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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society (LAWS11372)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course develops students' understanding of and engagement with applied bioethics.

- It builds on the skills developed in Fundamentals in Bioethics and applies the three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis: concepts; theories; and argument.
- It will focus on the particular challenges raised by the development and application of biotechnologies, and their implications for society.
- It will demonstrate how ethical analysis can help us to think about the impacts of biotechnologies on social norms and social structures.
- It will equip students to recognise the challenges of, and design suitable responses to biotechnological innovation, as set against a context of plural values and perspectives in societies.
Course description 1. Biotechnologies, society and values
2. The human embryo
3. Assisted Reproductive Technologies
4. Neuroethics
5. Personal genomics
6. Population Genomics
7. Health Monitoring Devices
8. E-Health and the E-patient
9. Sustainable food futures
10. Future persons and novel organisms
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Fundamentals in Bioethics (LAWS11390)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students MUST have completed: Fundamentals in Bioethics (LAWS11390). In exceptional circumstances, students may be permitted to take this course without having first taken Fundamentals in Bioethics with the express agreement of the Couse Organiser (if, for example) they have taken ethics courses elsewhere. Please contact the online learning team at to discuss.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the bioethical and social challenges raised by biotechnologies.
  2. Identify, conceptualise and analyse ethical problems and issues raised by the development and application of biotechnologies.
  3. Use the concepts, theories and methods of argumentation gained in Fundamentals in Bioethics to defend positions and advance recommendations in respect of biotechnological developments and applications.
  4. Undertake critical evaluations of the social impacts of diverse ethical responses to biotechnologies.
Reading List
There is no set text for this course.

The majority of readings will be articles and chapters available online through University of Edinburgh library. A proportion of the preparatory and core readings will come from:

- Kuhse, H, & Singer, P (eds). (2012). 'A companion to bioethics: second edition'. Wiley Blackwell. Available as an e-book from University of Edinburgh library

- Kuhse H, Schueklenk U and Singer P. (eds) (2016), 'Bioethics: an anthology: Third edition', Wiley Blackwell. Available as an e-book from University of Edinburgh library

- Wilkinson, D., Savulescu, J., and Herring, J. (2019) Medical Ethics and Law: A Curriculum for the 21st Century. Elsevier (scanned copies of relevant chapters will be made available in the course Resources list)

- Rachels, J., & Rachels, S. (2015). The elements of moral philosophy (8th edition). New York: McGraw-Hill. (scanned copies of relevant chapters will be made available in the course Resources list)

A detailed list of key resources will be available at the start of the course.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Cognitive skills. The course will enable the student to select and deploy appropriate research techniques; they will critically analyse and evaluate key issues in the subject area, and formulate coherent arguments relating to key issues in the subject area.

2. Communications. Students will be able to summarise and communicate information and ideas effectively in oral and written form. Students are also expected to interact with each other and with tutors online, and this forms part of the overall assessment.

3. Autonomy, accountability. Students will exercise personal autonomy and intellectual initiative in, and take responsibility for, the conduct of their own work.

4. Working with others. They will engage with others through participation in online discussion: articulating and supporting a line of argument and formulating critical analyses of arguments presented by others.
Special Arrangements This course is taught by online learning.
Additional Class Delivery Information This course is taught by online learning.
Keywordsbioethics,biotechnology,innovation,medical ethics,regulation,moral philosophy
Course organiserMs Emily Postan
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 9704
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