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Unit information: Mechanisms of Drug Action in 2021/22

Unit name Mechanisms of Drug Action
Unit code PHPH10015
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


A-level Biology is not essential but students will be required to study basic cell biology during the unit

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.

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
  • 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
  • Tutorials

Assessment Information

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


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. PHPH10015).

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.