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Unit information: Pharmacology 1A in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Pharmacology 1A
Unit code PHPH10003
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Steve Fitzjohn
Open unit status Not open

'A' Level Chemistry recommended



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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides students with a broad introduction to pharmacology. The unit includes an introduction to the physiology of the different cell types in the body and how drugs modulate their function. The nature of receptors as drug targets and the fundamental principles of drug-receptor theory are discussed. How drugs get into, get around, and get out of the body is also covered, along with the general principles of drug toxicology. Practical work is designed to introduce students to important pharmacological techniques, the handling of experimental data and to reinforce the theoretical material.

The aims are to provide students with knowledge and understanding of aspects of how drugs produce effects on biological systems, how they are processed by the body, how toxic effects are produced and how drugs are designed.


  • The physiology of the different cell types in the body and how drugs modulate their function
  • The nature of the interaction between drugs and their cellular receptors, and between drugs and the body as a whole
  • The adverse effects of drugs and drug toxicity
  • The basic ways in which drug action can be investigated, analysed and presented using tissue preparations

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • A thorough knowledge of each of the areas covered in the unit, to enable further study of pharmacology
  • The ability to analyse drug action using data from experimental preparations and knowledge gained from teaching activities
  • The ability to critically assess the work of others by peer marking

Teaching Information

  • lectures
  • practicals
  • tutorials

Assessment Information

  • Timed assessment (End of unit) 70%
  • Coursework 30%

Reading and References

It is not necessary to buy these books as multiple copies are available from the Lifezone. However Pharmacology Honours students may wish to buy a copy of “Rang and Dale's Pharmacology" to use throughout their degree course (a new 9th edition of this textbook is now out but the older editions are still fine to use; note that Professor Graeme Henderson from this School co-authored the latest edition). A handout is provided for most lectures but it is a good idea to consult a textbook to supplement your lectures notes and to clear up any problems you have with the lecture material. The three textbooks listed below are particularly relevant to the first year unit:

  • Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology, (7th Edition) JM Ritter, RJ Flower, G Henderson, YK Loke, D MacEwan and HP Rang. Churchill Livingstone.
  • Introduction to Toxicology (3rd edition), JA Timbrell, Taylor & Francis. Useful for toxicology lectures in Unit 1A.
  • An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry (6th edition) GL Patrick, Oxford University Press. Excellent introduction to drug design and also contains an introduction to the biology you need to know.