Course Title: Chemistry of Drugs and Toxins

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Chemistry of Drugs and Toxins

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020

Course Coordinator: Mr Trevor Rook

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3361

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 3.2.10F

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You should have a background in intermediate university-level theoretical and practical chemistry and have completed at least 24 credit points of year 2 level study in Chemistry. Recommended courses are CHEM1039 Chemistry Theory 2A and CHEM1040 Chemistry Theory 2B. Alternatively, you should have completed equivalent courses or be able to provide evidence of equivalent capabilities.

Course Description

ONPS 2188 Chemistry of Drugs and Toxins is a higher level chemistry course designed to introduce students to drug chemistry and action, and emphasises the relationship between drug chemical structure and activity.

You will be introduced to further chemical principles that are required to understand the action and behaviour of drug compounds and hence the relationship between a compound’s structure and shape, the presence or absence of hydrogen-bonding groups and ionic groups, hydrophilicity and stereochemistry and its chemical and therapeutic properties, and thus the chemical considerations in drug design: size, physico-chemical properties and ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion).

Structure-activity relationships will be explored through case studies. Methods of drug discovery will be described, including the development of drugs from natural products and computer modelling and rational drug design.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

  • PLO-2   Scientific Knowledge
  • PLO-3   Inquiry and Problem Solving



On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

CLO1:demonstrate ability to predict selected properties of a drug based on its structure;

CLO2:describe the sources of drug compounds;

CLO3:contrast methods of drug development including design and discovery, and explain the concept of prodrugs, and hence discuss the competing factors that need to be considered in drug design

CLO4:explain the relationship between drug structure and chemical and therapeutic properties;

CLO5:explain the factors that affect its absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion;

CLO6:describe and contrast different methods of drug analysis;

CLO7:explain the actions of drugs used in the treatment of mental disorders and cancer, and the action of selected antibacterial and antiviral compounds.


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are:

  • attendance at lectures where syllabus material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
  • completion of tutorial questions designed to give further practice in the application of theory and procedures, and to give feedback on your progress and understanding;
  • completion of written assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter; and
  • private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual.

On the basis of classroom revision and problem solving sessions, you will have the opportunity to articulate your understanding and be guided by examples of clear thinking, logical argument and communication as a means to developing such capabilities

Total Study Hours

You should attend 36 hours of lectures/tutorials and spend 84 hours in independent study.


Overview of Learning Resources

You will be able to access course information and all learning materials (lecture notes, revision sheets, etc.) through myRMIT Studies (also known as Canvas).

The library Chemistry guide ( will introduce you to the chemistry information resources available to staff and students at RMIT University.


Overview of Assessment

Note that:

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

 Assessment tasks

The assessment in this course is comprised of two assignments and an end-of-semester exam.


During this course you will have a number of forms of feedback which will allow you to assess the progress of your learning:

• there are recommended problems from the recommended textbooks;

• there are tutorial problems in the notes;

• the early assessment task, which will give you feedback on your progress to date;

• the literature assignment, which will give you feedback on your ability to take material from different sources and summarise and present it in a professional manner as a written report.