PHIL324-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Bioethics: Life, Death, and Medicine

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


Bioethics is the study of ethical problems in healthcare, research, technology and the environment. Bioethical problems arise every day, affecting societies, people and non-human animals. This course covers a wide range of issues, including: research on human and non-human animals; reproductive technologies, such as surrogacy and genetic testing; the use of data to monitor and control human actions; conflicts between privacy and autonomy and the public good, 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.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level in PHIL, LAWS, HLTH, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


Recommended Preparation

Course Coordinator

Carolyn Mason

Contact Carolyn for further information.


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Quiz 10% Online quiz
Essay 1 25% 2,000 words
Essay 2 35% 2,000 words
Final Exam 30%

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Textbooks / Resources

Lewis Vaughn. (2020). Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases. 4th Ed. Oxford University Press.

Course links

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

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $821.00

International fee $3,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All PHIL324 Occurrences

  • PHIL324-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023
  • PHIL324-23S2 (D) Semester Two 2023 (Distance)