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BIOL124 Human Body in Health and Disease 1 OR BMSC209 Pathophysiology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Biomedical science students require sound knowledge of therapeutic agents to enable them to work in the pharmaceutical industry, medical technology field, health information areas or as a springboard for graduate programs. This unit will focus on introducing students to general pharmacological principles including drug characteristics, drug dosage regimens, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Students will apply these principles to changes that occur across the lifespan. A major focus of this unit will be describing the pharmacology of drugs within the context of relevant pathophysiological states explored in BIOL124 (or equivalent). The concept of Quality Use of Medicines will be introduced. Students will apply pharmacological principles to understand why various drugs are used for the prevention and treatment of various disease states. The aim of this unit is to develop knowledge and skills in the discipline area of pharmacology and its application to human disease states.  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Relate principles of pharmacology to methods of drug administration and Quality Use of MedicinesGC1, GC7, GC8
LO2Compare and contrast the inter-individual changes in pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of drugs across the lifespan of an individualGC2, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO3Explain why certain pharmacotherapies are used for the prevention and treatment of selected pathophysiological states by examining their pharmacology including pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic propertiesGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8


Topics will include:

  • Characteristics of drugs
  • Drug nomenclature
  • Dosage formulations (e.g. tablets, patches, aerosols, injectables, ointments and creams, pessaries, suppositories)
  • Routes of drug administration (e.g. topical, sublingual, oral, parenteral; inhalation, rectal)
  • Pharmacokinetics (dosage regimen; therapeutic index; drug half-life; absorption, distribution, bioavailability, metabolism, clearance and excretion of drugs; applicable pharmacogenetics)
  • Pharmacodynamics (mechanisms of drug action)
  • Adverse drug reactions and drug interactions
  • Lifespan pharmacology (e.g. drug use in pregnancy, children and elderly people)
  • Quality Use of Medicines
  • Drugs affecting the:
  • central nervous system (e.g. pyschotropes, drugs of addiction/dependence, drugs for neurodegenerative disorders), analgesics
  • peripheral nervous system (e.g. autonomic and somatic pharmacology)
  • musculoskeletal system (e.g. anti-inflammatory agents, bisphosphonates)
  • cardiovascular system (e.g. drugs affecting the heart, drugs affecting vascular smooth muscle, lipid lowering drugs, diuretics, drugs affecting haemostasis and thrombosis)
  • respiratory system (e.g. drugs used in respiratory disorders)
  • cell cycle (e.g. anti-neoplastics and other forms of chemotherapy)

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active approach with on-campus lectures and workshop classes that are supported by online activities. Lectures allow teachers to convey necessary information so that students can gain an overall understanding and make connections between different components. Lectures will also provide opportunities for students to check their understanding and ask questions. Workshop classes will consolidate student learning in a supported environment. A series of pre-class activities will allow students to build foundational knowledge and evaluate their understanding in order to successfully undertake workshop classes. In workshop classes students will work collaboratively and engage in activities such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Case studies will also be used so that students can explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. Online activities at the end of each week will provide students with feedback regarding their understanding.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit three assessment tasks. Students must obtain an aggregate mark of equal to or greater than 50% for these three assessment tasks. Students will be awarded a final grade for their engagement and performance in this unit.

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge of pharmacology. The first assessment task is an mid-semester test which will primarily assess knowledge acquisition and assimilation of basic pharmacological principles including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and lifespan pharmacology. The second assessment task is a vodcast where students produce an 8-minute voice recording with accompanying visual material based on a person who has been prescribed a particular medication. This authentic assessment task allows students to apply their knowledge of pharmacology to a real situation. The final assessment task is the end-of-semester examination which will assess integration and application key concepts covered in this unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

In-class test 

The in-class test requires students to demonstrate their understanding of basic pharmacological principles in preparation for the remaining two assessment tasks.


LO1, LO2


The vodcast is an oral presentation that enables students to develop presentation skills while describing the pharmacology of a drug in relation to a person.


LO2, LO3

End-of-semester examination 

The end-of-semester examination requires students to use critical thinking skills to demonstrate their knowledge of pharmacology.


LO1, LO2, LO3

* please note that the assessible learning outcomes for assessment task 2 were only recently approved at FHS APSC and are not yet approved by Faculty Board)

Representative texts and references

Bennett PN, Brown MJ, Sharma P. Clinical Pharmacology. 11th Edition Elsevier: Churchill Livingstone; 2012

Bryant, B. & Knights, K. (2015). Pharmacology for Health Professionals (4th ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Mosby/Elsevier.

Bullock, S., Manias, E. & Galbraith, A. (2014). Fundamentals of Pharmacology (7th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.

Rang HP, Ritter JM, Flower, RJ, Henderson G. Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology. 8th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston; 2015

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