UCL School of Pharmacy
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History of the School
The UCL School of Pharmacy has been bringing health to the world for 170 years. Below are just a few important markers of our lifespan to date.
1842 - School of Pharmacy founded
The School of Pharmacy was founded by the Pharmaceutical
Society of Great Britain to “elevate the profession of pharmacy by
furnishing the means of proper instruction” and was housed at No 17,
Bloomsbury Square, London.
1926 - Early contribution to education
Its early contribution to education was acknowledged when
the “Square”, as it was (and still is) known, became a School of the
University of London. At this stage, the Pharmaceutical Society was
still financially responsible for the maintenance of the School.
1935 - Better accommodation
The Pharmaceutical Society began implementing plans to
provide better accommodation for the School and for the Society itself.
It was soon after that work began on the construction of 29/39 Brunswick
Square, the School’s current location. However, construction work was
stopped on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
During the war, in common with the other colleges of the University of London, the School was evacuated from London. The School itself was largely moved to Cardiff, and was accommodated partly in the University College building and partly in the Botany Department. Two other departments moved to the National Institute for Research in Shinfield, near Reading. The School’s period of exile from London ended in September, 1943.
1944-49 - Examination centre
During this period, the School had been the major practical
examination centre for the Chemist & Druggist qualifying
examination and the Pharmaceutical Chemist examination accredited by the
Pharmaceutical Society. In addition, it was a centre for practical
examinations for the internal and external BPharm degree courses of the
University. The three year BPharm honours degree course was first
introduced in 1946. Until the 1960s, the BPharm syllabus served as a
model for newer courses in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.
1949 - University of London
In the post-war period, the Pharmaceutical Society found
that it could no longer shoulder the whole burden of financing the
School by itself. The School was incorporated as an independent entity
with its own governing body upon which sit representatives of the
University of London, the Pharmaceutical Society and the academic staff,
together with a number of co-opted persons. The University of London
purchased the Brunswick Square building from the Pharmaceutical Society
and work on its completion continued as fast as resources allowed.
1950 - Coat of arms
A grant of arms was made in March 1950 and included the motto “Salutifer
Orbi’, which translates as ‘Bringing health to the world”.
1952 - Charter
A Royal Charter of Incorporation was granted to the School.
The granting of this Charter is commemorated each year by School
Council at a dinner held at Merchant Taylors’ Hall.
1954 - Myddelton House
In May of this year the School bought Myddelton House – the
site for a sports ground and botanical garden – which it shared with
the then Royal Free Medical School. Unfortunately, Myddelton House was
sold a few years ago.
1960 - New premises opened by Queen Mother
The late Queen Mother, then Chancellor of the University,
officially opened the present premises – the first building in Britain
to be built specifically as a school of pharmacy. At the opening
ceremony, she remarked that, amid laughter, as its construction had
started as early as 1938, it was the “oldest new building” in London.
Her Majesty continued by saying, “(the School) can be justly proud of
the influence it has exercised on pharmaceutical education. In this
century the education of the pharmacist has changed from a meagre
academic course, followed by a long apprenticeship, to a full honours
discipline in the University augmented by a brief period of practical
training. This change was essential in order to keep pace with the
metamorphosis of pharmacy itself from an art – or craft – tinctured with
a soupcon of mystery to a profession firmly based on sound scientific
1981 - New BSc course
We introduced a second undergraduate degree course – the
BSc in Toxicology and Pharmacology. It was the only one of its kind in
the UK. The Toxicology and Pharmacology four-year sandwich course gave
students the opportunity to spend their third year working outside the
School in placements throughout the UK and also abroad. However, in the
late 1990s, the School decided that its teaching should be focused
solely on the undergraduate Pharmacy degree, so the BSc in Toxicology
and Pharmacology was abandoned.
1985 - HRH Princess Anne
At the School’s Foundation Day on March 6th, HRH Princess
Anne praised the School when, as Chancellor of the University, she gave
an address. She said of the School, “We are aware of the sense of pride
which rightly exists here among staff and students; and we recognise the
influence which The School of Pharmacy continues to exert, not only
inside the profession which founded it and the university which adopted
it but also outside, in the wider national and international circles
where its activities impinge and influence is felt. Long may it be so.”
1986 - Diploma course
The Nuffield Report recommended that schools of pharmacy
should establish academic units in hospitals to act as a base for
teaching and research, and to promote contact with other health care
professionals. The School had already established links with the
Clinical Pharmacy Unit at Northwick Park Hospital in Middlesex in 1980
and has gone on to create further links with many hospitals in the
London region. The Diploma in Pharmacy Practice, initiated by the School
in 1989 in conjunction with local health authorities, was indicative of
our commitment to developing education in practice. The Centre for
Pharmacy Practice was established in 1990 and its increasingly
successful output has resulted in its now Departmental status.
1992 - 150th anniversary
HRH Princess Anne visited the School again as part of our
celebrations for our 150th anniversary. She presided over a Foundation
Ceremony, meeting students and staff. A special sesquicentenary lecture
was given in April of the same year, by Dr David Ganderton, then
Chairman of the British Pharmaopoeia and a former student of the School.
A special symposium was also organised in the same year, which saw
eight distinguished former students and teachers speak about the
influence the School had had on their careers.
1993 - Pan-European research and training
In the early 1990s, the School became a founding member of a
consortium to promote pan-European postgraduate research and training
in the pharmaceutical sciences. ULLA (named after the founding
institutions of Uppsala University; the School of Pharmacy, University
of London; Leiden University and Amsterdam Free University) offers
opportunities for collaboration and exchange of staff and students in
the pursuit of the highest standards of pharmaceutical research. The
consortium, which now also incorporates the Royal Danish School of
Pharmacy and the University of Paris-Sud, hold a summer school every
second year at which staff and students get together to attend short
courses, exchange research information and hear the views of opinion
formers in the world of pharmaceutical sciences. The first summer school
was held here in London in 1993.
Throughout the years, the School has retained an enviable reputation as an international centre of excellence and this is reflected in the number of international students who come to study here. We currently have students from 51 countries. Among these there are students from Europe - Albania, Austria, Germany, Greece, Holland, Poland and Cyprus, while from beyond Europe we have representatives from Kenya, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, Mauritius, Canada, South Korea, USA, Jordan, Ghana, India and Egypt.
2008 - New 7-storey wing completed
The School’s new seven-storey 980m² molecular pharmacy wing was completed. This was our first major building project since the Brunswick Square building was officially opened in 1960.
2012 - School of Pharmacy joins UCL
The School joined with UCL. As part of UCL, the School is at the heart of Europe’s largest grouping of biomedical research. In addition to new opportunities for pharmacy education and research, our students now enjoy one of the best student experiences in the UK.