Skip to main content

Pharmacist Independent Prescribing

The programme is managed by the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies and usually runs concurrently with the School of Healthcare Sciences (available to nurses, midwives and allied healthcare professionals), taking advantage of the multidisciplinary learning this provides.

Sections of this programme will be taught to pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals collectively, thus facilitating supportive networking, and a pooling of experiences.

Course aims

Pharmacist Independent prescribing aims to provide patients with quicker and more efficient access to medicines and to make the best use of the skills of pharmacists.  This forms part of the National Health Service modernisation agenda as recommended in the Crown Report published in 1999 (Review of Prescribing Supply and Administration of Medicines).

Since commencing the first training programme in 2004, more than 400 pharmacists have successfully achieved Independent Prescriber status.

Course description

We have two intakes for our 40 credit, level 7, Pharmacist Independent Prescribing programme. The first intake is in September and will run jointly with the School of Healthcare Sciences. The second intake is in January and will be pharmacists alone.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) re-accredited the programme in July 2017 with no conditions or recommendations.  For more details on their learning outcomes, accreditation process and the 2017 reaccreditation report, please visit the GPhC website.

Course structure

We have developed this part-time (approximately 7 months) competency-based programme based on our experience of running non-medical prescribing programmes since 2004.  We have gained a thorough understanding of our students’ requirements during that time and this programme is built on meeting students’ needs and providing an inspiring and excellent student experience. As such, the programme will concentrate on the development of your consultation skills, patient assessment skills and clinical decision making.

The programme consists of the following:

  • 12 study days (four blocks of three days), held at Cardiff University during the week
  • directed and self-directed study
  • 90 hours under the supervision of the Designated Medical Practitioner or the Designated Supervising Medical Practitioner (DSMP) as they are referred to in Wales
  • assessments

As the course is 40 credits, you will need to dedicate approximately 400 hours to this programme, which equates to around 8-10 hours of work each week (this excludes study days and time with DSMP).

Study days

You’ll participate in 12 study days which are split into four blocks of three days.  Our teaching methods include a mixture of lectures, workshops, case studies and discussions. Consultation skills and patient assessment skills are of fundamental importance to the new prescriber, and we will therefore focus your learning in these areas.  We will also involve you in realistic consultation scenarios involving real patients with real conditions in a controlled environment, as well as consultations with professional healthcare actors.  By video recording some of these practice consultations, you’ll be able to reflect upon and critique your own skills. We have received exceptional feedback from previous students regarding these 'real-life' teaching methods. In order to successfully pass the programme, you must attend all the study days (100% attendance required).

Directed and self-directed learning

We will provide directed learning, guiding you to the appropriate reading in relation to the prescribing competencies you’ll be developing.  You’ll also be expected to undertake specific directed reading in relation to patient assessment skills.  This involves reading about the anatomy of the human body, as well as the assessment of the different human body systems.  On-line resources are also available to help you develop your numeracy skills.

Time with the DSMP

Based on the current GPhC requirement, you will need to have a minimum of 90 hours of supervised time with the DSMP. This time will give you the chance to critically reflect and apply the principles of prescribing to your scope of practice.

Find out more about the DSMP


Throughout the programme, you’ll undergo a range of assessments to ensure that all the learning outcomes for the programme are met.  You will need to pass every assessment to successfully complete the course as there is no compensation between assessments.  The GPhC also makes it clear that if, in any assessment, a student fails to identify a serious problem or gives an answer which would cause harm to a patient, the student must fail the programme overall.

The current assessment schedule is below:

Description of assessmentPercentage contribution to module
Prescribing portfolio15%
Therapeutic framework and personal formulary related to scope of practice25%
Structured Clinical Assessment
Stimulated Practical Assessment
Reflective narrative on consultation skills20%
Numeracy class test (45 mins duration)pass/fail (must pass at 100%)

Your prescribing portfolio will illustrate the time you’ve spent in practice under the supervision of the DSMP and demonstrate your ability to integrate theory into practice.  It includes information on your scope of practice, clinical logs (events that have occurred in practice), GPhC revalidation records, patient assessment skills and a log of hours with the DSMP and demonstration of how you have met the prescribing competencies.

The therapeutic framework is centred on the medicines that you’ll be prescribing in your scope of practice and allows you to research and become more confident in the condition(s), its progression and relevant guidelines that impact prescribing decision making.

There are two practical assessments.  The first is the structured clinical assessment that is undertaken by the DSMP in practice.  This means you’ll be assessed whilst undertaking a consultation, looking at your relevant patient assessment skills in the area in which you intend to practice.  The second is the simulated practical assessment, which will be held at the University and will assess your ability to undertake patient assessments e.g. cardiovascular, gastro-intestinal and respiratory assessments.

The reflective narrative is a piece of coursework.  You’ll be asked to compare and contrast the consultation skills of two practitioners (one of which can be yourself). You will need to search and utilise relevant literature and consider any changes that you will make to your practice.

The numeracy class test consists of 20 questions and takes 45 minutes to complete.

Skills acquired

  • Consultation skills
  • Patient assessment skills
  • Clinical decision making


  • Programme Director -  Dr Karen Hodson  PhD, MSc, BSc (Pharm), MPharmS
  • Dr Rowan Yemm
  • Additionally numerous Independent Prescribers working in practice

When you begin the programme, you’ll be assigned a personal tutor.  Wherever possible, this will either be an experienced academic working within prescribing or an Independent Prescriber, with experience of the scope of practice.

Thanks for organising such an excellent course. It’s easily the most enjoyable and relevant course I’ve done and it was great to be able to put theory into practice immediately. It has not only given me new skills and knowledge but also changed the way I practice day-to-day. It must be a difficult course to run but it has renewed my enthusiasm for the profession and for this I’m most grateful.

Ceri Phillips Antimicrobial Pharmacist, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Entry Requirements

To apply, you must:

  • be a registered pharmacist with the GPhC or the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
  • have at least two years appropriate patient-orientated experience in a UK hospital, community or primary care setting following your pre-registration year
  • have identified a ‘scope of practice’ i.e. an area of clinical practice in which to develop your prescribing skills and have up-to-date clinical, pharmacological and pharmaceutical knowledge relevant to your intended area of prescribing practice
  • be able to demonstrate how you reflect on your own performance and take responsibility for your own continuing professional development
  • have the agreement of a medical practitioner (doctor/dentist) to act as your DSMP during the twelve days in practice (see DSMP information below)
  • hold an English Language GCSE Grade C or above.

How to apply

At Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies, we have two intakes for our 40 credit, level 7, Pharmacist Independent Prescribing programme. The first intake is in September and will run jointly with the School of Healthcare Sciences. The second intake is in January and will be pharmacists alone.

For applications please contact the PGT Admissions Team at The School of Pharmacy by email for an application pack at. The application documents include:

  • Cardiff University application form
  • Supplementary application form (including DSMP supporting documents)
  • Two references

The supplementary application form contains a number of sections.

You need to describe the proposed area (scope of practice) and group of patients you will be prescribing for.

Your line manager needs to validate a number of points including that: there is a service need for the non-medical prescribing; that you have up-to-date clinical, pharmacological and pharmaceutical knowledge relevant to the intended area of practice; that you will be in a position to use the qualification once the course is complete; that your Disclosure and Barring Service has been checked and meets the required standard; and that your clinical learning environment is appropriate. If you are employed by a General Practice or self-employed with a view to work in a General Practice, this validation is required by one of the partners of your Practice.  If you are self-employed, our Programme Director will interview you to confirm that your area of practice and/or your clinical, pharmacological and pharmaceutical knowledge is relevant.

The DSMP must complete a section of the form, providing contact details that they meet the requirements to be a DSMP, whether they have had experience of teaching/supervision and assessment and to state whether they are related to you, your friend or your partner.

Postgraduate Admissions Team

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Fees and funding

The fees for the programme are £2,160 for home students and £4,880 for international students.

Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) usually commission a number of places for pharmacists employed by Health Boards for the September intake.  Please discuss this possibility with your Health Board leads.

Sponsored or part-sponsored students (other than HEIW sponsored) will need proof of sponsorship at the time of enrolment.  This will be in a form of a letter from your sponsor.

Additional expenses, that you may incur, include:

  • Books if you prefer to have your own copy
  • Personal photocopying
  • Travel costs to the course


Karen Hodson