Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Antibiotics, Antifungals, Antivirals and Antihelminthics

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DEPARTMENT Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will provide students with a sound basis of the common types of pathogens which infect humans, and the different classes of antibiotics, their spectrum of activity and their modes of action.

Topics covered will include aminoglycosides, penicillins, cephalosporins, carbapenems, monobactams, sulphonamides, diaminopyrimidines, tetracyclines, azalides, ketolides, macrolides and lincosamides, glycopeptides and lipoglycopeptides, metronidazole, izoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, pyrazinamide, fluorquinolones, various antiviral agents and antihelminthics. Students will be taught the principles of different activity spectra of these drugs, and the rationale of their use, alone or in combination. The rationale for correct antimicrobial use and minimization of long term development of resistance within the context of antimicrobial stewardship will be discussed.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit will provide students with a broad overview of the range of antibiotic, antiviral and antihelminthic drugs, their modes of action, adverse effects, correct use and approaches which contribute towards minimization of development of drug resistance. Students will learn to associate specific antibiotics with specific pathogens, and will recognise the rationale of prescribing antibiotics in combination. The study-unit also aims to teach good antibiotic stewardship, and provide students with the skills necessary to further promote correct antibiotic use within their future professional environment.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Classify major types of pathogens that infect humans;
- Review the properties of the major antibiotics classes, their spectra of activity, modes of action and adverse effects;
- Review the microbistatic vs microbicidal mechanisms of action of antimicrobial agents;
- Discuss the principles of antibiotics resistance, its clinical and epidemiological implications, and methods for its minimization;
- Discuss the main antiviral and antihelminthic agents, their modes of action and adverse effects;
- Discuss the main clinical uses of the major antimicrobial drugs, with an emphasis on optimized benefit against risk.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Navigate within the pharmacological arsenal of different antibiotic classes and drugs, uisng both a top-down and a bottom-up approach;
- Recommend considerations for optimal antibiotic selection and for judicious antibiotic use;
- Promote good antimicrobial stewardship practices;
- Contribute as part of a team, to the design of antibiotic policies.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main text:

- Ritter JM, Flower RJ, Henderson G, Loke YK, MacEwan D, Rang HP. Rang & Dale's Pharmacology. 9th Ed. 2019. Elsevier.
- Schlossberg DL, Rafik Samuel R. Antibiotics: A Guide to commonly used antimicrobials. 2nd Ed. 2017. Wiley-Blackwell.
- British National Formulary. Pharmaceutical Press. (issued bi-annually).

Supplementary readings:

- Brunton L, Knollmann B, Hilal-Dandan R.Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13th Ed. 2017. McGraw-Hill Education.


- British Journal of Pharmacology. Published by the British Pharmacological Society.
- British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Published by the British Pharmacological Society.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Maria A. Cordina
Daniela Mallia
Janet Mifsud
Peter Zarb


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.