PP3BME-Biomedical Ethics

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: maximum number of students 20
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Elaine Beadle

Email: e.a.beadle@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Critical examination of the ethical assumptions underlying established medical practice and of some of the ethical problems arising from the development of new medical technologies.

To enable students to develop a basic knowledge and critical perspective on ethical issues arising within contemporary medical practice and to appreciate some of the issues raised by new medical technologies currently at the forefront of public debate.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Student should be able to identify some key values and principles in medical ethics. They should be able to demonstrate understanding of the potential for conflict of values and interests and be able to evaluate possible ways of defending alternative solutions. They should be able to evaluate different perspectives on a number of issues and understand the relevance of theory to practice. They should acquire a basis for developing their own critical perspective.

Additional outcomes:
Medical ethics overlaps at some points with other areas of philosophy:
Metaphysics: questions of personhood and identity in cases of advanced dementia.
Political philosophy: distributive justice, fairness in the allocation of resources
Legal philosophy: should assisted dying / active euthanasia always be a crime?
Student’s knowledge and capacity for critical reflection should be enhanced in such areas.

Outline content:
Topics covered will be from among the following:
• Autonomy and ‘best interests’
• Advance directives
• Medical need and the right to healthcare
• Quantity and quality of life
• Futile treatment
• Euthanasia and assisted dying
• PVS/ brain death and withdrawal of treatment
• Genetic screening and gene therapy
•Regenerative medicine

Main course text: H. Kuhse & P. Singer, eds. Bioethics: An Anthology, Blackwell. Second edition 2006.
Also strongly recommended: T. Hope, J. Savulescu, J. Hendrick. Medical Ethics and Law: the core curriculum. Churchill Livingstone, 2003. You may not find specific reading on every topic.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures with discussion, seminars, student presentations in seminar section of the module (probably group presentations non-assessed). Practicing clinicians from Royal Berkshire Hospital will contribute as visiting speakers and engage in discussion of real cases.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Written assignment including essay 30

Other information on summative assessment:
Two essays of 2,000-2,500 words worth a total of 30% of the module mark.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    Two questions from a list of six in two hours, worth 70% of the module mark.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August by written examination only.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 9 January 2017

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