Fundamentals of Pharmacology

Subject 534-201 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: three x 1hour lecture per week plus six x 1hour tutorial/workshop and two x 3hour practical during the semester
Total Time Commitment: 48 contact hours with an estimated total time commitment of 120 hours (including non-contact time)

Students should have successfully completed level 1 courses in Chemistry AND Biology (combined value of 37.5 points)

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Students who choose Fundamentals of Pharmacology may benefit from having done, or doing, level 2 subjects in the following disciplines:

  • biochemistry and molecular biology
  • physiology
  • pathology
  • chemistry
  • anatomy
  • cell biology
  • microbiology and immunology
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable steps will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the University’s programs.
This subject requires all students to actively and safely participate in laboratory activities. Students who feel their disability may impact upon their participation are encouraged to discuss this with the subject coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Dr Graham Mackay
Subject Overview:

Pharmacology is an exciting discipline that examines the actions of drugs on the body. Pharmacologists use this information not only to develop important new drugs, but to generate fundamental information about how the body itself works in health and disease. This course provides you with significant insights into the actions of commonly used drugs, both desirable and possibly toxic, and will lead to stimulating discussion with your classmates and friends alike.

Fundamentals of Pharmacology uses specific examples of clinically used drugs to establish the core elements that underpin the discipline of Pharmacology. During this course, you will see that Pharmacologists integrate knowledge from numerous other biosciences to identify molecular targets for therapy and to then design and test the effectiveness of new drugs.

The course examines the interactions of drugs with receptors, enzymes and other molecules in the body to show how this can be useful in the treatment of diseases such as cancer, hypertension, asthma and depression. Drugs of abuse, such as heroin are also discussed along with the regulation of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Fundamentals of Pharmacology also explores the processes that lead to removal of drugs from the body, an important consideration that decides the dose and frequency of drug administration. The importance of person to person genetic variation to drug responses is also examined.

The lecture material is supported by practical classes that will enable you to get hands-on experience in conducting pharmacological experiments and in analysing and presenting your own data.

Fundamentals of Pharmacology is an essential introductory course for all advanced level 3 courses offered by the Department of Pharmacology and integrates particularly well into all the health sciences.

Objectives: On successful completion of this unit, students should have developed a broad understanding of the discipline of pharmacology.

Ongoing assessment of practical and computer-aided learning work during the semester (20%); a 40-minute written test held mid-semester (20%); a 2-hour written examination in the examination period (60%).

Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts:

Although there are no prescribed textbooks for Pharmacology the following textbooks are recommended. All are available in the Brownless library.

Howland: Pharmacology, 3rd edition. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins

Rang, Dale and Ritter, Pharmacology, 6th edition. Churchill Livingstone

Katzung, Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, 10th edition. Appleton and Lange

Golan, Principles of Pharmacology, (2nd edition). Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Neal, Medical Pharmacology at a Glance (5th edition). Blackwell. (revision purposes)

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students should gain skills in:

  • critical thinking and problem solving;

  • experimental design and technique;

  • participating effectively in group work; and

  • making use of information technology resources in data analysis and presentation.


This subject is available for science credit to students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 and new degrees), BASc or a combined BSc course.

Special requirements: laboratory coat.

Experiments involving the use of animals are an essential part of this subject; exemption is not possible. This subject is likely to be quota-restricted this year.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Biotechnology
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Pharmacology

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