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What is Pharmaceutical Science?

The pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical industry makes a vital contribution to society through the development and production of drugs such as antibiotics for infectious diseases, cancer treatment drugs and antiviral drugs for HIV. The pharmaceutical sector plays a vital role in Ireland’s economy with over 150 pharmaceutical companies, 9 of the top pharmaceutical companies located in Ireland. There is a strong demand for graduates qualified in pharmaceutical science and employment prospects are excellent.

What is the BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science Course?

This is a four year honours degree aimed at preparing graduates for the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical industry. Students will be exposed to a broad range of subjects and laboratory instrumentation relevant to the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical industry. A research project is also carried out in year 4. The course also provides graduates with a range of transferable skills so that graduates are qualified for a wide range of science-based industries.

BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science work placement

A nine-month work placement is included in the third year of the course.

Research at SETU Waterford

SETU Waterford lecturing staff teaching on this course are actively involved in a range of highly successful and well-funded research work related to pharmaceutical science. Collaborators include national and international universities and research institutes, and industrial partners from the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical sector both in Ireland and abroad. Current research areas include: development of novel polymers for therapeutic drug delivery, biomedical research in eye treatment, novel analytical methods for pharmaceutical products, sensing devices for environmental analysis, biotechnology for drug synthesis and bioremediation.

Pharma Industry Awards


The four-year BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science course won the prestigious Pharma Education & Training Award in the Pharma Industry Awards 2017. The awards are a 'benchmark for excellence for those operating in Ireland's pharma industry'.

The programme was also nominated for two awards in 2018: The Education Awards 2018: Best Student Experience Award and the HR Leadership and Management Awards 2018: Excellence in Education and Training Award.  

Read more in our news section.

On April 27th 2021, the programme won another prestigious award from the Pharma Industry Awards ceremony 2021. The award received is the Pharma Education and Training award. 



Innovative teaching

This programme recently won the ‘Most impactful use of Pearson courseware or services’ award in recognition of the blended learning approach in the delivery of the programmes. The common science programmes use an integrated on-line tutorial system that is delivered to small groups in an IT room supported by one or two members of staff. These weekly formative tutorials allow students to apply or practice the material covered in class that week and student receives individual attention and help at tutorials.


Year 1

Semester 1 Semester 2
Introductory Biology Cell Biology & Biochemistry
Introductory Chemistry Physical & Organic Chemistry
Introductory Physics Physics for Scientists
Introductory Mathematics Mathematics for Scientists
Introduction to ICT for Scientists Introduction to Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Science
Good Laboratory Practice & Core Skills Choose one of the following electives:
*Forensic Science
*Science & Society
* = elective module *Environmental Monitoring

Year 2

Semester 3 Semester 4
Organic Chemistry and Biomolecules Pharmaceutical Organic Chemistry
Spectroscopic Techniques Chromatographic and Electrophoretic Techniques
Physical Chemistry Inorganic Chemistry
Statistics for Scientists Pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Processing
Pharmaceutical Science Biopharmaceutical Science
Laboratory Data Analysis and Presentation Applied Mathematics for Scientists

Year 3

Semester 5 Semester 6
Total Quality Management Work Placement
Chromatographic Method Development and Validation
Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Pharmaceuticals and Natural Products
Advanced Spectroscopic Analysis of Organic Compounds
Inorganic & Physical Chemistry

Year 4

Semester 7 Semester 8
Advanced Techniques in Pharmaceutical Science Advanced Inorganic & Photochemistry
Advanced Topics in Physical Chemistry Advanced Quality Methodologies
Pharmaceutical Synthesis and Characterisation Pharmaceutical Formulation & Drug Delivery
Regulatory Affairs & Compliance Pharmacology, Drug Design & Synthesis
Research Methodology & Literature Review Research Project (Double Module)

Leaving Cert: Minimum entry requirements for BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science

2 subjects: H5
4 subjects: O6/H7
English or Irish: O6/H7
Mathematics: O6/H7

Advanced and Equivalent Entry for BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science:

Entry Recommendation for BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science

Applicants should note that a science subject (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physics with Chemistry or Agricultural Science) of Leaving Certificate is recommended for this programme.

An honours degree in pharmaceutical science will provide graduates with…. 

  • Work experience (9 months) in the Pharmaceutical /Biopharmaceutical Industries.  
  • The opportunity to participate in an award winning programme. 
  • The opportunity to learn from lecturers with excellent track records in teaching and research.    
  • Hands on practical experience using state of the art industrially relevant equipment.  
  • Skills that are much sought after in a range of sectors including the Pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Industries and transferrable to industries such as the Medical Device and Food and Drinks Sectors.  
  • The opportunity to teach after completing a Professional Master of Education.

Our graduates work in a variety of different areas such as 

  • Laboratory analysis (analytical instrumentation, wet chemistry, analysis of production samples, technology development). 
  • Research and development (new drug technologies and methods of administering drugs, new drug development including anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, heart medication etc., development of new process technologies).
  • Quality control and quality assurance (QC analyst, regulatory affairs, compliance, Quality Assurance advisor, customer complaints).
  • Management roles in the above areas.
  • Technical sales and technical writing.
  • Education. 
  • Entrepreneurship, with some having set up their own successful businesses.

Follow on Study for BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science graduates.

  • Following the programme students can apply for further postgraduate studies (Taught Masters programmes as well as MSc and PhD by Research) within SETU Waterford. Research may be carried out within SETU Waterford’s research centres such as the PMBRC, which is award winning, has industry links, is part of large European networks and completes top quality research.   
  • Graduates have also completed MSc and PhD programmes at Universities both Nationally and Internationally (including an exciting opportunity with NASA).

Career Opportunities for BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Science graduates

A degree in pharmaceutical science will provide graduates with skills that are much sought after in a range of sectors including:

  • Pharmaceutical & biopharmaceutical industries

  • Quality control & quality assurance

  • Laboratory analysis

  • Research & development

  • Education & teaching after completing a Professional Master of Education

  • Food & drinks industry

  • Teaching (requires masters in education)

Completion of a level 8 programme will also enable students to undertake taught Masters programmes or Masters degrees by research at SETU Waterford or other third-level colleges

International students studying pharmaceutical science

This programme attracts many international students from around the world each year. There are many supports in place and students will be given lots of guidance from our very experienced staff in the SETU International Office. To find an international perspective to the course and Department of Science have a look at our video.


Course Leader

Dr Kathleen Grennan

Lecturer -

Call: +35351302047

Email: [email protected]