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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL2295 Ethics of Life and Death

10 creditsClass Size: 110

In light of the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on students' learning experiences, the School of PRHS have made the decision to modify assessment in Semester 2 modules in the 2020-21 academic year. Changes may involve reducing the number of assessment points (e.g. assessing one essay rather than two) or reducing word counts where it is possible to do so whilst protecting the integrity of the module's Learning Outcomes. Information on any changes to assessment is available to enrolled students in the Minerva module area, and can also be sought from the module leader or the PRHS SES team.

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module aims to introduce students to some of the central concepts, issues, theories, and debates in an area of applied ethics that concerns issues of life and death, thereby providing them with a framework for thinking seriously and systematically about these matters, and to assist them in developing their philosophical and analytical skills. It addresses issues that are the focus of considerable public debate and which affect the lives of many. Some of them will be 'perennial' such as abortion, while others are more recent because generated by the advance of medical science, such as cloning and embryo selection. Some of these more recent controversies present a challenge to normative moral theories and concepts because they involve extension or modification of those concepts and theories to novel questions and contexts.


This module addresses the complex and often highly charged issues relating to the ethics of life and death. It applies normative moral theories, and concepts such as rights, duties or justice, to explore the extent to which they can provide answers to and clarify the issues.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should be able to demonstrate:
1. A good grasp of arguments and theories in the ethics of issues relating to life and death through clear and accurate exposition of leading philosophical treatments of the topics explored.
2. An awareness of the complexity of these issues.
3. The ability to analyse arguments critically and develop their own position in relation to these issues through written and verbal argument.


Issues explored will typically include at least some of the following although the exact specification will vary annually:
abortion, embryo research, cloning, selecting traits in children, the right to procreate, organ donation, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours84.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

As an approximate guide:
Lecture follow-up (further reading and notes) - 30 hours
Tutorial preparation - 30 hours
Preparing essay plan/outline - 9 hours
Final essay - 15 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored by tutorial performance and feedback on an essay outline or plan to ensure the student is preparing their essay in a timely manner and is focusing on relevant material and arguments.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/03/2019


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