To register and practise as a pharmacist in New Zealand, a four-year University programme leading to a Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) degree followed by 52 weeks of trainee internship at approved pharmaceutical establishments has to be undertaken. The Otago BPharm, the oldest university pharmacy degree in New Zealand, opens opportunities to practise as a pharmacist in various professional settings. It is a broad-based university programme in the physical, biological, social and health sciences.
What is pharmacy?
“The School of Pharmacy gave me the knowledge, the skills, and the confidence to begin my career as a pharmacist. You feel that you graduate as a health professional with a vast knowledge base to build upon.”
— Kiri Aikman
As the experts on medicines, pharmacists are essential members of the healthcare team. They have the skills and knowledge to help patients understand and use their medicines in the most appropriate way.
They are responsible for optimising medication use and may also be involved in the development and manufacture of medicines.
Pharmacy is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical sciences, and ensures the safe and effective use of medication.
Pharmacy is a varied profession, from manufacturing medicines through to optimising patient health-related outcomes and providing ongoing monitoring of their effectiveness.
The School of Pharmacy website has much more information about the pharmacy profession.
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.
Here you will build on the fundamental sciences studied during HSFY.
You will also learn about the practice of pharmacy along with the legal and social aspects of healthcare which are continued throughout the course. You will then study a series of integrated module-based papers, where the focus is person-centred care in clinical settings and patients in the community.
The integrated studies teach you how to apply what you learn at university to the practice of pharmacy. During these studies, you will have opportunities to learn in different types of pharmacy environments alongside practising pharmacists.
Once you complete your fourth year and graduate, there is a one year pre-registration programme. You must register with the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand to be eligible for the pre-registration training programme. This is undertaken as paid employment at an approved site in a hospital or community pharmacy. It is your responsibility to arrange the employment at this site.
Visit the School of Pharmacy website for more detailed information about studying pharmacy at Otago.
There are no subject requirements for entry into the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme, which makes up the first year of the Pharmacy degree, but we do strongly recommend you take chemistry, physics, and biology to Year 13.
HSFY must be your first year of university study and can only be studied at Otago.
If you are considering tertiary study before enrolling, you are strongly advised to contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office first.
Information for new applicants
Applications for Pharmacy:
Open: 1 August
Close: 15 September
Information regarding the guidelines for admission can be found on the Division of Health Sciences website.
Registration of pharmacists
Admission to the practice of pharmacy in New Zealand is governed by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.
It requires practical training carried out under conditions prescribed by the Pharmacy Council. This practical work must be carried out after the candidate has passed the Fourth Year Examination for the degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy or Bachelor of Pharmacy with Honours. Further details may be obtained
from the Registrar of the Pharmacy Council of New Zealand, PO Box 25137, Wellington 6040.
7th Floor, Adams Building
18 Frederick Street
PO Box 56
Regulations for the Degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm)
Admission to the Programme
- The number of domestic students admitted to the second year of the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme is limited to the number determined by the Council annually on the basis of available resources. Some additional places may be available to International students.
- Applications for admission by domestic students may be made by those eligible under the following categories:
- Health Sciences First Year (see 1(l))
- Two or More Years of University Study (see 1(m))
- Graduate (see 1(o))
- Alternative (see 1(q))
- Applications must be made by the due dates specified for each category as part of the Guidelines for Admission into the Health Sciences Professional Programmes published at www.otago.ac.nz/healthsciences. (“the Guidelines”)
- Selection of eligible students for admission to the second year of the programme shall be made by the Pharmacy Admissions Committee (“the Committee”) whose terms of reference shall be established by the Division of Health Sciences and approved by the Senate.
- Subject to these regulations and the Selection Criteria established by the Committee and approved by the Senate from time to time and published as part of the Guidelines, selection for admission shall be in the discretion of the Committee.
- Without limitation, the Selection Criteria may include:
- academic performance;
- demonstration of appropriate attributes for admission into the programme.
- The Division of Health Sciences' Te Kauae Parāoa policy promotes and facilitates equity for Māori students and students from other under-represented groups. In accordance with this policy, the Selection Criteria may provide for applicants in the following equity groups to be given preference for selection:
- Resident Indigenous Pacific
- Socioeconomic Equity
- Refugee Background
- Recognition for inclusion in the Māori and Resident Indigenous Pacific equity groups shall be through demonstration of ancestry in accordance with the University's Ancestry Verification Procedures for Māori and Pacific Students and any other criteria the Senate may determine. Criteria for inclusion in the Rural, Socioeconomic Equity and Refugee Background equity groups shall be established by the Academic Board of the Division of Health Sciences and approved by the Senate. Criteria approved by the Senate shall be published as part of the Guidelines.
- In selecting domestic students from the categories in 1(b) above, to enter the second year of the Pharmacy programme, the Committee will first select from those applicants who have specified that they are seeking admission to the Pharmacy programme only and not also to one or more of the Dentistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Medicine, Physiotherapy, or Radiation Therapy programmes offered by the University of Otago.
- Candidates wishing to be considered under the single programme preference provision must specify that they are applying only for the Bachelor of Pharmacy by the close of applications for the programme.
- Candidates wishing to be considered under the single programme preference provision may apply for any other programmes offered by the University of Otago excluding those named in 1 (i) above.
Health Sciences First Year Category
- To be eligible to be selected for admission under the Health Sciences First Year category an applicant must:
- be enrolled in the Health Sciences First Year course at the University of Otago;
- pass all of the papers prescribed for the University of Otago Health Sciences First Year course, with an average mark of at least 65%.
- To be eligible to be selected for admission under the Two or More Years of University Study category an applicant must not be a finalist, but must have completed two or more years of full-time study at a university in New Zealand, comprising at least three papers at 200-level, and must not have failed more than two papers in any one year subsequent to a first year of study.
- Applicants offered a place under the Two or More Years of University Study category may be required to pass prescribed papers, to a standard determined by the Committee, before being admitted to second year classes.
- To be eligible for selection for admission under the Graduate category, an applicant must have completed as their first degree, within three years prior to the date of application, and in the minimum academic time, at least one of the following qualifications awarded by a university in New Zealand:
- a bachelor's degree; or
- undergraduate bachelor's honours degree; or
- bachelor's degree, followed by a postgraduate diploma or postgraduate honours year.
- Applicants offered a place under the Graduate category may be required to pass prescribed papers, to a standard determined by the Committee, before being admitted to second year classes.
- To be eligible to be considered for admission under the Alternative category, an applicant must:
- hold a degree from a New Zealand university, and no longer be eligible under the Graduate category; or
- have completed a degree at an overseas university at a standard of at least NZQF Level 7; or
- hold a master's or doctoral degree; or
- demonstrate health-related professional experience in a relevant field to a standard acceptable to the Committee.
- An applicant may be required to attend an interview.
- Applicants offered a place under the Alternative category may be required to pass prescribed papers, to a standard determined by the Committee, before being admitted to second year classes.
- An applicant may apply only once under the Alternative category.
- The Committee may offer a limited number of places in second year classes to international students who meet all the requirements determined by the Committee.
- Notwithstanding any of the above provisions, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) shall have discretion to approve a recommendation from the Committee concerning any applicant who, not having satisfied these regulations in a particular aspect, in the Committee's view warrants admission to the programme for exceptional reasons.
- Any applicant who
- is, or who has been, the subject of criminal charges; or
- is, or who has been, subject to disciplinary proceedings of a tertiary institution or professional body; or
- (iii)has been found to have an issue (whether in connection with their mental or physical health, or their professional attributes or conduct, or otherwise) that compromises or is likely to compromise their fitness to practise; or
- is found to have failed to declare a matter covered by (w)(i)-(iii),
may be declined admission to the programme by the Committee on the recommendation of the Health and Conduct Review Group. Any offer of admission made before responses to medical tests or requests for information regarding an applicant's health status or past conduct have been received is conditional on the information received confirming the applicant's suitability for admission.
Single Programme Preference
Thereafter if domestic places are still available in each of the applicable categories, the Committee will then select from the group of applicants who are seeking to enter Pharmacy and one or more of those other programmes.
Two or More Years of University Study
Declining of Admission
Structure of the Programme
- Every programme of study shall satisfy the programme requirements above.
- Candidates will not normally be permitted to enrol for any paper of a year until all papers of the preceding year have been passed.
A candidate who is enrolled for the degree concurrently with another degree, or who has completed one degree and is proceeding with the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Pharmacy, may cross credit 100- and 200-level papers which are common to both degrees up to a maximum of 180 points.
- No candidate shall be eligible to sit a paper in a final examination without having gained terms in that paper.
- A candidate gains terms in a paper by satisfactorily demonstrating the acquisition of sufficient knowledge and skills, by attendance at classes, and by performance in a professional manner of such practice/clinical and other work as the School of Pharmacy may require.
- A candidate who fails to gain terms in any paper will, if other regulations have been met, be required to repeat the whole of that paper.
- Terms granted in any paper shall normally be for the year only.
- A candidate who fails a paper may be permitted to sit a special examination for that paper. Normally, no candidate may be admitted to special examinations if papers, equal to half the points or worth more than half the points comprising the course for that year, have been failed.
- Any candidate who has obtained an E grade in a paper will not normally be admitted to a special examination in that paper.
Withdrawal from the Programme
- Deferral of admission to second year classes
- In limited circumstances, the Board of Studies for Pharmacy may allow a student to defer admission to second year classes for one year. Any application for deferral must be made no later than the end of the third week of classes in the original year of admission. Where deferral is granted the right of re-entry to second year classes remains subject to confirmation by the Board of Studies for Pharmacy.
- Applications for deferral and for confirmation of the right of re-entry will be determined by the Board of Studies for Pharmacy in accordance with the criteria and procedures set out in the Admissions Guidelines.
- Temporary withdrawal from programme
- Except in circumstances covered by 6(a), a student who wishes to withdraw from the programme on a temporary basis must obtain the prior approval of the Board of Studies for Pharmacy. Where temporary withdrawal is approved, re-admission to the programme remains subject to the approval of the Board of Studies for Pharmacy. Any application for such approval needs to be made no later than 1 October in the year prior to that for which readmission is sought.
- Applications for temporary withdrawal and for readmission will be determined by the Board of Studies for Pharmacy in accordance with the criteria and procedures set out in the Withdrawal and Readmission Guidelines.
- Permanent withdrawal from programme
- Students who withdraw permanently (including students who withdraw without prior approval and students who fail to communicate their intentions within 12 months of when they were last enrolled or for any other 12 month period) have no right to be considered for readmission.
- Despite the previous clause, the Board of Studies for Pharmacy may allow a student who has permanently withdrawn to submit a fresh application under the regulations governing admission to the programme. In considering whether to allow such an application to proceed, the Board of Studies for Pharmacy may have regard to all of the circumstances of the student's withdrawal. Where an application is allowed to be made, the Board of Studies for Pharmacy may also have regard to those circumstances when considering the application.
- Deferral of admission to second year classes
Exclusion from the Programme
- A candidate who fails any or all of the papers for a year of the programme other than the Health Sciences First Year may enrol again for the paper or papers concerned. This concession may normally be granted only once in the programme. If the candidate fails to complete all of the requirements for a year of study at a second attempt, or fails to complete any paper of a later year of the programme at the first attempt (which may include special examinations) having repeated a previous year, he or she may be excluded by the Board of the Division of Health Sciences, on the recommendation of the Board of Studies for Pharmacy, from further study towards the degree.
- Any student who, during the course of their studies, is
- subject to criminal charges;
- subject to disciplinary proceedings of the University or of a professional body; or
- found to have an issue (whether in connection with their mental or physical health, or their professional attributes or conduct, or otherwise) that compromises or is likely to compromise their fitness to practise; or
- found to have failed to declare a matter covered by (b)(i)-(iii),
may be excluded from further study towards the degree by the Academic Board of the Division of Health Sciences on the recommendation of the Board of Studies for Pharmacy.
Level of Award of the Degree
The degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit.
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may in exceptional circumstances approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.