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Snape Everyone Goes Away

weasleyfan in hp_britglish

University and career path - is anyone still here?

Hello? I hope someone still looks at this community now and then. The first page, at least, is full of spam. :( I need some Brit-picking help! I'm a nurse in the U.S. and like to incorporate medical type stuff into my fanfic as much as I'm able.

I'm working on a fanfic in which Severus has always kept one foot in the Muggle world, so to speak. He went to (where?) University - funded by his D.E. ties, the financial incentive and admissions-qualifications help for which was the final promise that seduced him to their side. Snape is, at the time of my story, a fully licensed and capable pharmacist is the word we use in the U.S.

Here in the U.S., the pharmacists have as much or sometimes more schooling than medical doctors, and they're the ones who are employed in research and development of new medications and/or the compounding and dispensing of existing ones. There is a bit of a professional rivalry between Pharmacists and Doctors, here at least, because Pharmacists are supposed to double-check doseages and things, laboratory interactions with folks with kidney failure, on blood thinners, etc., etc., and catch/correct physician errors before they occur. Physicians, being the somewhat narcissistic people they can often be, don't much like being corrected, and so there is some friction there.

What is a pharmacist called in the U.K.? Chemist? Druggist? If Snape works for a pharmacy where people go to buy their medicine, is it the Chemists? Where would be a fairly prestigous/difficult to get into University where he could have obtained this degree? Is it a PhD there? How many years, roughly would he have gone to school to obtain this degree?

What are some common, over-the-counter medications that an ordinary British Muggle might keep in the house? Here, we have things like tylenol/acetaminophen (a pain reliever/fever-reducer that is not an anti-inflammatory), ibuprofen/Advil (pain-reliever/fever-reducer that is an anti-inflammatory), various cold remedies like NyQuil, Benadryl (useful for seasonal allergies or intermittent allergies like sniffles/sneezing from exposure to cats if one is allergic), etc.

Any information you have time/interest to provide to me would be most welcome! Thank you!!


The spam is annoying, but it's still on my feed :-)

First off, given Snape's age, he would have been going to University in the 1980s and he would have needed no financial help because his tuition would be completely from the government, and given what we know of his Muggle background, he would have received a full student grant, which would be enough to live on. Not luxurious, though, so I'm sure a bit of Death Eater cash would have been a nice extra, plus help faking his A-levels :-)

If Snape is actually doing research, then he will have a PhD in pharmacology (or a different medical-related science, e.g. physiology). If he works in a chemist's, then he will be colloquially known as a chemist and if he is the actual pharmacist rather than an assistant, these days he will indeed have a degree in the subject. Not sure about the early 1980s, though, things may have changed. Ah! The https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Pharmaceutical_Society_of_Great_Britain would be worth looking into for education details at the time. Chemists/pharmacists are indeed meant to check doctors' recommended doses, but I've no idea of professional rivalries.

Some things that may be in a UK Muggle medicine cabinet:

- TCP (antiseptic). Possibly Dettol instead.
- Savlon is a popular antiseptic ointment, as is Germoline.
- plasters (not Band Aids, which is the US brand name)
- paracetamol (the standard UK generic name for acetaminophen)
- Calpol - leading brand of liquid paracetamol for kids.
- NOW ibuprofen/Neurofen
- 1980s, aspirin (Disprin for children)
- Beecham's is the leading brand-name cold cure.
- Benalyn is the leading cough mixture brand (or just cough mixture)
- Calomine lotion (for kids with chicken pox)

NB Do not forget the existence of the NHS or assume it works like the US healthcare system, which I've seen in quite a few Potter fics over the years.

Enjoy writing!

This is so helpful, thank you!!

I forgot about the gov't funding of University. Is there still some competition to be accepted into the programs? Or some universities being more prestigious than others? I don't know much about U.K. universities or their names but Oxford and Cambridge. :p Is there somewhere the "upper class" people go versus the "normal folks"? Private versus public University, perhaps?
The usual way was by getting enough A Level passes at a high enough level. Some subjects needed higher marks than others - to become a doctor one needed 3 As in Science subjects but to become veterinarian surgeon it was harder - same marks but plus spending a significant time working with animals.

As to universities, to the best of my recollection Bristol was noteworthy for languages and Durham for archaeology; I can't remember about the rest. No "private" universities; after Oxford and Cambridge stopped having their own entrance exams all were part ofthesame basic system. Being upper class could only be an advantage if one could get private coaching, but one would still need the basic ability/knowledge to get through the exams, and any suggestion of cheating would create a major scandal. Minorities were under represented, and upper middle class over represented at Oxford and Cambridge, but this was widely seen as a flaw.
Being upper class could only be an advantage if one could get private coaching, but one would still need the basic ability/knowledge to get through the exams, and any suggestion of cheating would create a major scandal.
In theory, anyway; n practice, because offers were made based on an interview, being upper-class tended to result in a higher chance of being seen as "one of us". Even much more recently, there have been reports of Oxbridge dons turning down people based on their accent, and there are certainly rumours that knowing the right people was helpful in getting you into the college of your choice.
I went up to Cambridge in 1976, having passed an Oxbridge entrance exam and had an interview where my exceptionally working class Manchester accent was apparently no handicap! (I had chosen a very left-wing college, King's).

I read history, but I had several friends who were reading medicine. I don't know if pharmacology was a part of their course, but I seem to remember that they did only two years of medicine at Cambridge and then went elsewhere to complete their training.
Oxford and Cambridge's own admissions departments say that going to a posh school is an advantage because it means you're more likely to know which are the less competitive courses to apply to. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Pharmacy is a lower-level qualification than medicine in the UK. You'd need an accredited four-year undergraduate degree, followed by a year's pre-registration training.

Pharmacist and pharmacologist are separate roles in the UK - I'm slightly surprised if they aren't in the US! Pharmacologists develop drugs and do the research side, and would only interact with patients on drug trials. Pharmacist are health professionals and governed by the General Pharmaceutical Council, as dentists are governed by the GDC and doctors by the GMC. That means they have specific legal and professional registration and responsibilities.


List of accredited MPharm degrees:


I don't know who would have been offering a pharmacy degree in the 1980s, but it's probably a faaaaairly safe bet that the redbrickish universities were: Newcastle, Nottingham, Aston, UCL, and probably Birmingham, Durham and Manchester (although the current Manchester was formed in the 2010s, and I don't know which bit of the old universities would have taught pharmacy, but just saying "Manchester" is probably safe.)

By contrast, medicine is a five-year undergrad degree (though most students now do an intercalated year and take six years to complete), followed by a two-year foundation training, and then a further 3 years' training to qualify as a GP or 7 years to quality as a consultant. (This is a significant difference from the US, where medicine is a postgraduate degree: you can do medicine as a graduate degree as of about 10 years ago, but it's still comparatively unusual. US authors often get tripped up on this!)

In my experience, doctors are only too happy to admit that nurses know more about nursing, physios know more about physio, and pharmacists know more about pharmacy than they do, and are very glad that there's a second line of defence to stop them if they've fucked up. The role of the doctor is pre-eminent, and by about five years after graduation the vast majority of doctors will be earning more than the majority of the allied health professionals. I find that most doctors are perfectly happy to grant that seniority in their respective fields to other health professions and save the professional rivalry for eg. medics vs surgeons, hospital drs vs GPs, etc.

(Source and disclaimer: I'm a UK careers adviser and knowing this kind of thing is my job - although I'm 38 so I don't have the historical knowledge! Medical training changed quite substantially in the early 2000s, although the undergrad medical degree didn't. Nursing and a couple of other AHPs have shifted to being degree-only in the last 10 years, too, so it's possible that pharmacy wasn't a fully graduate profession in the 1980s. It definitely is now, though.)

Things in a UK medicine cabinet:

- any one, two or three of ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol. Ibuprofen might be referred to as Nurofen, but you wouldn't call aspirin or paracetamol anything other than aspirin or paracetamol
- possibly codeine, or codeine and paracetamol. Can be bought over the counter, but is unlikely to be unless you regularly have backpain or some other serious pain. (Ie. if you said at work that you had a headache and asked if anyone had any painkillers, and someone offered you codeine, you might be a bit, "Um! Well - OK, I guess!" Ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin would be far more usual.)
- cough mixture
- Night Nurse/Day Nurse/Beechams for colds,
- plasters
- Gaviscon, Rennies and/or Milk of Magnesia for indigestion or heartburn
- Savlon, Sudocreme, TCP - antiseptic creams or ointments
- Piriton, Piriteze, Clarityn antihistamines
- Sudafed for sinus pain.
Just to add: pharmacy in the UK had stopped being solely through apprenticeship by the time my grandfather became a pharmacist in 1935. By this time you were more likely to do the whole course at university followed by a registration year, the same as today, but some pharmacists still trained by doing some university courses to take the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's examination, plus an apprenticeship. The current system was the only one by the early 1950s. It's quite possible that an older wizard would have done things this way, but Snape wouldn't be able to. In addition, you have to be "of good character", which basically means no (or very minor and unrelated to the job) criminal record or other dodgy issues like being struck off the register of another medical professional.

There isn't a lot of in-fighting between doctors, nurses and pharmacists (apart from certain unpleasant individuals of course!) except when it seems that one of them is going to tread on the other one's turf - doctors providing medication, for example, or pharmacists prescribing. Then everyone gets up in arms.
I keep the Neurofen that is Ibuprofen & codeine on hand if I can, it's sold OTC and isn't a bother to get. I don't get very bad pain often, but paracetamol doesn't work very well on me :(

Sudafed make both the sort that works and the sort that doesn't. A pharmacist would know you wanted psuedoephedrine, and it is sold OTC here. You might buy a generic, but you might call it Sudafed anyway.

The other OTC thing I'm forever buying is Canestan, which is for Thrush. But I don't keep it on hand.

(buy all these together for extra odd looks, but as a rich white 30-something woman I've never been refused them; I don't know if someone who looked unlike me would be told "we can't sell you that")
When I was having IVF, I realised I'd forgotten to bring a hypodermic syringe with me and had to buy one in the Boots in Glasgow Central station. They sold me one without hesitation and I don't think I've ever been so aware of my race and class privilege.
Some further detail on the university/qualifications stuff (though my knowledge is limited on the history too, as I started my Pharmacy degree in 2005 (and never finished it)).

You'd need an accredited four-year undergraduate degree, followed by a year's pre-registration training.

This is pretty much it. Pharmacy is a funny degree where you set out to do a Masters right from the start, sliding seamlessly from your 3 year BSc in Pharmaceutical Science into you Master of Pharmacy without any pause or graduation ceremony.

The main thing to know is that it is specifically the Masters year plus the pre-registration year that allows you to practice as a Pharmacist.

Much of the final year is very practically and clinically focused, having used the previous three years to learn the science (and what a lot of science there is!) with a smattering of practical skills.

Pharmacologists develop drugs and do the research side, and would only interact with patients on drug trials. Pharmacist are health professionals

As extra info, as far as I could tell from my own lecturers' career paths and our discussed career options, it is perfectly possible for pharmacists to work in drug research but certainly not possible for a pharmacologist to practice clinically. They would need a top-up qualification of some kind.

I don't know who would have been offering a pharmacy degree in the 1980s, but it's probably a faaaaairly safe bet that the redbrickish universities were: Newcastle, Nottingham, Aston, UCL, and probably Birmingham, Durham and Manchester

Newcastle, Birmingham and Durham did not offer an MPharm degree in 2005 so they seem to be recent additions. In fact, I'd say the list in the link has about doubled since I was looking at courses!

Cardiff, where I studied, has been offering degrees in Pharmacy since at least the 1930s based on the photos around the place.

(I have to say, our head of undergraduate studies had a somewhat Snape-ish manner at times. "Some of you probably thought first year was difficult. Well, second year will be 10 times as difficult.")
Not Durham in the 1980s AFAIK. When Newcastle split off from Durham all the medical etc. stuff went there; I was at Durham in the 1990s and there were no medical or similar courses.
The mods have abandoned this list to its fate. I contacted them months ago to ask about the spam and why whenever I try to post a question myself my question never appears - but I never got an answer.

The first thing to remember here is the thing you haven't asked, because it didn't occur to you that it was a problem. University is university. Even Medical School is university. "School" is what you go to between the ages of 4 and 16 or 18, depending on whether your school has its own sixth form or not. If you have to go to a spearate Sixth Form College from ages 16-18, it is so far as I know always called college. Higher education after 18 is called university or in some cases college, never school.

Something else you need to watch out for is that an "MD" in the US is a general medical degree, but here it's a doctorate (equivalent to a PhD) in medical research. A general medical degree here is an "MB BCh" (or sometimes "MB ChB") which stands for "Medical Bachelor and Bachelor of Chirurgy" - chirurgy being an old-fashioned word for surgery. There also used to be an alternative medical degree, involving a bit less theory and a bit more on-the-job apprenticeship, called an "LRCP and LRCS" - that is "Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons". This degree was abolished I think about 16 yeaqrs ago, so any doctor who holds it will be middle-aged or older.

The person who is licensed to dispense prescription medication is a pharmacist. A shop which does this is called either a pharmacy or a chemist's shop, and it always has at least one pharmacist on the staff.

A medical dispensary inside a hospital could be called either a dispensary or a pharmacy. Not all chemists' shops dispense - some, like Superdrug, just sell things like shampoo and sanitary towels and over the counter, non-prescription drugs. Note that most non-prescription medication is *much* cheaper than it is in the US - in some cases as little as a fifth of the cost.

Prescriptions in England currently cost something like £8.50 but would have been cheaper in the past. If you are a child, an OAP or on certain benefits they are free and even if you have to pay, you can buy a pass which covers the cost of all your prescription medication and costs around £100 a year (or you can get one for just four months for a third the cost). Prescriptions are free to everybody in Scotland and Wales and I think also Northern Ireland, and have been for some years.

Pharmacists are allowed to diagnose and prescibe for minor ailments themselves without the patient seeing their GP, but this is a fairly recent development.

If you go here http://www.pharmacyregulation.org/education/pharmacist/MPharm you will see a description of a pharmacy degree, which seems to be a four year master's degree followed by a year of pre-registration training. Near the bottom you will see a link to a list of British universities which offer this course.

I'm not sure what you would call a medical researcher specialising in pharmacy but I have to pick up a prescription tomorrow, so if I remember I'll ask the pharmacist. Your main problem is all the qualification Snape will need before he even starts on the pharmacy masters - although there's a link on there for a sort of primer course called a foundation degree for those who don't have enough A-Levels.

Common medicines you might find around the home - ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin, voltarol (it's a cream you rub into sore muscles and joints), Olbas Oil (a decongestant), Benilyn (cough syrup), anti-histamines, Arret or Immodium (both brands of loperamide, to treat diarrhoea), Buscopan (to calm gut spasms), Lemsip - this last is a powder containing fruit flavouring (usually but not always lemon), paracetamol and a decongestant, which you make up into a hot drink to treat the symptoms of 'flu'

Note btw that it is illegal to advertise prescription-only medication here, and illegal for a medical person to accept any kind of favour from a pharmaceutical company - not even a free biro.
I'm glad you specified England for prescription charges - prescriptions are free here in Wales.
Although many branches of Superdrug now contain an in-store pharmacy, where prescriptions can be dispensed unless the pharmacist is off-duty, which is what always seem to happen if I wish to speak to one.

I have always gone to a pharmacist for help with, say, bandaging a minor cut, and was certainly doing so in the 1980s. One has always been able to ask them for advice.
Very true. But it's only recently - about six years? - that they've been allowed to prescribe medication (which here in Scotland means give it to you free) without reference to your GP.

Edited at 2017-02-12 09:58 pm (UTC)


What is also becoming more common in the UK is for the larger supermarkets to have pharmacies. You tell your local surgery to send the prescriptions there automatically, and you can just walk in and collect them after you've done your shopping.

But not in Snape's time!
I had a word with my pharmacist yesterday, about types of medical research. Here, a person who investigates the effects of drugs on the patient is a pharmacologist. A person who designs and manufactures new drugs is a pharmaceutical chemist.

Research pharmacists do also exist. There's a page here of jobs for research pharmacists https://www.indeed.co.uk/Research-Pharmacist-jobs - they seem to be mainly concern with assisting in clinical trials.