Faculty of Arts

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Centre for Human Bioethics


Dr Ryan Tonkens



  • Second semester 2016 (Day)


  • Second semester 2016 (Day)


The unit investigates how the law and public policy should respond to advances in medicine and biotechnology, and the role of justice in these contexts. Examples of possible topics covered include: whether employers and insurance companies should be permitted to discriminate among applicants on the basis of genetic profile; whether it is discriminatory to select against sex or disability in future children; whether the law should protect individuals' genetic privacy or whether we have a duty to share our genetic knowledge; whether the law should act paternalistically to prevent people from harming themselves or making bad health decisions; whether people who are responsible for their own bad health should receive lower medical priority, and whether advances in knowledge in the biological/genetic bases for behaviour give us reason to doubt individual responsibility.


On successfully completing this unit, students will have:

  1. familiarity with the key philosophical approaches to discrimination, autonomy, responsibility and equality as they apply to debates within bioethics;
  2. skills enabling them to think critically about key ethical, policy and legal issues raised by recent advances in medicine and biotechnology;
  3. the ability to make informed judgements about those ethical, policy and legal issues.


Within semester assessment: 65%
Exam: 35%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: