PM1A-Fundamentals of Physiology

Module Provider: Pharmacy
Number of credits: 50 [25 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: PM1B Medicines Discovery, Design, Development and Delivery and PM1C Introduction to Professionalism and Practice
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Darius Widera


Type of module:

Summary module description:

An understanding of human physiology is essential for pharmacists as it allows students to understand the normal function of the human body and therefore the basis of therapeutic agents and lifestyle interventions. The module will also provide an important basis from which to understand the pathophysiology associated with the systems and the therapeutics studied in later modules. In order to understand the function of physiological systems, it is crucial to understand the structure of mammalian cells and how this relates to cellular functions, many of which are targeted therapeutically. These concepts are introduced within the first part of the module. In parallel, gene function and basic science of single celled organisms (microbiology) is taught to illustrate the difference between complex multicellular organisms and microbes and help to introduce the role of microorganisms in pathophysiology. After developing an understanding of the basic cell biology, the module then introduces physiology of major organ systems using the concept of homeostasis and the disruption of homeostasis as the basis of illness; a concept also developed through later modules. To support this understanding, greater detail is provided for biochemical and metabolic pathways that underlie these processes. At the end of this module students will have achieved the fundamental knowledge that is required to understand therapeutics, pharmaceutics and major public health issues studied in later years within the MPharm programme.

To introduce pharmacy students to the essential concepts of biology, microbiology, biochemistry and key concepts and principles of physiology using an integrated cellular and system-based approach.
To help students to begin appreciating the roles of the professional pharmacist, in community and in hospital practice, and in the pharmaceutical industry and also develop a multidisciplinary and integrative approach to healthcare.
To facilitate students' understanding and evaluation of therapeutics and pharmacy practice.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module the student will be expected to:

1. Outline the structure and function of a mammalian cell and the basic cellular processes that underpin physiology, including cellular and tissue communication and basic critical appraisal of the related health literature.
2. Outline the basic concepts of microbiology and identify how microorganisms can affect normal human physiology and relate this to public health issues.
3. Use basic laboratory aseptic technique.
4. Outline the principles of genetics (DNA and genetic code) and identify how changes in genetic function affect physiology and pathophysiology.
5. Outline the physiology of tissues and organ systems relating them to the concept of homeostasis and normal human physiology and be aware of pathophysiological conditions.
6. Outline fundamental biochemical processes including structure and function of proteins and relate them to physiology and pathophysiology.
7. Outline principles of enzyme kinetics and relate this to chemical kinetics taught in PM1B.
8. Outline metabolic pathways and relate changes to a basic understanding of human physiology.
9. Summarise the scientific basis of drugs as therapeutic agents and relate this to therapeutics and patient-centred care
10. Show knowledge and understanding of the main skills required for clinical pharmacy including use of diagnostic tools, recognition of disease symptoms and the promotion of good health
11. Show the ability to gather, interpret and critically evaluate and utilise information.

Additional outcomes:
Through practical classes, group and individual work that will also support the personal learning portfolio, the student will develop skills required for different learning outcomes that are assessed in other Part 1 modules and later in the programme. This module helps students to develop reflective practice and self-learning skills for independent and lifelong learning including continuing professional development required of pharmacists. The student will also gain computer-aided learning skills via practical classes using the Lab Tutor Teaching Suite, workshops and literature database searching and will enhance communication skills through group and class discussions. Group work underpins the development of professional skills relevant to the workplace.

Outline content:
This module introduces physiological concepts and general principles required by pharmacists to understand the normal function of the human body and thus, therapeutics. The course will first outline the fundamental concepts of cellular biology gene function and microbiology. These are crucial for understanding physiology and integrate more complex biology and biochemistry alongside development of physiological knowledge during the second part of the course. An appropriate range of lectures, workshops, practical classes, group working and guided individual study will be used to achieve the learning outcomes and also integrate with those of the other Part 1 modules, helping to contextualise relevance to the practice of pharmacy.

Autumn Term:
Introduces basic cellular function and the fundamentals of microbiology for human health and therapeutics and how these will be used to achieve learning outcomes 1-4 and 11.
• Cellular Biology: Lectures outlines the function of cells and cellular processes as a foundation to understanding the concepts of human physiology. Practical classes will provide a multidisciplinary and integrative approach to biology and physiology topics and ultimately to healthcare. Workshops on critical analysis of pharmacy/therapeutics literature will integrate topics covered in the module and across other Part 1 modules and develop ability to gather, interpret and critically evaluate and utilise information. Supplementary tutorials will be available for those students with no A level biology experience.
• Genes and chromosomes: Outlines and develops fundamental genetics and, using relevant examples, identifies how changes in genetic may affect cellular and systems physiology.
• Microbiology: A mixture of lectures, practical classes, and a workshops focused on public health topics outlines the physiology and life cycle of microorganisms including introduction to microorganisms in medical research, normal physiological function, pathophysiology and public health. Develops essential practical skills in laboratory aseptic technique and ability to gather, interpret and critically evaluate and utilise information.

Spring term:
Having outlined microorganisms and cellular function the module develops more complex biological concepts relevant to understanding human physiology, focusing on learning outcomes 5-11.
• Human Physiology: A mix of lectures, computer- and laboratory- based practical sessions that integrate and elaborate upon the fundamentals of biological function. The normal physiological processes of the human body will be outlined using the concept of homeostasis and integration of a cellular and systems-based approach. The focus is on normal physiological functions with examples that integrate into therapeutic and pharmacy practice taught on later years. Different computer-based practical classes and workshops support and allow application of knowledge gained in the lectures. Also, these activities provide additional knowledge and understanding of clinical pharmacy including use of diagnostic tools and promotion of good health, and integrate with pharmacy practice and topics from PM1C.
• Biochemistry and metabolism: Outlines the fundamentals of biochemistry, elaborating on the acquired concepts of basic cellular biology and identifying how changes in biochemical and metabolic pathways affect the homeostatic principles underlying physiology and also pathological conditions. These biochemical concepts link to chemical topics covered in PM1B and to later years.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The learning objectives will be met through a mixture of lectures, workshops, group work, directed private study, self-directed learning, as well as practical and computer- based laboratory classes using the LabTutor Teaching Suite. Some of the lectures will utilise a team-based learning-like approach: activities will adopt characteristics of workshops where students will engage in formative activities e.g., group work, in-class discussion. Appropriate supplementary information and reading lists will be provided and facilities for computer-aided literature searching for additional relevant materials will enable students to improve their own learning skills. Three two-hour tutorial sessions will prepare and support students for assessments. Supplementary tutorials are also provided for students with no A level in Biology.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 34 42
Tutorials 17 13 2
Practicals classes and workshops 19 10
Guided independent study 155 160 48
Total hours by term 225.00 225.00 50.00
Total hours for module 500.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Practical skills assessment 10
Class test administered by School 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:
3 hours (written exam).

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
The written examination forms 70% of the module mark. There will also be an assessment of the skills and knowledge developed within the different practicals (30% of the module mark). The laboratory and in-class tests (1.5 hours each) will assess practical, analytical and research skills of learning objectives 2-4 and 6-9 which are integrated into the coursework.

Formative assessment methods:
Formative assessment is largely based on coursework and self-directed assessment and will reinforce each of the learning outcomes of the module. These will be staff, peer, or self- assessed and will include laboratory worksheets, written and online assignments. These assessments will provide students with feedback on their achievement of the learning outcomes and prepare them for the summative assessments.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% in the module overall and a mark of 40% in the written exam component.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment of the written exam component is by re-examination in August only, with a pass mark of 40%.
    Failed coursework assessment may be reassessed by an alternative piece of work, before or during the August examination period.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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