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



  • First semester 2016 (Day)


  • First semester 2016 (Day)


The human body and its parts are increasingly being bought and sold internationally by pharmaceutical companies, researchers, kidney and surrogate brokers and by individuals directly. In this unit we discuss the ethical issues that arise with the international commercialisation of the human body, focusing on the concepts of coercion and exploitation. Should such markets be prohibited altogether, or simply reformed and regulated to reduce exploitation and harm? Specifically, we discuss gene patents and access to medicines in the developing world, research conducted on poor people in developing countries, international markets in organs; surrogacy and embryo trading.


On successfully completing this unit, students will have:

  1. Familiarity with the range and nature of international markets in the human body
  2. Familiarity with the major ethical concepts and arguments used in discussing markets in, and commercialisation of, the human body
  3. Skills enabling them to critically analyse key ethical and policy issues related to these practices
  4. The ability to make informed judgements about these ethical and policy issues.


Within semester assessment: 100%

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


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.