MSc Genomic Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Ethical, Legal and Social issues in applied Genomics

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL67382
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit comprises of interactive online learning materials supported by one day face-to-face seminars provided by senior academics in this field.  Students will be guided through the subject areas by the online materials which are specially designed with this particular audience in mind and focused clearly on the learning outcomes of this course unit.  The face to face seminars will provide students with the opportunity to explore the issues that arise out of the online materials in detail and develop their knowledge of this area and their skills in critical thinking around these issues.


By the end of this module the students will have:

a) Developed an understanding of the roles of ethics and law in genomics

b) Developed an understanding and confidence in complex ethical and legal issues around a comprehensive set of scenarios in the area of genomics.

c) Developed skills around ethical argumentation and critical thinking that will be transferable into their professional setting.


Course Contents

•Introduction to ethics and genomics

• Introduction to law and genomics

• The central role of the Principle of Respect for Individual Autonomy and emerging importance of the Principle of Solidarity in genethics.

• What counts as valid legal consent?

• Is genetic information special? Does it fit with our usual notions of consent, confidentiality, individual autonomy etc?

• Genomics and reproduction

• Genetic storage and biobanks

• Genomics, epigenetics and personalised medicine

The conveners of this course have a great deal of experience in producing high quality online learning materials and also in teaching and researching in this area of genetics and ethics and bioethics and medical law more generally. Students will have lots of opportunities to discuss these issues face to face at the one day seminar and online as well as to engage with the focused online materials with support from conveners online.

Teaching and learning methods

Interactive online materials will provide lots of opportunities for focused active learning.  These are supplemented with support from tutors and group seminars.  Full support will be provided to students around the course and the assessment of the course with accessible tutors, online support and focus on supporting students with the assignments in the seminars.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Contrast the differing roles of ethics and law in genomics.
  • Identify and analyse complex ethical and legal issues from a comprehensive set of scenarios in the area of genomics.
  • Assess and formulate their positions on the ethical and legal issues studied and issues that arise from their professional practice and reflect on why they take this particular stance and not an alternative one.

Intellectual skills

Critically appraise this subject having developed and practiced these skills both in the online materials and discussion boards and in the seminars.

Practical skills

  • Discuss and analyse complex ethical and legal issues either individually, in their assignments, or in small groups in seminars.
  • Present their thinking on an issue in a clear, fair and convincing way.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Demonstrate confidence in discussing and analysing issues in a critical and robust way.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Report 30%

Feedback methods

Written Feedback.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tara Clancy Unit coordinator

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