Faculty of Science

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 Science
OfferedClayton First semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Associate Professor Wayne Hodgson


This unit provides a basic understanding of the principles of drug action - including the targets of drug action (receptors, enzymes, ion channels), drug receptor interactions, receptor families and signalling pathways - as well as the principles of pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion). Particular examples of neurotransmitter systems and mediator systems (including histamine, 5HT, eicosanoids and the renin angiotensin system) as targets for drug action are studied in detail.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Discuss mechanisms by which drugs can act to produce changes in living systems;

  1. Utilise the basic principles of pharmacokinetics to explain individual differences in responses to drugs;

  1. Apply knowledge of endogenous mediator systems to predict the potential therapeutic and adverse effects of drugs;

  1. Access relevant scientific literature to design a set of experiments to address a specific hypothesis relating to a drug's mechanism of action;

  1. Demonstrate the ability to execute pharmacological experiments to obtain, present and interpret data relating to mechanisms of drug action;

  1. Demonstrate the ability to source, critically evaluate and use scientific literature to address a defined pharmacological problem;

  1. Demonstrate the ability to work individually and collaboratively.


Examination (2 hours): 55%
Test (1 hour): 15%
Group written assignment (1000 words): 15%
Laboratory work: 15%

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

Two 1-hour lectures and three hours of laboratory or self-directed learning/ tutorial per week


BMS2031; or two of PHA2022, PHY2011, PHY2021 or PHY2032; or BTH2012 plus one of BMS1052, PHY2011 or PHY2032