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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Fundamentals in Bioethics (LAWS11397)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course serves as a foundation for critical engagement with the core elements of bioethics and of doing bioethics. It will introduce students to three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis: (i) concepts, (ii) theories, and (iii) robust argumentation. 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 and biomedicine.
Course description Teaching Programme:

* Week 1: Introducing the ethical toolbox
Introducing the importance of the three pillars of good bioethical reasoning (i) the skills of sound argumentation (ii) the importance of conceptual clarity (iii) the relevance and limitations of ethical theory.

* Week 2: Who matters? The significance of moral status
Examining the question of what kinds of beings are the proper object of moral concern and introducing the concept of personhood.

* Week 3: What makes human life worth living?
Comparing a range of accounts that seek to characterise what wellbeing or a worthwhile life consist in and highlighting the different perspectives from which this question may be approached.

* Week 4: Is there a moral difference between killing and letting die?
Exploring the distinctions between acts and omissions and their moral (ir)relevance

* Week 5: Introducing theories about what makes something good or right
Introducing the core precepts of the most prominent ethical theories (e.g. utilitarianism, deontology etc.) and critically engaging with the limits of the use of theory in practical bioethics

* Week 6: Why worry about justice?
Highlighting the increasing importance of political philosophy in bioethics, through key questions of fairness, and justice. We will ask: what does it mean to live in a fair society? What would be a fair approach to the distribution of health/healthcare?

* Week 7: What is autonomy and does it matter
Introduction to theories of autonomy and the limitations of autonomy a guiding principle

* Week 8: No person is an island? Who else matters?
Broadening the ethical lens to look beyond individual interests and actions to explore the ethical significance of living and acting within groups, communities, states.

* Week 9: To what extent am I my body?
Encouraging students to think critically about the ways in which we are and are not our bodies and the extent to which a worthwhile life or good outcomes are synonymous preserving a healthy or normal body.

* Week 10: What should I do?
Consolidating the preceding sessions, this final class will turn to what is often seen as the central focus of ethics, the morality of actions. Having had the prior discussions, students will be better equipped to critically consider the rightness and wrongness of actions, as well as the limits to such an account of ethics.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites Students MUST also take: Fundamental Issues in Medical Jurisprudence (LAWS11328) AND Contemporary Issues in Medical Jurisprudence (LAWS11329)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) * One short written exercise (1000 words, 30% of the overall mark) - outline the key steps of your own ethical position on an applied topic from two available options.
* One essay (4000 words, 70% of the overall mark).
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to obtain formative feedback over the course of the semester. The feedback provided will assist students in their preparation for the summative assessment.

Details of the School's feedback policy will be available at the start of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
Demonstrate critical understanding of the principal concepts, theories, and methods of bioethical reasoning and argumentation.
Reading List
Core texts will include chapters from:

* Hope, R. A., Tony Hope, Julian Savulescu, and Judith Hendrick. Medical ethics and law: the core curriculum. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2008.
* Kuhse, H., & Singer, P. (Eds.). (2010). 'A companion to bioethics: second edition'. John Wiley & Sons. (Available as an e-book from University of Edinburgh library.)
* Kuhse H , Schueklenk U and Singer P. 2010, 'Bioethics: An Anthology', Wiley Blackwell. (Available as an e-book from University of Edinburgh library.)
* Rachels, J. The Elements of Moral Philosophy (4th ed.), McGraw-Hill, Boston 2003.
* Ashcroft, Richard Edmund, Angus Dawson, Heather Draper, and John McMillan, eds. Principles of health care ethics. John Wiley & Sons, 2007. (not available as an e-book)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills * Deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations characterised by dilemmas and
plurality of values.
* Identify, conceptualise and analyse ethical problems and issues.
* 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.
Course organiserMs Emily Postan
Course secretaryMs Lisa Kilcullen
Tel: (0131 6)51 5997
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