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PA10311: Fundamentals of pharmacology: from molecules to medicines 1

[Page last updated: 03 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology
Credits: 12 [equivalent to 24 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 240
Level: Certificate (FHEQ level 4)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: EX 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • EXAMINATION (EX 100% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Requisites: While taking this module you must take PA10312 AND take PA10313 AND take PA10314
Learning Outcomes: After completing this unit, the pharmacology student will be able to:
* Describe factors that affect the 3-dimensional shape of molecules and assign stereochemical descriptions;
* Present reaction mechanisms for the inter-conversion of common functional groups and outline how these functional groups mediate acidity, basicity and bonding interactions;
* Appreciate how physiochemical properties of a molecule influence its behaviour as a drug; recognise the different approaches to drug discovery and grasp the importance of each;
* Distinguish the different types of drug classes and describe the methods used in their development.

Aims: To enable the student to understand the fundamental chemical, physicochemical and biological concepts underpinning pharmacology from the sub-atomic to the cellular level.

Skills: Scientific and practical skills (T/F/A)
Study skills, handling information, working with others (T/F)
Problem solving (T/F/A).

Content: :
* From molecules to medicines - the concepts
* Orbital theory, electron configurations and hybridisation
* Introduction to isotopes, radioactivity and radioactive decay
* Bonding (covalent, ionic, hydrogen, intermolecular)
* Electron density, inductive effects and mesomeric effects
* Fundamentals of acids and bases (pKa)
* Systematic nomenclature and drawing of small molecules and drugs
* Calculation of yields, moles and concentrations
* Functional groups and their conversions (substitution, elimination)
* Structural isomers and configuration
* Stereo isomers (polarimetry, +/-, racemisation)
* Recognition and assignment of chirality, relevance to drugs and receptors
* Carbonyl group chemistry and biochemistry
* Reactions of carbonyl groups
* Alkylation and acylation reactions of enols and enolates
* Chemistry and reactions of esters and amides
* Biochemistry of esters and amides
* Reactions of alkenes (electrophilic and nucleophilic)
* Aromatic groups (properties, reactions and biochemistry)
* Introduction to oxidation reactions
* Introduction to reduction reactions
* Concepts of drugs, medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients
* Importance of physiochemical properties to small molecule drugs (molecular weight, pKa, solubility, log P, Lipinski rules)
* Molecular (chemical) basis for drug degradation
* Overview of drug targets in bacteria, virus and cancer
* Introduction to the drug discovery pipeline and regulatory requirements
* Examples of natural products as drugs
* Modern drug discovery pipeline
* Examples of rational drug discovery
* Case studies of modern drug discovery techniques and examples of modern drug design
* Introduction to biological drugs and emerging drug technologies
* Radioisotopes: drugs and markers.

Programme availability:

PA10311 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology
  • USPA-AFB02 : BSc(Hons) Pharmacology (Year 1)
  • USPA-AKB02 : BSc(Hons) Pharmacology with Year long work placement (Year 1)
  • USPA-AKM02 : MPharmacol(Hons) Pharmacology with Year long work placement (Year 1)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.