Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society

Course summary

This course develops students' understanding of and engagement with applied bioethics. 

  • It builds on the skills developed in Fundamentals in Bioethics and applies the three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis: concepts; theories; and argument. 
  • It will focus on the particular challenges raised by the development and application of biotechnologies, and their implications for society.
  • It will demonstrate how ethical analysis can help us to think about the impacts of biotechnologies on social norms and social structures. 
  • It will equip students to recognise the challenges of, and design suitable responses to biotechnological innovation, as set against a context of plural values and perspectives in societies.


  1. Biotechnologies and society
  2. Assisted reproductive technologies
  3. The human embryo
  4. Neuroethics
  5. Genomics
  6. Changing identities
  7. Biotechnologies and public heath
  8. Virtual spaces and societies
  9. Sustainable futures
  10. Future societies and persons 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the bioethical and social challenges raised by biotechnologies;
  • Identify, conceptualise and analyse ethical problems and issues raised by the development and application of biotechnologies;
  • Use the concepts, theories and methods of argumentation gained in Fundamentals in Bioethics to defend positions and advance recommendations in respect of biotechnological developments and applications;
  • Undertake critical evaluations of the social impacts of diverse ethical responses to biotechnologies.


One short written exercise (1000 words) (40%), and one essay (4000 words) (60%)

Terms and conditions

Please note the University reserves the right to make variations to the contents of programmes, including the range of courses offered, and the available choice of courses in any given year may change.

Find out more about the University's terms and conditions