Postgraduate Diploma for Overseas Pharmacists (OSPAP)

PgDip / MSc

This General Pharmaceutical Council-accredited qualification is essential for students who have qualified overseas to receive the appropriate education and training to prepare them for entry into foundation year training and UK practice.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Applications for September 2025 are expected to open on 1st October 2024.

Course type
Full-time
Entry requirements
Duration

Nine-months (PgDip) or one-year (MSc) 

Start date

Course overview

The Postgraduate Diploma for Overseas Pharmacists provides key theoretical and practical training in topics essential for a career in pharmacy in the UK. You will learn the newest developments in key pharmaceutical sciences, clinical pharmacy, and pharmacy practice, together with the study of health service delivery, and UK pharmacy law and ethics. 

With our roots stretching back to the establishment of the Birmingham Pharmaceutical Institution in 1847, being the only Pharmacy School in the UK to hold a prestigious Regius Chair in Pharmacy awarded by HM the Queen and our strong links with the NHS and industry, Aston Pharmacy School is the ideal place to further your career in the UK. 

"Aston had everything I needed to get through this intensive course: modern and sophisticated facilities, convenient student accommodation and importantly, highly professional and dedicated teaching staff."

Natalia Hulme
Pre-registration Pharmacist, Boots

Why Pharmacy at Aston University?

General Pharmaceutical Council
Professional accreditation
Accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
Cerficate
Practise in the UK
Specifically designed for pharmacy graduates who gained their degree outside the UK, but who wish to practise in the UK
Teaching
Study to the Master level
Enhance your knowledge and earn a MSc with an additional three months of study

Course description

Overseas Pharmacists (OSPAP)

Our Overseas Pharmacists (OSPAP) PgDip / MSc at Aston University will equip you with the skills, insights, and confidence essential for a career in pharmacy in the UK

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK's second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will inspire and excite you, fantastic facilities that will bring your course to life through hands-on, practical experience; years of close industry collaboration that is harnessed to provide you with learning based on real-world needs. 

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies - understanding that intelligence and success comes from applying yourself.  You must be able to demonstrate critical thinking and have ambition and drive to excel.

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What skills we teach
You will learn the newest developments in key pharmaceutical sciences, clinical pharmacy, and pharmacy practice, together with the study of health service delivery, and UK pharmacy law and ethics. 

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Career prospects
There is an excellent track record of Aston OSPAP students obtaining and successfully completing Foundation training, with graduates going on to roles in community pharmacies, GP surgeries, NHS Primary Care Trusts and hospitals.

How you will learn

Taught in our modern Birmingham city centre campus, attendance on the course is normally* Monday through Thursday (with the occasional Friday). Satisfactory attendance and performance in the assessments are required for successful completion of the OSPAP.

We utilise a range of study methods throughout the course from lectures and web-based learning to clinical teaching sessions.

This course is worth 120 credits (PgDip) or 180 credits (MSc), with each credit equivalent to 10 learning hours. The learning hours may include but are not limited to lectures, seminars, tutorials, lab sessions, practicals, online activity, reading, other independent study, reflecting on assignment feedback and work placements.

*Subject to change

What you will learn

The Aston OSPAP is delivered as a single, fully integrated module. This open and inclusive curriculum structure allows you to see how the material you learn throughout the course is connected.

The learning on this programme is structured with two main themes which are taught in parallel: 

Integrated Person-Centred Care

In its substantial theme, you will develop the knowledge and skills for contemporary pharmacy practice, including advanced therapeutic skills that integrate clinical knowledge and the latest developments in drug delivery and formulation.

Transition and contextulisation

During this theme, you will learn about the delivery of pharmacy and healthcare services in the UK, for example, the law and ethics relating to pharmacy practice. You will also be supported in the transition from your home qualification to the UK context, and in the transition from the OSPAP programme to your further studies and Foundation training year.

Our Community

As an Aston University student, you will be joining a diverse, close community, with students from over 120 different countries choosing to study with us every year. We are also home to an expansive and highly regarded research community, with several pharmacy research groups including:

Facilities

As a Pharmacy student, you will have access to a range of specialist facilities in our recently redeveloped Wilson Pharmacy Suite. 

Cutting-edge facilities and equipment

  • Clinical skills room with a mock hospital bay set up
  • Dispensing and patient counselling suites with discrete video recording capabilities.
  • A range of laboratories and teaching rooms. 

Course objectives

  1. Demonstrate the expected characteristics of a pharmacy professional.
  2. Showcase the knowledge and skills required in practice to implement health policy.
  3. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required in practice to validate therapeutic approaches and supply prescribed and non-prescription medicines.
  4. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to ensure safe and effective systems are in place to manage risk inherent in the practice of pharmacy and the delivery of pharmaceutical services.
  5. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to work effectively with patients and the public.
  6. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to consistently improve the performance of selves and others.
Emma Price teaching fellow

“In my current role as a teaching fellow, it is fantastic to see the development of students – I love those ‘lightbulb moments’ in teaching sessions and when students realise their own potential. I also like that the learning is two-way and I learn and develop so much because of the students. My role here at the university is a real privilege.”

Emma Price
Teaching Fellow Pharmacy

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Taught stage modules

In the taught stage, you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
OSPAP Integrated Module120
Total120

Dissertation stage modules

In the dissertation stage for MSc students only, you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
MSc Research Project60
Total60

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes.

Entry requirements

All applicants require:

  • A pharmacy degree approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council for entry onto an OSPAP course. You will require documented approval from the GPhC regarding eligibility to undertake OSPAP prior to applying to Aston University. Please note that it may take up to two months to gain approval from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Candidates will be required to apply for a foundation training position via the national Oriel scheme, and are advised that applications should be made early to ensure acceptance onto the course before June in the year of entry.
  • 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 four types of evidence to the GPhC, however Aston University will only accept types 1, 2 and 3.
  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 pass of the of the Pharmacy Occupational English Language Test (OET) with a score of at least a B in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking, at one sitting of the test.
  3. 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).
  4. 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).

Due to the nature of this course and in line with national requirements, students who receive an offer to study with us will be required to complete a series of checks and screenings, in addition to adhering to a number of regulations and policies. 

In line with other regulated health professions, in addition to the normal academic requirements, continuation of the Programme and the award is subject to Fitness to Practise Regulations.
 
The Programme includes several compulsory external placement days, within the West Midlands. You will incur travel costs which will vary depending on the location of your placement days and your mode of transport. If you are a UK student, there will be a charge of £40 for a Disclosure and Barring Service check. If not then you will need to provide a suitable police check/letter from your home country.  The current charge for a Disclosure and Barring Service check is £40. This may change as determined by the DBS. 
 
You will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire and provide the University with details of your vaccination status for the following: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Meningitis C, Tuberculosis screening, Varicella and Hepatitis B. Your Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Meningitis C, MMR, Varicella and TB screening must be up to date before starting the Programme. If you have not had a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations you will be expected to undertake an accelerated schedule of vaccinations in the first term of the Programme. You will be liable for the cost of these vaccinations but students with financial difficulties may apply for a refund from the student hardship fund once the vaccination schedule has been completed. For further information please contact: pharmacy@aston.ac.uk.  Please note you may be required to fulfil additional conditions, such as additional vaccinations or blood tests, throughout your programme as determined by law or by professional, statutory or regulatory body requirements.
 
The questionnaire consists of relevant questions related to physical and mental health as well as basic demographic information. This is the same type of health screen questionnaire used in the University’s NHS partner trusts. The cost of this initial health screening will be paid for by the University.  Following submission and evaluation of your questionnaire you may be asked to discuss your enabling requirements for practice-based sessions with the Enabling Team.  Should your health screening questionnaire be incomplete or returned due to lack of information on your part, you will be charged an administration fee of £50 for the second review of your information. This fee is set by the University’s occupational health provider and may be subject to change.

Aston Pharmacy School policies: there are also further policies that all Pharmacy students must comply with and you should be aware of these before you apply:

  • Student Policy for Raising Concerns
  • Professional Appearance Standards 
  • Pregnancy Risk Assessment
  • Infection Control Policy

The type of visa you need to study with us and complete your foundation year training will vary depending on your own individual circumstances. Please refer to the UK government visas and immigration website for the most up-to-date information on study and work visas.

Additionally, you can find out more on the GPhC website and obtain advice from our own in-house visa compliance team in The HUB.

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our undergraduate programmes. Students from over 120 countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study, it’s also a great place to live.

Qualifications in your country

For details of equivalent qualifications in your country, use our area pages below:

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

How to apply

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Graduate Immigration Route

Pathway Programmes

If you don’t meet our entry requirements, we have a range of pathway programmes offered by our partner, ONCAMPUS Aston, which you can complete to progress onto one of our degrees.

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Speak to our Admissions Team

If you have any questions about the application process please get in touch with our postgraduate admissions team:

Email: pgadmissions@aston.ac.uk

Call: 0121 204 3200 (Please note this line is open Monday-Friday between 09.30 am-4.30 pm)

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

PgDip
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees: £14,950

MSc
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£22,425

More information on fees

The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as UK students.

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.

Scholarships

At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs.

Assessment

Assessment methods include:

  • Examinations
  • Web based clinical assignments
  • Clinical case studies
  • Clinical case presentation
  • Portfolio development
  • Practical dispensing examination.
     

For the MSc only, research project assessment will also include a critical appraisal, a dissertation and a poster presentation.

Assessments take place at multiple points throughout the year and main exams are split between January and May with exam boards held in June.

Key staff

Course Director: Rabia Ahmed (PGDip)

Associate Course Director PGDip Kay Bhatara

Professor Michael Coleman (MSc)

Career prospects

Starting from 2024, all individuals intending to join the OSPAP cohort must register and apply via ORIEL for a Foundation year training place. It is crucial to note that after 2023, securing a Foundation year training placement outside of ORIEL will no longer be possible. The deadlines set by ORIEL for applications are non-negotiable. Should an individual fail to submit an application on time, they will not be allocated a foundation year training place in the cycle immediately after completing their OSPAP and they would have to apply to ORIEL the following year.

This process falls within the national programme for pharmacist training and is beyond the University's control. To become a registered pharmacist in the UK, students must complete the OSPAP, undergo a one-year Foundation training placement, and pass the GPhC registration exam.

For comprehensive information about the ORIEL process, you are encouraged to visit their official webpages. It is essential to regularly check the ORIEL website for the most current updates on the Foundation year training registration, application procedures, and key dates.

There is an excellent track record of Aston OSPAP students obtaining and successfully completing Foundation training, with graduates going on to roles in community pharmacies, GP surgeries, NHS Primary Care Trusts and hospitals.

Alumni

Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you will always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

Frequently asked questions

Why study OSPAP PgDip/MSc at Aston University?

This General Pharmaceutical Council-accredited qualification is ideal for students who have qualified overseas to receive the appropriate education and training to prepare them for entry into foundation year training and UK practice.

Studying in specialist dedicated facilities based in our modern Birmingham city centre campus, you will receive the key theoretical and practical training in topics essential for a career in pharmacy in the UK. You will learn the newest developments in key pharmaceutical sciences, clinical pharmacy and pharmacy practice together with the study of health service delivery and UK pharmacy law and ethics.

As an Aston Pharmacy School student you will be taught by qualified academics from a wide range of pharmacy backgrounds who are passionate about passing on their knowledge. You will also have access to a range of facilities and central services, like The HUB for visa advice and our award winning Careers and Placements team.

How long does the course take?

The course takes either 9 months for the PgDip, or 1 year for the MSc. Both are intensive options that have been designed to support you with the transition from your home qualification to the UK context, and in the transition from the OSPAP programme to your further studies and foundation year. 

Why should international students choose Aston University?

Study at Aston University and you will be part of a multi-cultural community located at the heart of the dynamic city of Birmingham. Our courses are practical, inspired by industry and many have internationally recognised accreditations. Renowned for our employability prospects and connections to business and industry, we provide outstanding career support, advice and placement opportunities.

For those interested in working in the UK after they have graduated, the UK Government has created a new post-study work visa.

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

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