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    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?

    About this paper

    Paper title Drugs and Society
    Subject Pharmacology
    EFTS 0.1500
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,173.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    54 points
    Schedule C

    Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor John Aston (

    Teaching staff

    Lecturers from the Department of Pharmacology & Toxioclogy and the Bioethics Centre.

    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%

    No textbooks required.

    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
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of drug action at a molecular level and how these influence human action.
    • Begin to accumulate a knowledge of the range of classes of drugs and their actions.
    • 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.
    • Demonstrate an ability to critically reason about issues of wide human concern with employment of pharmacological understanding.
    • Develop skills to identify, use and critically evaluate information from appropriate and reliable sources
    • Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively, through written and oral means, to scientific and non-scientific audiences


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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