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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Postgraduate - Area of Study

Managing facultyFaculty of Arts
Offered bySchool of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies


  • This area of study is also offered via off-campus learning (OCL) mode.International students may only undertake this discipline via OCL in one of the relevant courses if studying outside of Australia.


The growth of scientific knowledge and technical ability in medicine, genetics and the biological sciences has led to a number of ethical dilemmas which perplex all of us, but especially those in the health care field. Does the fact that we can prolong the life of a patient in a permanent vegetative state mean that we should do so? Is destructive embryo experimentation justified by the prospect it offers of alleviating infertility? Should research designed to find 'gay genes' be conducted given that the results of such work might be used against homosexual people? Should we proceed with research trying to clone people? These and many other questions raise complex ethical and legal issues. The study, discussion and teaching of these issues has come to be known as bioethics - a field generally defined as covering the ethical issues raised by medicine, genetics and the biomedical sciences.

The Centre for Human Bioethics has academic strengths in the areas of:

  • disability and discrimination
  • ethical issues in patient care, especially involving autonomy and confidentiality and clinician accountability; the ethics of clinical trials
  • medical end-of-life decisions
  • moral psychology and moral development
  • new reproductive technologies
  • nursing ethics
  • surrogacy
  • the new genetics and ethics.

The centre's research also has a strong emphasis on ethical theory, especially virtue ethics and consequentialism, the relevance of emotions to ethics, partiality and impartiality in ethics, feminist ethics, and applied ethics and moral philosophy.


Master of Bioethics students who have completed at least one semester of the course are eligible to apply for an annual fellowship of $9000 to work during the Australian summer as an intern in the human genetics program at the World Health Organisation in Geneva. For more information contact Associate Professor Justin Oakley.

Relevant Courses

  • 3761 Graduate Certificate in Bioethics
  • 4047 Graduate Certificate in Research Ethics
  • 1158 Graduate Diploma in Bioethics
  • 3937 Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Research)
  • 0122 Master of Bioethics
  • 2704 Master of Bioethics*
  • 0020 Doctor of Philosophy*

*By research