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


This unit of study uses a neuroethics lens to examine the impacts of modern neurotechnology on our understanding of brain function and its relation to concepts of mind. Neuroethics is sub-field of bioethics that is concerned with the ethical, legal and social impact of the neurosciences. Throughout this unit, students will critically assess current applications of neurotechnology and engage with the issues that arise as these neurotechnologies influence how we conduct research, treat clinical conditions, make individual and collective decisions, and live together as a society. The unit is divided into four three-week modules that progressively deepen the analysis of the impact of modern neurotechnology on the brain and mind sciences. Module 1: A cursory historical overview that demonstrates how we came to discover how the brain functions and recognize the brain as the seat of the mind, consciousness and the self. Module 2: An introduction to some of the modern neurotechnologies that allow us to visualize and modify brain function along with some of the general ethical challenges they pose. Module 3: An analysis of specific examples of how modern neurotechnologies have changed clinical diagnosis and treatment of neurological and psychiatric illness. Module 4: An analysis of specific examples of how modern neurotechnologies have changed legal and social practices. Together, these modules demonstrate the value of neurotechnology in demystifying the inner workings of the brain and mind but also the challenges in applying it in an ethical and meaningful manner.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x 2-hr lecture/week


Class discussions (5%), open peer commentary (10%), abstract (5%), position paper 1 (40%), position paper 2 (40%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Additional Information

This is a capstone unit of study for the Master in Brain and Mind Sciences.

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.