Course Title: Pharmacology and Toxicology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Pharmacology and Toxicology

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


160H Medical Sciences


Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


Bundoora Campus


160H Medical Sciences


Sem 1 2008


Bundoora Campus


173H School of Health and Biomed


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: Professor Ieva Stupans

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 6512

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 201.08.032

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course has been designed to increase your understanding of pharmacology and toxicology, and the pharmacological action of herbal products and pharmaceuticals, and their potential to cause drug interactions. This course is a core requirement of the Chinese Medicine program accreditation committee.

The topics are covered in a program of workshops designed to facilitate the understanding of pharmacology and toxicology. This will enhance your career as a graduate in Chinese Medicine and encourage you to become a more responsible health practitioner, by increasing your appreciation of drug mechanisms of action and possible interactions between pharmaceuticals and Chinese herbal preparations. You are encouraged to become a lifelong learner through the realisation that pharmacology and toxicology are ever-changing disciplines that may have great impact on the practice of traditional Chinese medicine.      

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the Program Learning Outcomes in the following ways:

  • PLO2: Plan and perform treatments using Chinese herbal medicine for a range of disorders in a safe and professional manner.
  • PLO3: Critically analyse the literature in the efficacy and safety of Chinese herbal medicines and incorporate this information into your professional evidence based practice.
  • PLO5: Operate and manage a responsible and sustainable health care practice in compliance with legal and ethical requirements.
  • PLO6: Reflect on and improve upon your professional practice and problem-solving skills and abilities through lifelong learning.

This course meets AQF level 9 criteria suitable for Masters degree study.

At the conclusion of this course you should be able to comprehend the basic principles of pharmacology and toxicology, and gained an appreciation of the importance of medicinal chemistry in traditional Chinese medicine. You should also be able to understand the basis for interactions between pharmaceuticals and traditional Chinese medicine and the potential toxicological effects of some herbal preparations.

On satisfactorily completing the course it is intended that you should be able to:

  1. analyse the principles of drug action;
  2. demonstrate an awareness of the processes of absorption, distribution, metabolism and removal of drugs from the body;
  3. critically reflect on the mechanisms of toxicity;
  4. review the general principles of pharmacokinetics and how pharmaceuticals may interact with complementary medicines;
  5. identify the genetic and environmental basis for inter-individual variability affecting drug action;
  6. demonstrate an awareness of potential adverse effects from contaminants and adulterants in herbal preparations;
  7. discuss regulatory requirements for complementary therapies.

Overview of Learning Activities

Your learning activities include a mixture of self-directed learning supported by access to online course content via MyRMIT, and intensive face-to-face workshops involving group work – including Workshop period 1 on Pharmacology and Workshop period 2 on Toxicology.

You will undertake the equivalent of at least eight (8) hours per workshop period, comprising lectorial and workshop sessions. The two intensive workshop periods each run over a 5 day period, with Workshop period 1 held prior to the semester and Workshop period 2 held at the end of the semester. In addition you can expect to spend the equivalent of a minimum of five (5) hours per week for one semester with the online activities and assessment, and in independent study – noting that the online activities and preparation for Workshop period 1 commences before the semester.

Overview of Learning Resources

Learning resources in this course include online lecture notes, workshop exercises and handouts, and references on selected topics. The online course webpage accessed via myRMIT (, provides opportunities for you to independently access much of this material. You are expected to regularly access the course website, which contains announcements, course information such as detailed timetables and prescribed reading, course documents and the grade book. The Chinese Medicine Subject Guide ( also provides useful references.


Overview of Assessment

Assessment activities include the summative assessment component of an exam for Workshop period 1 (Pharmacology) and an essay for Workshop period 2 (Toxicology). The formative component involves workshopping both the pharmacology concepts and draft toxicology essays in groups, following completion of individual tasks.

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Online MCQ Test

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 4 & 5

Assessment Task 2: Exam

Weighting 40%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 4 & 5

Assessment Task 3: Essay

Weighting 50%

This assessment task supports CLOs 3, 4, 6 & 7