Artificial Intelligence (3 Years) [BSc]

Bioethics: Contemporary Issues in Science and Biomedicine


Unit code: UCIL21202
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit?: N

Requisites

None

Aims

To provide a stimulating, engaging and structured overview of ethical issues in the life sciences.  To enable students to develop their knowledge of this area and their skills in analysis and critical thinking and enable them to explore these issues with confidence to come to a position on them that they can justify and defend convincingly.

Overview

This course unit provides an opportunity to engage in many of the central debates of bioethics and is an opportunity not only to gain knowledge of this area of inquiry but also to develop critical thinking skills and skills in arguing that can be applied to many areas of academic, professional and social interaction.  The course consists of focused, engaging and accessible online material designed by bioethical experts to guide you through a variety of, often controversial, bioethical questions.  Informal seminars support this online material and provide the opportunity to discuss these bioethical questions and develop your skills on analysis and critical thinking with the guidance of expertise in this area.  Completion of this unit will enable you to appreciate the importance of weighing up the interests of different groups or individuals, to be aware of the ethical impact of scientific developments or investigations and to come away with stronger skills in analysis and critical thinking that can be applied in many situations. Questions considered vary each year but could include: Should active euthanasia be prohibited? Should we be attempting to eradicate disability? Should people be able to choose to avoid genetic testing even if we think testing would be beneficial to them?  How should scarce NHS resources be allocated? Should we prohibit genetic modification or even gene editing? Is it morally acceptable to use animals for scientific research?

Learning outcomes

The students will:

  • Be familiar with a range of contemporary ethical issues in science and biomedicine
  • Have developed skills in analysing bioethical arguments
  • Have developed skills in presenting clear arguments and justifying and defending the position they take on these issues.
  • Have developed organisation and presentation skills to prepare and defend a debate topic argument.
  • Have developed organisation and presentation skills to research and prepare an assessed reflective diary.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skillsGroup video presentation and reflective diary require analysis of available information related to topic areas.
  • Group/team workingGroup video presentation in teams of 7-10 students.
  • Innovation/creativityGroup video presentation is viewed by all participants in the unit and should be interesting. Reflective diary allows for both innovation and creativity.
  • LeadershipGroup video presentation will need people to demonstrate leadership to ensure that it is completed in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Project managementGroup video presentation for debate is a project undertaken over a period of weeks by a small group of students.
  • Oral communicationStudents encouraged to ask and answer questions during lectures. Group video presentations.
  • Problem solvingUnderstanding information in relation to lecture and online material topics, presentation area and reflective diary require an ability to assimilate information and problem solve in the context of the question being asked.
  • ResearchGroup video presentation and reflective diary require independent research of topic areas.
  • Written communicationReflective diary

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 30%
  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 35%
  • Oral assessment/presentation - 35%

Assessment Further Information

MCQ Exam week 4 of the unit reviewing a general understanding of bioethics as a subject  (30%),

a group oral presentation on specific topics (35%),

a 500 word reflective learning diary reviewing one of the oral presentations (35%).

Syllabus

The course consists of focused, engaging and accessible online material designed by bioethical experts to guide you through a variety of, often controversial, bioethical questions.  Informal seminars support this online material and provide the opportunity to discuss these bioethical questions and develop your skills on analysis and critical thinking with the guidance of expertise in this area.  Online topics will vary depending on current scientific issues but could include the following.

  • Introduction to ethics and bioethics
  • Doing bioethics – skills of crticial thinking and analysis
  • What makes life valuable?
  • The status of the embryo and implications for abortion
  • Autonomy, consent and confidentialty
  • Mental capacity and consent
  • Ethical issues in pregnancy and reproduction
  • Resource allocation
  • Euthanasia and Assisted dying
  • Genetic storage and biobanks
  • Consent and genomic
  • Genetic manipulation and enhancement including GM crops
  • Research Ethics

Feedback methods

There will be feedback after the MCQ exam.  There will be an opportunity to submit a practice 500 word reflective learning diary in week 4 of the unit for formative feedback.  The oral presentation will receive peer evaluation, verbal generic feedback and written feedback on individual group performances. The final reflective learning diary will receive written feedback.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 0.5 hours
  • Lectures - 18 hours
  • Independent study hours - 81.5 hours

Teaching staff

Caroline Bowsher - Unit coordinator

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