PM1PH1-Physicochemical Principles of Pharmacy

Module Provider: Pharmacy, School of Chemistry
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: PM1PP1 Pharmacy Practice I
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2012/3

Module Convenor: Dr Alexander Edwards


Summary module description:

This module aims to provide the students with an understanding of the physicochemical principles that influence the formulation and stability of drug delivery systems, the mathematical skills needed throughout the M. Pharm. programme and the practical skills necessary to extemporaneously prepare medicines.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students will be able to:
•Discuss principles of chemical equilibria, chemical kinetics and thermodynamics and describe basic concepts with reference to pharmaceutics.
•Generate, collect and interpret data from physicochemical experiments and perform calculations using suitable units.
•Understand how drug physicochemical properties and environment affect solubility, ionisation and stability.
•Display a knowledge of the colloidal and polymeric properties of drug formulations and their importance in pharmaceutical preparations
•Manipulate and use simple mathematical expressions and perform accurate pharmaceutical calculations
•Apply physicochemical principles to extemporaneous processes and gain competence in basic extemporaneous dispensing techniques

Additional outcomes:
The students will be introduced to physicochemical methods and theories used in the formulation of medicines. Students will learn to perform accurate pharmaceutical calculations in the workshops. Skills in the formulation of medicines and patient counselling will be developed during extemporaneous formulation practical classes. The students will also develop structured problem solving skills and time management skills.

Outline content:
Lecture material will be reinforced through workshop sessions and practical classes, plus additional on-line Blackboard self-study workshops, within the following key topics:

An Introduction to the physicochemical properties of drugs (1 lecture: ACW): Introduction to formulation; relationship between molecular properties and physicochemical properties of drugs
Basic mathematical principles (5 x 2 hr lectures: FG & RJG): Basic algebraic skills; manipulation and use of mathematical expressions; use of units; estimation of numbers
Chemical equilibrium of biochemical reactions and thermodynamics (4 lectures KS): The importance of equilibria and energy in chemistry and pharmaceutics; equilibrium law; dissociation constants. Introduction to the forms of energy; enthalpy, entropy and free energy; open and closed systems; 2nd and 3rd laws of thermodynamics.
Chemical kinetics – stability of drugs (5 lectures: ADE): Decomposition of drugs (e.g. drugs susceptible to hydrolysis); kinetics of reactions (e.g. decomposition); rate law and integrated rate equations; introduction to radioactive decay and half life; kinetics and mechanisms; factors influencing rate (temperature, pH, catalysis); Arrhenius equation; complex reactions and enzyme catalysis; Stability testing and prediction of shelf lives.
Drug solutions (4 lectures: ACW): Factors that influence drug solubility (chemical structure, hydration, pH, temperature, choice of salt etc.); transport in solution (diffusion, migration); fluid flow; partitioning between immiscible solvents (importance in drug transport across membranes); dispersed systems (physical heterogeneity). Improving drug solubility. Osmotic properties of drug solutions. Extemporaneous drug solutions
Interfacial phenomena in formulation (4 lectures: RJG): Fluid-fluid interface (surface and interfacial tension, measurement of surface tension, Gibbs adsorption equation, concept of surface pressure and lipid films); solid-fluid interface (adsorption isotherms for monolayer and multilayer adsorption, Langmuir adsorption isotherm); adsorption of macromolecules; pharmaceutical applications; contact angles; spreading coefficients
Colloids in formulation (6 lectures: RJG): Classification of colloidal systems; surfactants (association colloids, structure of micelles, critical micellar concentration); surfactants applications in formulation (surfactant vesicles (liposomes) and drug delivery systems); lipid bilayers; colloidal dispersions (stabilisation and DLVO theory); introduction to pharmaceutical suspensions and emulsions; extemporaneous colloidal formulations; introduction to polymers.

Extemporaneous formulation and Pharmaceutical calculations (5 practical classes and 6 workshops): Pharmaceutical calculations: units of concentration; calculate solution concentrations and dilutions. Formulation, dispensing and labelling of pharmaceutical solutions; legal and professional issues; preparing dosage forms as solutions, suspensions, emulsions, creams and ointments.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, seminars, directed private study, practical classes. Two one-hour lectures per week with supporting on-line workshops on related material and up to fourteen hours of pharmaceutical calculations workshops plus two worked example workshops. In addition students will attend physical chemistry (4 h) and extemporaneous formulation practical sessions (5 x 4 h) that will be related to the lecture material. An additional 4 1-2 hour revision seminars will reinforce core lecture material.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 20 4
Seminars 10 2
Practicals classes and workshops 4 20
Guided independent study 15 15 8
Total hours by term 49.00 57.00 12.00
Total hours for module 118.00

Summative Assessment Methods:

Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Practical skills assessment 15
Class test administered by School 15

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will attend seminar workshops on material covered in this module. Seminar workshops, supported by self directed study and material on Blackboard, will cover pharmaceutical calculations plus aspects of lecture material (includes on-line workshops). Practical class attendance is compulsory and it is necessary to attend these classes to pass the module.
-Pharmaceutical calculations are assessed in a calculations test completed in week 15 (10th week Autumn term) and represents 10% of module mark.
-Physical chemistry practical classes are assessed through a coursework worksheet completed and submitted during practical class in w13-14 (8-9th week Autumn term) and represents 5% of module mark.
-Assessment of extemporaneous formulation practical skills will be via examination of products in classes 3, 4 and 5 and represents 15% of the module mark.

Students will receive feedback on pharmaceutical calculations following each test or mock test, and test feedback will be incorporated into calculations workshops. During extemporaneous formulation practical classes students will receive individual feedback in every class. In practical classes 1 and 2, formative assessment using the same assessment of student’s products as that used in summative assessment (classes 3-5) will be used to provide feedback.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • 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.
    (Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

    Length of examination:
    One 3 Hour written exam will be taken during the Part 1 examination period in the summer term (70% of module mark).

    Requirements for a pass:
    In order to pass students must;
    •obtain an overall module mark of 40%, and
    •obtain 70% in the pharmaceutical calculations coursework exam
    In addition to the final written exam (70% module mark), students must demonstrate competence in pharmaceutical calculations to proceed to Part 2:
    One mock 1 Hour pharmaceutical calculations test will take place in week 4 of autumn term, followed by a pharmaceutical calculations test in week 10 of autumn term. The pharmaceutical calculations test (10% of module mark) has a pass mark of 70% and MUST be passed for progression to Part 2.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Students will be required to resit only the assessed component that they have failed:
    •Re-examination of end of module exam in August/September.
    •Re-examination of pharmaceutical calculations in early summer term. Final re-sit opportunity to pass at 70% at end of August.
    Marks from module assessment components passed at first sitting are carried forward towards the final module mark. The module mark at re-assessment will be 70% examination and 30% coursework (physical chemistry course work, extemporaneous formulation test and pharmaceutical calculations coursework).

    Last updated: 2 November 2012

    Things to do now