Fundamentals in Bioethics

Course summary

This course serves as a foundation for critical engagement with the core elements of doing bioethics. It will introduce students to three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis: (i) defining and distinguishing concepts, (ii) understanding theories, and (iii) recognising and constructing robust arguments. It will equip students with the skills to develop and defend ethical arguments, and to apply these to legal, regulatory and policy issues in health, medicine and the biosciences.


  1. Introducing an ethical toolbox
  2. Who matters? The significance of moral status
  3. Killing or letting die?
  4. What makes life worth living?
  5. What matters? Introducing ethical theories.
  6. Why do I get to choose?
  7. Why does the body matter?
  8. That's unfair! Why worry about justice?
  9. No (wo)man is an island. Who else matters?
  10. What should I do?

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate critical understanding of the principal concepts, theories, and methods of bioethical reasoning and argumentation;
  • Identify, conceptualise and analyse ethical problems and issues;
  • Deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations characterised by dilemmas and plurality of values;
  • Communicate ethical ideas and positions, appropriately and effectively, using a variety of methods, and to a range of audiences, taking into account the complex and sensitive nature of many bioethical topics.


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.

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