module specification

BS5054 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Fundamentals of Pharmacology
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
113 hours Guided independent study
37 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 35%   Mid-term, in-class test
Unseen Examination 35%   One hour exam
Coursework 30%   Practical report
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Friday Afternoon

Module summary

This module will equip students with a fundamental understanding of the fate of drugs in the human body when taken via different routes of administration.  Throughout the module students will develop an ability to collect, manipulate and interpret experimental and simulation data important to the subject matter.

Prior learning requirements

Cell and Molecular Biology AS4003

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s, Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

This module aims to equip students with information on how formulated drugs – medicines, (a) get into the body (b) get around the body (c) how they act on the body and (d) how they get out of the body.


The module will comprise the following elements:

Pharmacodynamics will encompass receptor theory; sites of drug action; G-proteins and downstream signalling cascades; ion channels and transporters; quantitative pharmacology; autonomic pharmacology; local mediators and CNS pharmacology.

Principles of Pharmacokinetics will be taught with respect to absorption and bioavailability, metabolism, volume of distribution, clearance, and elimination of drugs in the human body.  Dosage regimens for obtaining steady state will be described.  The students will also utilise pharmacokinetic software to investigate drug disposition.

Learning and teaching

Students will be provided with a range of activities to accommodate different learning styles.  The module delivery will consist of lectures (22 hours), workshops (6 hours), practicals (3 hours) and tutorials (6 hours).

Lecture and tutorial sessions will include ‘punctuated lectures’ and ‘minute papers’ thus providing opportunities for ‘active engagement’ and to reflect on what has or has not been understood during the sessions.  In-class verbal feedback will be provided and students encouraged and directed towards relevant subject matter material.  The tutorial sessions will include numerical problems with emphasis on the principles to solve problems of various types as well descriptive/discussion elements.  Students will be expected to prepare in advance for these sessions (15 hours - directed).

Workshops will utilise computer aided simulations to contextualise and enhance understanding of the action of drugs in the human body over a period of time, including the processes of absorption, distribution, localization in tissues, biotransformation and excretion.  Peer – peer interactions will be encouraged via group working thus developing communication, data handling and interpretation skills.  (15 hours - directed).

Practical sessions will stress the importance of organisational proficiency; augment practical skills in order to produce reliable experimental data.  Students will be expected to interpret the experimental data within context.  These sessions will be summatively assessed via submission of one practical report using proforma and will be directed towards relevant literature in order to complete the assignments (5 hours – directed).

To develop and enhance student engagement a series of on-line quizzes will be provided with a mixture of both formative and summative assessments.  Quizzes designed for formative assessment will be provided with ‘instantaneous’ feedback and the time constrained summative assessments will only be available once the formative elements have been completed.  Background links and literature linked to quizzes will be provided via WebLearn (resource centre) and the students will be expected to utilise this when completing the on-line (formative) quizzes (10 hours - directed).

PDP: on completion of this module students’ provide an on-line evaluation of how the module allowed them to develop skills such as information technology, organisational skills, team building, communication, time management, and working under pressure.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, a student will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an appreciation of receptor biology.
2. Describe different chemical mediators and their functions.
3. Show an understanding of the principles of autonomic nervous system physiology.
4. Predict the fate of specified drugs and routes of delivery using knowledge of pharmacokinetics.

Assessment strategy

The module will be summatively assessed by an in-class test (to be carried out mid-semester), an exam at the end of the semester and a practical report based on the dry practical session.

The in-class test and the exam will constitute the majority of assessment for this module, both comprising 35% each. Both components will contain short answer questions and multiple-choice questions and will last for one hour. The mid-semester in-class test will assess the student understanding of the key topics associated with teaching weeks (TWs) 1-5, including the underlying principles of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The exam will take place at the end of the semester and will assess the topics between TWs 6-12 which continue on from the basic topics studied in TWs 1-5.

The practical report will make up 30% of the assessment process and will be submitted online as a piece of coursework. The practical report will be based upon the dry practical teaching session and is designed to assess the ability to understand the acquisition of biological data as well as data manipulation and interpretation. In order to strengthen these core skills, workshop sessions looking interpretation of published data will be carried out alongside a formative assessment process to help outline what is expected.

To pass the module, students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 40%.  There will be an attendance requirement for the practical sessions. If the module is passed on reassessment, then the maximum mark awarded will be 40%.e will be an attendance requirement for the practical sessions. If the module is passed on reassessment, then the maximum mark awarded will be 40%.

Assignment Learning Outcomes
Mid-term, in class test 1, 2, 3, 4
One hour exam 1, 2, 3, 
Practical report 1, 2, 3



Core Texts

Rang, H.P., Dale, M.M., Ritter, J.M., Rod J. Flower, and Henderson, G (2012). Rang & Dale's Pharmacology, 7th Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone.
Ritschel, W.A. and Kearns, G.L. (2009).Handbook of Basic Pharmacokinetics including Clinical Applications, 7th Edition. Washington D.C.: American Pharmacists Association.

Review Articles

Thomson, A. (2004).  Back to basics: Pharmacokinetics.   The Pharmaceutical Journal, 272, pp.769 – 771.

Online resources  (Pharmacokinetic Simulations)