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Monash University

Master of International Research Bioethics

Course code: 3440 ~ Course abbreviation: MIntResBio ~ Total credit points required: 72 ~ 3 semesters full-time ~ 6 semesters part-time ~ Managing faculty: Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Study mode and course location

On-campus (Alfred Hospital, Melbourne)

Course description

This course, offered by the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, is an interdisciplinary program covering comparative moral theory, research bioethics in an international setting, quantitative and qualitative research methodology, critical appraisal techniques and relevant law. Particular emphasis is given to ethical issues associated with research in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Students will gain a strong theoretical framework, significant experience with ethics committees and considerable involvement with local organisations concerned with the development of bioethical policy and its implementation. This course is currently funded by the US National Institutes of Health.

Course objectives

The overall objectives for the course cover four main themes:

  • Basic moral theory and bioethics and the application of bioethical principles to research in both domestic and international collaborative contexts, by the end of the course students will: understand the origins and features of the various philosophies underlying the practice of bioethics in research, and have developed an appreciation of the role of bioethics in regulating research on humans.
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methodology and practice, by the end of the course students will: understand the theoretical basis for different types of quantitative and qualitative research performed in relation to human health; be able to critically review the scientific merit (including appropriateness of statistical methodology) of proposed research of any of the common types involving human subjects; and be capable of identifying and critically reviewing the published literature related to proposed or published research related to human health.
  • Special issues in international health research by the end of the course students will: understand the scientific constraints on research in the developing country setting; understand the special features of research involving human subjects where the investigators are from a different cultural or ethnic setting; and understand ways that research on vulnerable populations demands special protection for the subjects, and develop appropriate attitudes of concern for the well-being of vulnerable subjects and communities.
  • Practical operation of research ethics applications and approval processes, including ethics committees by the end of the course students will: understand the origins and composition of human research ethics committees; understand the roles and functions of the different members of such committees; and understand the international and domestic legal frameworks in which research ethics committees function; and be capable of creating and chairing a human research ethics committee in their home country setting.

Course structure

This course is studied full-time over one year (this includes a summer semester) or part-time over three years.

Course requirements

Students must undertake the following 12 core units:

  • CHB5233 Principles of health care ethics
  • EPM5020 Comparative moral theory and ethics
  • EPM5021 Research with vulnerable populations
  • EPM5022 Critical appraisal skills
  • EPM5023 International research bioethics
  • EPM5024 Research, bioethics and the law
  • EPM5025 Research ethics practicum
  • MPH1040 Introductory epidemiology
  • MPH1041 Introductory biostatistics
  • MPH2049 Field methods for international health planning and evaluation
  • MPH2050 Health of women and children in developing countries
  • MPH2082 Health communication and training


Assessment includes written assignments, practical exercises, oral presentations and examinations.

Contact details

Associate Professor Bebe Loff, course coordinator: telephone +61 3 9903 0587; email or visit

Course coordinator

Associate Professor Bebe Loff