ATS2839 - Ethics - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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



Organisational Unit


Chief examiner(s)

Dr David Ripley (Semester 1)
Dr Daniel Munoz (Semester 2)


Mr Gene Flenady (Semester 1)
Dr Daniel Munoz (Semester 2)

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (Flexible)
  • Second semester 2019 (Flexible)
  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units. It is highly recommended that students only take this unit after they have completed two first-year level units in Philosophy or Bioethics.


ATS1839, AZA2939, AZA3939


This unit examines major issues in ethical theory. One aspect of this is an inquiry into central questions in the philosophical sub-discipline known as 'metaethics'. Some of these questions include: are there objective moral facts? Is moral judgment grounded primarily in reasoning, or emotion, or something else? And what motivates people to do what they believe is right? The unit also involves an exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of consequentialist ethical theories, like Utilitarianism, which assess the morality of people's actions solely in terms of the consequences of those actions. The unit examines debates between these theories and rival theories that incorporate other elements, such as duties, rights, contractualist principles, and people's character and virtues.


Students successfully completing the unit will be able to:

  1. explain key concepts, arguments, and principles in ethical theory;
  2. summarise and interpret contemporary and historical texts in the field of ethics;
  3. analyse and evaluate detailed philosophical arguments in contemporary and historical texts in the field of ethics;
  4. put into practice bibliographical skills that are relevant to the discipline of philosophy, including referencing and citation techniques;
  5. compose original research essays, using the argumentative conventions of philosophical essay-writing, and demonstrating independent critical judgment.


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 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

Off-campus attendance requirements

Off-campus: no timetabled contact hours

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