Study Bioethics at the University of Sydney


Who should own bodily material, such as sperm and eggs, or embryos? When are invasive treatments to sustain life required or unjustifiable? Can we ever lie to patients? Should we tell the obese to lose weight, even when we know they feel stigmatised? Should doctors and health policy makers feel morally obligated to become advocates for social justice?

Our bioethics program provides you with the knowledge and skills to analyse areas as diverse as the impact of new biotechnologies, legal issues in mental health, euthanasia and end-of-life care, human and animal research ethics, doctor-patient and health system relationships, disclosure and communication, and ultimately insights into our bodies, our cultures, our sense of self.

You can choose pathways to specialise in public health ethics, research ethics, clinical ethics, health humanities, or research.

Course Aims

You will receive training in four key areas, essential for an ethics professional.

  1. Critical ethical reasoning – developing analytic and critical thinking and writing skills to identify and assess ethical reasoning in complex situations.
  2. Decision-making – identifying the beliefs and interests of stakeholders and their impact on ethical decision making in professional and research practice
  3. Action – applying critical reasoning skills in clinical and research contexts to ensure moral standards are met and maintained in practice, and
  4. Advancing knowledge – developing skills for ethical research that extends the knowledge base of bioethics, and responds to emerging ethical problems in practice.

Why study bioethics with us?

  • We provide a unique combination of methodological rigour, analytic thinking and technical knowledge. Much of our teaching is not offered anywhere else in Australia. Areas such as ethics in mental health policy and specialist health humanities fields like Arts and Health
  • You will be taught by a group of outstanding research-active academics from multiple disciplinary backgrounds, as well as academics who are practicing health professionals
  • You will improve your capacity to critically assess and respond to the complexity of ethical challenges, developing smart and sensitive problem-solving skills that are highly valued in both professional and academic endeavours, and
  • Our master’s course is available in flexible modes to suit your schedule.

Who should study this course?

This area of study is suitable for students from a wide variety of professions, such as scientists, researchers, nurses, clinicians, those in health policy or health services. Bioethics can allow our students to broaden their knowledge in the health or research areas and add value to an existing career or help to change a career path.

Graduate opportunities

The Master of Bioethics responds to the widely recognised need for ethics education for scientists, researchers and professionals working in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy, dentistry, public health, health law, health and public policy, science communication and related fields.

Course options

Delivery options

All units are delivered via flexible modes.

Short courses / Professional development

Find short courses here

It is also possible to undertake almost any unit of study as a non-award student.

For more information on non-award study, please visit Single Unit Enrolment or visit the School of Public Health.

Professional Recognition / Accreditation

The study courses are also designed to meet the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) continuing professional development standards, contributing 50 credits per semester under “Category 4: structured learning projects”.

Meet our alumni

Dr Julia Jones

Dr Julia Jones MBBS (Hons) FRACP
Master of Bioethics 2017

“The Master of Bioethics has taught me about different approaches to tackling ethical issues in my work. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about and then discussing difficult ethical concerns with my fellow students. It has been valuable hearing different perspectives from people with diverse professional backgrounds helping me to form balanced views on difficult problems. Studying a Masters in Bioethics will help me to be the kind of kidney specialist that I aspire to be.”