Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


We live in a society where taking drugs – either as medicines or for recreational uses – is part of everyday life. Drugs that treat and prevent common diseases have benefited our health, and some have changed the course of human history. You have almost certainly taken medicines, perhaps even daily - but what do you know about where these drugs came from, or how they work?

In this unit, students will learn about a handful of drugs which have literally changed the world, for better and for worse. You will also learn about the different stages of drug development, and learn how to think more critically about the marketing, availability and consumption of drugs.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 elective

Students are able to (1) describe at a basic level how drugs work in the body, and how the body processes drugs; (2) identify the broad scientific principles used to establish whether a new medicine has actual versus promised potential in the treatment of human disease; (3) critically describe the role played by pharmaceutical innovations in changing the health of human populations; (4) identify key drugs that produced significant changes in medicine or healthcare upon their discovery or introduction; and (5) critically describe the health and social impacts that accompany the use of any pharmaceutical products.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) examination; (2) summative assessments; and (3) Drug Discovery Assessment. 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)
Dr Philippa Martyr and Dr Ricky Chen
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
eTutorials: 2 hours per fortnight
There is no prescribed textbook for this unit.



  • 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.