Key Facts

Course Title: Prescribing Studies
Course type: PG Certificate, PG Diploma and MSc in Prescribing Studies
Mode of Study:Part Time
Contact Details:Ms Linda Foster
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Subject Area: Pharmacy


In the fast-changing world of therapeutics, prescribing and health care provision, prescribers, or those providing prescribing advice, may feel under-equipped to meet Department of Health demands and the challenges that have emerged from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). A key development for pharmacists has been the advent of independent pharmacist prescribers, new roles in medicines optimisation and supporting the management of long term conditions. Pharmacists are continually being asked to broaden their role and contribution within primary healthcare. In addition, the requirements for pharmacists to demonstrate their commitment to continual professional development is as strong as ever and is reflected in the recent General Pharmaceutical Council’s announcements regarding the assurance of the continual fitness to practice of pharmacists. Other healthcare professionals have similar requirements in relation to CPD and revalidation.

Choice and flexibility are key features of the Prescribing Studies programme. Healthcare professionals may choose different pathways to reach the awards of Certificate, Diploma and Masters to meet their own specific professional development needs and to advance their professional practice e.g. by undertaking the Independent Prescribing Preparatory Course for Pharmacists. Flexibility is also provided by our CPD Plus+ and CPD Plus+ Open Learn modules which are available as 5, 10, 15 and 30 credit modules.

Why choose a Prescribing Studies Course? 
The Centre for Professional Development and Lifelong Learning, part of the School of Pharmacy at Keele University, has a reputation for providing stimulating education programmes for general practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and other members of the health care team. We offer a multidisciplinary approach that ensures our courses encompass a broad range of skills and are responsive to the changing health care environment. We are closely in touch, through our advisors, with NHS development and service needs in primary care. We are recognised nationally as a centre of excellence in the areas of prescribing and audit. For example, the Keele Centre for Medicines Optimisation is based within the School of Pharmacy, and has 20 years of experience of providing tailored, cost-effective, prescribing  support and medicines management solutions to the NHS to allow the optimisation of medicines use.

The distance learning format of the courses enables busy health professionals to study where and when it is most convenient to them

Aims of the Course

The overall aim of the Prescribing Studies programme is to offer the opportunity for prescribers (medical and non-medical) and those providing prescribing advice to enhance their knowledge base, skills and understanding of practical therapeutics and prescribing within the context of the larger health care team.  The overall programme aims to enable participants to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Describe and appraise the practical considerations that are relevant to the prescriber in primary care
  • Apply clinical and behavioural knowledge and skills to the prescribing process
  • Describe the principles underlying rational prescribing
  • Apply the principles underlying rational prescribing to specific patient groups
  • Describe the therapy of common medical conditions
  • Apply evidence-based prescribing to the treatment of common medical conditions

In addition, the student will develop valuable practical skills including written and oral communication, and the ability to design audit projects, collect, analyse and interpret data. The programme will also encourage you to develop the self-discipline of private study, self-directed learning and critical reflection through the use of a reflective portfolio that you can continue beyond your formal study period with Keele in your own Continuing Professional Development.

Entry Requirements

Criteria for admission to the course will be as required by University regulations. 
All the Prescribing Studies courses are open to:

  • Medical and non-medical prescribers in primary care
  • Pharmacists who are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council, (or other equivalent regulatory body for pharmacists outside of the UK) as practising,  and who regularly work in primary care providing prescribing advice
  • Other health care professionals with an interest in therapeutics and prescribing may be admitted on their perceived and potential competence to complete the course

All applicants must be working in an appropriate healthcare environment that will permit them to fulfil all the requirements of their chosen programme of study.

Course Content

The Prescribing Studies Programme can be completed via the following flexible pathways to accumulate academic credits at Masters Level with fixed content and learning outcomes:

  • CPD Plus+ – register for individual short courses of 5 credits. You can register on a number of occasions in any academic year. Completing 12 CPD Plus+ courses will provide the postgraduate certificate award
  • CPD Plus+ Open Learn – provides opportunity to negotiate some or all of the content and learning outcomes to meet your specific needs (available as 10, 15 and 30-credit modules)
  • Certificate in Prescribing Studies – register for a full academic year for the postgraduate Certificate award (60 credits)
  • Diploma in Prescribing Studies – register for 2 academic years for the postgraduate Diploma award (120 credits)
  • Qualifying Course for Independent Prescribers (60 credits) – this provides the professional qualification necessary to prescribe, and an academic award of Certificate in Prescribing Studies (Independent Prescribing). It may also be used to carry 60 academic credits towards the Diploma course. Please contact the Course Administrator for the specific application pack for this course
  • Professional MSc – Building on the Diploma course students study a further three modules: Research Methods (15 credits), Advanced Practice Development (15 credits) and Independent Learning Project (30 credits)

Depending on the course of study, students will participate with tutors in collaborative learning workshops using webinars and/ or online in our virtual learning environment – the KLE.

The CPD Plus+ short courses that are currently available, and which also form the course content for Certificate and Diploma courses, are:

Theme: Principles underlying rational prescribing

  • Basic Pharmacological Concepts and Biochemistry
  • Treating Individual Patient Groups
  • Hazards of Drug Use
  • Monitoring Drug Treatment
  • Rational Prescribing
  • Licensing and Drug Development

 Theme: Practical considerations for prescribers

  • Evidence-Based Practice and Clinical Governance
  • Communication and Consultation Skills
  • Ethical Issues in Prescribing
  • Patient-Prescriber Partnerships in Medicine Taking
  • PACT in Practice
  • Practice Research

Theme: Prescribing in the treatment of common medical conditions

  • Angina
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Dyspepsia
  • Heart Failure
  • Hypertension
  • Infections
  • Joint Diseases
  • Osteoporosis
  • Palliative Care
  • Women’s Health

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment for the Certificate/ Diploma and MSc is entirely by coursework. This may include short problem solving cases, audit or project work.  Common to all the courses is the requirement to complete a Reflective Portfolio

The assessment methods used aim to encourage you to take an active part in your own education and to apply your knowledge to practical situations in the workplace.

Additional Costs

For all programmes you will need regular access to a computer, email and the internet. However apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for our postgraduate programmes, with the exception of those listed below.

DPharm and Independent prescribing course

There will be additional travel and accommodation costs (if required) to attend the face to face study days or meet with your supervisor (DPharm only) on these programmes.