Postgraduate taught 

Clinical Pharmacology MSc(MedSci)

Principles Of Pharmacology MED5171

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Medicine Dentistry and Nursing
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course allows students to develop and / or reinforce their understanding of the main concepts of receptor pharmacology and neuropharmacology. It also provides insight into some of the key laboratory methods related to pharmacology.


On average one to two lectures, plus associated tutorials and computer-aided learning sessions per week. Students will attend at least one laboratory practical session during the semester.


■ Assignment based on critical evaluation and synthesis of material derived from lectures and independent study (~2500 words 33.3%)

■ Concise report on laboratory findings (~1500 words, 33.35%)

■ MCQ (33.35%)

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ Provide students with a critical understanding of the events linking activation of a receptor by a drug or endogenous agonist/hormone to a physiological response; and how these responses may be modified by disease processes and / or drug treatment.

■ Provide insight into key laboratory and analytical techniques relevant to applied pharmacology

■ Facilitate a practical understanding of the principles involved in the development of an analytical method for drug / metabolite analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

On completion of the course the student should be able to:

With reference to appropriate scientific and clinical examples
 and literature, demonstrate a critical understanding of the main theories, principles and concepts relating to receptor pharmacology by:

■ Constructing and critically interpreting agonist and antagonist concentration- response curves

■ Describing and critiquing the basic principles and methodologies for investigating receptor number function and distribution

■ Identifying the mechanisms of coupling receptor activation to intracellular events and critically discussing the potential for modification of these mechanisms in disease and drug treatment.


Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to issues that are at the forefront of clinical pharmacology, in particular to:

■ The means by which acute and chronic exposure to drugs can modify pharmacological action leading to tolerance, first dose effects and withdrawal symptoms,

■ The electro physical properties of cells and the neurotransmission process, and

■ The recognition and critical understanding of how drugs modify the neurotransmission process in disease states.


Perform a practical analysis method relevant to pharmacology; interpret and present the results in a concise report; critically evaluate the analytical features, strengths and limitations of the method.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.