Hist, Phil and Ethics of Brain and Mind Sci (BMRI5001)


The history and philosophy section of this unit examines the conceptual foundations of cognitive neuroscience from ancient times to the enlightenment to the 20th Century, how concepts of brain, mind and self have changed over time and by culture. This understanding will give students the ability to critically assess modern issues of mental health in a cultural context. The ethics section of the unit focuses on areas of brain research and clinical practice that remain ethically problematic and attempts to grapple with this from legal perspective. Amongst the issues dealt with will be mental capacity for consent, definitions of personhood and death, and the ethics of healthcare delivery. The scope of these questions is enormous and the majority of cultural and legal standards have not kept up with the pace of scientific and philosophical understanding of these issues of brain and mind. This is capstone unit of study that will require students to develop over the semester an original piece of scholarship on one of the issues raised by the lectures. The student will first need to identify an area of interest and justify in a brief introductory submission the rationale for investigating it. This will receive academic feedback and serve as the basis for the final essay, which will require significant research and critique of the relevant literature.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x 2-hr lecture/week


online discussions (30%), essay introduction (10%), final essay (60%),

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Additional Information

This is a capstone unit of study.

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.