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Study Pharmaceutical Science at Otago

Contribute to the discovery and development of new medicines and therapies.

Otago’s unique lab-based pharmaceutical science degree opens doors to the diverse and rapidly growing pharmaceutical industry and health-related research careers.

If you are interested in science and technology and have a passion for medicines that prevent and treat disease in plants, animals and humans, this degree is for you. Areas of study include medicinal chemistry, microbiology, pathology, formulation science, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and more. You will also gain key practical skills for your future career.

Gain a world-class pharmaceutical science degree with a unique Aotearoa New Zealand perspective. The Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science incorporates rongoā Māori to give you training that’s only available at Otago.

Why study  Pharmaceutical Science

Otago’s new three-year BPharmSc is the only degree of its type in Aotearoa New Zealand. It offers a curriculum that is responsive to industry needs and intertwines rongoā Māori to help understand medicines beyond western practices. Otago’s School of Pharmacy is ranked in the top 100 pharmacy schools globally (2019 QS ranking), and the BPharmSc is taught by industry experts and academics.

As a pharmaceutical science student at Otago, you will benefit from small class sizes, personalised instruction, and a modern student-centred curriculum. You will have access to a state-of-the-art laboratory, an interprofessional learning environment, and a supportive student culture.

Second and third-year papers are taught via lectures, laboratory classes and tutorials, and incorporate contemporary student- centred learning, including interactive workshop sessions.

Background required

There are no secondary school subject requirements for entry into the first year at Otago, but we strongly recommend you take chemistry, biology and maths.

All applicants seeking admission to the Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science programme must have completed 108 points in Health Sciences First Year at the University of Otago (or equivalent) and a further 18 100-level points.

Degree structure

The first year has a similar structure to the Otago Health Sciences First Year programme. It consists of papers in general chemistry, biology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology and physics, with an optional seventh paper.

In the second year, you will learn foundational knowledge and skills in pharmaceutical chemistry, formulation principles, and principles of disease.

In third year, you will begin to apply your knowledge to contemporary challenges in chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, natural products and medicines, rongoā Māori, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, drug delivery and topics in the pharmaceutical industry.

The degree’s flexibility allows you to fine-tune your study to your interests and career aspirations with room for two additional second and third-year papers offered by other departments at the University of Otago.

BPharmSc graduates are encouraged to do an honours degree to begin their journey into postgraduate research and a PhD.

Career opportunities

Otago produces independent, innovative and career-ready graduates. With a degree in pharmaceutical science, you will be qualified to take on many professional roles, including:

  • Scientist researching and developing new drugs and medicines
  • Formulation scientist in food, cosmetics, pharmaceutics and agrichemical industries
  • Regulatory affairs officer evaluating medicines for government agencies and companies
  • Border control agent conducting identification and analysis of drugs
  • Clinical trials associate testing the safety and efficacy of medicines
  • Marketing and sales of medicines for human, veterinary and agricultural use
  • Quality control chemist testing to ensure high-quality medicines are produced
  • Patent attorney advising on intellectual property and patent law.

Pharmaceutical science qualification

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages:

Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science (BPharmSc)

Level Papers Points

BIOC 192  Foundations of Biochemistry

CELS 191  Cell and Molecular Biology

CHEM 191  The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health

HUBS 191  Human Body Systems 1

HUBS 192  Human Body Systems 2

PHSI 191  Biological Physics








PSCI 201  Pharmaceutical Chemistry

PSCI 202  Medicines and Disease

PSCI 203  Formulation Principles 1

PSCI 204  Formulation Principles 2






Four of:

PSCI 301  Chemical Biology

PSCI 302  Medicinal Chemistry

PSCI 303  Natural Products and Medicines

PSCI 304  Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

PSCI 305  Drug Delivery

PSCI 306  Topics in Pharmaceutical Industry



108 further points of which 36 must be at 200-level or above.


Note: Students should check the prerequisites for each paper.

Total 360


Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
PSCI301 2023 Chemical Biology 18 points Semester 2
PSCI302 2023 Medicinal Chemistry 18 points Semester 1
PSCI303 2023 Natural Products and Medicines 18 points Semester 1
PSCI304 2023 Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics 18 points Semester 2
PSCI305 2023 Drug Delivery 18 points Semester 2
PSCI306 2023 Topics in Pharmaceutical Industry 18 points Semester 1

Key information for future students

Contact us

School of Pharmacy
Tel +64 3 479 7271