History of the Sydney Pharmacy School

Sydney Pharmacy School Building Entrance, University of Sydney

Pharmacy at the University of Sydney has an established tradition of research and scholarship in the pharmaceutical sciences. The University’s involvement with the education of pharmacists began in 1899.

Among the earlier teachers, Horace Finnemore, appointed lecturer in 1927, had a strong research background. Nevertheless, research in Pharmacy essentially commenced in 1949 with the arrival from the Burroughs Wellcome Laboratories of Roland H Thorp as Professor of Pharmacology and Director of Pharmaceutical Studies, followed by Sydney E Wright in 1950. From the outset, Wright had the vision to develop active research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences and the programs he initiated were carried on by his associates for decades after. Wright was appointed to the first Chair in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 1960 upon the introduction of the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree course. This introduction marked the beginning of pharmacy degree programs in Australia.

In the 1990s, the program underwent a number of changes, including the introduction of courses in pharmacy practice. In 1996, the Department began the transition of the three-year undergraduate degree into a four-year program, with the first cohort of four-year students graduating in 2001.

There continues to be strong demand for undergraduate places in the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. The graduate entry Master of Pharmacy has also seen strong interest and admission remains very competitive. Students coming out of these programs also compete for admittance into the Intern Training Program which is successfully run in collaboration with the faculty’s NAPE (National Alliance for Pharmacy Education) partners. Similarly, with more than 100 postgraduate research students enrolled, the Sydney Pharmacy School has one of the largest pharmacy postgraduate research programs in Australia.

Pharmacy has many collaborative research projects with other faculties of the University, with teaching hospitals, with research institutes, with the pharmaceutical industry, and with the profession. Research in pharmacy covers a broad spectrum of pharmaceutical and clinical sciences ranging from the design, synthesis, testing and mechanism of action of drugs, through studies on methods of drug delivery and on the fate of drugs in humans and animals, to research on the clinical and sociological aspects of pharmacy.

Today, degrees, diplomas, and certificates offered by the Sydney Pharmacy School include the Bachelor of Pharmacy, Bachelor of Pharmacy and Management, Master of Pharmacy, Graduate Certificate in Pharmacy Practice, Master of Philosophy (Pharmacy) and Doctor of Philosophy. A Graduate Certificate in Evidence-Based Complementary Medicines will commence in 2018.