Pharmacy at Manchester: The lowdown

Josh Brocklebank and Maeve Sparks are both Pharmacy students here at Manchester in 2nd and 3rd year respectively. Here, they give us the lowdown on the four year course, from what initially lured them in to what their favourite aspect of studying at the University of Manchester is… 

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Why Pharmacy at Manchester?

Josh: I chose Manchester because both the city and course looked phenomenal. You can do literally everything in the middle of the Manchester and the course structure is brilliant.

Maeve: I bottled going to uni first time around and ended up in a full-time job in a pharmacy so that’s why I chose pharmacy in the end, because I actually really enjoyed working there! Also, Manchester has always been one of my favourite places to go. I live about an hour away so I know it really well.



Josh: The University is particularly good when it comes to teaching; it’s got super up-to-date teaching techniques and technology in addition to brand new, state of the art rooms.

In addition to this, all the lecturers are conducting research in their specialist areas so we are literally learning from some of the most knowledgeable academics in pharmacy. Their passion is infectious and I think it’s amazing that they want to teach us students what they know

Maeve: The main reason which drew me to the University of Manchester in first place was the tutors. When it came to interview days for the university, the staff that I met at Manchester were much more approachable than they were anywhere else.



Josh: There’s a lovely new simulation suite which is full of about 60 to 80 computers so that you can do your community pharmacy dispensing and practice on hard prescriptions.

Maeve: The most exciting thing to come in the next few years is the opportunity to work with the Sim Man, a horribly scary-looking doll that reacts to drugs that you give him. He can fit, he can sweat, and I think it’s an excellent way to apply the knowledge you’ve learned in lectures to an actual body without the risk of hurting someone.

Pharmacy Sim Man 3G

Course content

Josh: The practicals are really interesting: you have chemistry practicals, biology practicals, and also pharmacy-based practicals. In the pharmacy-based practicals you work on your consultation skills and the University bring in actors so you can experience what it would be like to talk to people who need medication.

The chemistry practicals are particularly interesting. One that sticks in my mind is a practical where you extract limonene from orange zest and it makes the entire lab, which normally smells of chemicals, smell completely like fresh oranges. It’s a lovely practical because you come out after a couple of hours feeling like you’ve been in a room full of fruit, it’s nice!

In the biology practicals you work with microscopes, bacteria and all sorts of things which is also really interesting.


Maeve:  As I’d worked in a pharmacy I sort of anticipated some of the modules and I knew what was coming. What I didn’t expect and what I loved is how much chemistry we do, and that makes me sound like such a nerd, but I love the organic chemistry and learning about the mechanisms of drugs.

We also spend a lot of time in the dispensing and exempt labs where we make up medicines, dispense them, label them and give them out. This gives you a really nice feel of what a community pharmacy can be like, but at the same time you’re in an environment with your friends so it’s quite relaxed too.

Pharmacy Inpatient Pharmacy at Manchester Children's Hospital


Josh: You get access to placements at both community and hospital pharmacies and there’s even opportunities to go in to industry pharmacy as well. The access to hospitals is there from the end of first year/start of second year which is really good because you get real life contact with patients from an early stage of the course.

Maeve: I love the fact that we do placements from first year and the really hands-on element of it.


To summarise…

Josh: I have enjoyed my time at Manchester so far not only because it is an amazing city to live in and explore but because my course has allowed me to see all areas of pharmacy. I hope to go in to GP and community pharmacy but look forward to my final year as I get to apply a lot of my knowledge to numerous situations and examples before starting working.

Maeve: I’ve definitely enjoyed university more than I thought I would – so far! I mean I was kind of convincing myself that uni wasn’t for me, but I actually think it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made.


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