MEDSCI 320 : Pharmacology of the Brain and Body

Medical and Health Sciences

2022 Semester Two (1225) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Extends the principles of pharmacology acquired at Stage II to discuss how diseases can be treated in a variety of organ systems including the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, reproductive, and respiratory systems with emphasis on the central nervous system. Covers the mechanisms of action of drugs, and the influence of anatomy, physiology and pathology.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: MEDSCI 204 and 30 points from MEDSCI 203, 205, 206, BIOSCI 203 Restriction: MEDSCI 305, 307

Course Contacts

Course Directors: 

Professor Bronwen Connor (ext  83037)

Professor Mike Dragunow (ext 86403)

Course Coordinator: 

Professional Teaching Fellow Dr Deanna Bell (ext 86950)

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
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. Describe and 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)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories and Workshops 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Project 15% Group Coursework
Mid SemesterTest 15% Individual Test
Lab Test 15% Individual Test
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Laboratories and Workshops
Mid SemesterTest
Lab Test
Final Exam

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 of contact time (Lectures, laboratories, workshops and tutorials); 10 hours of invigilated assessment (laboratory, workshop, tests and exams) and 90 hours of self-directed learning, including assessment preparation and laboratory reports.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs/tutorials/workshops to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including workshops/tutorials/labs may not be available as recordings.
The course will include live online events such as group discussions and office hours.
Attendance on campus is required for tests and exams.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

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.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Level 1: All main teaching activities will be conducted on campus and in person.
  • Lectures: on campus, recorded lectures will be available.
  • Labs, tutorials: on campus, remote versions will not be available.
  • Tests, exams: on campus, you must attend in person unless you are unwell or other circumstances outside your control prevent you from attending. You must complete the exam to pass the course.

Level 2: All teaching activities are remote
  • Lectures: delivered remotely, available at the timetabled time and recorded lectures will be available.
  • Labs, tutorials: delivered remotely, available at the timetabled time and recorded versions will be available
  • Tests and quizzes: delivered remotely at timetabled time.
  • Exams: delivered remotely at timetabled time. You must complete the exam to pass the course.

Level 3/4: All teaching activities are remote
  • Lectures, labs and tutorials delivered remotely, available at the timetabled time and recordings of the sessions/online versions will be available.
  • Tests and quizzes: delivered remotely at timetabled time.
  • Exams: delivered remotely at timetabled time. You must complete the exam to pass the course.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 22/10/2021 12:37 p.m.