MSci Medical Physiology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Drugs: From Molecules to Man

Unit code BIOL10822
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit introduces pharmacology - the science of drugs: their preparation, properties, uses and effects. You will learn about the molecular interactions of drugs with their targets in the body, focusing on the actions of the drugs acting on the cardiorespiratory system which treat conditions such as angina and asthma.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Body Systems BIOL10811 Co-Requisite Recommended


To introduce the major concepts underpinning pharmacology. To describe the main molecular mechanisms of action of some important classes of drugs acting on the cardiorespiratory system and relate these mechanisms to their cellular, tissue, organ and whole animal effects.


Learning outcomes

To understand: the molecular targets for drugs and examples of drugs acting at several target types; the basic concepts of drug receptor interactions; the importance of drug structure in their ability to interact with their targets; the mechanisms of the major drug classes used to treat hypertension, angina, cardiac failure, cardiac dysrhythmias and asthma.


Introduction to pharmacology: History and scope of pharmacology. How drugs are discovered.

Introduction to drug targets: Structure, function and cellular location of ligand-gated channels, voltage gated channels, enzymes, nuclear hormone receptors, transporters and pumps, G-protein coupled receptors.

Nature of drug receptor interactions: Agonists, antagonists and partial agonists, efficacy, drug structures, pharmacophores and selectivity. Concentration-response relationships. Gaddum equation; Cheng-Prusoff Equation

Role of specialized disciplines within pharmacology: toxins from animal and plant sources, molecular and cellular techniques in pharmacology, discovering the structure of G protein coupled receptors.

Drugs acting on the cardiovascular/respiratory systems Antihypertensive drugs, antidysrhythmic drugs, drugs used to treat angina, acute coronary syndromes and cardiac failure, lipid lowering drugs, drug used to treat and prevent thrombosis, stroke and “brain killers”, drugs used to treat asthma.


E-learning content

The unit is delivered via a series of e-learning modules, delivering approximately 2 h of pre-recorded content per week. The e-learning modules contain a range of formative exercises designed to help students gauge their progress.

Students are encouraged to post questions on the unit Padlet discussion board, which are then discussed in weekly question and answer sessions.


Employability skills

Analytical skills
Data handling ePBL
Problem solving
Data handling ePBL
Handling complex data, time management

Assessment methods

The unit will be assessed by 4 online mini exams during weeks 4 to 12, each worth 25% of the unit mark. The main question formats will be multiple choice or multiple answer questions but where appropriate, we will also use fill in the blank and numerical problem questions. The resit assessment will be a 50-question online MCQ exam.

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided via automated ePBL responses. The E-learning Modules (ELMs) also contain a range of formative exercises that provide feedback. Post-examination guidance (if requested).

Recommended reading

Title below is also available as an eBook via JRUL website.

Recommended Reading

  • Ritter et al., Rang & Dale's Pharmacology (9th Edition) 2019 Churchill Livingstone Available as an eBook via JRUL website.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 77

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Prince Unit coordinator

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