Faculty of Arts

print version

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Centre for Human Bioethics


Associate Professor Justin Oakley



  • First semester 2016 (Online)
  • Second semester 2016 (Online)

City (Melbourne)

  • First semester 2016 (Day)


This unit aims to provide students with a basic understanding of ethical theory, as a foundation for their studies in bioethics. The unit outlines several key perspectives in normative ethics, including Kantian ethics, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics, and examines several key problems for each of these approaches. The unit also considers certain issues in meta-ethics, such as the question of whether moral judgements must be relative to individuals or cultures or whether they can be objective, and the implications of research in social and moral psychology for accounts of moral motivation.


This unit has been designed to enable you to:

  • bring a solid theoretical framework to the analysis and evaluation of issues in bioethics;
  • recognise, analyse, and evaluate ethical arguments;
  • think critically about assumptions underlying debates in bioethics and applied ethics;
  • see that certain issues in ethical theory are of intrinsic interest and value.
  • develop a sufficient understanding of long-standing debates about the nature of ethics to provide a basis for forming your own views on these issues.


Within semester assessment: 70%
Exam: 30%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 288 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


APR5393, APG4393

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: