An Analysis of the New UK Master of Pharmacy Degree Programme: Rhetoric and Reality*
Keywords:Bachelors, Descriptors, Pharmacy, National Qualifications Framework, Qualitative
In 2001, the first cohort of pharmacy students graduated after completing a new four-year degree programme leading to the award of Master’s (MPharm). This study questions whether the current MPharm programmes meet National Qualifications Framework (NQF) descriptors. For its data, all Directors of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS) were invited for semi-structured interviews regarding this new programme. Ten interviews were completed and were transcribed and coded thematically.
These results show that the change from Bachelor’s to Master’s appellation was led by contention and insecurity rather than debate. Additionally, though schools have re-designed programmes, a lack of homogeneity was identified. Further, even though schools run postgraduate Master’s level programmes in tandem with the MPharm, it is debatable whether the educational approach, nature and delivery of each are equivalent. QAA uses the term integrated Master’s to denote significant study at both undergraduate and Master’s levels, while an emergent demarcation between both levels, in terms of quality and equity of learning experience, was identified in the new programme that needs to be resolved.
The current MPharm programmes may not merit the title Master’s. It is difficult to backtrack now; the only way forward is to ensure that the programmes continue to develop to meet QAA criteria to insure the competency of the educational experience.
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