PHRM20001 Pharmacology: How Drugs Work

Pharmacology: How Drugs Work was reviewed by Maddi Lam. She is a Bachelor of Science student, majoring in Neuroscience. Maddi hopes to do postgraduate study, and is thinking of doing a Master of Science. She happens to be a long time supporter of my blog before it went big – you’re amazing.


General information

This subject was completed in Semester 2, 2014 (only available Semester 2).

Handbook link:

Lecture capture/Echo/Lectopia is available for all lectures & workshops with screen capture.

Assessment Tasks:

3 x Self Directed Learning tasks (SDLs), worth 10% in total

Basically a set of worksheets with instructions on downloading software from the LMS that will run simulation experiments. There is some Q&A on the experiments which will tie-in concepts from lectures and they’re handy in the lead-up to practicals. Some people will find these boring to do, but they’re easy marks!

1 x Practical Report/Q&A (Prac 1) and 1 x Online Quiz (Prac 2), worth 10% in total

The Practical Report is a Q&A worksheet which is set out step-by-step and all the data is collected within your practical session, you don’t need to write essays! The online quiz is multiple choice and the information you collect within your practical will help immensely. Both simple, and again, easy marks.

1 x Mid-Semester Test, worth 20%

This will give you a good idea of the format of the exam with some short answer questions and multiple choice. The tutorials also have worksheets that are reflective of the MST. As it’s worth 20%, there’s a lot of content covered.

1 x 2-hour Written Exam, worth 60%

Here’s the real deal-breaker, I honestly thought this exam was FUN. Stress of exams and amount of content aside, the exam was written well. They have a wide range of TYPES of questions! Fill-in-the-blanks, match-this-to-that, scenarios and extended answers, and this helped with trying to recall the information that we’d learnt. Big tip: write down all the drug names & details on a poster and add to it as the semester goes along, you’ll be surprised how much you learn! All the past exams are available and I would suggest doing them as you go along because you won’t have time during SWOTVAC


This subject requires some rote learning and application but much less than any anatomy or physiology subjects. In the first week we covered a general overview of how drugs work in the body ie. Where they go, what they bind to, how to measure their efficiency etc.

The subject is then organised into different topics corresponding with the third year Pharmacology subjects to give you an idea of the major. The idea is to look at different systems in the body and their response to drugs (ie. cardiovascular, nervous, immune systems), different classes of drugs (ie. contraceptives, antidepressants, pain relievers, illegal drugs), how drugs are produced and controlled in the pharmaceutical market, a little bit of history of how drugs came into being, and toxicity.

There’s a high number of lecturers (more than 10) and this gives you a different perspective on each topic. They’re all experts in their field, and the majority of them are great presenters!

General Comments:

This is, hands down, the best subject I have ever done at Uni. It’s well-organised, covers a wide range of topics with specialist lecturers and the assessments won’t cause your hair to fall out. If you’re stuck for something to fill in your study plan, CHOOSE THIS SUBJECT! (And a bonus, one of the course coordinators has a captivating Scottish accent and I guarantee you’ll remember the content in his lectures!)


Thanks for the review Maddi!


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