School of Medical Sciences

MEDSCI 716 course details

Teaching staff

General questions regarding this course should be directed to the course coordinator.

Additional facilitators


Tutorials will be held weekly during the first semester on Thursdays 10.30 am - 12.30 pm in the Seminar Room 502-046, ground floor, building 502. These sessions are compulsory, and if a student is absent, a medical certificate must be supplied.

Some of these sessions will consist of presentations/discussions led by the lecturer, whilst others will be in the form of presentations by the students. In the latter, students are expected to find key references on a particular topic (provided by the lecturer in charge), digest this information, and present a brief 15 min overview to the class using a power point presentation. Copies of the key reference(s) and the power point presentation should also be made available to the class and the facilitator, who will make the material available on Cecil.



Most of the reading that you should be doing for this course should be of recent papers and reviews. You must also be able to use the internet to search Medline and Pubmed. If you are not familiar on how to search and retrieve research articles and reviews, you can arrange a tutorial with the Philson Library staff.



  1. Review essay 25%
  2. Final exam 75%

Review essay

One in-depth review (min 3000 words) on an assigned topic will be required to be submitted by 5pm Monday 12th May, 2008. This review must be in your own words, and be fully referenced in the Vancouver style.

Further information and examples of this style of referencing can be found at the website for the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors: http:/

ReferenCite is a good resource run by the Student Learning Centre (SLC). The SLC runs workshops on referencing and offers learning support resources. Learn more about:

The Vancouver style of referencing

Directly after the piece of information, you should include a number, which relates to the relevant reference listed at the end of your review. At the end of your review you should list all the information sources you have used. Citation format for textbooks and journal articles are different. A textbook citation should contain the names of the authors or editors, the title of the book (including the edition), the name of the publisher, the year of publication (in that order), and the page number.

  1. Katzung BG. Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (7th edition). Appleton & Lange. 1998, p121.

A listing for a journal article should contain (in order) the names of the authors, the year it was published, the title of the article, the name of the journal, the issue and the page numbers where the article can be found.

  1. Connor B, Kozlowski DA, Schallert T, Tillerson JL, Davidson BL, and Bohn MC. (1999) Differential effects of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the striatum and substantia nigra of the aged parkinsonian rat. Gene Therapy 6: 1936 – 1951.

 You should try to limit the use of direct quotes to an absolute minimum and these should be no more than a sentence or two. Under no circumstances should you directly quote paragraphs of information. When using a direct quote the material should be in quotation marks and the citation you use should include the relevant reference number and the number of the page it came from.

  • “Activation of the cyclase enzyme is mediated by the stimulatory coupling protein Gs” (1, p121).

Wherever possible, direct quotes should be avoided. You should try to put ideas into your own words. Please note that changing or removing the odd word does not constitute your own words. You should try to integrate information from several sources and construct your own sentences and paragraphs, therefore demonstrating that you understand the information and concepts.

Scientific information obtained from the internet should be treated with great caution/suspicion. A lot of information on the internet is not peer-reviewed, so it has not necessarily been checked or verified as being correct.

Review Submission

Both a hard copy and electronic copy must be submitted. The latter is to be submitted to for plagiarism checking.


Plagiarism is taking and using another person’s thoughts, writings or inventions and presenting them as if they were your own. If you wish to include another author’s words in your essay, enclose the text within quotation marks and cite the author. Plagiarising and other forms of intellectual dishonesty undermine the foundations of both the university and scientific research. The scientific community must rely on the trustworthiness of researchers and of the reports they publish; plagiarism and fraud undermine that trust.

The penalties for plagiarism and other dishonest practices, as listed in the Examination Regulations of the University Calendar include cancellation of obtained passes and disqualification from completing courses.

More information on plagiarism is available at:

  1. Avoiding plagiarism
  2. Plagiarism: What it is and how to recognize and avoid it
  3. University of Auckland policy on cheating and plagiarism


The review is worth 25% of the total marks for this paper. It is suggested that the review should consist of a brief summary/abstract, a contents page, a list of abbreviations and figures, the main body of the review, followed by complete references.

Use diagrams where appropriate to illustrate points or concepts. Plenty of recent references will be expected. Students should consult the journals such as “Drugs” and “Clinical Pharmacokinetics” for examples of typical reviews, and for the standards to strive for.

20/25 marks for this review will be assigned to the content, with the remaining 5/25 marks for lay-out, references and grammar/spelling and punctuation, and general presentation.

Students are expected to give a 10 - 15 minute oral presentation of their essay topic using power point on Thursday 22nd May. If they fail to do this they will receive zero mark for their essay.


Final exam

The final exam is worth 25% of the total marks for this paper. It will be conducted by the University in the examination period and will be 2 hours duration. It will cover all material from tutorials/seminars/essays.

Past exam papers are available for download from the Library Exam Database.

Note: The forerunner to this course was PHARMCOL 712 (DRUG DISPOSITION AND ACTION), and previous years final exam papers for the latter are available on the exam database by searching for PHARMCOL 712.


Departmental seminars

Students are requested to attend the Departmental seminars which are to be held on the last Friday of the month 3.00 - 4.00 pm in Room 3205, followed by drinks & nibbles in the Pharmacology Tearoom/Discussion Room.

Learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this course will have:

  1. An in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of drugs, and an appreciation of the current issues in this field.
  2. An understanding of the broad conceptual elements of pharmacokinetics, and the time course of drug action.
  3. An understanding of current issues and advances in drug development.
  4. The skills in gaining access to, and critically analyzing pharmacological information from a variety of sources.
  5. An advanced capacity for the critical evaluation of relevant research literature in Pharmacology, and the ability to organize and communicate this knowledge in a written review.
  6. A capacity to summarize knowledge in ADME, and succinctly communicate this knowledge to others in oral presentations.
  7. Developed group working skills, and the management of his/her own learning needs.