MA Political Science - Political Theory Pathway (Standard Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Philosophical Bioethics

Course unit fact file
Unit code CSEP60201
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit will look at relevant topics in contemporary bioethical debate and will examine the background and arguments pertinent to these. Some specific topics to be covered include, but are not restricted to, beginning of life issues (abortion, stem cell research, reproductive liberty), autonomy, consent and capacity, resource allocation, organ donation and end of life issues. The unit aims to broadly cover these issues but will remain flexible and responsive in order to deal with any ethical issues that may arise due to media coverage of a particular area or new scientific developments.


The aims of this course are: 

-to provide students with a set of conceptual tools; and

-to demonstrate howw these tools may be applied to a range of health care related issues arguments. 


Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course unit, students will be able to:

Demonstrate a familiarity with the main lines of ethical argument and the manner in which those lines of argument are applied;

Be able to apply moral theory for themselves, understand the nature of dispute between commentators, recognise strong and weak arguments, and criticise lines of argument;

Have developed research skills relevant to the area of bioethics, and be able to use these in order to conduct the necessary independent research for the unit assessment;

Develop their critical skills and contribute to debates both with peers and more formally.

Teaching and learning methods

Lecture and seminars; each session of teaching will take the form of an informal lecture with opportunity for questions, debate and argument.

Class time - 30 hours

The delivery of the unit will be divided into:

1. Lectures - 20 hours
2. Seminars - 10 hours

Additionally, students will be expected to undertake a significant amount of private study:

Preparation for classes and seminars - 70 hours
Research and directed reading - 120 hours
Preparation of assignments - 80 hours

Total = 300 hours.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Set exercise 30%

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Iain Brassington Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Oral feedback will provided throughout this course unit in class presentations and during seminars.  Formative feedback will also be provided by way of peer assessment via classroom discussion.

Feedback on assessed written work is provided through a comprehensive feedback form giving both broad indications and detailed comments on strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.  An outline of issues for the unit's written assignments will also be published post-assessment on Blackboard.

This is a compulsory course unit for campus-based Health Care Ethics & Law programmes in The School of Law.

See CSEP Campus Based timetable

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