module specification

CY5011 - Drugs: Delivery and Action (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Drugs: Delivery and Action
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 300
94 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
129 hours Guided independent study
77 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 15%   Test (1 hour)
Unseen Examination 15%   Semester 1 exam (1 hour)
Coursework 20%   1 x practical report
Coursework 30%   1 x data handling coursework (1500 words)
Unseen Examination 20%   Semester 2 exam (1.5 hours)
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module will equip students with a fundamental understanding of the actions and fate of drugs in the human body, linking this with drug formulations and 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 (CY4003)


• Receptor theory
• Sites of drug action
• G-proteins and downstream signalling cascades
• Ion channels and transporters
• Quantitative pharmacology
• Autonomic pharmacology
• CNS pharmacology
• Key receptor families
• Local mediators LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4,LO5

Principles of Pharmacokinetics
• Absorption and bioavailability
• Metabolism
• Volume of distribution
• Clearance
• Elimination
• Steady state and therapeutic window
• Use of pharmacokinetic software to investigate drug disposition LO6

Biopharmaceutical principles of drug delivery
• Biopharmaceutical classification system
• Routes of drug administration and absorption (physiological factors)
• Intravenous
• Gastrointestinal
• Transdermal/dermal
• Inhalation
• Ocular, nasal

Formulation factors affecting different routes of administration
• Parenteral
• Oral
• Topical/transdermal
• Aerosols
• Eye formulations
• Nasal formulations
• Bioavailability & bioequivalence LO7,LO8

Introduction to preformulation studies, LO9
• Solubility
• Partition coefficients
• pH and pKa
• Osmolarity
• Polymorphism, salt forms
• Particle size
• Stability

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students will be provided with a range of activities to accommodate different learning styles. The module delivery will consist of lectures (45 hours), workshops (13 hours), practicals (5 hours) and tutorials (14 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 (27 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, 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. This will culminate in the submission of a summative assessment consisting of an individual piece of data handling coursework which will include a discussion section to encourage critical thinking. Students will be directed towards a resource centre within Weblearn with the expectation that this will be utilised for completion of the coursework (30 hours – directed).

Practical sessions will stress the importance of organisational proficiency by group working and will augment practical skills to produce reliable experimental data.  Students will be expected to interpret the experimental data within context. These sessions will be summative assessed via submission of two practical reports using proforma and will be directed towards relevant literature to complete the assignments (10 hours – directed).

To develop and enhance student engagement a series of progress tests (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 (20 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 and recognise receptor biology in mediated pharmacological actions.
2. Recognise molecular mechanisms involved in receptor signalling pathways.
3. Describe different chemical mediators and their importance in pharmacological outcomes.
4. Recognise quantitative methods with which drug actions are kinetically measured.
5. Show core knowledge of the principles behind the autonomic nervous system physiology and its measured pharmaceutical actions.
6. Analyse the fate of medicines and routes of drug delivery.
7. Recognise the physiological factors and formulation characteristics that affect drug bioavailability.
8. Critically assess the rationale when choosing specific dosage forms for different routes of administration.
9. To display an understanding of the importance of preformulation studies for successful delivery of drugs.

Assessment strategy

The module will be summative assessed in the following order: first semester, two unseen written exams (the first exam during the semester and a second exam at the end of the semester – 15% each) and one practical report (20%); second semester, one data handling coursework (30%) and one unseen written exam in the end of the semester (20%). 

All unseen written exams will examine the specific material covered during that particular part of the semester (e.g. exam 1 will cover material between TW 1 – 5, exam 2 will cover material between TW 7 – 12 and exam 3 will cover material between TW 19 – 26). The exams will be comprised of SAQs and LAQs and will last between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours.

A data handling exercise (coursework, 30%) will summative assess the student ability to interpret and manipulate computer simulated pharmacokinetic data. This will be preceded by exercises designed to provide formative feedback.

One practical reports on pharmacology (20%) will be submitted to assess the ability to acquire, manipulate and interpret experimental data. This element will provide a summative assessment.

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


Core Texts: Rang, H. P., Ritter, J. M., Flower, R. and Henderson, G. (2016). Rang & Dale's Pharmacology, 8th Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone.
Aulton, M. E. (2017). Aulton's Pharmaceutics: The Design and Manufacture of Medicines, 5th Edition. London: Churchill Livingston.

Other Texts: Washington, N., Washington, C. and Wilson, C. G. (2001).  Physiological Pharmaceutics: Barriers to Drug Absorption, 2nd Edition. London: Taylor Francis.
Ritschel, W. A. and Kearns, G. L. (2009). Handbook of Basic Pharmacokinetics including Clinical Applications, 7th Edition. Washington D.C.: American Pharmacists Association.
Florence, A.T. and Attwood, D. (2015). Physicochemical Principles of Pharmacy: In Manufacture, Formulation and Clinical Use, 6th Edition. London: Pharmaceutical Press.

Review Articles: Fiese, E. F. (2003). General Pharmaceutics – The New Physical Pharmacy.  Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 92 (7), pp.1331 - 1342.
Thomson, A. (2004).  Back to basics: Pharmacokinetics. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 272, pp.769 – 771.

Online resources: (Pharmacokinetic Simulations) (data base) (BNF)