Course Content (including module information)
All students take five modules: the first provides an introduction to pharmaceutical microbiology including aspects of disinfection and sterilisation with a second module providing an introduction to the principles of physical and analytical chemistry of importance in pharmaceutical systems.
The third module provides a foundation in the essential skills for the practice of pharmacy and an introduction to the development of a pharmaceutical product from concept to clinic, and the roles of the pharmacist in this process.
A chemistry module covers important aspects of organic and bio-organic chemistry including structure determination, chemical reactivity and mechanistic aspects. Finally, a physiology module cover the principles of general physiology and histology as well as an introduction to systematic pathophysiology.
This year provides further development of understanding of basic sciences related to pharmacy and an introduction to some professional aspects of medicines optimisation.
Three modules are studied: one covers the basic principles of drug action and therapeutics and an introduction to the clinical application of therapeutic substances; and a further module is concerned with medicinal substances and deals with analytical methods used to determine the relationships between structure and function of drug molecules. Finally, a double module deals with formulation/dispensing of drug products, drug stability and some industrial manufacturing processes.
Levels 3 and 4
The professional and clinical aspects of the final two years reflect the increasing involvement of pharmacists in medicines optimisation and working with other healthcare professionals.
Level 3 topics include applied pharmaceutical analysis, drug design and delivery, pharmaceutical biotechnology, pharmaceutical legislation, clinical therapeutics, and pharmacy practice.
Level 4 topics include advanced pharmaceutical care, business, government and industry, responding to symptoms and evidence-based medicine. Students also carry out a research project.
Throughout the degree course pharmacy students have the opportunity to work with medical and nursing students to optimise patient care whilst in the classroom, on placement and in simulated environments.
Assessment & Feedback
Assessment (general): The way in which students are assessed will vary according to the Learning objectives of each module. The majority of modules are assessed through a combination of coursework and end of semester examinations. Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction.
Feedback (general): As students progress through their course at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to take a greater role in reflecting on this and taking the initiative in continuously improving the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
- Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, have submitted.
- Face to face comment. This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers’ advertised “office hours” to help you to address a specific query.
- Placement employer comments or references.
- Online or emailed comment.
- General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.
- Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid. In some instances, this may be provided in the form of model answers or exemplars which you can review in your own time.
- Feedback and outcomes from practical classes.
- Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as, Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service.
Once you have reviewed your feedback, you will be encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work.
Learning and Teaching
The School of Pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast is consistently ranked as one of the top UK Schools of Pharmacy by the Times Good University Guide and we are recognised for our excellence in teaching and our international reputation in research. The School recently achieved an excellent result in the 2008 UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) with 95% of its research classified as world-leading, internationally excellent or of international quality. We aim to stay at the forefront of Pharmacy education by continually upgrading our infrastructure and introducing new, exciting initiatives into the MPharm programme.
For example, the School recently launched a major new programme in clinical pharmacy teaching. The programme provides extensive clinical placements for students in their undergraduate degree and is at the forefront of UK pharmacy undergraduate training. The programme also provided a unique opportunity to create five new Clinical Practitioner (CP) posts, based in Trust hospitals in Northern Ireland. The CPs work in partnership with staff in the School to develop an innovative Clinical Placement Programme which is delivered using a variety of methods including workshops, bedside teaching and experiential learning.
The clinical placements are carefully incorporated into the existing MPharm degree programme from Stage 1 through to a full week placement for each student in Stages 3 and 4. These new placements are designed to provide students with an excellent opportunity to apply their clinical knowledge and skills to real-life situations. The clinical placement aims to facilitate high quality teaching and learning activities and also to promote the professional attitudes and behaviours expected of tomorrow's pharmacists. Importantly, Queen's students gain valuable experience of interprofessional education through working closely with other healthcare professionals.
The CPs are supported in their role by the Clinical Pharmacists within the Trusts, who supervise and assess students during contact time on the wards. Students are encouraged to develop their lifelong learning skills through the use of reflective portfolios and task booklets. Students are also expected to develop a range of clinical skills that they will be able to use in both primary and secondary care upon qualification.
At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable student to achieve their full academic potential.
On the MPharm degree we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners. Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:
- Lectures: these introduce basic information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. Lectures also provide opportunities to ask questions, gain some feedback and advice on assessments (normally delivered in large groups to all year group peers).
- Practicals: students have opportunities to develop technical skills and apply theoretical principles to real-life or practical contexts. Practicals form a major part of the assessment of the MPharm degree programme. Students will be expected to attend one practical per week for the majority of modules within the degree programme. In Levels 3 and 4, students will gain experience of working in groups in practical classes. Students will additionally receive training in the Practice of Pharmacy within the state of the art Pharmacy within the School.
- E-Learning technologies: Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Queen’s Online. A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree through, for example: interactive group workshops in a flexible learning space; IT and statistics modules; podcasts and interactive web-based learning activities; opportunities to use IT programmes associated with design in practicals and project- based work etc.
- Seminars/tutorials: Significant amounts of teaching are carried out in small groups (typically 10-30 students). These provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic staff who have specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess their own progress and understanding with the support of peers. Students are also expected to make presentations and other contributions to these groups.
- Self-directed study: This is an essential part of life as a Queen’s student when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out.
- Work placements: Students taking the MPharm degree undertake work-placements in all four years of the degree, both in the Hospital and Community environments. This is a significant learning and employability enhancement opportunity.
- Supervised projects: In final (fourth) year, students are expected to carry out a significant piece of research on a topic or practical methodology in s broad research area selected by the student. The student receives support from a supervisor who will guide him/her in terms of how to carry out research and will provide feedback on at least 2 occasions during the write up stage.
- Personal Tutor: Undergraduates are allocated a Personal Tutor during Level 1 and 2 who meets with them on several occasions during the year to support their academic development.