Students in Transition Year complete an eight week module in Pharmacology. This subject, combining elements of Leaving Certificate Biology and Chemistry, deals with the way chemicals (drugs) alter how living cells function. Using group discussion and self-directed internet-based research, students explore the wide variety of chemicals that are used to influence the human body, both for therapeutic and recreational purposes. Common drugs of abuse and misuse are included in this discussion.

The Pharmacology module also includes a study of infectious disease. Students look at a wide range of both common and rare bacterial, viral and fungal illnesses, including reference to their potential use as biological weapons. This leads into a detailed study of the pharmacology of antibiotics – the main drugs used to manage bacterial disease. With the Transition Year programme’s emphasis on practical work and activity-based learning, students (over a number of weeks) are shown how to safely cultivate bacteria and then expose them to antibiotics to compare the effectiveness of different antibiotics against different bacteria. It is hoped that this will give students a familiarity with the procedures and precautions associated with practical microbiology.

Through the use of audio-visual media, interactive computer simulations and dissection work, students examine the structure and function of the human heart before looking at the use of drugs to treat various illnesses that affect the heart and blood pressure.