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


This unit provides students with state-of-the-art insights into how drugs affect physiological and pathological systems. The topics are dealt with in depth and include receptor structure/function, receptor classification, signal transduction, drug structure/activity relationships, new technologies in drug discovery, biotransformation and toxicology.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Pharmacology major sequence
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) apply key concepts in ligand binding and activation/inhibition of receptor function to interpret drug-receptor interaction data; (2) describe the central role of receptor tyrosine kinases and protein phosphorylation in transducing cellular signals to proliferation, differentiation, motility and disease; (3) explain the mechanisms of G protein-coupled receptor activation, signalling and regulation relevant to health, disease and drug discovery; (4) explain the role of ion channels and transporters in cell signalling, especially in the context of nervous system function; (5) discuss the application of new technologies in drug discovery, design and toxicity assessment; (6) describe the relationship between protein and ligand structure and subsequent drug activity and design; (7) discuss the role of oncogenes and anti-oncogenes in the regulation of the cell cycle; and (8) explain key concepts in the biotransformation and membrane transport of drugs and toxic xenobiotics..


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) summative tests and (2) 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)
Professor Fiona Pixley and A/Prof Steve Mutsaers
Unit rules
Successful completion of
PHAR2210 Foundations of Pharmacology
and PHAR2220 Human Pharmacology ,
or Successful completion of IMED2002 Blood and Drugs and
IMED2001 Body Defences
or IMED2003 Medical Sciences Research Methodologies
or IMED2004 Human Development and Genetics
PHAR3303 Drugs and Disease A
and PATH3304 Drugs and Disease B
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week
  • 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.