Bioethics, Law and Society (BETH5104)


This unit of study begins by introducing students to intersections amongst health care practice, ethics, and the law. In particular students will explore the ethical and moral bases of law as well as how the law, in turn, influences moral norms, clinical practice, and health policy. Students learn how to critically read and analyse primary sources of law relevant to bioethics. Students will then examine a number of areas of law that have particular significance for bioethics and society including consent, tort law, competence, maternal-foetal conflicts, abortion, reproduction, mental health, end-of-life-decision-making, and genetics.

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Further unit of study information


4x8hr intensives or online. Attendance is compulsory if enrolled in face-to-face block mode


1x2000wd problem (40%); 1x3500 word essay (60%). Online 'attendance' is also compulsory and will be demonstrated by engagement in at least 8 out of the 10 weekly discussion topics. No formal mark will be given for attendance, but failure to meet the attendance requirement may result in failure of the course.


Required: Kerridge, Lowe and Stewart (2013), Ethics and law for the health profession, 4th Edition (Federation Press). All other compulsory readings are provided to students in digital format. Most supplementary readings can be accessed through the library collection.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Additional Information

Prerequisites: A three-year undergraduate degree in science, medicine, nursing, allied health sciences, philosophy/ethics, sociology/anthropology, law, history, or other relevant field, or by special permission.

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.