Otago launches Pharmaceutical Science degree, the only of its kind in New Zealand


National, 2nd November 2021: The University of Otago will be offering a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science degree from 2022. This is the only degree of its type in Aotearoa New Zealand and can lead to a career at the forefront of science and technology.

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

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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 recognized 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.”

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,” says Professor Hook.

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

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“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,” says Associate Professor McDowell. The Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, whereby students train to practice as a pharmacist in various
professional settings also continue to operate.

About Education New Zealand:

Education New Zealand (ENZ) is New Zealand’s government agency for international education. ENZ works to grow awareness of New Zealand as a study destination and to support New Zealand education providers and businesses to take their services and products abroad. 

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