Module Overview

Principles of Pharmacology and Toxicology

This course encompasses the pharmacology and toxicology of a broad range of substances. Following initial lectures focusing on basic principles of receptor theory, the main mechanisms of drug/chemical action at a cellular level are discussed using drugs affecting the autonomic nervous system as examples. A variety of drug categories grouped according to the systems on which they act are then considered in turn. Compounds of natural origin are discussed along with synthetic drugs for each category. However, owing to their increasing importance, a number of lectures focus exclusively on substances of natural origin and specific considerations relating to their use in health care. Experimental pharmacological and toxicological techniques are reviewed in detail, and experimental results are interpreted.
Aim: To present an overview of the mechanisms of drug action, interaction and toxicity, expanding students' knowledge of receptor theory, dose-response relationships and neurotransmission gained in previous courses.
To provide students with a knowledge of the pharmacology of a range of drug classes from a sustainable manufacturing perspective.
To introduce students to pharmacognosy, examining a variety of naturally occurring compounds possessing pharmacological activity or used as pharmaceutical excipients.
To foster an understanding of toxins’ nature and effects, and of the controls implemented.
To familiarise students with methods of screening and evaluating substances for pharmacological activity, efficacy and safety/toxicity.

Module Code

TFPG 3001

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Receptor theory and mechanisms of drug action. Types of agonism and antagonism. Dose-response relationships. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Drug interactions.
Autonomic nervous system Neurotransmitters and receptors. Mechanisms of neurotransmission.
The pharmacology of drugs in the following classes, focusing on their mechanisms of action, therapeutic and adverse effects, uses, significant interactions, testing/evaluation and features pertinent to formulation and sustainable manufacture:
Drugs affecting the gastrointestinal system.
Drugs used in the management of respiratory disease.
Anti-inflammatory agents.
Drugs affecting endocrine systems (including sex hormones and antagonists, antidiabetic agents, drugs used in thyroid disorders).
Anti-infective agents.
Anticancer chemotherapy.
Toxicology - acute, subchronic and chronic toxicity. Target organ effects and mechanisms – hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, myotoxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine toxicity, gastrointestinal toxicity, pulmonary toxicity, haematotoxicity, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, carcinogenicity.

Environmental toxins – industrial chemicals/solvents and pollutants; pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fumigants, rodenticides.
Occupational toxicology. Hazard assessment and safety measures.
Toxicology - experimental techniques
Toxicity testing. Prospective and retrospective studies. Epidemiology. In vitro and in vivo models. Safety standards. Lethality testing. Regulatory aspects. Ethics.


Course material is delivered in lecture format with appropriate audiovisual aids. Students are encouraged to play an active role in these lectures, predicting compounds' actions, uses and toxicity based on their existing knowledge as the course progresses and drawing upon material from other subjects. Theoretical material is supported by computational practical work, assisting in the consolidation of students’ knowledge, and which also trains students in skills required to perform standard qualitative and quantitative pharmacological and toxicological studies. In addition students are directed to further sources of information including computer-aided learning (CAL) packages where appropriate.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination50
Other Assessment(s)50