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PHAL211 Introduction to Pharmacology and Toxicology

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Introduces the core concepts of pharmacology and toxicology. Students will study the science behind the use of medicines, as well as cover topics on environmental and clinical toxicology.

PHAL 211 will introduce you to the wonderful field of pharmacology. The paper begins with basic pharmacological principles dealing with how drugs act (i.e. pharmacodynamics) and what the body does to the drug (i.e. pharmacokinetics). From here the lecture topics range from humble paracetamol to the social-changing contraceptives to the mind-altering cocaine. The laboratory classes will teach you essential scientific skills that are required to investigate drug metabolism, both the positive and negative effects of drugs on humans, experimental design and statistics analysis.

PHAL 211 is essential for further study in Pharmacology; however, the paper content will be useful for other science majors, including Physiology, Anatomy, Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Paper title Introduction to Pharmacology and Toxicology
Paper code PHAL211
Subject Pharmacology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,314.50

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BIOC 192, CHEM 191 and two of BIOL 112, BIOL 123, CELS 191, HUBS 191, HUBS 192
Schedule C
Teaching staff

Associate Professor John Ashton
Dr Jonathan Falconer
Professor Michelle Glass
Professor Debbie Hay
Professor Rhonda Rosengren

Paper Structure

PHAL 211 has both lectures and laboratories.

Lecture Topics:

  • Action of drugs on the body (ie pharmacodynamics)
  • What the body does to drugs (ie pharmacokinetics)
  • Experimental design and analysis for pharmacology
  • Autonomic nervous system pharmacology
  • Central nervous system pharmacology: Glutamate, GABA, Monoamines 1 and 2
  • Central nervous system pharmacology: drug dependence
  • Drugs and society
  • Inflammation, allergy and pain pharmacology
  • Toxicology

The laboratories are designed to teach you important laboratories skills and to reinforce concepts introduced in the lectures. Each laboratory is marked as part of the internal assessment.

Laboratories Topics:

  • Laboratory skills
  • Experimental design and analysis
  • Rat ileum contraction
  • Drug metabolism
  • Adrenergic modulation


  • Laboratory reports - 20%
  • Terms test- 10%
  • Drug assignment - 15%
  • Final exam - 55%
Rang and Dale's Pharmacology. Note that this book is available as an ebook online through the library.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • To establish a firm understanding of concepts important to the discipline of pharmacology
  • To gain an understanding of pharmacodynamic (what the drug does to the body) and pharmacokinetic (what the body does to the drug - absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination) processes
  • To introduce experimental design and analyses for pharmacology
  • To introduce autonomic and central nervous system pharmacology
  • To introduce the concepts of drug abuse and drug dependence
  • To introduce the field of toxicology
  • To understand how drugs impact on society
  • To introduce inflammation, allergy and pain pharmacology
  • Development of critical thinking and collaborative working skills
  • To develop skills in science communications (i.e. drug assignment)

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
B1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-13, 15-22
D1 Thursday 12:00-12:50 9-13, 15-22
E1 Friday 13:00-13:50 9-12, 15-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Tuesday 14:00-17:50 10, 12, 15, 17, 19
A2 Wednesday 14:00-17:50 10, 12, 15, 17, 19
A3 Tuesday 14:00-17:50 11, 13, 16, 18, 20