Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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4 points, SCA Band 3, 0.0833333 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitSchool of Psychology and Psychiatry
OfferedClayton Second semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)A/Professor T Norman


A revision of basic pharmacological principles of pharmacokinetics & pharmacodynamics covering the relevance of age, gender, ethnicity, common drug interactions, environmental influences, and route of administration. The unit covers major drug types commonly used in psychiatric practice including the underlying neurochemical basis for use in specific disorders and specified primary target syndromes & symptoms. Students are taught identification and measurement of psychotropic-induced common side effects, use of specific antidotes for common conditions, and use of instruments used to rate side effects. Prescribing patterns in Australia and prescribing guidelines/pitfalls are also discussed.


During this selective students will:

  1. Develop knowledge of the basic pharmacological principles and their relevance to clinical prescribing.
  2. Gain a deeper understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the common psychiatric disorders such as depression and psychoses, and the underlying basis for the use of specific psychotropic medications.
  3. Learn to critically analyse the literature on drug trials.
  4. Learn a rational and practical approach to prescribing psychotropics including the management of side effects, the drug-resistant patient, use in the medically unwell and elderly patient.


Hurdle requirement: 75% attendance
1500 word essay (100%) divided into 4 tasks that will be assessed during the term

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

3 hour lecture weekly and 3 hours studying prepared course material.