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Unit Overview


This unit aims primarily to develop skills in reasoning in pathology and pharmacology, calling on pre-existing knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology and new knowledge in pathology and pharmacology. Both PHAR3303 Drugs and Disease A and this unit use examples of human disease where the origins, pathogenesis and treatment of the disease have now been well revealed by research. It is envisaged that this unit uses the respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, blood and immune system and breast and prostate to illustrate disease mechanisms associated with infections, immune-mediated disease, inflammation and cancer and the therapies used to treat those diseases. The unit uses these model diseases to develop in students an understanding of the reasoning processes that underlie the discipline of pathology and which guide the development of treatments including drugs. Students learn how understanding disease pathogenesis reveals targets for curative or preventative treatments.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) describe, by use of examples, how an understanding of disease reveals targets for drug action at molecular, cellular and tissue levels; (2) by reference to specific examples, describe how disease processes influence the magnitude, direction and duration of drug actions in the body, both beneficially and adversely; (3) by reference to specific examples, describe how disease not only creates targets for beneficial drug intervention but also lays open physiological processes for disruption, leading to adverse drug effects; (4) describe specific examples where disease itself, as well as the genetic and environmental factors that lead to it, dictates drug choice by creating specific drug responsiveness or toxicity; (5) describe the main stages in the process whereby molecules turn into medicines for the specific disease examples studied in the course; (6) develop skills in the acquisition and communication (both written and verbal) of scientifically robust information on the interplay of pathology and pharmacology in a particular disease process; and (7) further develop skills needed in the execution of simple laboratory procedures relevant to assessing the actions of drugs in disease.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) mid-semester assessment; (2) laboratory reports and communications; and (3) end-of-semester examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Assistant Professor Clayton Fragall
Unit rules
Biomedical Science major Level 2 units
PHAR2220 Human Pharmacology, PHAR3310 Molecular Pharmacology, PHAR3311 Molecular Pharmacology Methods, PATH3306 Integrated and Applied Pathology, PATH3302 Pathology: Human Oncobiology, PATH3305 Medical Genetics, PATH3354 Immunology and Immunopathology, PATH3308 Pathology and Laboratory Medicine II
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
practical sessions: 1 per fortnight
research and communication skills workshop
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.