PHR1021 - How Medicines Work I - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Darren Creek


Dr Darren Creek
Dr Anton Dolzhenko (Malaysia)

Unit guides



  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


This unit provides an introduction to how drugs become medicines and explores factors that influence the absorption of drugs following oral administration. Students will study the physicochemical properties of molecules that determine dissolution, solubility, stability and permeability in order to explain how these factors affect oral drug absorption. In addition, the barrier properties of the small intestine, and how they contribute to, or limit, the oral absorption of drugs will be discussed as well as the formulation properties of commonly-administered oral formulations (tablets and capsules).


At the end of this unit, students can be expected to:

In the context of drugs and medicines:

  1. Describe the impact that pKa and pH have on the ionisation state of a compound, and on its solubility, permeability and stability
  2. Explain how chemical and thermodynamic processes influence solubility and dissolution
  3. Discuss the key physicochemical properties of molecules and physiological factors that affect oral absorption
  4. Predict the oral absorption characteristics of a molecule based on its key physicochemical properties
  5. Describe and apply the general principles concerning the formulation of tablets and capsules
  6. Explain why medicines are administered by different routes based on clinical need and molecular properties
  7. Effectively communicate (orally and written) aspects of how medicines work
  8. Demonstrate proficiency in fundamental pharmaceutical calculations


Final Exam (2 hour): 40%; In-semester assessment: 60%

Workload requirements

  • Seventy-two hours of independent study
  • Twenty-four hours of pre-learning activities (up to 2 hours per week)
  • Twenty-four hours of active learning lectures (2 hours a week)
  • Twenty-four hours of small group classes including assessment (2 hours per week)
  • One 2-hour written examination

See also Unit timetable information

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