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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Ethics of Health Technologies (LAWS11498)

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 will equip students with the skills to engage in bioethical debates about emerging health technologies and uses of health data. It will explore the values that inform technological and data-driven innovations and the normative, critical and conceptual tools that can be mobilised in developing ethical responses to these innovations.
Course description The purposes of this course are to introduce students to ethical challenges presented by a range of new and emerging applications of health technologies and big health data, and to equip students with the tools to develop their own ethical responses to these challenges. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which these technologies could affect our identities and relationships, social justice, and human flourishing. The topics covered e.g. health AI, genomics, surveillance represent those of increasing importance to regulation and policy in the fields of health and medicine. Each week, alongside exploration of specific practical ethical questions, each seminar will develop students' deeper understanding of key bioethics concepts and frameworks. The course will introduce students to critical framings including those of feminist bioethics, critical race theory, and disability ethics. Seminars discussions will discussion based, with these discussions based on prescribed readings, materials presented by the teaching academic, and relevant ethical perspectives and examples gleaned by the students from wider reading, policy debates, the news, and the arts. Students will be expected to participate actively in discussions. The teaching and assessment method will require students to develop and defend their own ethical positions, and will be designed to develop students' wider skills in critical thinking and reasoned argumentation. The topics of the 10 weekly seminars will be: (1) Introduction to thinking ethically about technology (2) Intervening in the brain (3) Assisted reproduction from a feminist perspectives (4) Cyborg life (5) Enhancement technologies and ableism (6) AI and decision-making in healthcare (7) The quantified self and remote care (8) Pandemics, surveillance and racialized bodies (9) Identity through the lens of health data (10) (Re)imagining our human future
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Fundamentals in Bioethics (LAWS11390)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Ideally students will have taken LAWS11390 - Fundamentals in Bioethics as a prerequisite, but this requirement may be waived at discretion of CO if the student has previously undertaken applied ethics courses here or at other institutions or has equivalent experience. As 'Fundamentals in Bioethics' is a prerequisite it cannot be taken by January intake students in their first semester.

Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 4000 word essay from 3 title question options provided. This will comprise 100% of the course grade.

All options will broadly require students to set out and defend their own position in a debate about the ethical merits or defensibility of a particular application of a health technology / their response to an evaluation of such an application supplied by the title question.
Feedback Students will undertake a 1000 word formative assessment. This will require them to exercise the same critical and evaluative skills in answering an ethical question as those tested by the summative essay, though on a different topic and with greater concision. This will (subject to coordination with other SA deadlines) be submitted around mid-semester and marks returned in good time for preparation of the summative work.

The discussion boards will provide rich opportunities for students to try out their skills in bioethical analysis and reasoning and receive feedback on the strengths of their own and their classmates' skills.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate the ways in which health technologies and data-driven innovations embody values and present risks and benefits.
  2. Use core ethical concepts and critical frameworks with confidence when participating in ethical, legal and policy debates about health technologies and data-driven innovation.
  3. Identify, characterize, and critically engage with ethical positions presented by others in scholarly, legal and policy contexts.
  4. Construct and defend their own reasoned positions on whether particular applications of health technologies and data-driven innovation are ethically defensible or desirable.
  5. Conduct independent research to locate and make use of a range of relevant academic and primary sources, and 6. Distinguish between empirical claims about the functioning and capabilities of health technologies and normative claims about their associated benefits and risks.
Reading List
There will be no single set text. Required reading for each week will comprise scholarly texts in bioethics and affiliated disciplines, as well as legal and policy sources. Core readings are likely to be drawn from (inter alia):

Journals including:
AJON (Neuroscience)
Hastings Report
International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
Journal of Medical Ethics
Philosophy and Technology
Science and Engineering Ethics

Textbooks including:
Farrell, A-M., & Dove, E. (2023). Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics (12th edn). Oxford University Press.
Wilkinson, D., Herring, J., & Savulescu, J. (2019). Medical Ethics and Law: A curriculum for the 21st Century. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Monographs and edited volumes including:

Scully, J. L. (2008) Disability Bioethics: Moral Bodies, Moral Difference (Rowman and Littlefield
Rogers, W. A., et al. (eds.) (2022). The Routledge Handbook of Feminist Bioethics. Routledge.
Sch√ľklenk, U. & Singer, P. (2021) Bioethics: An Anthology (4th edn) Wiley-Blackwell.
Vallor, Shannon, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology. Oxford University Press, 2022.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Research and enquiry: University of Edinburgh graduates use their highly-developed skills in research and enquiry to identify and creatively tackle problems, and to seek out opportunities for learning.

2. Personal and intellectual autonomy: University of Edinburgh graduates use their personal and intellectual autonomy to critically evaluate ideas, evidence and experiences from an open-minded and reasoned perspective

3. Outlook and engagement: University of Edinburgh graduates draw on the quality, depth and breadth of their experiences to engage with the communities and world around them. With an informed international perspective, they seek to contribute positively, ethically and respectfully.
KeywordsBioethics; applied ethics; medical ethics; health technology; biotechnology; big health data
Course organiserMs Emily Postan
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 9704
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