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.

School of Pharmacy Laboratory
School of Pharmacy Laboratory

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

Coat of Arms small

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 principles.”

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.