning.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessment (poster presentations, practicals) and summative end-of-semester written papers, with the Research Skills module requiring submission of a thesis and the year-long Professional Development module evaluated via the submission of reflections.

Timetable

During Year 4, you will spend the first semester entirely on placement and the course work is delivered online.

The timetable below is a sample of a semester 2 week.

Morning
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture     Lab
practical
Workshop
  Lecture Lecture Lab
practical
Workshop
Lecture Lecture Lecture Lab
practical
Workshop
Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lecture  Lecture Lecture Lab
practical
 
Lecture  Lecture   Lab
practical
 
      Lab
practical

Year 5 is structured differently to the other years.

  • You will be based on campus during Semester 1, with the final three weeks dedicated to revision (one week) and examinations (two weeks).
  • Semester 2 starts in January when you will start an eight-month patient-facing placement, concluding in August of that year.

The MPharm year of the programme concentrates on preparing you for practice. The placements in both Years 4 and 5 give you an opportunity to engage with a range of employers across a spectrum of practice settings. 

You will be based on campus during Semester 1. You will participate in three taught modules during the first semester, while also completing Professional Development 5.

Semester 2 starts in January when you will start an eight-month patient-facing placement, concluding in August of that year. Year 5 concludes with the Professional Registration Examination (PRE).

Year 5 is structured as follows:

First semester

  • Patient Care and Society (10 credits)
  • Decision Making in Complex Care (10 credits)
  • Leadership in Pharmacy: Building the Future (10 credits)

Second semester

  • Online module: Supply of Medicines and Organisation and Management Skills (10 credits)
  • Online module: Leading the Safe and Rational Use of Medicines (10 credits)
  • Online module: Professional Practice and Public Health (10 credits)
  • Online module: Clinical Research Skills (10 credits)

Semesters 1 and 2

  • Professional Development 5 (0 credits) 

Learning through experience

Year 5 placements take place from January to August. You will attend placements for approximately 30 hours per week and will have dedicated time for both directed and self-directed learning. Practice placements during Year 5 in community and hospital pharmacy support you to develop the clinical skills and behaviours required to provide optimal patient care in accordance with evolving pharmacy practice.

Assessment

Each module is assessed independently by a combination of continuous assessments. Unique to RCSI the assessment of Decision Making in Complex Care features the 'Prescribing Skills Assessment', preparing you for new roles in the future. The year-long Professional Development module is assessed via continuous assessment and the submission of reflections. A Professional Registration Examination (PRE) takes place at the end of Year 5. This examination is common to all Schools of Pharmacy in Ireland.