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New Pharmaceutical Science degree – the only one of its kind in New Zealand

Tuesday 2 November 2021 10:25am

Pharmaceutical Science degree image
The new Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science will be offered by the University of Otago.

Otago's School of Pharmacy in the Division of Health Sciences will be offering a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science degree from 2022. This is the only degree of its type in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Pharmaceutical science encompasses a broad range of scientific disciplines critical to the discovery and development of new drugs and therapies.

This area of study will appeal to people who have an interest in science and technology and a passion for medicines that prevent and treat disease in plants, animals, and humans.

Otago Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Nicholson says, “Otago is recognised internationally for the high standard of our graduates and research. Pharmaceutical Science is an important and growing industry internationally. As well as broadening our offering for students, we are contributing to our aim of providing Aotearoa New Zealand and other communities with a highly skilled and qualified workforce”.

“So much of pharmaceutical science is about solving contemporary challenges. It’s important to give our students a wealth of knowledge to draw on, and an ability to see things from more than one perspective.”

Acting Dean of Pharmacy and Chair of Pharmaceutics at Otago, Professor Sarah Hook says it is exciting to be able to offer this new undergraduate degree.

“This qualification will lead to so many exciting career opportunities in a diverse and rapidly growing global pharmaceutical industry, as well as other health-related research careers. These graduates could be part of developing medicines that provide treatments and save lives. The skills learnt through this degree are also transferrable to industries including cosmetics, food science, agricultural chemicals and more,” Professor Hook says.

Associate Professor Arlene McDowell has been closely involved in the development of this qualification, she says that the COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted the demand for graduates who can discover and develop new medicines and other products. She is looking forward to working in this area with students who will be innovative, creative thinkers with practical skills.

“This will be a lab-based degree, so our students will be getting practical experience in the discovery, design, synthesis, formulation and delivery of pharmaceuticals. We are offering small class sizes, with world-renowned scientists and industry experts and the degree structure is flexible enough for students to be able to fine-tune their study to their own interests by adding papers from other departments,” Associate Professor McDowell says.

Also unique to this degree, the curriculum intertwines rongoā Māori (Māori medicine) to help understand medicines beyond western practices.

“So much of pharmaceutical science is about solving contemporary challenges. It’s important to give our students a wealth of knowledge to draw on, and an ability to see things from more than one perspective,” Associate Professor McDowell says.

This degree already has an agreement for a cohort of international students from Chengdu University of Traditional Medicine, China. These students will be able to complete one and half years of study in their own country, and then years two and three with Otago.

The relationship between the two Universities already includes collaborations in research on the modernisation of traditional medicines.

An addendum to a Memorandum of Understanding with Chengdu University was signed in 2019 between the two Schools of Pharmacy.

Read more about our relationship with Chengdu University.

The Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, whereby students train to practice as a pharmacist in various professional settings also continues to operate.

Read more about the Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science.

Kōrero by Antonia Wallace, Health Sciences Communications Adviser.