MPharm Pharmacy with a Foundation Year

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Cardiovascular system

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHAR22002
Credit rating 60
Unit level Undefined
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit is split into two 6-week blocks. Block 1 (Cardiovascular system 1) uses hypertension, heart failure and anaemia as the examples to integrate scientific, clinical and professional learning. Block 2 (Cardiovascular system 2) develops student’s knowledge and understanding using more complex cardiovascular topics of ischaemic heart disease and atherosclerosis, arrhythmia and thrombosis to integrate learning. Learning on drug disposition and pharmacokinetics is integrated and applied to prior learning on the liver and kidneys, and current cardiovascular learning.

Conceptual understanding is developed through a series of “core concepts” lectures which provide learning in the threshold concepts mapped to year 2 of the programme. Core knowledge is then built using a flipped classroom approach, supported by EBL workshops in which learning is consolidated. This learning is furthermore supplemented by a series of laboratory practicals, professional skills workshops and placements in which learning from EBL and lectures is applied to increasingly complex scenarios to develop practical, communication, decision-making and prescribing skills.


The unit aims to build students’ confidence and understanding of medicines’ actions and the human body. This knowledge is applied in order to understand the structure, function and malfunction and the therapeutic management of diseases of the cardiovascular system. The unit also develops practical and professional skills important in becoming a pharmacist which are relevant to the medicines used and clinical management of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular risk.

The unit initially focusses on the structure of the circulatory system and the heart’s function as a pump before applying this learning to the causes and management of anaemia, hypertension and heart failure. Students further apply this understanding to learning about solid dosage forms for medicines and the chemical structure and actions of commonly prescribed cardiovascular drugs. In the latter part of the unit, the cardiovascular system is further explored which includes learning about coronary arteries and the heart’s conduction system before applying this to the causes and management of arrhythmias, thrombosis, ischaemic heart disease and hyperlipidaemia. Students’ understanding of how the body handles drugs will also be developed. This learning is supplemented by laboratory classes to develop analytical skills and students further develop their learning about the legal, ethical and professional aspects of practising pharmacy. Students also work in teams to develop their leadership skills and further build their research and written communication skills. Placements increase in Year 2, to apply students’ learning to practice and to build competence in communication and working as part of a pharmacy or multiprofessional team.

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching and learning philosophy for the MPharm places an emphasis on learner-centred rather than teacher-centred approaches. Learning is therefore structured to maximise guided self-directed learning, with enquiry driven project work and EBL workshops provided to support greater conceptual understanding of the material and deep, rather than superficial learning. This helps students prepare for their future careers by helping them to develop independence, confidence and resilience. A wide range of teaching and learning activity is included to meet the learning needs of a diverse range of students.

  • Core concepts lectures: a very small number of didactic lectures are included to provide a step-by-step guide to the threshold concepts in pharmacy.
  • Online learning: all guided self-directed learning in year 2 is provided via the VLE Blackboard. This consists of videos, bespoke elearning packages, NHS elearning (e.g. Skills for health), factsheets and directed reading (which can be downloaded).
  • EBL workshops: all learning is brought together and consolidated in a series of multidisciplinary integrated sessions. Workshops are led by a team of staff who act as specialist facilitators, directing student learning via discussion of case studies and project work.
  • Practical classes: a series of practical classes spans the first three years of the MPharm. In year 2, students expand their understanding and application of experimental design and interpretation of findings. Practical classes are mapped to core concepts lectures and EBL workshops to ensure learning is applied to practice as a pharmacist.
  • Professional skills classes: these span the full 4 years of the MPharm to ensure students are prepared to become prescribers after their foundation year. Classes focus on further developing consultation skills, assessment and examination skills and clinical decision-making. Regular role play and interaction with medical actors is used to increase confidence and to ensure students receive tailored feedback.
  • MyDispense: this is an online platform utilising real-world cases to recreate prescription processing and to apply pharmacy law. It is used with increasing complexity in all four years of the MPharm course to develop skills in clinical checking, dispensing and accuracy checking.
  • Placements: compulsory workplace placements are provided in hospital and community pharmacy and GP practice settings in year 2, to gain practical experience in providing pharmacy services and to apply learning on cardiovascular disease to pharmacy practice.
  • Academic adviser meetings: students meet with their named academic adviser twice per semester in formal timetabled meetings. Academic advisers support students with their personal and professional development throughout the MPharm course.

Knowledge and understanding

Describe the normal physiology of the cardiovascular and circulatory system and the major pathological disease states and conditions which affect it.

Appreciate the relevance and contribution of physiological processes to basic pharmacokinetics in cardiovascular disease.

Describe the key biological drug targets associated with the cardiovascular system and the mechanisms by which therapeutic drugs act.

Discuss the management of anaemia (including renal anaemia and sickle cell anaemia).

Discuss the evidence-based treatment of hypertension and heart failure.

Discuss the concept of primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and be able to use tools for assessing risk.

Discuss the evidence-based treatment of stable angina, acute coronary syndromes and myocardial infarction.

Discuss evidence-based treatments for atrial fibrillation, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.

Identify individuals who would benefit from thromboprophylaxis though the use of risk-rating tools.

Develop a core understanding of the overall drug disposition (ADME, metabolic reactions) and factors affecting these processes (disease, drug-drug interaction).

Describe drug absorption following oral and alternative routes of administration, as well as the effect of food and diseases on drug absorption (applying knowledge of bioavailability and bioequivalence).

Demonstrate an understanding of first-pass metabolism, efflux transporters and bioavailability.

Intellectual skills

Apply and integrate learning from previous MPharm units to deepen understanding of new materials encountered in this unit.

Apply pharmacokinetic principles to understand the toxicities of key drugs (cardiovascular and other diseases).

Demonstrate an understanding the complexities of metabolic pathways and the importance of metabolic elimination on drug efficacy and toxicity.

Understand and interpret drug half-life, clearance and volume of distribution given pharmacokinetic data.

Explain the impact of disease and genetic polymorphism of enzymes/transporters on drug pharmacokinetics.

Show competence in using statistics to interpret experimental data.

Process and interpret data (mean, SD, CI and plot data) from common cardiovascular parameters, e.g. blood pressure, pulse and pulse pressure.

Apply fundamental knowledge of excipients for solid dosage forms in simulated formulation processes.

Apply knowledge of testing of oral solid dosage forms and intermediate products as outlined in the British Pharmacopoeia.

Use a range of clinical reference sources to aid decision-making in providing pharmaceutical care to patients with cardiovascular disease.

Apply knowledge of cardiovascular disease to identify symptoms that may require specialist intervention. Understand how this identification of "red flag" symptoms is integrated into clinical practice.

Apply pharmacokinetic principles to understand the toxicities of key drug examples used to treat cardiovascular disease.

Conduct a critical appraisal of an existing evidence base for a cardiovascular condition.

Use clinical reasoning concepts, ‘making things visible’, ‘thinking routines’, clinical reasoning theories and the role of clinical reasoning in safe and effective healthcare.

Discuss an example of when a pharmacist may encounter conflict between pharmacy law and ethical practice.

Critically evaluate theories and practices of leadership and associated topics.

Use appropriate statistical tests to analyse catagorical data.

Locate and use NHS digital data to apply health economic principles to a relevant example (cardiovascular).

Practical skills

Develop an understanding of the structure and function of a sheep’s heart (or appropriate model) through practical investigation and to examine the internal structure of a sheep’s kidney (or appropriate model).

Use the concept of pharmacogenomics to practically demonstrate differences in drug sensitivities in different patients and relate this to ethnic diversity.

To demonstrate competence in tabletting and related unit processes (granulation, compaction, coating).

Use appropriate analytical techniques to ensure quality of drugs and medicines.

Use simulation software to understand the pharmacokinetics of small molecules, how it is affected by biological variability and co-administration with other drugs.

Conduct an assessment of the implication of changes in pharmacokinetic parameters on efficacy and safety.

Conduct a person-centred consultation with a range of people and meet their needs (physical or sensory impairment, learning difficulty, language barrier and health literacy).

Conduct a person-centred consultation (face-to-face and remote) integrating the principles of shared decision making and using patient decision aids to initiate a new medicine and discuss the condition it is being used to manage in context and high-level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing.

Generate prescriptions that meet legal and regulatory requirements and the clinical needs of the person.

Understand the principles behind, and to be able to perform and record, the following observations/investigations/procedures:

  • pulse
  • blood pressure (manual and automated)
  • height, weight, BMI, and waist circumference.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Empower a person to recognise their own goals and support them to achieve them in pursuit of independent living.

Take responsibility for their own and support others’ development.

Understand the (cardiovascular) patient’s perspective on their condition and their care.

Assessment methods

Formative assessment

  • EBL case-based class work.
  • Eportfolio: practical and professional skills, placements and personal development (supervised learning events).
  • Mock integrated case-based exam.

Summative assessment

  • Pass/Fail components do not attract a grade, but are worth 12 credits in total over the course of the year. Students may take the full academic year to collect sufficient eportfolio evidence to pass.
  • Practical skills eportfolio (2 credits).
  • Personal development eportfolio (2 credits).
  • Placements eportolfio (2 credits).
  • Integrated case-based examination (36 credits).
  • Individual coursework: integrated clinical case report (9 credits).
  • Group coursework: oral presentation and defence of EBL project (9 credits).

Feedback methods

Formative assessment

  • EBL: feedback provided within EBL class.
  • Eportfolio: feedback provided within practical and professional classes, on placement and by academic adviser.
  • Mock integrated case-based exam Self-marked using mark scheme. Drop-in session for Q&A.

Summative assessment

  • Practical skills eportfolio: feedback provided within practical classes.
  • Personal development: feedback provided by academic adviser.
  • Placements eportolfio: feedback provided on placement.
  • Integrated case-based examination: EBL session devoted to self and peer evaluation of exam performance.
  • Individual coursework: written feedback provided within 15 days.
  • Group coursework: written feedback provided within 15 days.

Recommended reading

The MPharm uses an EBL approach to teaching and learning. As such, learners are required to engage with a number of self-directed learning activities including reading. In Year 2, reading material is provided for students by staff but they are encouraged to search for their own additional resources to supplement learning. Directed reading consists of up to 8 hours per week from pharmacy journals, ebooks, clinical resources (e.g. BNF, Stockleys Drug Interactions) and NHS elearning (e.g. CPPE, eLfH, Skills for Health). As clinical practice is constantly changing, this material will be reviewed each academic year, and then again before each session is delivered, to ensure it remains relevant.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 40
Practical classes & workshops 112

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sarah Knighton Unit coordinator

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