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Unit information: Pharmacology 1B 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 1B
Unit code PHPH10004
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Abdala Sheikh
Open unit status Not open

Pharmacology 1A(PHPH100003) or Mechanisms of Drug Action (PHPH10015)



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

Description including Unit Aims


This unit builds upon the principles introduced in Pharmacology 1A and focuses on more applied/systematic aspects of pharmacology. Students gain an understanding of the processes involved in drug design and development, from molecule to the clinical evaluation of new therapeutic agents. The pharmacology of autonomic and endocrine systems are described and drug selectivity, in particular selective toxicity, is further pursued with the study of antimicrobial and cancer chemotherapy. Students undertake a group-based clinical and web-based pharmacological dissertation, designed to develop transferable skills including teamwork and effective time management.


To understand:

  • The principles of neurotransmission and target sites for drug action
  • The pharmacology of the autonomic system
  • The molecular basis of how drugs interact with proteins including the different forces and bonds involved
  • The importance of stereoisomerism in pharmacology
  • Key concepts involved with drugs in solution for instance their hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity and acid/base properties
  • How drug design is performed using a number of illustrative examples
  • The processes involved in drug development from discovery to making a prescription drug
  • The biochemical foundations underlying antibacterial drugs, their clinical use and problems associated with bacterial resistance
  • The mechanisms of action of drugs, clinical uses and adverse effects of drugs that modulate the function of the major endocrine glands
  • To explain the mechanisms of action and adverse effects of drugs used in the treatment of cancer, fungal infections, protozoal infections and helminth (worm) infestations
  • The basic ways in which drug binding can be investigated, analysed and presented using radioligands

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • Recognise and apply theories, concepts or principles pertaining to the topics covered in the unit
  • Recognise basic experimental techniques used in Pharmacology; and prepare, process and interpret experimental data, using appropriate quantitative techniques
  • Apply knowledge and understanding of the topics covered in the unit to address familiar and unfamiliar problems

Teaching Information

  • lectures
  • practicals
  • small group tutorial

Assessment Information

  • Exam (end of unit) 70%
  • DSE 10%
  • Full practical write-up 10%
  • Practicals (eBiolabs) 10%

Reading and References

Recommended textbooks

Multiple copies are available from the Lifezone. However Pharmacology Honours students may wish to have their own copy of “Pharmacology” to use throughout their degree course (a new 7th 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 course:

  • Pharmacology, (7th Edition) H.P. Rang, M.M. Dale, J. M. Ritter, R. J. Flower and G. Henderson, Churchill Livingstone.
  • Introduction to Toxicology (3rd edition), J.A. Timbrell, Taylor & Francis. Useful for toxicology lectures in Unit 1A.
  • Patrick, G.L.: Introduction to medicinal chemistry 2nd-4th edition. Copies available in the Chemistry library. An excellent introduction to drug design and also contains an introduction to the biology you need to know.

Other useful books and websites include:

  • Instant Pharmacology, K Saeb-Parsy, RG Assomull, FZ Khan, K Saeb-Parsy & E Kelly. A textbook containing concise descriptions of the different drug classes as well as an extensive dictionary of drugs which you may find useful.
  • Stereochemistry, David G. Morris, 2001, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, ISBN:0-85404-602-X. An excellent introduction to stereochemistry with worked problems and excellent examples illustrating stereochemical principles. Copies are available in the Chemistry and Medical school libraries.
  • The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (11th Edition). L.S. Goodman & A. Gilman. Extensive detail about many drugs
  • Basic & Clinical Pharmacology (11th Edition) B.G. Katzung. Has a lot of clinically-orientated material.
  • Integrated Pharmacology, (2nd edition) CP Page, MJ Curtis, MC Sutter, MJA Walker & BB Hoffman. Has a lot of clinically-orientated material.
  • Medical Pharmacology at a Glance (6th edition) M. Neal. A revision aide, not a complete textbook.