Monash University

Postgraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2015 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirements; to check which units are currently available for enrolment, refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your area of study.

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Managing facultyFaculty of Arts
Offered byCentre for Human Bioethics
CoordinatorDr Ryan Tonkens


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.
  • The seminars for most of the on-campus units will be taught in the the Melbourne central business district.

    All units are also available via off-campus learning.

    International students may only undertake this discipline via off-campus learning 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 BioethicsCentre for Human Bioethics ( has academic strengths in the areas of:

  • biopolitics
  • biosecurity and bioterrorism
  • ethical issues in patient care, especially involving autonomy and confidentiality
  • ethics and genetics
  • ethics and infectious disease
  • feminist philosophy
  • medical end-of-life decisions
  • moral psychology and moral development
  • reproductive ethics
  • surveillance ethics
  • the ethics of clinician accountability.

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.


For a list of units in this area of study refer to the requirements for courses listed under 'Relevant courses'.


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 Department of Ethics, Equity, Trade, and Human Rights at the World Health Organisation in Geneva. For more information contact Associate Professor Justin Oakley at

Relevant courses

A6002 Master of Bioethics