Professional Development

Some units of study in the Bioethics Program have been offered in the past as Professional Development courses. These are:

A person thinking of study


The courses are held at Sydney University (Camperdown Campus) and taught in an intensive format over three days. Students enrolled as Professional Development students are provided with a reader, and have access to electronic resources. They are not required to complete assessment and do not receive an academic transcript. Students will receive a certificate of attendance but will not be eligible for university credit as the Professional Development course is not assessed.

The cost per student is $900 GST inclusive.

Professional Development courses are finished for 2011. For details about enrolling in 2013 Professional Development courses, please contact the Bioethics Program administrator on to have your name added to our information list.

BETH 5202 Human and Animal Research Ethics

This professional development course introduces students to research ethics in its social context. It is appropriate both for those with limited experience serving on ethics committees, and for those seeking to update their skills and knowledge and to become aware of cutting-edge debates in the field.

It explores the philosophical underpinnings of the research endeavour, including the justifications for engaging in research, research priorities, and research integrity. The course also reviews the history of research and the impact of research abuse on both human and animal subjects.

International and national guidelines for ethical human and animal research will be discussed and participants will be encouraged to develop practical skills in relation to their own research or areas of interest. The second part of the course will investigate current areas of controversy and public interest in research.

Topics covered include:

  • History of human and animal research
  • Regulation and ethical principles of human and animal research
  • Human and animal research ethics committees
  • Ethics of qualitative and quantitative research
  • Research on specific populations including vulnerable populations
  • Primate and non-primate animal research
  • The social context of research


The course will be held at Sydney University (Camperdown Campus) and taught in an intensive format over three days in 2013. Please enrol here.

BETH 5203 Ethics and Public Health

This professional development course introduces participants to the broader philosophical, ethical, socio-political and cultural issues that underlie public health and public health research.

It is appropriate for all those involved in public health, health promotion, preventive care and public health research. The course will examine the many issues raised by public health and public health research through a range of disciplinary perspectives. It will also encourage critique of the assumptions and values underlying public health, particularly with regard to its evidence base, priorities and moral authority. The course is taught by experts in ethics, history, health economics, research methods, public health and infectious diseases.

Topics to be covered include:

  • the history and ethics of public health
  • research involving communities and vulnerable populations,
    health promotion
  • the balance between individual liberty and community benefit,
    risk and risk communication
  • the construction and use of ‘evidence’
  • the ethics of resource allocation
  • community engagement and consultation
  • infectious diseases, bioterrorism and pandemic planning,
    human rights and global health, and
  • the standards of care owed to individuals, groups, communities and cultures.


The course will be held at Sydney University (Camperdown Campus) and taught in an intensive format over three days in 2013. Please enrol here.

BETH 5204 Clinical Ethics

This professional development course provides participants with an overview of the broader philosophical, ethical, socio-political, and cultural issues that underlie the delivery of healthcare.

Participants will first explore the importance of ethics in clinical practice, issues relating to the role of the professions, the interaction between ethics and law, and conceptual models for ethical reasoning in the clinical context.

The program will also examine the foundations of clinical practice, including consent, competence, veracity, confidentiality, and decision-making as well as specific issues and populations within clinical practice, such as the care of vulnerable populations, children, and chronic illness.

Importantly, the program will also focus on skills associated with clinical ethics including, analytic and mediation skills, and ethics consultation. The final day of the program will reflect on current debates in the Australian healthcare context, particularly issues associated with healthcare rationing.

Questions covered include:

  • How important are ethical values and principles in clinical practice?
  • What ethical issues arise in the practitioner-patient relationship? How should these be addressed?
  • Are clinical ethical issues context and professional specific?
  • What considerations ought inform ethical decision-making in clinical practice?
  • How ought ethical conflict be managed?


The course will be held at Sydney University (Camperdown Campus) and taught in an intensive format over three days in 2013. Please enrol here.

BETH 5205 Ethics and Mental Health

Mental health and mental illness are unique in the field of health care and bioethics. The very nature of psychiatric disorder and its relationship with prevailing social and cultural factors, in addition to the unique status of the mental health patient, necessitate a specific discourse in biomedical ethics in the area of mental health.

This unit will provide participants with a broad perspective of issues in bioethics applied to mental health and mental illness. Students will examine the history of the psychiatric profession and consider the adequacy of current safeguards against the abuses of power seen in the history of the profession of psychiatry. Other areas considered include the current ethical dilemmas in mental health care, the implications of technological advances in the neurosciences, the philosophical basis of the concept of mental disorder, the relationship between power and the psychiatric profession and the complex relationship between morality, mental health and the law.

The unit aspires to inform future decision makers in health, public policy, clinical settings and academia in the unique aspects of biomedical ethics in the field of mental health.

The course will be held at Sydney University (Camperdown Campus) and taught in an intensive format over three days in 2013. Please enrol here.