PHIL240-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

Bioethics: Life, Death, and Medicine

15 points
16 Jul 2018 - 18 Nov 2018


Bioethics is the study of ethical problems in healthcare, medical research, and biotechnology. Bioethical problems arise every day, affecting non-human animals, people, and societies. This course covers a wide range of issues, including: research on human and non-human animals; reproductive technologies, such as surrogacy and genetic testing; and decisions about protecting, killing and letting die, including healthcare, abortion, and euthanasia. The course includes an introduction to ethical values and principles, ways of dealing with moral disagreements, and reflection on what it means for something to be worth moral consideration.

Goals of the course:
• To provide an introduction to bioethics through lectures, guided reading, research, discussing, and writing about contemporary bioethical issues.
• We focus primarily on a range of bioethical problems, but include introductions to ethical theory, problem solving in ethics, and the philosophical dilemmas that underlie bioethical problems.
• To develop skills in analysis, critical thinking, research and writing through active engagement in the course.  

Not only is philosophy one of the most interesting and challenging subjects, it teaches skills that employers want: thinking outside the box, logic, ethics, and excellent writing and communication skills. At UC you can do either a BA or a BSc in Philosophy, or combine a Philosophy major with the LLB, BCom, or another degree.

BA or BSc students who major in philosophy must normally take at least two 100-level PHIL courses, plus at least three 200-level PHIL courses (including PHIL233), plus at least 60-points from 300-level PHIL courses (including at least one course from this list: PHIL305; PHIL310; PHIL311; and PHIL317). For more information see the BA regulations and/or the BSc regulations.

Learning Outcomes

In this course you will learn:

1. An ability to explain several central problems in bioethics.

2. Knowledge of the scientific and philosophical facts that underpin problems in bioethics, and an ability to separate scientific and philosophical facts from opinions.

3. An ability to analyse problems in bioethics by identifying and evaluating the ethical issues that underlie the problem.

4. An ability to identify and think critically, but charitably, about the reasons people have for their positions on bioethical problems.

5. Critical thinking and analytical abilities, and the ability to use these skills to develop oral and written arguments about bioethics.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


15 points in PHIL or HLTH101 or HSRV101 or a B average in 60 points in relevant subjects, (eg BIOL, POLS, ECON, LAWS, CMDS) as approved by the Head of Department.


Timetable 2018

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 13:00 - 15:00 E16 Lecture Theatre 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 15:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 031 Lecture Theatre 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct


Carolyn Mason

Contact Carolyn for further information.


(Image: "Refusal of treatment form" by Jacob Windham, licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Course links

Library portal
Philosophy Essay Writing Guide (available to all enrolled Philosophy students)
Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $746.00

International fee $3,038.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 15 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts.

All PHIL240 Occurrences

  • PHIL240-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018
  • PHIL240-18S2 (D) Semester Two 2018 (Distance)