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PHAL231 Drugs and Society

An introduction to core pharmacological principles, together with an investigation of how society is influenced by drug use, both licit and illicit.

A six-week course of lectures and interactive workshops and presentations with a focus on the way drugs impact on life in its many facets. Drugs influence behaviour, but by how much, and how far can we attribute responsibility to people under the influence of drugs? Do drug manufacturers and regulators share some or all of the responsibility?

Paper title Drugs and Society
Paper code PHAL231
Subject Pharmacology
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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54 points
Schedule C


Teaching staff

To be confirmed

Paper Structure


1 – Introduction and Cannabis.

2 – Social drugs.

3 – Drugs and responsibility.

4 – The origin of drugs.

5 – Clinical trials; ethics and other issues.

6 – Drug law and regulations


Online Quizzes (6) – 15%

Essay – 15%

Student presentations – 20%

Final Exam - 50%


There are no prescribed text books for this paper. Articles of interest will be indicated to the students during the course.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

On completion of the PHAL231 paper students will:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of drug action at a molecular level and how these influence human action.
  2. Begin to accumulate a knowledge of the range of classes of drugs and their actions.
  3. Develop an understanding of the role that drugs as agents of molecular action in human bodies and brains have on a range of societal, ethical, and regulatory issues.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to critically reason about issues of wide human concern with employment of pharmacological understanding.
  5. Develop skills to identify, use and critically evaluate information from appropriate and reliable sources
  6. Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively, through written and oral means, to scientific and non-scientific audiences

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 2-5, 7
Tuesday 10:00-10:50 2-7
Wednesday 10:00-10:50 2-7
Wednesday 11:00-16:50 4


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 13:00-15:50 2-7