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BSc Pharmacology with a Modern Language

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Drugs: Models & Mechanisms

Unit code BIOL21412
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


Drugs: Models and Mechanisms explores; the fundamental relationships between drug binding and functional responses, the use of organ and animal models in pharmacology and the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of animals in experiments.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Pharmacology RSM BIOL20932 Co-Requisite Compulsory
BIOL21412 Pre- & Co-requisites are BIOL10822 and BIOL20932

BIOL21412 Pre- & Co-requisites are BIOL10822 and BIOL20932



The unit aims to:

  • explore fundamental relationships between drug binding and functional responses
  • explore the use of organ and animal models in pharmacology
  • explain the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of animals in experiments
  • allow students to sit the Home Office In Vivo Course, modules 1-4.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • understand why animals are used in pharmacology and physiology
  • discuss the ethics of animal research
  • describe specific experimental methods used with rats and mice
  • describe a variety of animal models of human disease and animal tissue preparations used experimentally.
  • describe how mathematical models of drug action can be applied to analyse data
  • independently research animal models and organ preparations used in the drug discovery process and evaluate which provide the best models of human disease/physiology.
  • safely and humanely handle rats and mice
  • under close supervision, perform anaesthesia and minor surgery (non-recovery) on rats and mice (this unit provides only a very basic underpinning to these skills; they will be further developed in the final year practical unit)
  • apply specialized analytical methods to pharmacological data
  • develop skills in team working, problem-solving, data interpretation and oral and written communication skills, at an interpersonal level and group level.
  • engage in independent learning.


  • Ligand binding assays
  • Functional studies (Schild analysis)
  • Allostery and cooperativity
  • Expression systems
  • Animal models and their alternatives
  • Legal framework for animal experimentation in the UK

Employability skills

Completion of Home Office In Vivo Techniques Course

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 40%
Portfolio 40%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

Workbook (40%); Presentation (10%); Group-based Quiz(10%); Home Office Exam (40%)

Feedback methods

Annotations on data analysis workbook; drop in sessions on data analysis; peer feedback on oral and poster presentations.

Recommended reading

The theoretical material (other than that in the Home Office Course) is taught via a series of 10 online lectures (vLectures) that can be accessed via the online unit handbook (last page):

Links to recommended/supplementary reading are embedded in each vLecture.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 9
Seminars 2
Tutorials 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 86

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Prince Unit coordinator

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