Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Pharmacology

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



DEPARTMENT Faculty of Medicine and Surgery

DESCRIPTION This study-unit covers the application of fundamental principles underlying the therapeutic action of drugs in the various phases of drug action, from the molecular level to drug analysis, understanding of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles and general pharmacological activity. Students will also develop a critical, rational attitude to drug therapy with a focus on how and why drugs act and how evidence of therapeutic effect is obtained and evaluated in the scenario of the various issues that may affect drug therapy (such as iatrogenic disease, benefits and risks, drug history and concomitant therapy, drug economics and other considerations). The case studies will provide examples for the students to conceptualize the use of drugs in the clinical setting.

The study-unit will include:
- the molecular and pharmacogenetic principles underlying the therapeutic action of drugs;
- drug development, drug interactions and adverse drug reactions;
- a general introduction to pharmacokinetics i.e. the determinants of the time course of the drug in the body, applying pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles in order to provide rational drug therapy and understanding therapeutic drug monitoring;
- an introduction to different drug delivery systems, the principles underlying individualized drug therapy and issues concerning clinical pharmacology in varying populations;
- a case studies discussion forum focusing on practical applications such as the design of dosage regimens and prescribing decisions.

Study-Unit Aims:

To provide a sound basis for the understanding of how therapeutic decisions are taken in the management of disease.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

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

- Apply the basic principles used in molecular pharmacology and pharmacogenetics;
- Describe the various scientific principles which are involved in novel drug development;
- Discuss the molecular principles involved in the mode of action of drugs;
- Discuss the effects of drugs in specific populations eg adverse drug effects, iatrogenic effects and drug interactions;
- Interpret pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data and drug plasma concentrations;
- Outline the concept of individualised drug therapy;
- List the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the 'ideal drug'.

2. Skills:

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

- Apply knowledge of the molecular mode of action of drugs to specific clinical scenarios;
- Apply basic pharmacological principles in prescribing decisions;
- Predict inter-patient variability with respect to drug response;
- Explain the selection of differing drug therapies for the individual patient. Demonstrate an understanding of the mechanisms of health data storage and utilization.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Clinical Pharmacology: With STUDENTCONSULT Access (Paperback)
10th Edition. Churchill Livingston (2007)
ISBN-13: 978-0443102448

Pharmacology: With STUDENT CONSULT Online Access (Paperback)
Churchill Livingstone (2007) 6th Edition
ISBN-13: 978-0443069116

-Study Aid: DALE MM, DICKENSON AH, HAYLETT D, HAYLETT DG. Companion to "Pharmacology": A Study for Self-assessment and Revision. Churchill Livingstone, 1996, 2nd edition. [ISBN-13: -9780443053856]

Study Aids

- NEAL MJ. Medical Pharmacology at a Glance. Wiley-Blackwell, 2020, 9th edition. [ISBN: 9781119548010] – see also online resource at
o CHAMPE PC, HARVEY RA. Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008, 4th edition. [ISBN-13: 9781605472003]
o REID JL, RUBIN PC, WHITING B. Lecture Notes on Clinical Pharmacology. Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, 6th edition. [ISBN-13: -9780632050772]

Reference Journals:

Biopharmaceutics and drug disposition
British Journal of Pharmacology
Clinical Drug Investigation
Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Clinical Pharmacokinetics
Drug Metabolism and Drug Interactions
Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin
Environmental toxicology and Pharmacology
European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
European Journal of Molecular Pharmacology
European Journal of Pharmacology
Journal of Pharmacokinetics and Biopharmaceutics
Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Pharmacy and Pharmacology Communications
Prescriber’s Journal
Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study and Group Learning

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Multiple Choice Questions Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Anne Marie Bonello
Maria A. Cordina
Roger Ellul Micallef
Godwin Mario Grech
Janet Mifsud (Co-ord.)
Vanessa Petroni
Patricia Vella Bonanno
Nathan Vella
Mark Zammit


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.