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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Health in Social Science : School of Health in Social Science

Undergraduate Course: Ethical Values and Challenges in Care (SHSS10003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Health in Social Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryEthical practice forms the bedrock of professional care and this course aims to give students a good grounding in ethical principles, issues, debates, codes and practices, so that the student is sufficiently well-informed to understand and analyse ethical values, challenges and dilemmas that arise in a wide range of professional caring contexts. This is a compulsory course for students in the third year of the MA (Hons) in Health, Science and Society.
Course description This course focuses on ethical practice in the caring professions. Compassion in caring will constitute a key theme through the course. Starting from an overview of the philosophical foundations of professional ethics, students will examine key debates around universality and context-dependence in professional ethics. The course will explain how moral reasoning related to professional practice goes beyond the entirely rational and requires the capacity for empathic engagement with others. Students will also apply the concept of professional wisdom to ethical practice. Through this exploration, students will gain an awareness of their personal ethics and values. Particular ethical principles relating to care and treatment will be explored, including beneficence, autonomy, self-determination, informed consent, confidentiality, human rights, dignity, respect and professional fidelity. Students will analyse the strengths and limitations of various professional ethical codes by applying them to complex ethical case studies. Ethical issues relating to the vulnerable service user/patient will be examined, including ethical challenges in relation to capacity and decision-making in the context of mental health, dementia, end of life care, critical care, childhood and intellectual disability. Key research will be introduced to extend discussion and to include a focus on how ethical practice and decision-making may be researched and informed through research.

With its interdisciplinary focus, this course will benefit students from a range of backgrounds and with various career aspirations. While using examples from UK professional codes and contexts, discussion will focus on general principles and values of relevance to both UK and international students. Students will examine their personal ethical values and understand how the personal and the professional are intertwined in ethical caring practice. The course draws on the research and scholarship being undertaken by members of the School of Health in Social Science in relation to ethics in the caring professions.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  24
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 20% - Group work project. Analysis of a complex ethical situation. Group presentations take place near the end of the course. «br /»
80% - Written assignment (3,000-3,500 words)«br /»
Feedback Formative Feedback

Students will submit a short essay (500 words) identifying personal values in relation to the ethics of care and tracing origins in their own culture and autobiography. Written feedback will be provided with an indicative mark and grade. Group feedback will also be provided in class, with a focus on feed-forward for the group summative assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A critical understanding of how ethics underpin practice in the caring professions and how personal values, including the capacity for compassion and empathy, underpin professional ethics in practice
  2. Knowledge and understanding of the philosophical foundations of professional ethics
  3. Capacity to apply, and critically appraise the application of, professional codes of practice to complex ethical situations
  4. A critical awareness of good practice in professional decision-making in relation to ethical dilemmas
  5. Capacity to communicate ethical complexity and the rationale for decision-making in relation to complex ethical situations
Reading List
Beauchamp, T and Childress, J (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics (5th Ed). Oxford: OUP

Bondi, L et al (eds) Towards Professional Wisdom: Practical Deliberation in the People Professions, Ashgate: Farnham

Clarke, C et al (2011) Risk Assessment and Management for Living Well with Dementia, JKP: London

Held, V (2006) The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political and Global. Oxford: OUP

Hugman, R (2005) New Approaches in Ethics for the Caring Professions, Palgrave/Macmillan: Basingstoke

Laidlaw, J (2014) The Subject of Virtue: An Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom. Cambridge: CUP

Macintyre, A (1998) A Short History of Ethics. London: Routledge

Maxwell, B (2004) Professional Ethics Education: Studies in Compassionate Empathy, Springer: London

Melia, K (2004) Health Care Ethics: Lessons from Intensive Care, Sage: London

Parker, M (ed) (1999) Ethics and Community in the Health Care Professions, Routledge: London

Smith, P (2012) The Emotional Labour of Nursing Revisited: Can Nurses Still Care?, Palgrave/Macmillan, Basingstoke

Extensive use will be made of the journal Professional Ethics, as well as a number of discipline-specific ethics-focused journals, such as Nursing Ethics and Ethics and Social Welfare.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Assessment of complex situations to inform decision-making
Knowledge of how guidelines, policies and codes inform practice
Team work skills, including project planning and management of tasks
Communication skills
Course organiserMr Seamus Prior
Tel: (0131 6)51 6599
Course secretaryMiss Morven Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3972
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