Critical Concepts in Bioethics (BETH5000)


This unit of study offers a critical review of the field of bioethics. The course canvasses different ways that bioethics is 'made-up' in discourse, thought and practice, and the meaning of 'bioethics' historically and in contemporary society. Mapping some of the key literature on current on-going debates and contentions, the seminars explore different perspectives that people have of bioethics from points within and outside of the discipline and why bioethics and bioethical dilemmas have become important objects of popular and professional concern. Topics include the moral and ethical dimensions of advances in biomedical science and biotechnology, the virtuous bioethicist, narrative in bioethics, going public in bioethics, bioethics across cultures, feminist bioethics, bioethics and non-human animals, and, climate change and environmental bioethics. Learning activities will include seminars and small group discussion.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


13x2hr seminars or Distance Education (online). Attendance is compulsory if enrolled in face-to-face mode


1x 750wd review (15%) and 1x 1500wd essay (30%) and 1x 2000-2500wd essay (45%) and 1x online work/class participation (10%)


Students are provided with a book of readings (in digital format). Supplementary readings can be accessed through the library or online.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Additional Information

This is a capstone Unit for the Master of Bioethics. If an insufficient number of students opt to attend seminars on campus, the co-ordinator may choose to teach this Unit of Study in online mode only. Students will be contacted if this occurs.

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.