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PSCI303 Natural Products and Medicines

An introduction to pharmacognosy - understanding of natural product use as traditional and modern medicines including extraction, chemistry, assessment of biological activity, formulation, production considerations and regulation.

Natural products form the basis of modern medicines and are still used traditionally around the world for health benefits. The aim of this paper is to introduce students to the use and development of natural products for medicinal uses whilst obtaining practical skills applicable to this area. The paper features a component of traditional Māori medicine and rongoa.

Paper title Natural Products and Medicines
Paper code PSCI303
Subject Pharmaceutical Science
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (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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(CHEM 191 or CHEM 111) plus 54 points at 200-level

This paper can complement BSc degrees with a pharmacology, botany or biology focus.


Associate Professor Arlene McDowell

Teaching staff

Paper Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Arlene McDowell

Teaching Staff: Professor Natalie Medlicott

Professor Sarah Hook

Professor Nigel Perry

Associate Professor Janice Lord

Dr Allan Gamble

Plus guest subject experts

Paper Structure

PSCI303 will be taught through lectures, laboratories and field trips covering the following general topics,

  • Introduction to pharmacognosy.
  • Identification, isolation and extraction of natural products.
  • Biological activity of natural products.
  • Production considerations for natural products.

Textbooks will be available through the library. Titles to be confirmed.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

By completion of this paper students will be able to,

  1. Discuss the use of natural products as medicines.
  2. Explain the chemical properties of natural products.
  3. Demonstrate the process of extraction and isolation of natural products.
  4. Summarize the concepts for assessing the biological activity of natural products.
  5. Describe the quality assurance processes and regulatory issues for natural products.
  6. Apply principles of scientific research and methods to problem solving.
  7. Communicate expert scientific knowledge effectively to different audiences.
  8. Works effectively as a team member.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 10:00-11:50 20


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 16-21
Tuesday 15:00-15:50 9-14, 16, 18-21
Friday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 16-21


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 14:00-17:50 13, 16, 18, 20


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 10:00-11:50 16-17