Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions


Introduction to Pharmacology

Module titleIntroduction to Pharmacology
Module codeCSC2005
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Hannah Smithers (Lecturer)

Professor Matt Whiteman (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

On this module, you will develop an understanding of the fundamental concepts behind pharmacology and pharmacotherapy as the basis for disease treatment. The basic principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and drug metabolism will also be discussed. Throughout, the module will provide examples of licenced drugs used in treatment of disease in order to underpin and provide context to the major concepts and principles of pharmacology. 

This is a core module for students studying BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences (Pharmacology and Therapeutics) and an optional module for all other BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences students and CLES Bioscience students.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is to introduce and explore the fundamental concepts of studying drugs and how they work (pharmacodynamics) and how these drugs can enter, travel and ultimately be eliminated from the body (pharmacokinetics). You will study and identify the most common cell signalling pathways that are targeted by commonly used drugs, either through interacting with a receptor or via non-receptor mediated mechanisms. You will also explore how genetics is playing an ever increasing role in drug discovery and therapy. You will need to develop and will be provided with opportunities to apply key skills during workshops in the module such as scientific writing informed by journals such as the BJP (British Journal of Pharmacology), data analysis, critical analysis and presentation skills; all of which will help and support you developing important transferable skills. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and define the basic terms and concepts of pharmacology.
  • 2. Describe the targets for drug action and explain how we can quantify these interactions between drugs and cells, receptors, enzymes and genes.
  • 3. Explain concepts and categories of agonists / antagonists, concentration effect (and dose-response) curves, experimental techniques used to derive them and mechanisms relating to efficacy and signal transduction.
  • 4. Describe the basic processes of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism (including biotransformation) and excretion using examples of commonly used drugs.
  • 5. Explain how theoretical concepts of pharmacology are used in the development of new drugs and therapeutics (such as biologics).
  • 6. Explain how drugs act on the autonomic nervous system
  • 7. Discuss examples of therapeutic drugs and critically evaluate the evidence supporting their mechanism of action

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Exploregood laboratory practise, competency and professional behaviour within laboratory sessions.
  • 9. Critically appraise aspects of current research in basic and clinical pharmacology by reference to the literature.
  • 10. Write up data in the style of a BJP (British Journal of Pharmacology) paper based on laboratory practical sessions

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 11. Communicate ideas effectively by written and verbal means
  • 12. Develop skills for independent study
  • 13. Select and properly manage information derived from the scientific literature, textbooks and the internet.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module will cover the following topics

  1. Brief history of pharmacology and how drugs have been discovered; whilst also exploring modern pharmacology and an insight to the future of pharmacology.
  2. ntroduction to basic principles of pharmacodynamics and the cellular receptors and sites of drug action- drug-ligand interaction
  3. Explore and define key concepts such as agonists and antagonists, efficacy and affinity; whilst exploring how we can experimentally measure these using concentration response curves.
  4. Explore the basic principles of pharmacokinetics- (ADME) administration, distribution, metabolism and elimination
  5. dentify key second messenger signalling pathways that are initiated/blocked via commonly used drugs.
  6. Explore basic principles of experimental pharmacology.
  7. Develop and apply scientific critique and data evaluation.

Expert-delivered seminars outlining core pharmacological concepts will be supplemented by student-directed study to apply basic principles to novel situations.  The outcomes of student study will be presented and discussed with the whole cohort of students.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 12Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities1Module induction session
Scheduled learning and teaching activities9.5Workshop/seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching activities12Laboratory sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching activities6Drop in support/feedback sessions
Guided Independent Study20Workshop/seminars preparation on specified topics/activities
Guided Independent Study30Laboratory report write up
Guided Independent Study59.5Reading of literature and textbooks to support learning


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Facilitator derived feedback on good laboratory practise/competency and behaviour during laboratory sessions 3X4(12hrs) laboratory sessions7Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical write up403 pages (Excluding figures and reference list) 1-3, 8-13Written
Exam 503 hours1-7, 9, 11-13Written (on request)
Presentation (to occur on Teams for PE or narrated PowerPoint slide submission via BART)106 minutes2-7, 9,11Presentation


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Practical write up (40%)Practical write up 3 pages (Excluding Figures and reference list) 1-3, 8-13Aug/Sept Reassessment Period
Exam (50%)Exam (3 hours)1-7, 9, 11-13Aug/Sept Reassessment Period
Presentation (to occur on Teams for PE or narrated PowerPoint slide submission via BART)Presentation (on Teams for PE, or narrated PowerPoint slides submission via BART), 6 minutes2-7, 9, 11Aug/Sept Reassessment Period

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Brenner, G., C.W. Stevens. Pharmacology with Student Consult Online Access. 4th ed. Saunders (Elsevier), 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4557-0282-4

Humphrey P. Rang, Maureen M. Dale, James M. Ritter and Rod J. Flower. Pharmacology (7th Ed). Churchill Livingstone 2011 ISBN-13: 978-0702034718

 ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Cochrane reviews:


Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Pharmacology, therapeutics, drug development

Credit value15
Module ECTS


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date