PHARM 7515EX - Biological Basis of Addiction

External - Trimester 3 - 2021

This course/module is designed to provide an overview of the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse and dependence, including basic principles of drug action as well as comprehensive coverage of the major classes of drugs (opioids, stimulants, nicotine, alcohol, sedatives, cannabis, hallucinogens). You will study mechanisms of action, effects, pharmacokinetics as well as tolerance and dependence for each of these drugs/drug classes. The reasons for addiction including biological, genetic, cultural and other determinants will be discussed. You will learn about laboratory based methods used in addiction research.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHARM 7515EX
    Course Biological Basis of Addiction
    Coordinating Unit Medical Sciences
    Term Trimester 3
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s External
    Units 4
    Contact Online
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Restrictions Available for non-Award study after consultation with Program Director (students need to enrol at VCU and meet GradCert in International Addiction Studies entry criteria)
    Course Description This course/module is designed to provide an overview of the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse and dependence, including basic principles of drug action as well as comprehensive coverage of the major classes of drugs (opioids, stimulants, nicotine, alcohol, sedatives, cannabis, hallucinogens). You will study mechanisms of action, effects, pharmacokinetics as well as tolerance and dependence for each of these drugs/drug classes. The reasons for addiction including biological, genetic, cultural and other determinants will be discussed. You will learn about laboratory based methods used in addiction research.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Andrea Gordon

    Course Timetable

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

    Schedule
    Week 1 Topic 1
    Week 2 Topic 2
    Week 3 Topic 3
    Week 4 Topic 4
    Week 5 Topic 5
    Week 6 Optional topic / Revision week / Assignment 1
    Week 7 Topic 6
    Week 8 Topic 7
    Week 9 Topic 8
    Week 10 Topic 9 / Assignment 2
    Week 11 Exam
    This course is being taught in semester 2
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    1 Understand the neurobiological mechanisms of drug action
    2 Understand pharmacological aspects of drug effects and adaptation
    3 Understand the biological basis of addiction
    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 displaying critical thinking
    8 Collaborate effectively online in an interdisciplinary international environment
    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)
    1-3
    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
    4-6
    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
    7,8
    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
    10
    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
    All required resources will be available online, usually through the libraries of the three universities involved in the program.
    Recommended Resources
    Information on recommended resources will be provided online, usually as links to online material.
    Online Learning
    This course is provided totally online. The International Program in Addiction Studies is currently hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University. Course materials are provided on the VCU equivalent of MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The online delivery offers flexibility, but students are encouraged to go through the work at the same pace so as to make best use of the online discussion.

    The course is provided as a series of topics. Each study topic comprises:
    • a topic outline describing the components and learning objectives;
    • a concept lecture (or lectures);
    • essential and additional readings;
    • a quiz to test your understanding (not graded); and
    • a discussion forum.

    The discussion forum is used to clarify any issues, practise writing and professional discussions (e.g. using references) and to share 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 may be used to increase collaboration further.

    Workload

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

    The expected work load for the course is 20 hours a week. This will be spent on reviewing the video and reading material, doing the revision quizzes, engaging in discussion and preparing for the assessments.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The following topics will be taught:
    • Principles of Pharmacology 1 – Pharmacodynamics
    • Principles of Pharmacology 2 – Pharmacokinetics
    • Biology of Addiction
    • Opioids
    • Stimulants and Nicotine
    • Alcohol
    • CNS Depressants: Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, GHB and Inhalants
    • Cannabis and Hallucinogens
    • Genetic, Cultural and Other Determinants of Substance Use and Addiction
    • Animal and Human Laboratory Based Research Methods (Optional)
    Specific Course Requirements
    Not applicable.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Not applicable
  • 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 Task Type Due
    (appr.)
    Weighting Learning Outcome
    Online Tests Formative

    Discussion Board participation Summative 2-3 weeks after release of each topic 20%
    Written Assignment 1 Summative Week 6 10%
    Written Assignment 2 Summative Week 13 30%
    Written Examination Summative End of course 40%
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Not applicable

    Assessment Detail
    Written Assignment 1: Long Answer Questions
    The aim of this assignment is to review some key terms in pharmacology and practice formulating comprehensive answers. This is an open book assignment based on the first four topics that aims to test knowledge and understanding of core concepts.

    Written Assignment 2: Essay
    The aim of this essay is to demonstrate understanding of the course material, an academic writing style and critical appraisal of information sources. Word length: 2,000 (excluding reference list; including title and in-text references). The essay shows your skills in searching, appraising and analysing information, and writing a clear argument.

    Written Examination
    This exam is designed to test broad understanding of the topics covered in the course. The exam will be made available on the VCU equivalent of MyUni (known as MyVCU) for a limited period of time.

    Discussion Board

    Participation in the discussion board forums for each of the topics will be assessed. Grades reflect your ability to effectively communicate your intellectual curiosity and ideas to others in an online discussion. Each individual forum is graded, with an overall grade calculated as a weighted average. 

    Submission
    Specific instructions on the preparation and submission of written assignments will be provided on the VCU equivalent of MyUni (known as MyVCU). 


    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.

  • 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 (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) 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.

  • 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.