module specification

SH5000 - Ethics and Research in Professional Contexts (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Ethics and Research in Professional Contexts
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 300
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
192 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay
Coursework 50%   Research exercise
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to the both ethics and research through an exploration of principles, theories and practices that inform decision making in professional contexts.  They are taught in two distinct parts. In the first part students will study ethics using sector specific professional codes of ethical conduct and will examine underlying normative ethical theories as they are represented within such codes. Current debates in ethical thinking for professional practice will be considered, providing opportunities for the critical application of different ethical perspectives to a wide range of contemporary moral issues and situations within professional contexts. In the second part, students will be introduced to the research process and research knowledge and skills relevant to professional and academic development. These research principles will provide a foundation for understanding approaches to social research and evidence based practice and research design.

Module aims

This module aims to:
• Introduce students to professional codes of ethics and underlying ethical concepts and methods of ethical decision-making
• Provide students with a critical understanding of different ethical approaches to moral dilemmas in a range of practice-based professional contexts
• Provide opportunities for students to critically engage with current debates about ethical decision-making in professional practice
• Enable the development of skills in moral reasoning that can be applied in practical contexts
• Provide a foundation for understanding approaches to social research and evidence based practice
• Facilitate the development of research skills and knowledge for professional and academic development in a range of practice-based professional contexts


The module programme will be delivered in 2 parts.

Part 1
The syllabus includes:
• Introduction to sector specific professional codes of ethical practice
• Critical thinking and moral philosophy in relation to understanding professional codes of ethics, and in application to a variety of case-studies from Sector specific practice
• A range of professional ethical issues including: confidentiality; informed consent; autonomy versus best interests; resource allocation; cost-benefit analysis; defining ‘best’ practice; characterising the ethical professional (honesty, compassion, integrity, etc.) etc.
• The relationship between professional ethics and law e.g. mental capacity
• Negotiating personal ethical beliefs & professional ethics
Part 2

• Understanding the research process and research principles including research ethics
• Development of contemporary research thinking; research paradigms; key elements of practice based research;
• Theoretical approaches to the process of research
• Understanding research reports
• Understanding methodology and methods
• Developing research questions, writing a protocol, project management; tools and techniques of research
• Dealing with bias and limitations, reflective practice in research, evidence based and values based practice.

Learning and teaching

The teaching and learning strategy for this module is based on an integrated programme of lectures, with supporting material and exercises, together with the use of student-centred learning resources.  Lectures will be used to provide a conceptual framework.  There will also be inter-active/discussion forums, involving group activities and workshops.  Student-centred assignments will enable students to reinforce and expand their knowledge as well as to obtain competence in ethical argument and research skills and knowledge.  Tutorials will address specific issues, and allow a venue for debate and presentations.  A Web-based VLE is available to support, reinforce and test student understanding with access to additional learning resources.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be expected to:

Part 1
1. Outline the key perspectives, principles and approaches to ethics and apply the processes of ethical decision making
2. Identify and critically explore the ethical and moral aspects of specific practices in diverse professional contexts, including professional codes of ethics
3. Engage in ethical reasoning and debate, with due regard for cultural differences and contexts

Part 2
4. Operate the research process and ethical approaches to research
5. Apply research principles and skills to selected professional contexts
6. Reflect on biases and limitations in conducting research

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for this module is designed to assess achievement of the module learning outcomes for both parts. It includes a range of formal and informal assessment tools; assignments will be formatively and/or summatively assessed. These assignments will include individual and group activities, case-study work, presentations, progress exercises, a coursework essay and research exercise.

The module’s formal summative assessment consists of the following two components which assess both parts for the module:

Part 1
1. Essay - (3000 words, LO 1,2, 3)

Part 2
2. Research exercise - students will prepare a mini research protocol identifying and critically analysing the research skills used (3,000 words, LO 4, 5 and 6)


Part 1

Banks, S.J. & Nohr, Kirsten (2011) Practising Social Work Ethics Around the World: Cases and Commentaries. London: Routledge.
Banks, S. (2010) Ethical Issues in Youth Work. London: Routledge
Batsteer, J.& Davis, B. (2010) What is Youth Work.  Exeter: Learning Matters
Beauchamp, T.L. and Childress JF (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics (5th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press
British Medical Association (2001) The medical profession and human rights: a handbook for a changing agenda. London: BMA.
Campbell, A. Gillett, G.& Jones, G. (2001)Medical Ethics (3rd edition).Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Chadwick, R.& Levitt, M. (eds) (1998) Ethical Issues in Community Health Care.  London:  Arnold
Fulford,B., Dickenson, D., & Murray, T.H. (2002) (eds) Healthcare Ethics and Human Values. Oxford: Blackwell
Gillon, R. (ed) (2000) Principles of Health Care Ethics.London: John Wiley & Sons
Harris, J. (1985)The Value of Life. London: Routledge.
Kuhse, H.& Singer, P. (2006) Bioethics: an anthology. Oxford:Blackwell
National Youth Agency (1999) Ethical Conduct in Youth Work Leicester; NYA
National Youth Agency (2000) National Occupational Standards for Youth Work
Roberts, J. (2009) Youth Work Ethics.Exeter: Learning Matters
Sercombe, H. Youth Work Ethics.  London:Sage
Seedhouse, D. (2001) Ethics: the Heart of Healthcare  J Wiley & Sons
Teays,W.& Purdy, L (eds.) (2001) Bioethics, Justice and Healthcare. Wadsworth

Children and Young People
Journal of Medical Ethics
British Medical Journal
Youth and Policy

Websites/e-resources:  (includes The American Journal of Bioethics Online) : website of The Nuffield Council on Bioethics  : British Medical Association ethics resources. : website of The General Medical Council

Part 2
Bell, J., (2005) Doing your Research project: A guide for first time researchers in education, health and social science 4th ed. Maidenhead: OUP
Bradford, S. and Cullen, F. (eds)  (2010) Research and Research Methods for Youth Practitioners. Abingdon: Routeledge
Brown, B. Crawford, P. & Hicks, C. (2003) Evidence-Based Research Dilemmas and Debates in Health Care. Maidenhead: OUP
Bryman, A., (2008) Social Research Methods 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press
Gomm, R., Needham, G. & Bulman, A. (eds) (2000) Evaluating Research in Health and Social Care.