SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMB225257
Module Leader Yvonne Dempsie
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

A Life sciences degree with appropriate components in physiology, pharmacology and molecular biology.

Summary of Content

The lecture material for this module is largely evidence-based, derived from staff research interests. Thus students with a basic knowledge of pharmacology, or relevant life science, are exposed to topics at the leading edge of the subject, which allows them to glean an advanced knowledge of the physiological and pharmacological regulation of key organ systems. At the end of this module the student will have an advanced knowledge of the biochemical transduction pathways associated with the important receptor classes and key aspects of pathophysiology and pharmacology of the pulmonary vascular system, respiratory system and neuromuscular system as well as the neurobiology of pain. The student will also gain an understanding of practocal and ethical considerations when undertaking animal experimentation.


Neurobiology of pain Peripheral mechanisms of nociception, inflammatory mediators, cellular and molecular properties of primary afferent neurons, neuronal plasticity and pain, central nervous system mechanisms of pain modulation. Comorbidities: depression, obesity. Autonomic-endocrine-immune interactions in acute and chronic pain. Clinical states. Pharmacology and Treatment of Pain: central pharmacology of nociceptive transmission. Animal models of pain, methods of therapeutic trials. Analgesic drugs in development. Analgesics: opioids, NSAIDs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, local anaesthetics, cannabinoids. Non-pharmacological treatments. Ethics of animal research. The principles of reduction, refinement and replacement in the use of animals in research. Outline of the UK regulatory system for control of animal experimentation. Pulmonary circulation Overview of the pulmonary circulation. Review of the characteristics which make the pulmonary circulation unique and different from the systemic circulation. Pathophysiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Treatment of PAH. Current drugs used to treat PAH, mechanism of action and limitations of these drugs. Research strategies to find new drugs for the treatment of PAH Neurodegeneration Overview of the genetics and pathophysiology of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), including neuromuscular junctions. Neuromuscular pathology and systemic pathology and possible underlying pathways, including ubiquitin, splicing and epigenetic mechanisms. Role of gene modifiers in disease severity. Use of animal models of SMA, including mouse and zebrafish models. Development of therapeutics based on known pathophysiology.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the students should be able to:1. Provide an in depth understanding of each of the topics outlined in the module syllabus.2. Critically discuss the relevant aspect of pathophysiology, cell biology and pharmacology of these topics.3. Interpret and critically analyse scientific evidence and how it contributes to the theories of drug action (lecture material/research for data analysis).4. Formulate a divergent thought process to enable creative problem solving. 5. Communicate by the written word (via exam and data analysis).

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module initially utilizes a convergent teaching approach in order to ensure that each of the different student groups taking the module quickly achieves the required background, thereafter however, each lecture topic is discussed using evidence-based teaching, which facilitates a divergent thought process . Evidence-based learning of new scientific findings in pharmacology develops the student's ability to critically analyse new ideas and how they extend current concepts in pharmacology. Analytical and communication skills are further developed in the data analysis component of the module where students critically analyse published scientific papers as a written report. The subject areas covered in the module are at the leading edge of the science providing the student with an advanced understanding, which together with analytical and communications skills develops broad and deeper learning , promoting long-term retention of knowledge and students who are confident in their chosen field . The novel lecture material is challenging, relative to the real world, requires substantial self-input and is engaging and generative, producing engaged learners that have strategic learning skills and the ability to transfer these skills to solve pharmacological problems creatively. For example students consider a number of diseases that have global implications and develop the scientific knowledge to research new pharmacological approaches for their management. The module therefore promotes knowledgeable, confident and engaged learners who are able to make professional judgement and take responsibility in order to solve real world scientific and medical problems .

Indicative Reading

i) Required reading Rang and Dale's Pharmacology (2015). Rang, H.P., Dale, M.M. & Ritter, J.M. & Flower, R.J. Henderson, G. 8th Edition. Churchill Livingstone. ii) Recommended reading Wall and Melzack's Textbook of Pain, 6th Edition. Stephen McMahon & Martin Koltzenburg & Irene Tracey & Dennis C. Turk Due to the nature of this module, most reading material is in the form of review or primary articles. Details will be given to students during the lectures.

Transferrable Skills

The students' transferable skills should be extended in the following areas: Knowledge of pharmacology (module content). Interpretation and critical analysis of scientific data (lecture material/data analysis/research for extended essay). A divergent thought process (via evidence-based learning).

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 90.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Tutorials (FT) 8.00
Lectures (FT) 32.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 3.00 30.00 45% Data Analysis
Exam (Exams Office) 3.00 70.00 45% Written Exam