Bioethics: Contemporary Issues in Science and Biomedicine


Unit code: UCIL21202
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit?: N

Requisites

None

Aims

To provide a stimulating, structured logical approach to ethical issues and to provide a context for practising this. To allow students to appreciate the importance of the publics perceptions; to be aware of scientific investigations of impact, to relate knowledge of modern biology to wider issues, and to apply good thinking and grasp ethical principal.

Overview

An informal seminar type approach forms the bulk of the unit. You will be given reading to do before and after each session and encouraged to criticise, discuss material and ask questions during the seminar. Completion of this unit will enable you to appreciate the importance of the publics perceptions; to be aware of scientific investigations of impact, to relate knowledge of modern biology to wider issues, and to apply good thinking and grasp ethical principal. Topics vary each year but could include: 'Euthanasia and Assisted dying: End of life', 'Violence and Responsibility' and 'Reproduction: Beginning life'.

Note: This unit has restricted numbers and a selection process may be necessary following initial registration in September. As such prompt registration for this unit is essential. Any selection process implemented will take place in week 1/2 of Semester 5 and this unit will therefore not be available for selection during the Semester 6 course unit change period.

Learning outcomes

The students will be able to:

  • Describe different ethical principle with which different people may approach the same scientific issues.
  • Describe a range of contemporary ethical issues in science.
  • Describe a range of contemporary ethical issues in biomedicine
  • Describe how an understanding of current bioethical issues can be applied to novel bioethical issues of the future.
  • Develop organisation and presentation skills to prepare and defend a debate topic argument.
  • Develop organisation and presentation skills to research and prepare an assessed essay.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skillsGroup oral debate and essay require analysis of available information related to topic areas.
  • Group/team workingGroup oral debate in teams of 7-10 students.
  • Innovation/creativityGroup oral presentation is viewed by all participants in the unit and should be interesting. Essay is written on a topic of students choice and allows for both innovation and creativity.
  • LeadershipGroup oral presentation will need people to demonstrate leadership to ensure that it is completed in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Project managementGroup oral presentation for debate is a project undertaken over a period of weeks by a small group of students.
  • Oral communicationStudents encouraged to ask and answer questions during lectures. Group oral presentations.
  • Problem solvingUnderstanding information in relation to lecture topics, debate area and essay require an ability to assimilate information and problem solve in the context of the question being asked.
  • ResearchGroup oral debate and essay require independent research of topic areas.
  • Written communicationEssay and short answer question.

Assessment Further Information

Essay of not more than 5 pages (excluding references) on topic of students choice (55%), exam involving a short answer question on a topic requiring the application of the principles of ethics (30%) and group oral presentations on specific topics (15%).

Syllabus

An informal seminar type approach forms the bulk of the unit. Students will be given reading to do before and after each session and encouraged to criticise, discuss material and ask questions during the seminar. Lecture topics will vary depending on current scientific issues but could include the following.

  • Introduction to ethics and bioethics
  • Ethical framework – The value of life
  • Reproduction: Beginning life
  • Gene therapy and enhancement
  • Stem cells
  • Enhancing evolution
  • Genomics
  • Genethics
  • Euthanasia and Assisted dying: End of life
  • Violence and Responsibility
  • GM crops
  • Research Ethics

Feedback methods

The oral presentation will receive peer evaluation, verbal generic feedback and written feedback on individual group performances. The proposed essay titles identified by individuals will receive written comments. The final essays will receive written feedback.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 0.5 hours
  • Lectures - 18 hours
  • Independent study hours - 81.5 hours

Teaching staff

Caroline Bowsher - Unit coordinator

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