MEDSCI 305 : Systems Pharmacology

Medical and Health Sciences

2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Considers the modification by drugs of human systems under physiological and pathological conditions. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of drugs as receptors, ion channels, enzymes and intermediate messengers are considered. The modification of drugs on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, reproductive, respiratory and central nervous systems will be covered.

Course Overview

The course aims to provide students with:
(1) The ability to describe the pathophysiology of various disease states in the human system and identify the current pharmacological treatments;  
(2) An understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of action of drugs on various organ systems during different physiological and pathological conditions and;  
(3) The ability to identify ways to improve or develop current pharmacological therapies and apply this to existing knowledge. 

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: MEDSCI 204 and 30 points from BIOSCI 203, MEDSCI 203, 205

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Discuss molecular mechanisms of action with respect to therapeutic effectiveness of drugs currently available to treat a range of diseases of the brain and body. (Capability 1)
  2. Discuss how disease pathology is used to identify and develop novel treatments, and the relevant experimental approaches to their development. (Capability 1 and 3)
  3. Apply good laboratory practice and safety procedures whilst demonstrating competence in generic practical laboratory skills. (Capability 1 and 5)
  4. Demonstrate competency of a selected range of skills, including observation and measurement, an appreciation of variability, precision and inaccuracy, data analysis and interpretation. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Use critical evaluation to identify the essentials of scientific information in written reports. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  6. Apply scientific reasoning and methods to experimental design in integrated physiological systems. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  7. Appraise the ethical considerations of drug development, testing and use in animal and human trials in New Zealand. (Capability 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 12.5% Group & Individual Coursework
Project 15% Group Coursework
Test 10% Individual Coursework
Test 12.5% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam

Course Contacts

Professor Bronwen Connor: Coruse Director;; ext 83037
Liam Anderson: Course Coordinator;; ext 86037

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 

50 hours contact hours (lectures, laboratories, workshops, tutorials)

10 hours invigilated laboratory and workshop assessments, tests and exams 

90 hours self-directed learning, including assessment preparation and laboratory reports

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.