Course Description

This online introductory course covers both the pharmacokinetic and pharmaco-dynamic principles of pharmacology. It is intended for individuals, including professionals, who wish or require a course to expand their understanding of this important medical discipline. The course consists of over 50 hours of illustrated and narrated lectures, as well as vignettes that apply this knowledge to relevant clinical settings. See website for details. This course is offered in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine. 

Learning Outcomes

  • A broader understanding of principles that govern the fate of drugs in the body (pharmacokinetics) and exert their effects (pharmacodynamics)
  • The ability to apply and integrate this information to understand clinical use and clinical limitations of drugs
  • Understand what is considered a drug and how drugs may be found in nature or created by man - Understand how the physiochemical structure of a compound can alter how it is absorbed, distributed and cleared by the body
  • Appreciate how the route of administration is designed to take into account both the drug's physiochemical properties and the body's physiology to ensure that therapeutic concentrations reach targeted sites of action
  • Describe how physiological processes (protein binding, ionization) can change a drug's kinetic profile in the body (i.e. absorption and distribution)
  • Recognize how properties of a compound can alter its bioavailability (plasma concentration) and how this relates to a drug's measure of clinical effectiveness
  • Understand and explain how drugs are biotransformed and eliminated by the body, focusing on both renal and hepatic clearance
  • Understand and explain the different enzymatic processes that are involved in drug metabolism, especially in the liver, and how drug metabolism may alter route of administration, dosing and clinical effectiveness
  • Apply pharmacokinetic principles (absorption, distribution, clearance) to better understand drug dosing - Describe different classes of drugs in relationship to their mechanism of action
  • Understand how drug effectiveness and potency are measured, clinically and in the laboratory setting
  • Recognize the diversity of drug targets found within the body
  • Through example drugs, recognize and understand how specific drug-target interactions can alter physiology
  • Through examples appreciate the use of drugs in the clinical setting
  • Identify and understand how a drug can elicit an unwanted or adverse effects
  • Appreciate and understand how drug interactions, genetics and stage of life (i.e. pregnancy, aging) contribute to modulating clinical outcomes
  • Extend recognition of drug use in society, outside of the therapeutic context
  • Communicate a better understanding of how drugs work in the body


Please refer to this important sheet of frequently asked questions

Before registering, students should inquire of the institution to which they are applying whether this course meets the prerequisites of their intended degree program.  Currently, this course cannot be applied towards any undergraduate degree offered by the University of Toronto.  Before registering, students planning to use this course for admission to any academic program are strongly advised to get written confirmation from the institution to which they are applying.


Students need access to a reliable high–speed internet connection for the entire duration of the course. The University's copyright restrictions do not allow the online lectures to be distributed on recordable media like DVDs. On Macintosh computers, the video clips work best with the browser Internet Explorer, but the quality of synchronization may vary. This is not an issue that has arisen for PC computers.

The information to allow access to the course materials will be sent to students approximately three days prior to the start date. If you are a late registrant, access information will take three business days to generate. Kindly register in time to start the course on the first day.

For this course and other SCS online courses, 100% of the tuition fee will be refunded if the withdrawal takes place within 10 business days following course start. No refund will be given after this deadline.


Although there are no formal prerequisites for this challenging course, good standing in a human biology course at the senior secondary or introductory university level is highly recommended. You must have consistent access to a reliable high-speed Internet connection.

This course may be applied towards the SCS Certificate(s) in


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