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Study Pharmacy at Otago

Pharmacists are health professionals and experts on medicines. They develop and manufacture medicines and give information on medicines, drug therapy, and disease management to patients, doctors and other health professionals.

Admission to Pharmacy

For most students, the first step is to enrol in Health Sciences First Year (HSFY). This is a competitive course taught at the University of Otago's Dunedin campus, and which must usually be taken in your first year of university study. Studying HSFY gives you the option to apply for any of Otago's professional or restricted-entry Health Sciences programmes, including Pharmacy.

Students who have previously undertaken university study may instead apply for admission via one of the other categories: Two or More Years of University Study; Graduate; or Alternative.

The Division of Health Sciences website has detailed information about:

What will I study?

After selection from Health Sciences First Year, or from one of the other categories, you commence the second year of your four-year degree.

  • In the first half of the course you study pharmaceutical, biomedical and social sciences, including papers in biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology.
  • The second half the course is spent studying professional clinical practice and an integrated course of study called Quality Use of Medicines, involving real patients and taking a holistic approach to treating the disease.
  • Throughout the degree, some time is spent in community and hospital pharmacies, either in New Zealand or as part of an international exchange scheme in approved countries.

Once you have completed your fourth year and then graduated, there is a further year of a pre-registration training programme (EVOLVE) which is run by the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. This needs to be undertaken as paid employment at an approved site in a hospital or community pharmacy. It is the graduate's responsibility to arrange the employment at this site.

Study options

What can I do when I graduate?

Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies, while others work in hospitals. Many find varied careers in industry, where they may be involved with developing new products, quality control, evaluation, or marketing. The medical publishing industry employs pharmacists as editors and writers, and government organisations use pharmacists in legal, advisory, technical, editorial and administrative positions. Graduates are increasingly becoming involved in teaching and research.

If you want to continue your studies, the School of Pharmacy offers internal postgraduate research programmes leading to a master's or PhD degree. Students can study a range of postgraduate professional programmes such as medicines management or clinical and social pharmacy, which go towards a certificate, diploma, or master's degree.

Read about our graduates and graduate opportunities in Leaving School Magazine