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Unit information: Mechanisms of Drug Action 2B: Pharmacology of Body Systems in 2021/22

Unit name Mechanisms of Drug Action 2B: Pharmacology of Body Systems
Unit code PHPH20014
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Poole
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit addresses how drugs are handled by the body at the molecular, cellular and systems level. Major topics include: administration of drugs and their fate in the body; cellular signal transduction mechanisms; systematic pharmacology.


At the end of this unit students should be able to explain the basic principles of pharmacokinetics (how the body handles drugs), describe a wide range of signalling processes and how they operate, understand the processes involved in inflammation and allergy and the drug treatment for inflammatory diseases, describe the rationale for pharmacological treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, nausea and vomiting, understand the mechanisms of action, clinical uses and adverse effects of drugs affecting the renal and cardiovascular systems. The unit focuses on developing skills around data handling and interpretation in the context of the principles of pharmacology of body systems.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Explain the function and pharmacology of known receptor subtypes;
  2. Describe the composition and pharmacology of cell signalling pathways;
  3. Differentiate drug use in exemplar disease states;
  4. Appraise modern electrophysiological, biochemical and molecular biological techniques;
  5. Explain how drugs are handled by the body (pharmacokinetics);
  6. Synthesise information from a variety of sources (textbooks, lectures and tutorials, practical classes, original and review scientific papers, databases);
  7. Interpret and manipulate experimental data, and draw logical conclusions from the results;
  8. Plan and design projects.
  9. Communicate clearly both orally and in writing;
  10. Work effectively as part of a team, demonstrating organisation, leadership, decision-making and time management;
  11. Retrieve and manage information, making appropriate use of library and web-based facilities;
  12. Utilise appropriate computer / keyboard skills;

Teaching Information

Lectures (31)

Online practicals (6)

Tutorials (3)

e-learning (eBiolabs pre- and post-practical assignments; CALs)

Assessment Information

  • Summer Exam online (22.5%)
  • Timed Assessment (52.5%)
  • Practical assessment (eBiolabs) 15%
  • Tutorial work 10%


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHPH20014).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.