PgDip / MSc for Overseas Pharmacists OSPAP (full time)

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I had great tutors who were always willing to help”

Oluwayemisi Ikwuobe 
OSPAP, Pre-registration Pharmacist, Highfield Road Pharmacy

Entry requirements

See below for full details

This course is for you if you obtained your pharmacy degree from outside the UK and wish to convert your qualification so it is recognised in the UK by taking an accredited course at one of Europe's leading Pharmacy Schools.

Accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
3rd for Student Satisfaction (Pharmacy, Complete University Guide, 2017)
Specifically designed for pharmacy graduates who gained their degree outside the UK, but who wish to practise in the UK
Top 10 in the UK (Pharmacology & Pharmacy, Complete University Guide, 2017)

Mode of delivery:

  • Full-time, on campus (distance learning not available).


  • PgDip: 9 months
  • MSc: 12 months.


  • Up to 54 students per year.

Start date:

  • September.

Entry requirements:

You must

  • Possess a pharmacy degree that enables you to register as a pharmacist with The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
  • Possess documented approval from the GPhC regarding eligibility to undertake OSPAP prior to applying to Aston University. This evidence must be obtained before you apply. Please note that it may take up to two months to gain approval from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). In order to secure a place for this course, we recommend that students apply for the GPhC approval before June of the year of entry and apply to Aston before July of the year of entry.
  • Possess an appropriate English language qualification. The GPhC have recently revised the evidence that they are willing to accept for English Language knowledge. Their requirements are listed below. You are required to provide one of these three types of evidence to the GPhC, however Aston University will only accept types 1 and 2:

1. A recent pass of the academic version of International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test with an overall score of at least 7 and with no score less than 7 in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking at one sitting of the test.

2. A recent pharmacy qualification (i.e., a pharmacy qualification that would have enabled you to practise as a pharmacist in such countries) that has been taught and examined in English in a majority English speaking country (other than the UK) (e.g. Ireland, United States of America, Australia, New Zealand).

3. Recent practise for at least two years as a pharmacy professional (pharmacy technician or pharmacist) in a majority English speaking country (please note that Aston University does not accept work experience as proof of meeting our English Language requirements, you must have one of the above).

Please note that the information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.

How to apply:

  • Apply here for the PgDip
  • Apply here for the MSc
  • The application deadline for international students is 1 August 2018
  • The application deadline for UK/EU students is 31 August 2018
  • If you are applying close to the deadline, please ensure you have all supporting documentation ready for the application. If the deadline has passed, we may still be able to consider you, so please contact us.

Students enrolling onto this course will be required to undertake an Enhanced Level Criminal Records Bureau check (known as a DBS check). 

In line with national requirements for courses leading to a health professional qualification, this course is also subject to Fitness to Practise Regulations.

Discover more about DBS Checks & Fitness to Practise.

There are also further policies that all Pharmacy students must comply to and you should be aware of these before you apply:

Which course you should choose depends on your individual circumstances but the following are a few points to bear in mind when deciding on your course.  This information assumes you have or will be applying for a Tier 4 Student visa to do the OSPAP course and will need to apply for a work visa in order to do the pre-registration placement. 

If you choose the MSc:

  • If you decide to do the MSc course you will be eligible to apply for the Tier 2 General visa for your pre-registration placement.
  • You will also get an extra   4 months on the length of your visa following the course end date to be able to make your Tier 2 General visa application. 
  • If you apply for the Tier 4 Student visa for the MSc course but later decide to do the PgDip instead we must report to the Home Office that you have changed your course and will complete your studies earlier than expected.  Your visa will be curtailed leaving only 60 days remaining permission to be in the UK so you will need to be able to apply for the Tier 2 visa within this period of time. 

If you choose the PgDip:

  • If you decide to do the PgDip course you will be significantly limiting your options for a visa for your pre-registration post as the Tier 2 General visa requires you to have been awarded a masters degree and you cannot apply with a PgDip.
  • If you decide to do the PgDip course but wish to change to the MSc later you may be permitted to do this but will need to pay the extra fees for the course and also extend your Tier 4 Student visa to cover the full length of the MSc course (which also incurs a fee).  
  • Although in certain limited circumstances you may be able to use a previous UK qualification to apply for the Tier 2 General visa this depends on your circumstances and you should seek advice from an Adviser at The Hub if you think this may affect you.  If you choose to do the PgDip on this basis you will only get an extra 2 months after the course end date on your visa so you will have a limited amount of time in which to make the Tier 2 General visa application.

For 2018 entry:

  • Diploma: £11,700
  • MSc: £17,550

A deposit of £1000 will be required in advance to secure a place on this programme.

Aston University has a history of pharmacy education dating from 1895. The current School of Pharmacy has an intake of around 160 undergraduate students each year and in addition offers a range of postgraduate programmes for professional pharmacists. In the national assessment for University pharmacy courses in the UK (conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency) Aston was rated excellent with a maximum score of 24 points. The School of Pharmacy has a strong research record with currently around 60 students undertaking postgraduate research leading to the award of a PhD.

The Postgraduate Diploma for Overseas Pharmacy builds upon the strengths of current undergraduate and postgraduate education and has been designed by a course team of pharmacists which includes many with direct experience of current practice. The course is continually updated, and we are particularly responsive to student feedback. For the twelve years that the course has been running, over 90% of our OSPAP students have evaluated the course as good or excellent. Our students also experience excellent success rates in the GPhC pre-registration examination. An OSPAP Masters is also available for those students who need a degree for visa purposes or who wish to obtain an MSc.

This course is for pharmacy graduates who gained their degree outside the United Kingdom. It enables pharmacists to convert their existing pharmaceutical qualification so it is recognised in the UK. It focuses upon new developments in key pharmaceutical sciences, clinical pharmacy and pharmacy practice together with the study of health service delivery and pharmacy law and ethics within the UK.

Successful completion of the course will allow you to undertake a pre-registration placement, before applying to register as a Pharmacist with The General Pharmaceutical Council. You will also gain an Aston University Diploma. Aston University is not responsible for the provision of a pre-registration training place nor preparation for professional qualifying examinations.

The course begins in late September of each year and assessments take place at many times of the year. Main exams are split between January and May with exam boards held in June. 

It is a taught course, with attendance expected Monday to Thursday (with the occasional Friday). Satisfactory attendance and performance in the assessments is required for successful completion of the OSPAP.

The MSc additionally consists of a research project, completed between June and September. Please note that students on the MSc cannot commence their pre-registration training until they have completed the MSc.

The diploma course comprises six modules of study and a wide range of study methods are used including lectures, group tutorials, practicals, web-based learning and clinical teaching sessions.

You will study the following modules: 

  • Professional Critical Skills: Covers core elements of the retrieval and use of pharmaceutical information, the theory and practice of personal and interpersonal skills including communication and IT skills, responding to symptoms and introduces students to the concepts of organised continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Applied Pharmacology and Therapeutics: Focuses upon introducing therapeutics and develops an evidence based approach to pharmacotherapy, covering diabetes, cardiovascular, respiratory, upper gastrointestinal, mental health and selected disorders of the central nervous system.
  • Practical Therapeutics: Focuses on students utilising their clinical knowledge in a critical and systematic manner to deliver clinically appropriate outcomes for patients, including prescribing decisions. Enables students to respond to varied clinical situations including patients with multiple pathologies or complex medical needs guided by evidence, legal frameworks, ethical practice and local guidance in a manner consistent with the patient’s needs.
  • Pharmaceutical Technology: Focuses on radiopharmacy, cytotoxics, parenteral nutrition, intravenous additives, and quality assurance.
  • Pharmaceutics in Practice: Focuses upon the role of drug delivery in patient care including advanced drug delivery techniques, biotechnology and clinical pharmaceutics.
  • Pharmacy Law, Ethics and Practice: This covers background to UK and EU law – origins of law, political and legal frameworks, dispensing and the sale and supply of medicines in the UK, medicines legislation in the UK, legislation that affects the practice of pharmacy, health service structures in the UK and Europe, legislation governing pharmacy within the UK and EU and an overview of the comparable legislation for medicine, medical and pharmacy ethics including the UK Code of Ethics, and Pharmaceutical Calculations. 

The MSc course additionally consists of a research project, completed between June and September. You will attend a compulsory two week induction/training session on research skills prior to starting their projects and will be assessed via the following methods:

  • Presentation skills: Critical appraisal of a journal article related to your research project
  • Dissertation: Your research project
  • Poster presentation: An event where you will produce an A3 size poster to be presented and defended with an assessor and your peers.

The following study methods are used throughout the course:

  • Lectures
  • Group tutorials
  • Practicals
  • Web-based learning
  • Clinical teaching sessions.

A wide range of assessment methods are used including:

  • Examination
  • Web based clinical assignments
  • Clinical case studies
  • Clinical case presentation
  • Portfolio development
  • Practical dispensing examination
  • MSc only - Research project (critical appraisal, dissertation and poster presentation).

The course is designed for those who wish to practise as a Pharmacist in the UK.

The programme has an excellent track record of students obtaining and successfully completing the pre-registration training.

The Diploma for Overseas Pharmacists has been accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), fulfilling their requirements as an OSPAP.

Aston Pharmacy School utilises specialist teaching and research laboratories, recently refitted to very high standards in a £3m upgrade project. Depending upon the learning outcomes of each module, you may benefit from:

  • Extensive and well equipped laboratories.
  • Purpose-built dispensing practice laboratory.
  • Medicines management clinical examination suite, to support learning of modern pharmacy areas such as clinical care and prescribing. 
  • Refurbished lecture theatres and seminar rooms with up to date audio-visual equipment;
  • A virtual learning environment used general study, revision and assessment. This platform allows you to access a comprehensive range of study materials, scientific journals, e-journals, databases and much more. 
  • Course texts and relevant journals are available from the library either electronically or in book form.
  • Innovative teaching methods including problem-based learning, video recording sessions, computer-aided learning and patient-simulations.

Pharmacy teaching laboratories
All pharmacy teaching takes place here. Usually students are analysing drug molecules; formulating drug molecules into capsules and tablets and looking at how quickly a drug is released from a tablet or capsules.

Pharmacy Pharmacy

 Dispensary suite


Research laboratories


 Power handling room and tableting machine



Course Director: Ms Rabia Ahmed. Rabia Ahmed has a background in clinical pharmacy with a specific interest in teaching and learning in Higher Education.

Meet the Pharmacy team.

“I chose Aston because I completed my masters degree in drug delivery at Aston University. I also chose Aston for its standards and proximity to my home.

I enjoyed the multicultural environment at Aston. In addition to that, I had great tutors who were always willing to help, always ready to listen to any questions I had, and excited to help me improve in whatever area I was lacking. Their passion for their jobs could never be doubted.

As an overseas pharmacist graduate, Aston University has brought me up to speed with the differences in pharmacy practice in my home country, Nigeria, and pharmacy practice in the United Kingdom. Furthermore Aston University has given me the solid foundation I need to practise as a pharmacist in the United Kingdom. The OSPAP programme at Aston was highly comprehensive, educative and impactful on my knowledge as a pharmacist, and I couldn't have chosen a better school for study.”

Oluwayemisi Ikwuobe 
Pre-registration Pharmacist, Highfield Road Pharmacy

OSPAP Oluwayemisi Image

"Aston Pharmacy School was recommended by relatives. Through the student job centre I was contacted by my current employer. Birmingham is a multicultural environment"

Neelum Iqbal
Pre-registration Pharmacist, Pimhole Ltd

OSPAP Neelum Image

"I chose Aston as it’s a best ranked university in all the universities where I could do my degree.

I enjoyed the journey from the start till end, gaining knowledge and meeting new people.

Aston has provided me with the knowledge and confidence which can help me to achieve any position in my career"

Shahjahan Yaseen
Pre-registration Pharmacist, Talbot Pharmacy

OSPAP Shahjahan Image

“I chose Aston due to the reputation of the Pharmacy School and the ranking (top 10 UK). 

I enjoyed the learning environment and great support from all academic personnel. 

The Pharmacy School has prepared me very well in terms of clinical knowledge and calculation while my research project helped me developed my critical thinking skills”

Thipsuda Dulyaphakorn
Pre-registration pharmacist, Pyramid Pharmacy

OSPAP Thipsuda Image

Discover more in the following ways: 

Postgraduate Diploma 2018
Master of Science 2018
Postgraduate Diploma 2019
Master of Science 2019

What's next?

Postgraduate events