module specification

SH7053 - Ethical Issues in Healthcare (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21, but may be subject to modification
Module title Ethical Issues in Healthcare
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Professions
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 30%   Oral presentation
Coursework 70%   Essay
Running in 2020/21

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Afternoon
Autumn semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

Ethical Issues in Healthcare
This module provides an opportunity for in-depth enquiry at advanced level into the ethical dimensions of contemporary healthcare, and examines the application of ethical theories and approaches to practical dilemmas in healthcare.
Semester: spring
Assessment: Oral Presentation 30%; Essay 70%

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

- to identify the ethical dimensions of current issues in healthcare policy and practice
- to apply ethical theories and approaches to ethical issues in healthcare
- to facilitate students' capacities for ethical decision-making in healthcare
- to enable students to reflect critically on their ethical beliefs with respect to issues in healthcare


The place of ethics in healthcare. A review of normative ethical theories and approaches relevant to healthcare policy and practice. Law, policy and codes of ethics in healthcare. Various topics which may include: autonomy, competence and consent in healthcare; resource allocation and priority setting in healthcare; Fairness & equity in healthcare; Public health ethics; QUALY systems; cultural diversity in healthcare; human rights and healthcare; ethics of the health-worker/patient relationship; ethical dimensions of various practices in primary care & wider health-related contexts; how social theories can contribute to an understanding of ethical dilemmas in healthcare, etc.

Learning and teaching

The module will be presented through an integrated programme of lectures, seminars, tutorials and small-group work, together with the guided use of student-centred learning resources. Lectures will be provided to give a conceptual framework. Student-centred assignments will enable students to reinforce and expand their knowledge, and develop subject-specific skills and competence.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module student will be able to:
- identify the ethical dimensions of current issues in healthcare and be able to locate those aspects within the framework of normative ethics and ethical decision-making.
- demonstrate capacities for ethical decision-making in healthcare
-demonstrate the ability to reflect critically on personal ethical beliefs with respect to issues in healthcare

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed by two components:
(i) oral presentation (30%)
(ii) a coursework essay (3000 words) focussing on the application of ethical theories or approaches to an ethical dilemma in healthcare (70%)



Brannigan, M.C. & Boss, J.A. Healthcare Ethics in a Diverse Society, London: Mayfield, 2001
Brazier, M. Medicine, Patients and the Law, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003
British Medical Association, The Medical Profession and Human Rights: A Handbook for a Changing Agenda, London: BMA, 2001
Chadwick R. & Levitt M. (eds) Ethical Issues in Community Health Care, 1998, London: Arnold
Fulford B., Dickenson D. & Murray T.H.(eds.) Healthcare Ethics and Human Values, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002
Gillon, R. Principles of Healthcare Ethics, Wiley & Sons, 1994.
Harris, J. Bioethics, Oxford, 2001
Montgomery J. Health Care Law, 3rd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005
Seedhouse, D. Ethics: The Heart of Healthcare, Wiley & Sons, 1988
Singer, P. Practical Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 1993
Veatch, R. & Flack, H. Case Studies in Allied Health Ethics, Prentice-Hall, 1997

Journal of Medical Ethics
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics