PHARM 7011EX - Drug Effects and Biology of Addiction

External - Semester 1 - 2021

This course will focus on the biological mechanisms involved in drug effects and addiction. Students will learn how drugs affect the body and behaviour. This will include general principles of drug action, pharmacokinetics and variability in drug response, pharmacology of the major drug classes (opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, stimulants, 'party drugs', nicotine, hallucinogens and cannabis) and consequences of their use. Students will learn about the brain reward system and neurological mechanisms responsible for drug tolerance and dependence. Predisposition to drug dependence is studied by looking at genetics, personality and social circumstances. Students will gain an advanced level of understanding of the nature of addiction. Development of academic writing skills and critical appraisal are goals to increase lifelong learning skills.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHARM 7011EX
    Course Drug Effects and Biology of Addiction
    Coordinating Unit Medical Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s External
    Units 6
    Contact Online
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Assessment Written assignments, exam, discussion board contribution
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Andrea Gordon

    Location: Room S311 Level 3, Helen Mayo North

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    This is a fully online course.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Understand the neurobiological mechanisms of drug action and addiction
    2 Understand pharmacological aspects of drug effects
    3 Understand ways in which drugs are able to activate brain reward pathways
    4 Collect and synthesise information in relation to problems related to drug use
    5 Critically evaluate and interpret existing literature
    6 Understand the central place of evidence based information and that of other information sources
    7 Write an essay using discipline specific jargon and style
    8 Collaborate effectively online
    9 Manage the allocated time effectively in performing tasks
    10 Display awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues and their importance in the exercise of your professional and student responsibilities
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    4-7 9,,10
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    8, 10
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    This course uses a textbook, which is supplemented with materials from e.g. journals and websites. The textbook and additional information is available online.

    The required textbook is:
    The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine (5th Edition). Edited by Richard K Ries, David A Fiellin, Shannon C Miller and Richard Saitz. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2014. ISBN:9781451173574.
    You can also use the 4th edition.
    Recommended Resources
    For excellent resources to help you study, prepare for exams and write essays please review information of the University Writing Centre: Links to resources will also be provided online.
    Online Learning
    This course will be taught completely online. Your course information and content will be available in MyUni. You will receive information on a topic each week. Each topic has a Topic Objective, recorded lecture, reading materials, revision questions and discussion.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be offered as distance education. The course offers flexibility, but all students should try to go through the work at the same pace. Each week we focus on one topic; a topic outline is available that shows the objectives of that topic and is valuable during your study. We offer a lecture where a topic is introduced and readings to work through the material more systematically. You have access to an online self-assessment quiz to check your understanding of the content. We use the discussion to clarify any issues, practise writing and professional discussions (e.g. using references) and to share professional experiences. It is not a chat room, but more resembles an open panel discussion. In some courses, depending on interest of the students, wikis or other interactive tools are used to increase collaboration further.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students are expected to study around 16 hours a week to keep up with the course. Most students have experience in the field; this does not limit the amount of time needed to study. Apart from the topic that you cover each week, you should also allocate some time to prepare and write the assignments and revise for the exam throughout the course.
    This course can offer a lot of new information and insights to students. Learning about pharmacology and neurobiology can be difficult at first (e.g. new jargon), but students tell us it is also very rewarding. Although the program is taught by distance and offers flexibility, going through the material at the set pace as a group is very valuable for your learning. Feeling part of a group and sharing your experiences keeps you motivated and engaged.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Topic 1 Introduction: Drugs and Drug Classes?
    Topic 2 Alcohol and other Drugs in detail (1)
    Topic 3 Introduction: What is addiction?
    Topic 4 Neurotransmission
    Topic 5 How do drugs affect neurotransmission?
    Topic 6 Alcohol and other Drugs in detail (2)
    Topic 7 How drugs behave in our body 
    Topic 8 What is tolerance and Physical Dependence? 
    Topic 9 Neurobiology of Drug Dependence and addiction 
    Topic 10 Individual differences in addiction 
    Topic 11 Topic of choice:
    • Misuse of Prescription Medication
    • Gambling
    • Special populations
    Specific Course Requirements
    No additional requirements.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Written Assignment Summative 15% 1-5, 7, 9
    Essay Summative 40% 1-5, 7, 9
    Supervised Exam (external) Summative 40% 1-10
    Self-Assessment Quiz Formative N/A 1-10
    Discussion Board Summative 5% 1-9
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Please be aware of the University rules about originality of work and plagiarism. Severe penalties apply for students who commit intentional or unintentional plagiarism. Therefore, ample information is available to teach you about originality of work and correct attribution of work to others. Learning how to express your own opinion and building an argument using research from others will be an important part of the course.
    Assessment Detail
    Written assignment: Select one of the three papers on treatment of addiction (from the list provided on MyUni) and critique the paper. A framework will be provided of points to address.
    Word length: 700 (excluding reference list)

    Essay: You will be required to write an essay on a set topic
    The aim of this essay is to practise skills in collecting high quality information, appraise it and write about it in a scientific manner while constructing an argument. The essay gives you the opportunity to show your understanding of factors involved in drug effects and addiction.
    Word length: 2,000 (excluding reference list)

    Written exam: Your exam will be undertaken on-line. The exam will be a long-and/or short answer exam of 90 minutes that covers all the essential content in the course. You will be asked to not only reproduce facts, but to combine information from topics and compare the different medications. Example exam questions will be available.

    Your Discussion Board participation (i.e. % Complete of 10 Discussion Forums) will contribute 5% of the final grade for this course as indicated above. You will either get a 0 or a 1 for each topic based on the quality of your post.
    Submission of assignments will take place in MyUni in our course. We will use Turnitin to assess the originality of your work. (You will also be able to use this tool before submission to learn about originality). You will be required to provide a coversheet for your assignments.

    Submission deadline are set at the start of the course; strict penalties apply for late submission.

    Exam: The exam will take place on a computer. There will be choice of two exam dates; sitting an exam on another day will not be possible.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Students who fail an assignment or the exam can request permission to resit the exam or resubmit the assignment. If granted, the grade will be capped at the pass mark.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Yearly, changes are made to the course in response to student feedback. Some of these changes are: changing the role of the discussion board as it was too time consuming, changing text books so it can provide a backbone to the course, restructuring the order of the topics.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.