BMS235 Integrated Physiology and Pharmacology (30 credits)

Co-ordinator: Dr Louise Robson


This module aims to cover the advanced physiological and pharmacological principles of body systems, building on the topics covered in level 1.  The module forms an important foundation for the advanced physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology covered at level 3.


Using lectures, practicals, a journal exercise and self-directed learning the module will cover the following areas:

  • The basic concepts surrounding the regulation of cell homeostasis
  • The theoretical principles governing the interaction between agonists and antagonists with receptors
  • The relationship between drug concentration, receptor occupancy and effect
  • Pharmacokinetics and the factors which regulate drug concentration in the body.
  • The physiology and pharmacology of the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, nerve and muscle systems.
  • The pathophysiology of these systems, considering a variety of diseases such as hypertension, asthma, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis and myotonia.
  • The impact of pharmacological compounds on systems and in disease treatment.


Following the course and additional reading students should be able to meet the following objectives:

  • Describe the composition of intracellular and extracellular fluids and how these are maintained.
  • Outline mechanisms by which small and large molecules cross cell membranes.
  • Describe the origin and control of membrane potentials.
  • Give examples of cloned membrane transport proteins.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the general terminology used in Pharmacology.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the quantitative relationship between drug-receptor interactions.
  • Describe the different mechanisms by which drugs act on the body at a cellular and molecular level.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the interactions between drugs and the cellular proteins on which they act.
  • Discuss the normal physiology of the cardiovascular system.
  • Describe intrinsic and extrinsic factors affecting cardiac output and blood vessels.
  • Discuss the normal physiology of the respiratory system.
  • Give an account of the mechanisms that modify and control respiratory rhythm.
  • Discuss the normal mechanisms of glomerular filtration and concentration of the urine.
  • Relate, with examples and calculations, the principles and importance of acid-base balance.
  • Describe normal skeletal muscle physiology
  • Discuss, using examples, how mutation of proteins leads to disease across body systems.
  • Discuss, using specific examples, a variety of acquired diseases.
  • Explain how the functions of body systems can be influenced by drugs.
  • Describe the principles of drug use in the treatment of disease.
  • Discuss experimental design in Physiology and Pharmacology
  • Retrieve scientific articles from an electronic database.
  • List the main points from a research article.
  • Briefly describe a number of research methods used in cellular research.
  • Complete pharmacological and physiological analysis of experimental data.
  • Analyse and present experimental data obtained in practical classes and discuss these data in the context of the lecture content.

Teaching methods:

Teaching will be predominantly by conventional lectures and practicals, with topics supported by directed reading, WEB exercises and data handling exercises.  Each 50-minute lecture and one hour of practical time will require at least 3 hours of private study to ensure the understanding and assimilation of the material. This should include further reading and self-assessment using the associated study or review questions.


The module will be assessed by a combination of examination and coursework.  The split between these will be as follows: Examination – 70% of module mark, Practical write up – 20% of module mark, Online data handling exercises – 10% of module mark.  There will be one formal examination, which will consist of an MCQ section, essay section and a data handling exercise.

The MCQ paper will test knowledge and factual understanding of concepts learned in lectures, practicals, and independent study. 

The essay section will test student ability to integrate and synthesise information.  The exam data handling, along with the practical report and online data handling exercises will test student ability to critically analyse and interpret experimental data.  The practical report will also test the ability of students to present and report experimental data in a clear and accurate manner.