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BIOL205 Pharmacology 1

Unit rationale, description and aim

Biomedical science students require sound knowledge of how drugs influence biological systems in order to apply this to health and disease settings.  This elective unit will further enhance students' understanding of pharmacology and forms part of the Pharmacology Minor for the Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree.  A major focus on this unit will be describing the pharmacology of drugs affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems within the context of relevant physiological and pathological states. The mechanisms of action and uses of anti-microbial agents will be addressed in addition to the global threat of antibiotic resistance. Students will be introduced to the National Medicines Policy and the National Strategy for the Quality Use of Medicines (QUM), and examine a number of initiatives that promote QUM. This unit aims to build on critical concepts in drug therapy in both health and disease and throughout the lifespan.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Evaluate why certain gastrointestinal, endocrine, respiratory and reproductive pharmacotherapies are used in both health and disease states (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO2 - Analyse the actions and effects of key antimicrobial agents including pharmacotherapies that combat antimicrobial resistance (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO3 - Apply strategies that promote Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) for various medicines discussed (GA3, GA4) 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

Pharmacotherapeutics of the following: 

  • Upper and lower gastrointestinal system (e.g. antiemetics, antacids, antiulcerants, laxatives, anti-diarrhoeals) 
  • Respiratory system (e.g. asthma medications) 
  • Endocrine system (e.g. drugs for thyroid disorders, drugs for diabetes mellitus, drugs for obesity, drug use in sport) 
  • Reproductive system (e.g. oral contraceptive preparations, hormone replacement therapy, assisted reproduction) 
  • Antimicrobial agents for treatment and prophylaxis (e.g. antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-fungals, anti-malarials, anti-parasitics) 
  • Antibiotic resistance (e.g. mechanisms for antibiotic resistance, combating antibiotic resistance) 
  • Principles of the National Medicines Policy 
  • Quality Use of Medicines (judicious, appropriate, safe and efficacious use of medicines) 
  • Pharmacovigilance (e.g. identifying adverse drug reactions) 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active approach to online learning. 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. Tutorial 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 tutorial classes. In tutorial 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. There will be a significant focus on learning through the use of case studies so that students can apply their knowledge 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 build on their knowledge of pharmacology in context of real life situations. The first assessment task is a case study test about a person who is prescribed various drugs.  Students will be given the case study in advance of the test and also have an opportunity to discuss the case with their peers in the tutorial preceding the test's due date. The test is structured in this way to simulate a work situation.  In the second assessment task for this unit, students are asked to write a case study including accompanying questions and answers; this is similar to those used by pharmaceutical companies or authorities responsible for regulating medicines. This authentic approach aims to maximise students’ experience of learning and also provides students with an opportunity to participate and benefit from peer assessment. The final assessment task requires students to write a series of short essays based on case studies and will assess integration and application of key concepts covered in this unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Weekly online feedback quizzes (F)  

Online quizzes will provide students with an opportunity to check their understanding of all content areas in the unit 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5

Case study test 

The case study test requires students to apply their understanding of pharmacological principles to a particular case. 



GA4, GA5, GA8 

Case study report 

Students will write a case study including questions and answers similar to those written by pharmaceutical companies or authorities regulating medicines. 


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA8

Comprehensive short essays based on case studies

Students will use their critical thinking and investigative skills to demonstrate their knowledge of pharmacology with respect to case studies.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Bennett, P.N., Brown, M.J. & Sharma, P. (2019) Clinical Pharmacology. 12th Edition Elsevier: Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh.

Bryant, B., Knights, K., Rowland, A. & Darroch, S. (2019). Pharmacology for Health Professionals. 4th Edition: Mosby/Elsevier, Chatswood, NSW.

Bullock, S. & Manias, E. (2016). Fundamentals of Pharmacology 8th Edition: Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW.

Ritter, J., Flower, R., Henderson, G., Yoon-Kong, L., MacEwan, D. & Rang, H. (2019) Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology. 9th Edition. Churchill Livingston, Edinburgh.

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