University of Sydney Handbooks - 2020 Archive

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Study in the Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, is offered by the Faculty of Medicine and Health. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Pharmacology is the study of the properties and biological actions of drugs and chemicals and the key role they play in the prevention and treatment of human diseases. A drug is any agent, either biological or chemical, that modifies the function of living tissues. Increasingly, doctors rely on drugs not only to cure disease, for example antibiotics and infections, but also to prevent diseases, such as lipid lowering drugs in the prevention of heart disease. Pharmacologists search for and identify new drugs and new drug targets based on knowledge of the nature of particular diseases, and investigate mechanisms of drug action which may lead to greater understanding of disease processes and therapies.

A major in pharmacology will equip you with a thorough knowledge of the discovery, development and testing of drugs, and its importance to the future of medical research and practice. In this major you will learn about the mechanisms of drug action, drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination, drug activity and chemical structure, the effect of drugs on body systems, the toxic effects of drugs and more.

Requirements for completion

A major in Pharmacology requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level units according to the following:
(a) 6 credit points of 2000-level PCOL coded units or
(b) 6 credit points of 2000-level MEDS coded pharmacology units for students in the Medical Science stream
(iv) 18 credit points of 3000-level major core units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level interdisciplinary project units

A minor in Pharmacology requires 36 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level units according to the following:
(a) 6 credit points of 2000-level PCOL coded units or
(b) 6 credit points of 2000-level MEDS coded pharmacology units for students in the Medical Science stream
(iv) 12 credit points of 3000-level minor selective units

First year

Core: BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems, CHEM1XX1 Chemistry 1A.

The major in Pharmacology begins in first year with an introduction to biology that takes you from molecules to ecosystems and positions human health and disease in this context, as well as chemistry relevant to the life sciences. These subjects are foundational knowledge in pharmacology.

Second year

Core: PCOL2021 Key Concepts in Pharmacology (MEDS2002 is available for students enrolled in the Medical Science stream only), PCOL2X22 Drugs in Contemporary Society.

In the second year of your Pharmacology Major you will learn fundamental concepts in pharmacology including principles of drug action, pharmacokinetics, drug design, and drug development and regulation, as well as diseases of different body systems, their pharmacological treatments, and challenges in pharmacological enquiry.

Third year

Core: PCOL3X11 Toxicology, PCOL3X12 Drug Design and Development, PCOL3X22 Neuropharmacology.
Interdisciplinary project units for Major: PCOL3888 Pharmacology Interdisciplinary Project or SCPU3001 Science Interdisciplinary Project.
For a Minor students choose two units from selectives: PCOL3X11 Toxicology, PCOL3X12 Drug Design and Development, and PCOL3X22 Neuropharmacology.

In the third year of your Pharmacology Major you will undertake units of study that further your understanding in toxicology, drug design and development, and neuropharmacology. For a minor you will investigate just two of these areas.

In your third year of the Pharmacology Major you must take at least one designated project unit. In Pharmacology we offer PCOL3888. Students may otherwise be interested in taking an industry and community project (SCPU3001) instead.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced Coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points.

Meritorious students may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor's degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements prior to Honours commencement.

Unit of study requirements for Honours in the area of Pharmacology: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Contact and further information

Discipline of Pharmacology
Molecular Bioscience Building G08
Corner Maze Cros and Butlin Ave
University of Sydney NSW 2006

Curriculum Support Officer
Vanessa Gysbers
T +61 2 9351 6725

Associate Professor Tina Hinton
T +61 2 9351 6954

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Pharmacology will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge of how drugs are discovered, developed, delivered and regulated, analyse new drugs and drug targets for treatment of disease, and explain the toxicological potential of drugs and other agents.
  2. Exhibit a deep and integrated knowledge of the pharmacological properties of drugs, their use as experimental tools and in treatment of disease, and their abuse potential, based on drug structure, drug targets, mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetic and pharmacogenomic aspects, and toxicological features.
  3. Select and use appropriate tools for pharmacological enquiry, observe and measure biological and behavioural responses to drugs, and work safely and effectively in a laboratory environment.
  4. Collect, analyse, illustrate, describe and interpret data derived from retrospective data collections, clinical trials, forensic problems and experimentation.
  5. Source, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate information in pharmacology from a range of relevant sources.
  6. Communicate concepts and findings in pharmacology through a range of modes for a variety of purposes and audiences, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  7. Integrate pharmacology knowledge and skills with those in other disciplinary areas to solve a big health challenge or problem in pharmacology research, and communicate a coherent, critical and informative response presenting a recommendation or view.
  8. Design and carry out an investigation in pharmacology, appraising the relevant ethical and regulatory requirements and recommending improvements using creative approaches.
  9. Develop creative and innovative approaches to problem solving in the field of pharmacological research and work effectively, responsibly and safely in individual and collaborative contexts.
  10. Address authentic problems in pharmacology, working professionally and ethically within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.
  11. Examine and evaluate contemporary issues in pharmacology from a range of ethical and cross-cultural perspectives.