Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
OfferedSunway Second semester 2013 (Day)
Parkville Second semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Paul White (Parkville); Dr Tang Kim San (Sunway)


This unit builds on the previous unit "Chemical Properties of Drug Molecules" to provide students with an understanding of the basis of drug action - efficacy. The consequences of drug binding to cell-surface receptors and enzymes will be considered at a structural level.

This will involve:

  • drug targets
  • receptor activation - efficacy and affinity
  • chemistry of drug-receptor interactions
  • newer / emerging drug classes - particularly "biologicals" - protein therapeutics
  • pharmacology in action - practical application of principles of affinity, efficacy and potency.


At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. List and describe in detail the categories of proteins with which drugs interact;
  2. List and explain the properties of a drug that determine its affinity, efficacy and potency;
  3. Describe the chemistry of drug-receptor interactions, and explain the properties of drug and receptor that determine binding and efficacy;
  4. Evaluate the interactions between drug and receptor that determine efficacy based on theoretical or empirical information;
  5. Calculate drug affinity, potency and efficacy based on model data, and make comparisons between drugs based on such data;
  6. Describe the mechanisms of action of several classes of emerging therapeutic classes;
  7. Effectively apply the principles of affinity, efficacy and potency to find solutions to problems associated with commonly used drugs;
  8. Based on laboratory experience within this unit, demonstrate a personal understanding of the biological evaluation of drug affinity, efficacy and potency.


Final exam (2 hours): 70%; workshop assessment: 10%; two practical class reports (10% each): 20%.

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

Contact hours for on-campus students:
Thirty 1-hour lectures
Two 3-hour tutorials
One 3-hour practical class plus one 5-hour assignment
One 3-hour problem/based learning session plus one 5-hour assignment
Three 1-hour whole class introductions to practical class

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: